FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of January 23, 2017


  1. NAS Jacksonville fire crew gets out of tight situation at FRCSE
  2. FRCSW Cold Spray Technology – Saving Taxpayers Time and Money



  1. Lemoore Naval Base Welcomes First Contingent Of F-35C Fighter Jets
  2. Trump Taps Private-Equity Investor As Civilian Head Of Navy
  3. Pentagon Confirms Trump Hiring Freeze Locks Out Military Civilians
  4. Fix The Fleet! U.S. Navy Makes Maintenance Top Priority
  5. Update To Navy Unfunded Priorities List Emphasizes Readiness
  6. James Mattis: Readiness Vs Offset
  7. Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not
  8. Rolls-Royce studies two new stall fixes for V-22 engines
  9. McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein
  10. Air Force Chief Scientist confirms F-35 will include artificial intelligence
  11. Super Hornet could compete with Lockheed F-35
  12. Lockheed CEO: F-35A Price to Drop Below $100M in Next Contract
  13. F-35 in Trump Administration’s Crosshairs
  14. Some Thoughts On The McCain White Paper




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NAS Jacksonville fire crew gets out of tight situation at FRCSE


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First Coast Fire and Rescue got a victim out of a tight spot at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Crinkley Engine Facility on Jan. 12.


Thankfully, the victim was a dummy – a mannequin – and the call was only a training exercise for firefighters to perfect the techniques they would use to extract victims from confined spaces.


“If you get in a hurry, you start forgetting things,” said station chief John Dales. “So we have to keep refreshing the techniques in their minds to make certain there are no mistakes.”


That was the idea behind the exercise.


The department made use of the engine elevator shafts that were installed in the floor at Crinkley to raise and lower engines, so employees could work on J-52 engines without climbing ladders.


David Rickel, the training chief for the fire and rescue department, took the dummy down to the bottom of the shaft – roughly 20 feet – and got an employee to call the firefighters.


“They have to come in and assess the situation,” Rickel said. “All they know is that they have someone hurt down in the bottom of a pit.”


Members of the First Coast Navy Fire and Rescue arrived, set up their equipment and tested the air to make sure it was safe. Firefighter Russell Russ and paramedic Tracy Tomes descended into the shaft’s relative darkness, all that could realistically fit in the roughly 6-feet-wide chamber.


Within minutes the patient was stabilized, and their colleagues at the surface used ropes to pull the victim out.


It was a training exercise, but Rickel and Dales have seen such situations in real life.


For Rickel, it was in a tank aboard an aircraft carrier. For Dales, it was in a steam pit at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. When victims find themselves injured in a confined space, it can be a life-threatening situation for all involved.


“It’s an extremely serious situation,” Rickel said. “If we do something wrong, it could cause death or paralysis, so we immobilize them, strap the victim down and pull them out.”


The real-world implications of the drill were not lost on FRCSE employees watching the scene play out.


“If we ever have a person trapped in a confined space, they are our primary rescue service,” Fleet Readiness Center Southeast safety and occupational health specialist Andrew Bass said. “It’s important for any of us to know that if we’re ever in a situation like that, these guys will get us out.”


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FRCSW Cold Spray Technology – Saving Taxpayers Time and Money


Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.—The Marine Corps Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation (Sustainment), William E. Taylor, visited Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) here to learn more about Cold Spray additive technology January 23, 2017.


Engineers and artisans from FRCSW did a demonstration and briefing for Taylor, a member of the Senior Executive Service, as well as Marine Corps aviation representatives down from Camp Lejeune, Calif. The Cold Spray technique is saving Naval Aviation time and money in repairing aircraft components and returning them to the fleet, improving readiness across the Navy and Marine Corps.


“This has a lot of promise,” Taylor said.


Cold Spray is an additive, solid-state thermal spray process that can restore components’ critical dimensional features lost due to corrosion, wear or mechanical damage. It works by taking powdered metal alloys (customized for the need of the specific part to be repaired) and spraying it onto the metal of the damaged component, creating a mechanical bond. The process creates a low-porous or nonporous surface without making any heat-induced changes to the substrate.


Put less technically, the process bonds metal to metal in a (relatively) low-heat environment, filling in any corrosion or other damage in machine parts. Repairs often take less time and are safer, too. To use a traditional chrome coating, for example, takes 20 hours to cover a part with 20 mL of metal; Cold Spray can do it with a tungsten/carbide/cobalt alloy in about two minutes. The process also eliminates the health hazards posed and safety precautions required using traditional methods.


The repaired parts come out stronger and less prone to mistake. According to Luc Doan, a materials engineer at FRCSW, of the approximately 150 parts repaired using Cold Spray so far, none have been returned for another repair. Additionally, none have resulted in machine rejections. With traditional methods, approximately 20 to 40 percent are machine rejected.


Conrad Macy, a secondary power Fleet Support Team (FST) engineer for Naval Air Systems Command, explained that the parts can endure at least 10 times more stress and impact than traditional parts. It might be more, but at that point, engineers stopped trying test the damage limits.


Macy is the impetus behind bringing Cold Spray to Naval Aviation. In his job working with the fleet making repairs to aircraft, he became tired of throwing away expensive parts because of minor damage. He felt sure that some process could fix the parts, so he began searching for it. About six years ago, through a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project, he found what he needed with Cold Spray. The SBIR with company Inovati sealed the deal, showcasing the applicability of Cold Spray to increase fleet readiness by refurbishing previously scrapped components. Often, these components are in demand across Naval Aviation, but have long lead times.


This less expensive, faster method of repair has saved more than $1 million on one part alone. The F/A-18’s Aircraft Mounted Accessory Drive (AMAD) costs approximately $168,000 each. Damage to one part of the AMAD would result in scrapping the entire drive previously, but with the repairs available through Cold Spray, 10 have been refurbished and sent back to the fleet for a savings of about $1.6 million.


Inovati’s Cold Spray technique is called Kinetic Metallization. Cold Spray can encompass a variety of techniques; this one uses low pressure helium or nitrogen and a sonic nozzle to accelerate particles. The combination of low pressure and sonic gas speed significantly decreases gas consumption compared to conventional Cold Spray processes while still achieving high particle velocities, according to the company. It also wastes less material compared to other Cold Spray machines and techniques, according to the Navy.


To bring the process to Naval Aviation, Macy worked with engineers at FRCSW to explore different options. The team brought an Inovati machine to its laboratory environment three years, and its success led to installation of another machine in the production shop at FRCSW in December 2015.


FRCSW is the main depot for all variations of the F/A-18, so most of the parts it has repaired using Cold Spray have been for that platform. However, it has also been used for E-2, F-5, CH-53 and H-1 parts, as well as for the LM 2500 ship engine.


Engineers now are pressing forward with future applications for the technology, including on V-22 window sills. Macy is exploring through another SBIR the use of a rotating nozzle in the Cold Spray machine. The current machine has a fixed nozzle, which works well for easily rotated parts, but not as well for bulkier ones.


“We’re going to be successful,” Macy said. “I’m not really worried about it.”


The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a cooperative partnership of naval aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians, and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


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Lemoore Naval Base Welcomes First Contingent Of F-35C Fighter Jets


(FRESNO BEE 25 JAN 17) … Lewis Griswold


LEMOORE – The first F-35C jets to be based at Lemoore Naval Air Station were flown in Wednesday afternoon, making Lemoore the first naval air base in the country to get the new generation of fighter jets.


The pilots made a low-altitude flyover about 1:25 p.m., then did a mini air show before landing and taxiing to a hangar as part of a long-planned arrival ceremony. The public and media were issued ear plugs because of engine noise, said to be greater than that of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of U.S. Naval Air Forces, spoke with reporters before the jets arrived about concerns raised by President Donald Trump over the cost of the F-35 program.


The Joint Strike Fighter program has been criticized for its high cost of $367 billion, or about $108 million per aircraft.

Shoemaker said the president met with the CEO of Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer.


“I think that the pressure that the president applied is all good,” he said. “He is a businessman. He’s looking to obtain those capabilities at best cost. … There are no issues in terms of morale or anything for the fleet.”


The A model of the F-35 is expected to cost $85 million by the end of the decade, a Lockheed Martin representative said.


“I’m confident we’ll get there,” said Jeff Babione, executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 Lightning II program.


Lemoore is the master West Coast air base of the Navy, from which combat squadrons are deployed to aircraft carriers in the Pacific and Indian oceans.


After the planes parked and the pilots disembarked on Wednesday, Capt. Markus Gudmundsson, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet strike fighter wing, spoke to hundreds waiting at the hangar.


“This is the beginning,” he said. “We have ahead of us the task of building a new community in naval aviation.”


The F-35C combat squadrons – eventually there will be seven, each with 10 planes – will make the Navy’s “current force structure much more survivable and more lethal,” he said.


Lemoore Naval Air Station’s role as the West Coast air base is important to the surrounding community, said Kings County Supervisor Craig Pedersen, who attended the arrival ceremony.


“It solidifies the Navy’s commitment to Lemoore,” he said. “Between the prisons and the air base, it’s well over 50 percent of the jobs.”


Jennifer Cripe of Lemoore is a retired federal employee who worked at the base for years as a facilities management specialist.


“I’ve been involved in all the pre-stuff, the planning of the buildings,” she said. “It’s awesome to actually see them on site.”


The F-35 is the so-called fifth generation of fighter jets. It is harder to detect, thanks to its stealth design.


“We’re not invisible,” said Lt. Mike Jennings, a pilot who flew one of the four jet fighters to the Lemoore base. “We hope we’ll see them before they see us.”


Until now, all Navy versions of the new jet – the Air Force and Marines have other versions – have been based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where pilots and personnel have trained.


The F-35C jets will be assigned to the VFA-125 squadron, also known as the Rough Raiders, which was reactivated Jan. 12, the Navy said.


The squadron will serve as the West Coast fleet replacement squadron for the F-35C whose mission is to train pilots, as opposed to being deployed.


When at full strength, the fleet replacement squadron will have 30 F-35C jets, but it’s unknown when that will happen.


But by 2025 there are supposed to be 100 F-35C aircraft assigned to Lemoore.


The stationing fit in with the military’s “pivot to the Pacific” in which more forces are being focused there.


“We can see the Pacific, south China Sea being more of a hotbed. … It was important to bring some assets to the West Coast” to support missions in the Pacific, said Capt. David Jones, base commander.


To get ready for the fighter jets, “we have built an addition to one of our hangars and completely renovated the spaces to facilitate a modern and efficient workspace,” said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Raelson, acting Lemoore Naval Air Station spokesman.


One module of the hangar has been completed and the next is under construction.


Including active-duty military personnel and their families, about 1,500 people will be coming to Lemoore, he said. The base already has about 12,000 people, including family members.


At full strength, the squadron is forecast to bring an estimated $36 million annual payroll to the region, said John Lehn, CEO of the Kings County Economic Development Corp.


The F-35C is a single-seat fighter aircraft designed to replace the legacy F/A-18 Hornet. The last Hornet jet assigned to Lemoore flew off last year.


As the new jets are deployed on aircraft carriers, air wings will consist of the F-35C, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and other aircraft including unmanned drones.


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is making the jets for three branches of the military – Air Force, Navy and Marines. The first test flight took place in December 2006 at the Lockheed Martin manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas.


The F-35C variant, as it’s called, is designed for landing and takeoff from aircraft carriers, so it has larger wings and more robust landing gear. The first carrier landing occurred in November 2014.


More than 200 F-35s have been delivered to the military as well as five international partners and two foreign military sales customers, according to Mike Johnson, Lockheed Martin F-35 spokesman.


The current program calls for more than 3,100 F-35s to be manufactured.


Last year, the company delivered 46 fighter jets and is scheduled to deliver 66 this year. It will ramp up to about 120 jets per year by 2020.



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Trump Taps Private-Equity Investor As Civilian Head Of Navy


(WALL STREET JOURNAL 26 JAN 17) … Paul Sonne


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump selected an American private-equity investor to oversee the U.S. Navy in its top civilian post, adding another figure from the finance world to the civilian leadership of the Pentagon.

Mr. Trump announced Wednesday that Philip Bilden, a former senior adviser at private-equity firm HarbourVest Partners LLC, and a former U.S. Army Reserve military intelligence officer, as his choice for Secretary of the Navy.


Mr. Bilden, a board member of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation and the Naval War College Foundation, joined HarbourVest in 1991 and opened its office in Hong Kong before retiring after a 25-year career with the private-equity firm, the White House said.


“Our number of ships is at the lowest point it has been for decades,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Philip Bilden is the right choice to help us expand and modernize our fleet, including surface ships, submarines and aircraft, and ensure America’s naval supremacy for decades to come.”


Mr. Bilden, who will be tasked with helping oversee a buildup of the U.S. military that Mr. Trump promised on the campaign trail, is Mr. Trump’s third and final choice for a military service secretary – the civilian posts that oversee the Army, Air Force and the Navy.


Mr. Trump previously selected U.S. Army veteran Vincent Viola, the billionaire founder of trading firm Virtu Financial Inc., as Secretary of the Army. Earlier this week, he announced U.S. Air Force veteran Heather Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico, as Secretary of the Air Force.


All three top civilian positions require Senate confirmation.


Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressed confidence in the three nominees, saying they had won his full support in the selection process and would enjoy his full support in the confirmation process.


“They will provide strong civilian leadership to strengthen military readiness, gain full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, and support our service members, civilians, and their families,” Mr. Mattis said in a statement. “I appreciate the willingness of these three proven leaders to serve our country.”


Mr. Bilden, who as Navy secretary also will oversee the U.S. Marine Corps, received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School, the White House said in a statement. He served 10 years in the U.S. Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer from 1986 to 1996, the statement said.


“Maintaining the strength, readiness, and capabilities of our maritime force is critical to our national security,” Mr. Bilden said in the statement. “If confirmed, I will ensure that our Sailors and Marines have the resources they need to defend our interests around the globe and support our allies with commitment and capability.”


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Pentagon Confirms Trump Hiring Freeze Locks Out Military Civilians


(DEFENSE NEWS 25 JAN 17) … Aaron Mehta and Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – The government hiring freeze put in place by U.S. President Donald Trump will apply to Department of Defense civilian positions but will not impact uniformed personnel.


Trump signed the hiring freeze order Jan. 23, drawing harsh criticism from both federal employee unions and members of Congress, who worry the freeze will save few dollars but create major headaches for government agencies. The freeze included an exception for national security positions, but the wording was such that it was unclear if the Pentagon was directly impacted or not.


On Wednesday, the Pentagon finally confirmed that its civilian spots would be impacted, but that Secretary of Defense James Mattis can exempt from the hiring freeze any position “that he deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities,” a DoD official told Defense News. Other exemptions must be requested from the Office of Personnel Management.


The memorandum does not impact Senate-confirmable officials, the appointment of officials to non-career positions in the Senior Executive Service or to Schedule C positions in the excepted service, the official added.


“Since January 20, 2017, and prior to our notification of the President’s Executive Order on a Federal Hiring Freeze, Washington Headquarters Service (WHS) hired 36 employees to support various functions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD),” the official added. “Additionally, 18 political appointees have been hired thus far to support the Secretary of Defense. Political appointees are exempt from the Executive Order.”


In June, the Pentagon ended a four-month hiring freeze used to ensure personnel were reflected in an internal DoD accounting system.


The freeze also impacts the Department of Veterans Affairs. On Tuesday, acting VA Secretary Robert Snyder said his department “intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public safety, including front-line caregivers.”

VA officials said the statement was a clarification of how they are interpreting the new presidential order and not an attempt to get around the new rules.


Government-wide hiring freezes were tried under the Reagan and Carter administrations, but in 1982, the Government Accountability Office found they were not an effective means of controlling federal employment and that any savings would likely be offset by overtime and part-time worker costs.


Those concerns were repeated this week by a bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers, who represent thousands of federal workers.


“I think it’s largely symbolic,” said Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer, whose district is home to 77,000 federal workers. “If you’re a Trump supporter in rural America who thinks your taxpayer dollars are being wasted by too many civilian employees, you might be thrilled by it. But they’re missing the point that we haven’t seen this few federal workers in our lifetime.”


Beyer told Defense News that the hiring freeze hurts military retirees and military spouses who hope to enter the federal workforce. It also creates management headaches at the Pentagon, where civilian support staffs have been cut progressively since federal budget caps were enacted.


“As a manager, you’re always trying to do more with less,” Beyer said. “They’ve already determined who they need to hire in a critical space, and now you’ve frozen the ability to hire those people.”


According to Beyer, upward of 221,000 people were in the pipeline to be hired governmentwide, at least a third of them veterans. He said the freeze would “greatly hurt” the VA, which is looking to hire 2,000 people to deal with backlogged cases.


Republican Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock on Monday broke with Trump to oppose the governmentwide hiring freeze.


“The federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of our federal workforce,” she said in a statement Monday. “I don’t support this type of across-the-board freeze and think it is better to look at priorities and areas where appropriate cuts can be made and where we can consolidate efforts or identify unnecessary costs that can be eliminated.”


Military Times reporter Leo Shane III contributed to this report.


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Fix The Fleet! U.S. Navy Makes Maintenance Top Priority


(DEFENSE NEWS 23 JAN 17) … Christopher P. Cavas


WASHINGTON – With no fiscal 2017 defense budget in sight and little chance of an agreement before April – if then – the military services are submitting second and possibly third rounds of unfunded requirements lists to Congress. The lists include items left out of the original budget requests, ranked in order of priority should Congress find a way to fund them.


The latest list from the U.S. Navy was sent to Congress Jan. 5, updating a similar list sent over at the end of February but rejiggered in light of the new 355-ship Force Structure Assessment, changes in requirements and the lateness of the fiscal year, which limit what can be done in the current budget. The new list also reflects what Navy leaders have been saying in recent weeks they need most – maintenance funding. While the late February list lead off with acquisition needs, the new top priorities include $2 billion in afloat readiness funding.


But the list remains a work in progress, a Navy official said, and includes input from the new Trump administration. An updated list is being prepared in advance of readiness hearings scheduled next month at which the service vice chiefs will testify – a Feb. 7 hearing before the full House Armed Services Committee, and a hearing the following day before the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee.


Even then, the Navy official said, “it’s not clear another formal list will be prepared.”


As happens when any new administration takes over, the Pentagon is revising its budget to reflect the new leaders’ priorities, and budget work is far from over.


“It’s all going to change. It’s still very much in motion,” the Navy official said.


But the top 9 priorities of the 59 items listed in the Jan. 5 list remain in place, said the Navy official. Those items are:


  • Ship Depot Maintenance ($647 million)
  • Air Operations/Flying Hours ($504 million)
  • Information Warfare/Other Support ($355 million)
  • Ship Operations ($339 million)
  • Waterfront Equipment, Service Craft, Boat Procurement ($68 million)
  • Service Craft Maintenance and Overhaul ($53 million)
  • Sealift Support Readiness ($32 million)
  • Full-Scale Aerial Targets (an additional 5 QF-16 drone targets)($26 million)
  • High-Speed Maneuverable Surface Targets (56 targets)($10 million)


Air operations include $260 million for U.S. Marine Corps aviation readiness.


The maintenance needs reflect Navy decisions in recent years to put off upkeep and protect long-term procurement accounts from successive cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act – also known as sequestration. But recent statements from top Navy brass underscore the need to restore maintenance money.


“Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness – those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” the Navy official declared. “No new starts.”


Placing information warfare at No. 3 reflects a need to address “readiness shortfalls in all disciplines of the information warfare community – cyberspace operations, electronic warfare, intelligence, battlespace awareness and assured command and control,” the Navy said in its Jan. 5 note to Congress.


It’s notable that humble service craft – the myriad supply, service and berthing barges, floating workshops and other small craft seen in any naval base – make it to the five and six priority slots. Such craft are often in service for many decades – many date from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War eras – and it’s unusual for the Navy to bestow on them such a high priority.


“The goal is to go after things that we can fix quickly to keep the fleet operating and that are executable,” the Navy official said. “The last thing we want to do is waste money or go after things that are not immediately needed.”


The Navy official added that items on the list that don’t make it in to the 2017 budget are likely to be included in the 2018 or 2019 requests.


Other significant items on the unfunded list include:


  • 24 F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters ($2.3 billion)
  • 6 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft ($1.2 billion)
  • 2 F-35C carrier-based Joint Strike Fighters ($270 million)
  • 2 C-40A transport aircraft for the Naval Reserve ($207 million)
  • An additional 96 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles ($154 million)
  • Increase the maximum production rate of SM-6 Block 1A missiles to 125 per year ($75 million)
  • An additional 75 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles ($33 million)
  • Funding over-the-horizon missile installations on the two littoral combat ships ($43 million)
  • The unfunded requirements list also includes several ships:
  • A 13th LPD 17-class amphibious ship ($1.83 billion)
  • An additional T-AOX fleet oiler ($547 million)
  • An additional EPF expeditionary fast transport ($256 million)
  • Installation of the Air Missile Defense Radar in the 3 rd FY 2016 destroyer ($433 million)


The service also is seeking $255 million to improve the General Dynamics Electric Boat Quonset Point facility in Rhode Island to expand to building three Virginia-class attack submarines per year.


Read the full list here: PDF


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Update To Navy Unfunded Priorities List Emphasizes Readiness


Would add More Super Hornets, additional Amphib


(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 24 JAN 17) … Megan Eckstein


The Navy wants $2 billion in additional funding this year for much-needed ship maintenance and fleet operations, and would also buy two dozen Super Hornets and an additional San Antonio-class amphibious warship if money were made available, according to an early January draft wish list obtained by USNI News.


While the list is not as official as the February 2016 Unfunded Priorities List from which it stems, it is meant to be a conversation-starter with Congress and the new Trump Administration on the Navy’s needs for today and in the near term, a senior service official told USNI News on Tuesday.


Ahead of upcoming congressional hearings and discussions about additional money Congress and the Trump Administration may give the military through a supplemental funding measure, the Navy updated its wish list and informally shared it with lawmakers.


In recent years the services have submitted their budget requests to Congress through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and then separately sent a list of unfunded priorities that were not including in the official request but would be important if more money were made available. The Navy submitted a Fiscal Year 2017 Unfunded Priorities List (UPL) in February 2016 to supplement its FY 2017 official submission. In that UPL were requests for 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, two additional carrier-variant F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters, the remainder of the funding needed to buy an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer beyond the Navy’s original shipbuilding plan, and weapons.


The draft list is a reflection of the Navy’s current needs based on global affairs, current fleet operations and other factors, the service official told USNI News on Tuesday.


The wish list was shared to inform upcoming budget discussions, though the document’s introduction notes that the “the Navy does not intend to submit a revised FY 2017 Unfunded Priorities List (UPL) until we engage further with the new Administration on potential changes in the defense strategy and priorities” – though through this informal update, the Navy increases its formerly 35-item list to a now-59-item list based on current needs.


The first section of the updated list addresses afloat readiness, which both the Navy and the new Trump Administration have said would be a primary focus of any FY 2017 supplemental. A supplemental package being informally discussed now would provide about $40 billion in additional funding for the military, though details about how that might break down by service have not yet been made public.


“Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness – those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” the senior Navy official told USNI News.


More than $500 million for air operations and flying hours, as well as $339 million for ship operations and $647 for ship depot maintenance, sit atop the wish list. These items were included in the original UPL but have been prioritized first in this most recent version. New additions to the afloat readiness section include funding to achieve cyber security for the Navy’s information technology systems and to maintain expeditionary forces’ IT equipment; recapitalize waterfront equipment that provides berthing and docking services at naval installations; maintain and overhaul service craft; and fund at-sea logistics such as food and fuel for forward-deployed sealift ships supporting combatant commander requirements.


On the acquisition side, the senior official said the Navy is focused on in-production programs, not new-starts, that could quickly be ramped up to help create near-term readiness and capacity for the fleet. Since being updated, the UPL now includes a request for six additional P-8s in FY 2017 to help reach the program’s requirement of 117 aircraft faster, and adds 10 additional Super Hornets to the UPL – the Navy asked for 14 last February and has since bumped up the request to 24 to “reduce near-term strike fighter shortfalls, accelerate divestiture of legacy F/A-18A-D series Hornets, and begin to address long-term strike-fighter capacity shortfalls by maintaining and open F/A-18E/F/G production line.”


On weapons, the document would add 96 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles to the Navy’s procurement plan – the service asked for 100 in its budget request and the House Armed Services Committee attempted to boost that figure to 198 to hit manufacturer Raytheon’s production line minimum sustainment rate – as well as 19 Standard Missile-6 Block IA Surface-to-Air Missiles to return to Raytheon’s maximum production rate of 125 a year. The Navy would also ask for 30 additional Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block II to address an urgent operational need for Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) ships in Europe.


In shipbuilding, the Navy would seek full funding for an amphibious ship – LPD-29 – which would increase the program of record from 12 to 13. The $1.83 billion for the ship would keep the Ingalls Shipbuilding production line busy between LPD-28, which was meant to be a gap-filler, and potential LX(R) dock landing ship replacement work, where USNI News understands there now could be a pause in work. LPD-28 would have a design that begins to shift from the original LPD design to the future LPD-based LX(R) design, and LPD-29 would presumably continue down this path to ease the transition from one class to the next. It would also help the Navy get from the current 31 amphib ships to the newly stated goal of 38, included in the December 2016 Force Structure Assessment that calls for 355 ships total. The UPL would also request $547 million for a John Lewis-class fleet oiler in FY 2017, to eliminate a one-year gap in production between the first and second hull. The list also calls for one more Expeditionary Fast Transport – formerly called the Joint High Speed Vessel – to bring the once-10-craft class up to 13, and it calls for advance procurement for an additional Expeditionary Sea Base. The Navy had planned for three ESBs – one will deploy this year, one is under construction and the third is under contract – but the new FSA calls for six.


The updated UPL calls for a slew of cyber capacity upgrades, including an urgent operational need from U.S. 10th Fleet for research, development, test and evaluation and operations and maintenance funding for Sharkcage, a defensive cyber capability to identify and defend against cyber anomalies within weapon system networks.


To boost the naval force’s capacity, the Navy is now seeking a first tranche of money to expand General Dynamics Electric Boat’s Quonset Point Facility to support construction of three Virginia-class attack submarines a year even while building the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program. The Navy faced an attack sub shortfall in the 2020s, made even more dramatic by the increase in SSN requirement in the updated Force Structure Assessment, and it will take building at least three Virginia-class boats a year – despite the massive amount of work the Columbia-class SSBN represents – to keep up with combatant commander demands for SSNs. The document also notes an interest in Adaptive Force Packages that include unmanned aerial systems and small boat packages for the Expeditionary Fast Transports.


This request – which, again, is intended to outline needs that were not included in the official budget submission but that would be vital to the Navy if additional funding were to be made available – now totals $12 billion in funding, compared to about $5 billion when the original UPL was submitted to Congress in February 2016.


Earlier this month Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran said that, while President Donald Trump had expressed interest in growing the Navy fleet, readiness needed to be a top priority before growing a larger fleet.


“Deferred maintenance is insidiously taking its toll,” he said, and “at some point, we have to dig ourselves out of the hole” that has been created from years of too little funding for operations and maintenance.


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James Mattis: Readiness Vs Offset


(THE STRATEGIST (AUSTRALIA) 25 JAN 17) … Brendan Thomas-Noone


If the initial reports about his first day in office are anything to go by, new U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is living up to what the Washington establishment hopes he will bring to the Trump administration: stability, reassurance and experience.


A good example came from The Washington Examiner, which reported that the General had begun establishing a ‘battle-rhythm’ upon entering the Pentagon, sat for four hours of briefings and has even submitted himself to the standard drug tests required of all new Department of Defense employees. But for all of the stability that Mattis looks set to bring to the Pentagon, there are some significant differences between his views and those of his predecessor, Ash Carter, which are likely to have implications for Australia.


On most matters, Mattis is a traditionalist when it comes to American foreign policy and national security – he could have easily served in a Hillary Clinton administration. He believes in the rules-based global order. He’s written that the United States should reinvest in the Bretton Woods institutions and has called for the strengthening of NATO. He’s fiercely loyal to those allies who have supported the U.S. in times of need. During his Senate confirmation hearing, one of the deadpan lines he delivered was simply his belief that ‘nations with allies thrive, nations without allies don’t.’


Appreciating that the U.S. is in a strategic competition with China, he’s argued that the relationship needs to be ‘managed’ by utilising a wide array of tools. On the South China Sea he’s toed the Obama administration’s line, reiterating that ‘the bottom line is … international waters are international waters.’ Where he falls on the ‘rebalance’ to Asia and whether he’ll argue for its continuation in some form is as yet unclear. When questioned during his confirmation hearing he stated that, ‘the U.S. has worldwide responsibilities and certainly the Pacific looms large in that.’ It was a fairly lukewarm answer when compared to his statements on other regions, such as the Middle East.


But through Mattis’ testimony, as well as his previous writings and speeches, a common theme emerges: U.S. diplomacy should be multifaceted and not be based solely on military power, but it should be conducted from a position of strength.


From where the U.S. military draws that strength is the point of his divergence from Ash Carter. One of the marks of Carter’s tenure was an emphasis on innovation and technology as underpinning American conventional deterrence now and into the future. The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in Silicon Valley, the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, and broadly, the Third Offset Strategy, were all hallmarks of Carter’s drive to infuse technological innovation into upholding American conventional deterrence.


Mattis has signalled a different approach. One of the more consistent arguments the General has made since retiring from the military in 2013 has been that the lack of combat readiness of U.S. military forces is detrimental to American conventional deterrence. Poor military readiness – through a low level of consistent training and tempo of operations, poor upkeep of military equipment and disorganisation – in the General’s view has risked the American military becoming a ‘hollow force.’ Mattis made it clear during his opening testimony at the U.S. Senate that his priorities as Secretary of Defense will be, in order, to ‘strengthen military readiness, strengthen our alliances, and bring business reforms to the Department of Defense.’


Looking back, this priority on combat readiness likely stems from the lessons the General drew from the 2006 Lebanon War, displayed in his 2008 memo Guidance for Effects Based Operations. Broadly, Mattis argued that the joint force at the time was too reliant on certain technologies, precision-warfare and centralised leadership.


Instead, ‘the joint force must act in uncertainty and thrive in chaos, sensing opportunity therein and not retreating into a need for more information.’ He highlighted the Israeli Defense Forces’ lessons from the war, saying the concept ‘discounts the human dimensions of war,’ promotes ‘centralisation and leads to micromanagement from headquarters’ and ‘assumes a level of unachievable predictability.’ The 2008 memo is a good indication of how the new Secretary of Defense thinks about the nature of war and what makes a lethal fighting force. Deterrence is guaranteed by highly effective and trained combat forces and their lethality – but not necessarily though complex systems or technological and information dominance.


The focus on innovation and technological superiority will remain a priority at DoD – particularly if Obama-era Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work remains – but Mattis’ repeated statements on how battlefield readiness should be the focus of all planning decisions may signal a shift in budget priorities. For Australia, that could eventually have implications for U.S. training and deployments. Canberra may expect to see requests for a higher rate of U.S. rotations through Australian facilities, more joint-military exercises and more high-end and diversified military assets, like the recently announced rotation of F-22s and the next deployment of Marine assets to Darwin. Much of that depends on whether Mattis is able to carve out his own sphere of influence within the Trump administration. If he does, allies like Australia could be expected to do more, but within a framework committed to engaging with and upholding a rules-based order.


Brendan Thomas-Noone is a research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.


James Mattis: readiness vs offset


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Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not


(BREAKING DEFENSE 23 JAN 17) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON – “Trump is going to explode the debt,” GOP pundit Mackenzie Eaglen said. “What you’re going to see is a debt bomb.”


While the new president wants to grow the military, rebuild infrastructure, and cut taxes, Eaglen said, his plan to fund all that that through steep domestic spending cuts “is complete fantasy” that will never pass the Senate. The only other way to pay is borrowing money – and “he’s mentioned many times on the campaign trail that’s he’s very comfortable leveraging debt.”


The result, said Eaglen, who’s close to most Republicans and defense hawks on the Hill, “will be a total bulldozing over the Tea Party,” which has seen the much-derided Budget Control Act (aka sequester) as a necessary limit on federal spending. The bulldozees-to-be in this scenario include Trump’s own pick for budget director, Rep. Rick Mulvaney, whose confirmation hearing before the Senate is tomorrow.


“I would not be surprised if they took the same approach that Reagan did,” said Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic & International studies, speaking to me after the CSIS-hosted panel on which he and Eaglen both appeared. Ronald Reagan took office proposing defense increases and tax cuts, to be offset by economic growth and cuts to domestic spending, all very much like Trump. When Democrats blocked the domestic cuts, and the economic projections proved too optimistic – the so-called “Rosy Scenario” – the difference was made up by borrowing money, also known as creating big deficits.


Trump could very well follow a similar path. There’s already discussion of “dynamic scoring” that would bend traditional rules on how to estimate the cost of federal programs, said CSIS’s Andrew Hunter, and with Trump, “you could see dynamic spending on steroids: We’re going to spend more but it’s going to cost less.” Again, once the bills come due, the only way to make up a shortfall is by borrowing.


Todd Harrison, the panel’s host and a leading budget expert, was less sanguine about the prospects for big boosts, funded by debt or not. ”It is equally, if not more, likely that the Trump administration goes in the opposite direction and they come out with a budget that actually dramatically cuts the size of the federal government,” Harrison told me.


Rather than get bulldozed, Mulvaney and the deficit hawks may prevail in the battle for Trump’s ear. If that happens, Harrison said, expect the administration to propose steep reductions in the size of the federal government – as it does in a leaked outline for a staggering $10.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years. In such a climate, defense spending would be stable at best.


“We’ll know within a few weeks,” Harrison said. “They’ll come out with their skinny budget (i.e. overall figures without detail justification) mid-to -late February. That’ll be our first indication of (whether) they go to one of these extremes or not.”


Either extreme is equally plausible, Harrison told me: debt-fueled spending increases or Spartan cuts. And whichever extreme hits the Hill, he added, Congress will force the final outcome back to the center.


No Christmas In July


Whatever happens, none of the experts expected a dramatic increase in defense spending in the near term. It takes took much time to thrash out a spending plan – and too much of Trump’s time and political capital will be consumed by higher-profile fights over repealing Obamacare, reforming the tax system and getting a Supreme Court justice confirmed.


“The most valuable resource on earth is floor time in the United States Senate, (and) it’s being used right now on Obamacare,” said Hunter. “The big moment of opportunity is going to be … the defense supplemental” to increase Pentagon spending for 2017.


But first, Hunter said, the Congress has to pass the 2017 budget so it can be supplemented. The current Continuing Resolution, which sets most (but not all) spending on autopilot at 2016 levels, expires April 28th. It’s unlikely Congress will pass a proper budget, let alone a supplemental, before that deadline – which is after Trump’s first 100 days.


When it finally does arrive, the 2017 supplemental will just be a down payment on Trump’s buildup plans. Even the 2018 budget, already drafted by the outgoing administration, will bear some Trump stamps but largely serve as a “bridge” to the 2019 proposal, the first crafted entirely under the new administration.


So no one in the Pentagon or defense industry should be shopping for a new light fighter yet. To the contrary: When the Trump plan finally comes, in addition to any increases, it will almost certainly make sharp cuts to perceived “waste” and “inefficiency” that may not be possible to execute.


“Their belief is, viscerally, in their gut, emotionally, there’s so much waste in defense,” said Eaglen. The Trump teams wants to “blow up” the intelligence and defense bureaucracies, she said.


“Trump indicated he thought there was a lot of waste in defense and therefore some of this increase could be funded by offsets within defense,” agreed Cancian. There certainly is inefficiency – but past attempts to wring it out have usually failed. “The obvious one is base closure,” said Cancian, but Congress has repeatedly shot that source of savings down.


Other potential savings are far more vague, like what Cancian called the “infamous” Defense Business Board report that prescribed $125 million in savings (over five years) by applying to the Pentagon percentage targets derived from private sector efficiency drives, without “any details” of how to apply these models to the Defense Department.


You can assume all the management efficiencies you want, said Eaglen, but when your budget counts on future savings before they’ve actually been realized, “it’s simply a topline cut.” (Reagan’s budgeteers called marked such assumed savings with what they called “the magic asterix.”) Overall, she said, that means the optimism about big defense boosts is overstated: “It’s not good news for defense. It’s not Christmas in July.”


Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not


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Flight Global


Rolls-Royce studies two new stall fixes for V-22 engines


| BY: Stephen Trimble


Rolls-Royce is exploring two new avenues for reducing the susceptibility of Bell Boeing V-22 engines to in-flight stall and surge events.


The US Naval Air Systems Command plans to award the maker of the AE1107C turboshaft engines a contract to complete two studies that would validate the company’s ideas for making the propulsion system safer to operate.


One study will prove whether rescheduling movement schedules in the full authority digital engine control (FADEC) computer for compressor guide vanes will improve surge margins. R-R’s internal testing suggests the software tweak could improve surge margin by 0.8% at sea level and up to 3% at altitude.


Another study is focused on the temperature sensor located at the inlet to the compressor. R-R’s engineers have determined the T2 sensor sends inaccurate measurements to the FADEC, contributing 2.5 percentage points of a 4% steady-state power shortfall at the compressor’s corrected rotational speed limit. By tweaking the software to provide an accurate temperature measurement at the compressor inlet, R-R believes the engine safety will improve.


The AE1107C’s vulnerability to stalls and surges has been a focus of the programme for more than a decade. NAVAIR released a statement of work for the two study contracts saying the AE1107C has experienced at least 68 stalls and surge events from 2003 to October 2016.


But only about 10% of those reported events caused in-flight disruptions, says Tom Hartmann, R-R North America’s senior vice-president of customer business. Most of the events were detected quickly by the engine monitoring system, allowing the computer to avoid a compressor stall by briefly slowing the fuel flow into the combustor, he adds.


Moreover, most of the in-flight disruptions occurred on early configurations of the engine, he adds. The arrival of the Block 3 version of the engine five years ago has led to a reduction in reports of in-flight disruptions. Bell Boeing also is developing an inlet barrier system, which is aimed at preventing surges caused by ingesting dust and sand. The AE1107Cs are already equipped with air particle separators, but that technology based on centrifugal force is less effective than installing a filter on the inlet, Hartmann says.


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Breaking Defense


McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein


By Colin Clark


WASHINGTON: A key part of Sen. John Mclain’s alternative defense budget proposal is the rapid purchase of 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.”


I asked Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein today what he thought of McCain’s proposal, contained in Restoring American Power. “Great idea,” he said, pointing to the long war we’ve fought against Islamic terrorists and other violent extremists. While America needs F-22s and F-35s in case of war with China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, Goldfein said those aircraft need a break from flying the regular missions into permissive environments such as those found in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other theaters where US aircraft execute Close Air Support (CAS) and other operations that don’t require stealth, high speed or other expensive and sophisticated capabilities.


After his talk at the glamorous new headquarters of the American Enterprise Institute, Goldfein spoke with me briefly and confirmed that the Air Force already is talking with defense companies about possible aircraft for the job. The head of Air Force public affairs, Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas, then spoke with reporters after Goldfein left the building, confirming there is no money in the budget — this year or next (so far) — to fund this effort. He also confirmed that this aircraft is in keeping with the Air Force plan to buy a new fighter capable of CAS, known as OA-X.


I asked Goldfein if the Scorpion aircraft, built on spec by Textron AirLand, was one of the aircraft under consideration and he said yes. The other planes already being considered for OA-X are Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucanos and Beechcraft’s AT-6. With ardent A-10 supporter Sen. Kelly Ayotte having lost her seat, it will be interesting to see how Congress shapes the CAS decisions the Air Force hopes to make.


In other news, Goldfein admitted that Russia and Turkey flying together today in operations over Syria “certainly adds to the complexity” of the regional situation in the Middle East. Turkey, a key NATO ally, flew F-16s with the Russians. Michael Gordon of the New York Times pressed him for a clearer answer and Goldfein said: “I’m not concerned right now, but we are all watching very closely to see what goes on.”


The idea of Russian and Turkish troops working tougher in any form would have been laughable a year ago. In November 2015 Turkey shot down a Russian jet it said was violating its airspace and President Erdogan repeatedly defended the shoot down. Then Erdogan expressed “deep regret” to Putin in June last year for the downing and the unfortunate Turkish pilots were arrested. Since then, Russia and Turkey have worked more and more closely together in operations centered on northeastern Syria.


McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein


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Defense Systems


Air Force Chief Scientist confirms F-35 will include artificial intelligence


By Kris Osborn


F-35s, F-22s and other fighter jets will soon use improved artificial intelligence to control nearby drone wingmen that will be able to carry weapons, test enemy air defenses or perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in high risk areas, senior Air Force officials said.


Citing ongoing progress with artificial intelligence already engineered into the F-35, Air Force Chief Scientist Gregory Zacharias said that much higher degrees of autonomy and manned-unmanned teaming are expected to emerge in the near future from work at the Air Force Research Lab.


“This involves an attempt to have another platform fly alongside a human, perhaps serving as a weapons truck carrying a bunch of missiles,” Zacharias said in an interview with Defense Systems.


An F-35 computer system, Autonomic Logistics Information System, uses early applications of artificial intelligence that help computers make assessments, go through checklists, organize information and make some decisions by themselves – without needing human intervention.


“We are working on making platforms more autonomous with multi-infusion systems and data from across different intel streams,” Zacharias explained.


ALIS serves as the information infrastructure for the F-35, transmitting aircraft health and maintenance action information to the appropriate users on a globally-distributed network to technicians worldwide, said Lockheed Martin, the contractor that built the system.


However, despite the promise of advancing computer technology and increasingly levels of autonomy, Zacharias emphasized that dynamic human cognition is, in many respects, far more capable than computers.


Computers can more quickly complete checklists and various procedures, but human perception abilities can more quickly process changing information in many respects.


“A computer might have to go through a big long checklist, whereas a pilot might immediately know that the engines are out without going through a checklist. He is able to make a quicker decision about where to land,” Zacharias said.


The F-35s so-called “sensor fusion” uses computer algorithms to acquire, distill, organize and present otherwise disparate pieces of intelligence into a single picture for the pilot. The technology, Zacharias said, also exhibits some early implementations of artificial intelligence.


Systems such as a 360-degree sensor suite, called the Distributed Aperture System, is linked with targeting technologies, such as the aircraft’s Electro-Optical Targeting System.


At the moment, the flight path, sensor payload and weapons disposal of airborne drones such as Air Force Predators and Reapers are coordinated from ground control stations.


In the future, drones will likely be operated from the cockpit of advanced fighter jets such as the Joint Strike Fighter or F-22, Zacharias predicted.


Zacharias said F-35 pilots will be able to control a small group of drones flying nearby from the aircraft cockpit in the air, performing sensing, reconnaissance and targeting functions.


“The more autonomy and intelligence you can put on these vehicles, the more useful they will become,” he said.


Wargames, exercises and simulations are ways the Air Force is working to advance autonomous technologies.


“Right now we are using lots of bandwidth to send our real-time video. One of the things that we have is a smarter on-board processor. These systems can learn over time and be a force multiplier. There’s plenty of opportunity to go beyond the code base of an original designer and work on a greater ability to sense your environment or sense what your teammate might be telling you as a human,” he said.


For example, with advances in computer technology, autonomy and artificial intelligence, drones will be able to stay above a certain area and identify particular identified relevant objects or targets at certain times, without needing a human operator, Zacharias added.


This is particularly relevant because the large amount of ISR video demands organizing algorithms and technology to help process and sift through the vast volumes of gathered footage – in order to pinpoint and communicate what is tactically relevant.


“With image processing and pattern recognition, you could just send a signal instead of using up all this bandwidth saying, “Hey, I just saw something 30-seconds ago you might want to look at the video feed I am sending right now,’” he explained .This development could greatly enhance mission scope, flexibility and effectiveness by enabling a fighter jet to conduct a mission with more weapons, sensors, targeting technology and cargo, Zacharias explained.


For instance, real-time video feeds from the electro-optical/infrared sensors on board an Air Force Predator, Reaper or Global Hawk drone could go directly into an F-35 cockpit, without needing to go to a ground control station. This could speed up targeting and tactical input from drones on reconnaissance missions in the vicinity of where a fighter pilot might want to attack.


In fast-moving combat circumstances involving both air-to-air and air-to-ground threats, increased speed could make a large difference.


In addition, drones could be programmed to fly into heavily defended or high-risk areas ahead of manned-fighter jets in order to assess enemy air defenses and reduce risk to pilots.


“Decision aides will be in cockpit or on the ground and more platform oriented autonomous systems. A wing-man, for instance, might be carrying extra weapons, conduct ISR tasks or help to defend an area,” he said.


Algorithms could progress to the point where a drone, such as a Predator or a Reaper, might be able to follow a fighter aircraft by itself – without needing its flight path navigated from human direction from the ground.


Unlike ground robotics wherein autonomy algorithms have to contend with an ability to move quickly in relation to unanticipated developments and other moving objects, simple autonomous flight guidance from the air is much more manageable to accomplish.


Since there are often fewer obstacles in the air compared with the ground, drones above the ground can be programmed more easily to fly toward certain pre-determined locations.


At the same time, unanticipated movements, objects or combat circumstances can easily occur in the skies as well, Zacharias said.


“The hardest thing is ground robotics. I think that is really tough. I think the air basically is today effectively a solved problem. The question is what happens when you have to react more to your environment and a threat is coming after you,” he said.


As a result, scientists are now working on advancing autonomy to the point where a drone can, for example, be programmed to spoof a radar system, see where threats are and more quickly identify targets independently.


At the same time, despite the speed at which unmanned technology is progressing, many scientists and weapons’ developers believe that human pilots will still be needed – given the speed at which the human brain can quickly respond to unanticipated developments.


There is often a two-second long lag time before a UAS in the air can respond to or implement directions from a remote pilot in a ground station, a circumstance which underscores the need for manned pilots when it comes to fighter jets, Air Force officials said.


Therefore, while cargo planes or bombers with less of a need to maneuver in the skies might be more easily able to embrace autonomous flight – fighter jets will still greatly benefit from human piloting, Air Force scientists have said.


However, sensor technology is progressing quickly to the point where fighter pilots will increasingly be able to identify threats at much greater distances, therefore remove the need to dogfight. As a result, there may be room for an unmanned fighter jet in the not-too-distant future, given the pace of improving autonomous technology.


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Flight Global


Super Hornet could compete with Lockheed F-35


BY: Leigh Giangreco


Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet could steal orders away from the Lockheed Martin F-35 if the Trump Administration adjusts defence priorities, military acquisition analyst Andrew Hunter told an audience 23 January at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


An “advanced Super Hornet” still can’t compete with the stealthy F-35 in airspace monitored by radar surveillance, but a semi-low-observable F/A-18E/F with more carriage capacity could emerge as an attractive option against less sophisticated threats, according to Hunter.


“But if your strategy requires to operate continuously in denied access air environments, there is no such thing as a comparable Super Hornet,” he adds. “It simply doesn’t exist.”


In 2015, US Gen Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Russia the greatest existential threat to the US followed by China, North Korea and Islamic State terrorists. That order affects how the US Department of Defense approaches its procurement priorities. When it comes to air, it means the Pentagon has set its sights on buying high-end aircraft that can penetrate more sophisticated Russian air defences in Crimea.


But there is some indication from Trump’s previous statements and his proclivity for Russian president Vladimir Putin that the old order could be flipped. US president Donald Trump’s national security team could make terrorism their top concern and let the Russian threat fall to the back burner, according to CSIS defence budget analyst Todd Harrison.


“If that holds true then why do you need as many of these stealthy aircraft?” Harrison says. “So it could dramatically change what we’re buying.”


Last week, USAF chief Gen David Goldfein expressed his support for Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Senator John McCain’s proposal to add 300 low-cost fighters to the budget. That move would make sense if the DOD pivots its focus toward fighting terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where light-attack aircraft such as the Embraer Super Tucano already operate.


Trump’s proposal for a price shoot-out on the F-35 programme between Boeing and Lockheed has some precedent. Harrison noted the US Navy already pits the Super Hornet against the carrier-based F-35C variant, with its numerous budget requests to increase the number of F/A-18E/Fs while reducing orders for the F-35C.


The service requested 14 Super Hornets in the most recent defence policy bill, which were turned down by Congress. A recent white paper from McCain suggested continuing this trend, pointing to the growing shortfall of Navy fighters and ongoing delays to the F-35C programme. McCain proposed procuring 58 more Super Hornets and 16 EA-18G Growlers over the next five years, but would continue F-35 procurement as quickly as possible.


If Lockheed would feel competition from any aircraft, it would be the Super Hornet, Harrison adds.


“I think it’s easy to say Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the F-18 doesn’t have the same capabilities as F-35C,” Harrison says. “All of that’s true, but I think he knew that he was picking at a scab.”


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Defense News

Lockheed CEO: F-35A Price to Drop Below $100M in Next Contract

By: Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON — A deal for the tenth lot of F-35s will put the Air Force’s A model under $100 million per plane for the first time, and Lockheed Martin is on track to bring unit costs for an F-35A to $85 million in 2019, the company’s CEO said Tuesday.


A comparison with past estimates shows that these figures are on track with Defense Department and Lockheed’s own expectations, and do not necessarily reflect a decrease in unit prices caused by President Trump’s public critique of the program.


Trump has been hammering the joint strike fighter since December, frequently stating that the price of the aircraft is “out of control” and calling for an alternative in Boeing’s Super Hornet.


During a Tuesday earnings call, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson defended the company’s trajectory of cost reduction, citing its Blueprint for Affordability initiatives. Perhaps even more fascinatingly, she painted Lockheed’s relationship with the new president as cooperative — a depiction at odds with the more antagonistic tenor of Trump’s public comments about the fighter jet.


“His focus is on, how do we drive the cost down aggressively, and I think we, along with our industry partners, are right in line with him on doing that. We have a lot of ideas on how we can do that in the future” she said.


“The meetings that we’ve had have been very productive, very good dialogue. He asks excellent questions and he is really focused on making sure that costs come down on the program,” she said. “It’s not about slashing our profit. It’s not about our margins.”


Hewson’s comments in some ways match the reassuring tone struck by Defense Secretary James Mattis. During his confirmation hearing, Mattis told senators that Trump has “in no way shown a lack of support for the program,” but wants to see Lockheed bring prices down.


Hewson has met twice with Trump to speak about the program, most recently on Jan. 13. After that meeting, she told reporters that the Defense Department and Lockheed were “very close” to a deal on the tenth batch of joint strike fighters — an assertion she repeated during the earnings call.


“The LRIP 10 price, as currently proposed, would represent a reduction of over 60 percent from the first LRIP 1 aircraft, and this demonstrates a learning curve as efficient as any achieved on any modern tactical fighter aircraft,” she said.


The LRIP 10 contract will also mark a sharp production increase, from 57 aircraft in LRIP 9 to about 90 F-35s in the tenth batch. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said late last year that he expected to see unit prices fall about 6 percent between the two orders.


Lockheed CFO Bruce Tanner predicted that the F-35 will have “sequential, year-after-year margin improvements” leading up to full rate production, and that LRIP 10 would not deviate from that path.


The company hopes to finalize negotiations on LRIP 11 in 2017. If orders increase as planned, Lockheed will be on track to offer the F-35A at $85 million per copy in LRIP 13 — a 2019 order comprised of about 200 jets, according to a chart shown by Hewson during the call.


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National Defense


F-35 in Trump Administration’s Crosshairs


By Jon Harper


President Donald Trump’s defense policy advisers want to “tear open” the F-35 joint strike fighter program, according to an analyst familiar with their thinking.


The $400 billion program is the most expensive acquisition project in Pentagon history. The Defense Department plans to spend about $56 billion on the aircraft over the next five years.


The project has experienced significant cost overruns, schedule delays and technical problems, and Trump took aim at it before he even came into office.


“The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th,” he tweeted in December.


He has asked Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet” as a potential alternative to the F-35, he said in a subsequent tweet.


Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense budget analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, has briefed Trump’s policy advisers on several occasions. They are inclined to “tear open this program and take it apart” and look at whether major changes need to be made to the number of planes procured or other aspects of the project, she said.


“They really believe it’s time to burn the Pentagon” metaphorically speaking, she said. “That’s going to have a heavy emphasis on acquisition of weapons in particular.”


The president’s tweet put F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin on the defensive.


“Lockheed Martin and its industry partners understand the importance of affordability” for the joint strike fighter program, Jeff Babione, the company’s executive vice president and general manager of the F-35, said during an aircraft delivery ceremony in Israel in December.


Lockheed has been trying to bring costs down, he emphasized.


“Since the beginning, we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the price of the airplane more than 60 percent” relative to the original low-rate initial production bill, he said.


The company projects that the price tag will be down to $85 million in the 2019 to 2020 timeframe.


“It’s a great value and we look forward to any questions [Trump] may have,” Babione said.


When asked about Trump’s comments, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, said he understands why there is a perception that the program is out of control, noting that from 2001 to 2011 it experienced a six-year delay in development and $13.5 billion in cost overruns.


“This is a vastly different program” now, he told reporters in December. “I don’t think the program cost-wise is out of control nor do I think it’s out of control schedule-wise.”


The aircraft is vital for the United States and its allies to maintain air dominance for the next 50 years, he said. But he and his JPO colleagues are not “salesmen” for the fighter jet, he added.


“I don’t have a strategy with the industry to go … try and save this program,” he said. “Our job is going to be to give the administration the good, the bad and the ugly about this program and let them make their own decisions.”


If the new president and his team try to significantly reduce the F-35 program, they would likely face resistance. With production spread out across more than 40 states, the joint strike fighter has the backing of many members of Congress who have jobs in their districts tied to the aircraft.


In addition, Lockheed would be expected to fight hard against any efforts to pare down the program.


“Never underestimate the power of Lockheed Martin’s sway,” Eaglen said.


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Some Thoughts On The McCain White Paper


(INFORMATION DISSEMINATION 23 JAN 17) … Bryan Clark and Bryan McGrath


The Trump Administration began work this week on its promise of an across-the-board enlargement of the U.S. military. The President-elect has thus far described his plan only in the broadest of terms, but those terms portend a sustained period of higher defense spending – something Congress has been unwilling to approve since it passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011.


Chief among those who will shape the future of the American military is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who waded into the debate last week with a strong, coherent outline that not only aims to restore the capacity of a significantly hollowed-out force, but also provides direction for how the force should evolve as it grows. There is a lot in this report, but we will restrict our comments to the larger context of the plan and its impact on American Seapower.


Hope Versus Strategy


Senator McCain’s report begins by rightly highlighting the fundamental disconnect in today’s U.S. defense planning between resources and objectives. Hoping revanchist regimes in Russia and China would not be able to act effectively on their objectives for more than a decade, Congress and President Obama passed the BCA in 2011, reducing military budgets by about 10 percent for the subsequent decade. The BCA, in turn, contained the a ticking time-bomb known as Sequestration, which implemented another 10 percent cut starting in fiscal year (FY) 2013 if the Department was not able to meet BCA targets for spending. Because FY 2013 was already halfway over, services had to immediately cut their spending, creating maintenance depot backlogs, personnel shortfalls, and training shutdowns from which DoD is still recovering.


As the impact of the BCA’s cuts became clear, DoD and Congress experienced buyer’s remorse, turning to various budget gimmicks and abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget to pay for expanding U.S. involvement in regional conflicts, growing compensation costs, and to allow for modest modernization of the force. McCain excoriates both Congress and the Executive Branch for these measures. Issuing a clear call to action, his report states “This law (BCA) must be repealed outright so we can budget for the true costs of our national defense.”


The most significant problem with the BCA’s reductions, McCain argues, is they do not allow modernization to address the rapidly improving capability of great powers such as Russia and China and regional powers such as Iran and North Korea. The BCA also does not provide the resources for U.S. forces to sustain the operational tempo to conduct daily strikes and raids on terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. Notably, despite the hopes that underpinned the BCA, Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and China’s aggression in the South China Sea show, in McCain’s words, “A better defense strategy must acknowledge the reality that we have entered a new era of great power competitions. China and Russia aspire to diminish U.S. influence and revise the world order in ways that are contrary to U.S. national interests.”


McCain’s focus on great power competition is important in two ways. First, it draws a distinction between the Obama Administration’s approach and McCain’s more forward-leaning view of great power dynamics. Second, it sends a signal to the incoming administration of McCain’s wariness of Russia in clear and unambiguous terms. This could ultimately prove to be a contentious issue between Congress and the Trump Administration, which has indicated it may view Russia as a partner rather than a competitor or adversary.


Strategy And Fleet Architecture


McCain argues for a new set of defense strategies to address great powers, regional powers, and transnational terrorists, rather than a single U.S. security strategy. In CSBA’s upcoming study of alternative Navy fleet architectures, we argue the most important of these is a strategy to deter great power aggression, which could potentially have the most catastrophic consequences of these security challenges. With the realignment of American bases since the Cold War, U.S. ground and air forces overseas are less numerous and more easily suppressed than when they last faced a great power adversary a quarter century ago. Thus, naval forces will assume a more prominent role in conventional deterrence.


Recognizing both the Trump goal of a 350 ship Navy and the Navy’s own recently released 355-ship Force Structure Assessment (FSA), McCain lays out a plan that over the next five years that: 1) increases the size of the fleet over the final plan of the Obama Administration by building 59 ships as opposed to the Obama Administration’s 41, 2) truncates the current Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and accelerates the Navy’s move to an open-ocean frigate replacement, 3) funds design work on a new class of aircraft carrier, 4) increases Navy end-strength, 5) invests significantly in unmanned technologies of all varieties, and 6) provides additional, immediate funding to address fleet readiness and maintenance, and installations and infrastructure.


McCain’s plan aligns in large part with our proposed fleet architecture, and would improve the Navy’s ability to deter aggression by great powers, counter attacks by regional powers, and help keep terrorists on the run. Unlike the current fleet, McCain’s proposal would not focus on efficiently providing presence at the expense of the capability and capacity for combat against a capable adversary.


Three aspects of McCain’s force structure plan are of particular interest. First is its truncation of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in 2017 with a follow-on frigate proposed for acquisition no later than 2022. It is essential that the Navy move as quickly as possible from the LCS to a proper blue-water frigate capable of anti-submarine warfare and local air defense, but it must also continue to increase the size of the fleet and ensure the frigate can be affordable and built in large numbers. McCain proposes an acquisition “bridge” for the two shipyards currently building LCS to continue between 2017 and 2022. This would expand the fleet and enable these shipbuilders to compete for the follow-on frigate, which could lower costs for the frigate and increase the number of shipyards at which it could be built.


The second initiative of note is McCain’s proposal to move to a mix of large, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and smaller, conventionally-powered carriers. As recommended in our fleet architecture study as well, conventional carriers would initially be based on current amphibious assault ships that carry short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft such as the AV-8B Harrier and F-35B Lightning II. As McCain argues, a smaller carrier would be suited to supporting many of the smaller steady-state operations that require naval air power, such as air strikes in Syria. Senator McCain is skeptical of the Navy’s new FORD-class carrier due to its high cost and poor management, but argues the fleet will continue to also need large nuclear-powered carriers to provide a mobile airfield for combat air sorties during larger conflicts in which host nation concerns or enemy actions prevent effectively using land bases.


Finally, though not mentioned in the narrative, a “patrol ship” of less than 800 tons appears in the McCain plan’s appendix for acquisition starting in 2020. The addition of this small combatant highlights the need for a larger, more distributed, and resilient force, which was also a finding of our fleet architecture study. A patrol vessel of 800 tons such as Sweden’s Visby-class would be able to defend itself against a salvo of a dozen or more anti-ship missiles and could carry 4 to 8 offensive strike or anti-ship missiles. This will make patrol vessels able to deny or delay enemy aggression while being too costly a target to be worth defeating in large numbers.


Overall, McCain’s proposal would grow the surface fleet by adding frigates and patrol vessels to the Navy’s current requirement of 104 large surface combatants and 52 small surface combatants. We agree a larger surface fleet is essential to conduct offensive strike and anti-ship attacks in a distributed manner that will make them harder to defeat in detail. But we would argue the Distributed Lethality concept and growing needs for logistics escorts suggest the surface fleet needs to both grow and be rebalanced, with more small surface combatants that can conduct widely distributed offensive operations and fewer large surface combatants that will tend to concentrate the fleet’s firepower.


A Fleet For The Future


A Navy is a capital investment that takes years to build and lasts for decades thereafter. Any plan for a future fleet should be based not on the world of today, but on a set of plausible futures that best represent the world of 15 to 20 years from now. Even with an aggressive shipbuilding increase such as envisioned by McCain’s plan, only ¼ of the fleet will change between now and 2030. McCain’s proposal considers the likelihood that the fleet of 2030 will need to deter revisionist great powers as its primary mission, while addressing the growing capability of regional powers and transnational terrorists. It appropriately invests not only in platforms, but across the board in the various enablers and extenders of maritime power, including ISR, networking, unmanned vehicles, cyber, and electronic warfare.


If the United States fails to make great power competition a priority in long-term force planning, rivals such as Russia and China will continue eroding American influence and alliances, with damaging economic and security impacts on the American people. McCain’s plan sets American Seapower (as well as the rest of DoD) on a solid course for an uncertain future. It remains to be seen the extent to which this thoughtful, strategic approach will be complemented by the other instruments of national power, or the degree to which the incoming administration will welcome it.


Bryan Clark is Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Prior to joining CSBA, he was Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations and Director of his Commander’s Action Group. Bryan McGrath is Deputy Director, Center for American Seapower and a retired Surface Warfare Officer.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 16, 2017


1. MV-22 Osprey depot-level repair facility opens in Japan
2. CLIO Announcement – NEW LogTalk from Weapons Division
3. PHOTO RELEASE: CNAF, NAVAIR Celebrate 2017 MLK Day (link)


4. Kendall Warns Against Splitting Top Pentagon Acquisition Job
5. Hundreds of deficiencies could push F-35 tests to 2019
6. First F-35Cs For West Coast FRS To Arrive Next Week At Lemoore
7. If Trump Wants Lower F-35 Costs, He Should Compete F135 Engine
8. Trump’s Navy Build-Up Comes With Steep Price Tag
9. Exclusive: Pentagon, Lockheed near deal on $9 billion F-35 contract – sources
10. From Drone Swarms To Smart Data, Pentagon Eyes A.I.
11. Why The United States Is Losing Its Technological Edge
12. Virginia start-up sets endurance record for small UAV
13. Fanning: Army Must Change How it Works With Private Sector
14. The Real Culprit in Defense Spending: Strategic Hubris
15. The Future of Air Superiority, Part III: Defeating A2/AD

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MV-22 Osprey depot-level repair facility opens in Japan

KISARAZU, Japan – Members of Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRCWP) joined Japanese city officials, industry executives, and self-defense force leaders in a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 12 to open the first, Japan-based, depot-level MV-22 Osprey repair facility at Camp Kisarazu, a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) operated air field.

The hangar bay facility, under contract with Fuji Heavy Industries, is critical to maintaining the entire forward deployed Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey fleet.

“The (M)V-22 is a strategic asset for the Marines in Japan,” said Capt. Matthew Edwards, commanding officer of FRCWP. “Opening this facility is a win-win situation for the Japan-U.S. alliance; it will allow us to ensure the long-term sustainment of the Marine Corps aircraft, and the Japanese will gain important experience on working with the aircraft.” The JGSDF is in the process of procuring seventeen V-22 aircraft.

FRCWP worked closely with Fuji Heavy Industries and the JGSDF to make this event happen on time.

“We had to coordinate the development of the facility and ensured that it met specifications. We provided aircraft support equipment, and also had to train Fuji Heavy Industries technicians to use the Department of Defense supply system,” said Scott DeLorenzi, MV-22 Logistics Management Specialist. “Despite these types of challenges, we are still on schedule.”

Once depot-level maintenance begins at the facility, FRCWP, which is based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, will provide oversight, engineering support, material, and technical data for the life of the contract.
Training for the Japanese aircraft maintainers has been provided by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), and is expected to continue mid-January, with the first Osprey to undergo depot-level maintenance shortly thereafter.

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CLIO Announcement – NEW LogTalk from Weapons Division

Mr. Jason Zehendner, the IPT Lead for the All Weapons Information System (AWIS) at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, located in China Lake, California, and his team describe the capabilities and importance of the AWIS system. They identify how different components of the Department of the Navy leverage the multitude of applications within AWIS to achieve complete lifecycle management for the Navy’s Weapons Systems.

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Kendall Warns Against Splitting Top Pentagon Acquisition Job

(USNI 17JAN17) … By: John Grady

Frank Kendall again warned against splitting the duties of the Pentagon’s top civilian for acquisition, technology and logistics into two positions – one for the research and engineering and the other for acquisition and sustainment.

“I don’t think the break-up is a good thing,” Frank Kendall, the Department of Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L) speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Kendall and other Pentagon officials have testified against the split contained in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act – which the president termed “rushed” in his signing memorandum, and had threatened to veto.

Congressional leaders – like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) – have argued the split would streamline upper level Pentagon management but Kendall said this kind of division, “wasn’t what we do.”

“You have to understand what you’re doing [in the context of the government, not private business], you have to understand the culture,” he said.

One key difference between doing business for the government is “we pay for R&D” because the product is going to be produced at low-volume and high cost. In the private sector, research and development costs are absorbed by industry in anticipation of high volume lowering costs.

Another key difference that appointees have to understand is private industry does not have to contend with protests over contract awards, he said.

Kendall said while “rapid acquisition” can solve immediate problems in combat it is not a practice that should be followed in all other cases. “The cost of speed is quality,” noting how the Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle that was rushed into Iraq was not designed for Afghanistan and had to be modified.

“There are times you want rapid acquisition” to assist the warfighter. To Kendall, “the metric that matters at the end of the day is are we going to win” with this program.

In his remarks on his new work “On Getting Acquisition Right,” he advised the incoming Trump administration “we have lot of ideas” in the research and development stage in the department but didn’t have the capital to take those ideas into production. “That’s the challenge for the next administration” to decide which programs advance.

He said he “hopes a lot goes to R&D and modernization” in the expected increases in defense spending.

On Monday, McCain, (released a Senate Armed Services Committee white paper outlining details for a $430 billion increase over the next five years. The House panel is expected to release its version in the coming weeks.

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Flight Global

Hundreds of deficiencies could push F-35 tests to 2019

BY: Leigh Giangreco

Plagued by a delayed delivery of crucial software and shortfalls with its automated maintenance system, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will begin initial operational test and evaluation more than a year after its planned August 2017 date.

In his last scathing report on the F-35, outgoing top Pentagon weapon tester Michael Gilmore gave early 2019 as an optimistic target date for initial operational test and evaluation. Even as the F-35 Joint Programme Office plans to reduce time in developmental testing in order to move ahead with IOT&E, Gilmore warns that hundreds of deficiencies will push full combat tests to late 2018 or early 2019 at the earliest.

Flight sciences testing identified more issues that will delay IOT&E, such as excessive and violent vertical oscillations experienced on the F-35C during catapult launches. The Navy considers the issue a “must fix” and directed the JPO should address it before IOT&E.

“Fleet pilots reported that the oscillations were so severe that they could not read flight critical data,” Gilmore writes. “Most of the pilots locked their harness during the catapult shot which made emergency switches hard to reach, again creating, in their opinion, an unacceptable and it unsafe situation.”

It’s clear given the numerous issues on the aircraft, including 270 high-priority deficiencies in Block 3F performance identified in a recent review, that Lot 10 will be delivered without the full Block 3F capability, Gilmore writes. Block 3F will bring the F-35 to its full combat capability, allowing 9g manoeuvres versus 7g loads with current Block 3i software and support for gun testing. Other critical 3F capabilities have fallen behind including Small Diameter Bomb integration, MADL capability to share imagery and basic Link 16 that allows the aircraft to transmit and receive messages.

When the US Air Force announced initial operational capability for the F-35A last August, the USAF’s chief of Air Combat Command Gen Herbert Carlisle told reporters blocks 3F and 4 would not be available until 2018 and 2021, respectively. Despite challenges during an interim readiness assessment, Carlisle assured the Block 3F software would ameliorate earlier issues on the aircraft.

In an August memo, Gilmore doubted the F-35A’s initial combat ready status. The Block 3i configuration, which carries weapons limited to Block 2B, would need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets and engage enemy aircraft he wrote. Gilmore echoed those criticisms in his last report, saying the F-35 with Block 3i software could not even match up in a permissive environment to some legacy aircraft, such as the F-18 and A-10. He also asserts pilots report the F-35’s electro-optical targeting system’s ability to identify targets is worse than those fielded on legacy aircraft.

“Environmental effects, such as high humidity, often forced pilots to fly closer to the target than desired in order to discern target features and then engage for weapon employment, much closer than needed with legacy systems, potentially alerting the enemy, exposing the F-35 to threats around the target area or requiring delays to regain adequate spacing to set up an attack,” he says.

The latest version of the F-35’s maintenance system will not be completed by the end of the system development and demonstration phase. ALIS 3.0 will not be delivered until mid-2018 and even then, several capabilities from that version will be deferred until later that summer, according to Gilmore.

Mission data loads, a compilation of mission data files which help identify enemy and friendly radar signals, for specific geographic regions will not be verified until 2019 at the earliest. Once delivered, the mission data loads will not be ready to face threats in testing, let alone combat, Gilmore writes.

Gilmore also pushed back on the JPO’s recent assertion that cost overruns from SDD could be recouped with existing program funding. The aircraft’s deficiencies will increase the SDD cost more than expected and the JPO must look within their existing budget or at funding set aside for follow-on modernisation, he says.

By continuing their pursuit of a block buy for lots 12 through 14 before completing IOT&E, Gilmore argues the JPO is flouting the “fly before you buy” approach. The block buy would deliver 452 aircraft in addition to the 490 procured under lots 1 through 11, a hefty procurement before full-rate production.

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First F-35Cs For West Coast FRS To Arrive Next Week At Lemoore

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 18 JAN 17) … Gidget Fuentes

The first F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters will arrive on the West Coast next week as the Navy prepares to ramp its training pipeline for the next-generation stealth jet designed for carrier operations, Navy officials announced Tuesday.

Four of the single-seat, multi-mission Joint Strike Fighter are scheduled to land at Lemoore Naval Air Station, Calif., on Jan. 25 and join Strike Fighter Squadron 125, a former F/A-18 Hornet training squadron the Navy reactivated on Jan. 12, Naval Air Force officials said in a news release.

The “Rough Raiders” of VFA-125, will become the Navy’s second squadron to get the advanced fighter designed for its carrier-based force. The squadron will serve as the west coast-based Fleet Replacement Squadron.
The Navy’s first F-35C FRS squadron, the “Grim Reapers” of VFA-101 based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., received its first jets in September 2013 and began training the first groups of pilots and maintainers.

Lemoore NAS, located in California’s central valley, is the Navy’s designated hub for its strike fighter community supporting the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Navy sees the Lockheed Martin F-35C as providing key, critical capabilities to its carrier air wings, which also will include Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets, Boeing EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye multi-mission surveillance and refueling aircraft and Sikorsky MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters, along with Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft.

The joint JSF program and Lockheed Martin-built jets have come under heavy criticism, most recently from President-elect Donald Trump, over escalating costs for the jet and continuing program delays, even as the services continue with the jet’s development, live-fire weapons fire testing and upgrade packages including advanced software. The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation also levied some pointed criticism and skepticism at the F-35 program in its FY 2016 annual report issued in December.

But program officials remain on the defensive but confident.

“These accomplishments prove the basic design of the F-35 is sound and test results reinforce our confidence in the ultimate performance the U.S. and its partners and allies value greatly,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 Program Executive officer, said about the F-35 in a Jan. 17 statement remarking on the DOT&E report. “As a reminder, the F-35 program is still in its developmental phase. This is the time when issues are expected to be discovered and solutions are implemented to maximize the F-35’s capability for the warfighter. While the development program is more than 90 percent complete, we recognize there are known deficiencies that must be corrected and there remains the potential for future findings.”

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Breaking Defense

If Trump Wants Lower F-35 Costs, He Should Compete F135 Engine

By John Venable

Donald Trump has bemoaned the “over budget, behind schedule” F-35 program. He opened his first press conference as president-elect with a vow to do “big things” to bring down the aircraft’s cost and improve performance. That will take more than jaw-boning.

Applying heat to Lockheed will reduce costs to a degree, but it would take another 20 years to build a jet that genuinely competes with the cost and performance of the F-35. Luckily, there’s a better way.

Far greater performance, readiness, and real savings can be gleaned by opening its engine, the F135, to competition. When Lockheed Martin won the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) fly-off to win what is arguably the largest defense contract in U.S. history, both prototypes were powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine. Pratt (naturally) won the contract to build the engine for the F-35, and the U.S. government funded more than $4.8 billion for that engine’s development on a drive to significantly improve three areas critical to fighter aircraft: performance, readiness, and cost.


Jet engines are measured by their ability to propel weight. If an engine can produce 40,000 pounds of thrust and is paired with an aircraft weighing 40,000 lbs, the jet’s one-to-one thrust-to-weight ratio allows it to aggressively maneuver to engage threats while maintaining airspeed. The ability for a fighter aircraft to either outturn and out-accelerate adversary aircraft and surface-to-air threats will remain critical to a jets survival for the foreseeable future. The overall design and weight of a fighter are naturally important factors in determining the performance requirements of fighter engines, and Pratt’s F135 has more than met the JSF’s original program specifications for thrust.

Unfortunately, the actual dimensions and weight of the three variants (Air Force F-35A, Marine STOVL F-35B, and the Navy’s carrier-based F-35C) have all grown over time and now exceed the original specs the F135 was designed to power. Every fighter gains weight throughout its development and operational life. The F-16 was designed as a lightweight fighter, but it put on almost 5,000 pounds during its first 10 years. The F-35 will be no different. The additional weight is almost always overcome by improvements in engine technology, spurred on through competition. The F-16’s original engine, the Pratt & Whitney F-100-200 (Pratt F-200) worked well for the first F-16s off the line. But as the jet grew around the waistline, its thrust-to-weight ratio deteriorated considerably. To improve performance and drive down unit costs for the F-16, the Air Force in 1984 wisely implemented the Alternative Fighter Engine (AFE) program. A competitive bidding process led to General Electric’s (GE) F-110, which delivered 5,000 pounds more thrust than Pratt’s motor.

The timing of the requests for the second F-16 engine gave Pratt their just due for that system, and they had every advantage for winning the inevitable follow-on competition. In the end, GE won the F-16’s AFE follow-on contract, but fighter pilots and taxpayers were the real winners of what became known as the Great Engine War. That competition gave the F-16 the thrust needed to improve its operational and readiness faculties, while saving the taxpayers money.

To date, the F-35’s added weight has caused the four services to lower expectations for critical performance metrics for sustained turning performance (sustained g) and acceleration. The sustained turning requirement was reduced from 5.3 g’s to 4.6 for the F-35A; from 5.0 g’s to 4.5 for the F-35B, and from 5.1g’s to 5.0 for the F-35C. Losing half a “g” will hinder a pilot’s ability to maneuver the jet, but the loss in acceleration is a bigger concern. Being able to gain or recover airspeed is critical to fighter pilot survival, and the time it now takes for each variant of the F-35 to accelerate from Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2 is far longer than outlined in the original specs. Compared to the original requirements, it now takes an F-35A model 8 additional seconds to get there; the B model 16 seconds longer; the F-35C takes a worrying 43 seconds longer. Both setbacks with sustained g and acceleration can be overcome with more thrust.


Fighter aircraft engines produce more thrust under more stress than you might imagine. The F135 is the most powerful production-line fighter engine in the western hemisphere and, misinformed commentary to the contrary, has enjoyed a solid track record for reliability. Through the F-35’s more than 50,000 flight hours to date, there have been very few catastrophic failures. That said, given the extreme operating temperatures, pressures and complexities associated with this and any other fighter engine, failures are inevitable. In the 1990s, the United States flew eight different fighter aircraft, powered by as many different engines. A systemic failure of one motor may have hampered our efforts to win a major regional conflict, but with such a diversified portfolio of fighter aircraft/engines we would have been able to overcome the loss of a single aircraft type. The F-35 is slated to replace up to 90 percent of our combat fighter force, and every one of them will be powered by Pratt’s F135, which means the risk of a systemic engine failure will be much more crippling.

If that sounds far-fetched, think again. From December 15, 1998, to February 16, 2000 — a mere 14 months — Luke Air Force base lost five F-16s due to engine failure. The wing was grounded until it could determine a cause, which was found to be cracks in the Pratt and Whitney F-220 afterburner duct. The Air Force inspected the motors of every F-220 in its fleet and, while service-wide statistics are unknown, the wing at Luke found similar cracks in 63 of its engines. The consequences of a similar failure with the F-35’s single engine would not affect up to 90 percent of the U.S. fighter fleet; it would also impact seven of our key allies around the world.


The JSF team used the lessons learned from the F-16 to incorporate a competitive two-engine program into the F-35 acquisition strategy. The Defense Department gave the incumbent, Pratt & Whitney, a five-year head start on General Electric, but GE built its F136 engine to meet the looming requirement for more thrust. As the competition grew more intense, Pratt & Whitney ran an F135 up to 50,000 lbs. of thrust, exceeding the F-35 program specifications by some margin. As overall F-35 delays and cost overruns mounted, members of Congress moved aggressively to cut JSF developmental costs by terminating one of the two engines, pressed hard by then-Defense Secretary Bob Gates. Pratt’s F135 was already flying in the F-35 and it became the natural pick. Gates terminated GE’s F136 program in 2011, leaving Pratt & Whitney as the sole source of engines for the F-35. While many argue that even monopolies have to fight for excellence every day, there’s little real-world evidence to suggest that’s true.

World class track and field athletes rarely set personal bests running alone, and no athlete or business reaches its full potential without a competitor in the lane next to them. The history of the F-16 engine program reinforces that point, as does the nearly stagnant pricing history of the F135 engine/propulsion systems to date. Neither has dropped in line with program estimates, which brings us back to President-elect Trump’s recent communiques.

The Air Force currently has contracts with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney to develop a follow-on fighter engine technology, known as the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (ATEP). That motor will deliver more thrust, conserve more fuel and readily fit into the engine bay of either the F-35A or C. By adding accelerant to the Air Force’s initiative, the Trump administration can re-kindle the competition the F-35 needs to continue improving performance and readiness, while driving down costs. With a motor that can already produce 50,000 pounds of thrust, and with the contract to provide engines for all three F-35 variants in hand, Pratt is sitting in the catbird seat. There is no reason Pratt can’t come out on top in the next F-35 engine war, but until the Trump administration puts someone in the lane next to them, Pratt will continue to pace itself.

If Trump Wants Lower F-35 Costs, He Should Compete F135 Engine

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Trump’s Navy Build-Up Comes With Steep Price Tag

(THE HILL 16 JAN 17) … Kristina Wong

President-elect Donald Trump wants to expand the Navy’s fleet to 350 ships, the largest build-up since the end of the Cold War.

But where that money will come from is unclear and defense contractors aren’t counting their ships yet.

Experts say that going from the current fleet of 274 ships to Trump’s 350 goal will cost about $165 billion over 30 years. And it will be impossible to achieve unless there’s a dramatic increase in the defense budget, currently at $619 billion.

Navy budget expert Ronald O’Rourke said the $165 billion price tag does not include broader costs such as staffing the ships, maintenance and operations.

“The cost to build the ships is just a fraction of this larger number,” O’Rourke, a Congressional Research Service analyst, told The Hill. “It’s some much more substantial amount of money that would be needed.”

There are expectations on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon that Trump will substantially increase the defense budget.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), the chairmen of the Armed Services Committees, are preparing a 2018 defense budget plan of about $640 billion, according to a source close to the House panel. And the Navy added more ships to its 30-year shipbuilding plan after Trump’s election.

Trump has ambitious plans for the military.

On the campaign trail, he called for a plan to grow the military that experts say would raise the current Pentagon budget by 20 percent.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s nominee for Defense Secretary, has also voiced support for increasing the size of the military and number of ships.

However, there are key obstacles to raising defense spending.

The first is the 2011 Budget Control Act, which imposed budget ceilings on defense spending after Congress failed to agree on tax and spending reform. The ceilings are referred to as sequestration, or sequester, and go through 2021.

Overturning the bill would require the new GOP-led Congress to pass a new law, which would be a daunting task, if members can’t agree on how to otherwise reduce the deficit.

The only other option for Republican leaders in Congress is comprising with Democrats to lift the defense budget ceilings for several years at a time – which Congress has done since the ceilings began in 2013.
But Democrats have only been willing to raise the ceilings on defense if non-defense spending is raised as well.

Senate Democrats can also still filibuster any GOP plan to raise defense spending, as in previous years.

And there is pressure on Trump from other quarters to keep federal spending low, including the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Last year, they successfully pushed to extend a short-term government spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, through April 2017, giving the Trump administration to chance to weigh in.
Trump’s appointee for the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), is also a fiscal hawk hostile to increased defense spending.

If the ceilings can’t be overturned or raised, then money for the new shipbuilding plan and associated costs will have to come from elsewhere in the defense budget, at the expense of other programs.

That could spark significant pushback from within the Pentagon.

Trump had said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would seek to overturn the budget ceilings and raise defense spending.

“We will also repeal the Obama-Clinton defense sequester, and rebuild our badly depleted military,” he said at a Nov. 7 rally in Scranton, Pa.

Defense hawks plan to hold Trump to this promise.

“He says he wants to spend a lot more money on defense – I take him at his word,” said McCain.

How Trump will reconcile these competing expectations is anyone’s guess, experts say.

“That’s the $100 billion dollar question,” said Center for Strategic and International Studies director of defense budget analysis Todd Harrison. “You’ve got an inherent contradiction.”

Harrison said Trump will also be using his political capital on a number of other priorities including repealing ObamaCare and tax reform.

“How much will be left over when it comes to the defense budget?” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to see a dramatic increase in defense spending.”

Some in the defense industry are worried that lawmakers will pass another year-long continuing resolution to fund the government. That would mean carrying over spending levels from the previous year, which could lead to the delay of new defense programs.

One industry official urged lawmakers not to wait until current government spending expires at the end of April, worried they would just extend current spending levels through the end of fiscal year in September.

While there is optimism the ceilings on defense spending can be raised, there is also skepticism that Trump can overturn them permanently.

“[Trump] campaigned for the end of sequester,” the industry official said, but added that he is seemingly walking back other promises, such as having Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The same may be true for sequester,” the official said.

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Exclusive: Pentagon, Lockheed near deal on $9 billion F-35 contract – sources

(REUTERS 19 Jan 17) … By Mike Stone

The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) are close to deal for a contract worth almost $9 billion as negotiations are poised to bring the price per F-35 below $100 million for the first time, people familiar with the talks said Wednesday.

The F-35, the Pentagon’s costliest arms program, has drawn fire from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump who has made lowering prices for military equipment a pillar of his transition into office.

Talks are still ongoing for the tenth batch of stealthy fighter jets with a deal for 90 planes expected to be announced by the end of the month, three people said on condition of anonymity.

A Lockheed representative declined to comment and a representative for the fighter program said negotiations are ongoing.

The U.S. Defense Department expects to spend $391 billion in the coming decades to develop and buy 2,443 of the supersonic warplanes. Though the F-35 program has been criticized by Trump as too expensive, the price per jet has already been declining. Lockheed, the prime contractor, and its partners have been working on building a more cost-effective supply chain to fuel the production line in Fort Worth, Texas.

The overtures from the incoming administration may have had some effect, but Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Jeff Babione said last summer that the price of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing version of the jet would drop to under $100 million per plane in this contract for the 10th low-rate production batch.

The F-35 comes in three configurations, the A-model for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. allies; a F-35 B-model which can handle short takeoffs and vertical landings for the Marine Corps and the British navy; and carrier-variant F-35C jets for the U.S. Navy.

Lockheed and its main partners, including Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), United Technologies Corp’s (UTX.N) Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L), have been developing and building F-35s for the U.S. military and 10 allies.

On Oct. 25 Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, reported a quarterly profit that handily beat analysts’ expectations, as sales of its Sikorsky helicopters pushed total revenue up 14.8 percent. Lockheed is set to host its fourth-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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From Drone Swarms To Smart Data, Pentagon Eyes A.I.

(DEFENSETECH.ORG 16 JAN 17) … Brendan McGarry

The CBS show “60 Minutes” recently featured the rising number of experimental Pentagon technologies operating with artificial intelligence, from drone swarms to ground robots to naval ships.

The segment, “The Coming Swarm,” showcased a ground robot-aerial drone duo designed to track terrorists, a naval trimaran capable of spotting submarines, and more than 100 drones dropped from a trio of F/A-18 Hornet jets flying at near the speed of sound in what was billed as the largest micro-drone swarm.

The latter, which took place in the fall at China Lake, California, was arguably the most noteworthy, not only because the systems demonstrated collective decision-making and adaptive formation flying, but also because of their high-pitched alien sounding scream.

“To me the eeriest part about this moment was actually the sound,” correspondent David Martin later said of the noise. “It turned into something almost from another planet when you heard all 100 of them slowly descending in that sort of death spiral.”

When Martin asked William Roper, director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, whether autonomy is the biggest thing in military technology since nuclear weapons, Roper replied, “If what we mean is the biggest thing that is going to change everything, I think autonomy is going to change everything.”

He’s not alone. Last week in Washington, D.C., officials from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s research arm known as DARPA, the defense industry and other organizations met to talk about the opportunities and challenges for artificial intelligence in the military.

The “Beyond A.I. Forum” was organized by Tandem NSI, a national security consultancy based in Arlington, Virginia, and Booz Allen Hamilton, the defense consulting giant based in McLean, Virginia.

While autonomy, artificial intelligence and machine learning are exciting and rapidly evolving fields, defense officials have to “take a step back and say, ‘Our competitive advantage in this rising-tide-is-lifting-all boats is what?” said Chuck Howell, chief engineer of portfolio programs and integration at Mitre Corp., an engineering nonprofit that supports the federal government.

“What is the [concept of operations]?” he asked. “What are the confidence levels? What are the ways to exploit this global capability that we can come up with that’s novel?”

Howell added, “There are huge opportunities for companies that can take the general framework of A.I. machine learning and tailor it to those weird examples that the DoD and the [intelligence community] worry about. Finding cats on the Internet? Not a problem. Finding tells in a grainy overhead [image]? Harder.”

Justin Manzo, senior lead engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, agreed. For the Pentagon, big data is part of the problem. Developing systems that can help identify the megabytes of critical intelligence from the petabytes of information is part of the solution, he said.

“Those kind of systems are what we can operationalize … [and] put downrange, where there’s limited data links,” he said.

Jonathan Aberman, managing director of TandemNSI and moderator of the panel, said the business opportunities for developing products and services in this space are significant. The Defense Department is estimated to spend upwards of $3 billion a year on autonomous systems alone.

“If you’re an entrepreneur … the next two years [represent] unbelievable opportunities for raising venture capital around these products,” he said.

Fred Kennedy, deputy director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA, made clear the Pentagon’s goal for the technology. “These are all systems we’re looking at right now,” he said. “Autonomy is going to be our asymmetric approach to how we fight.”

From Drone Swarms to Smart Data, Pentagon Eyes A.I.

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Why The United States Is Losing Its Technological Edge

The Department of Defense needs to completely overhaul its approach to technology strategy, injecting free market principles to keep pace with technological change.

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 16 JAN 17) … Ben FitzGerald

Earlier this month, President-elect Donald Trump drew headlines for his criticism of two major defense programs, the Air Force One replacement and the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35). Mr. Trump is right to worry about high prices and schedule delays, issues that frequently harm defense procurement. But his concerns should run deeper. The United States military is losing its longstanding technological advantage, despite spending billions on projects like those troubling the president-elect.

The DoD’s problems can be rectified, but not by banning civilian or military personnel from ever working in defense industry, as considered by Mr. Trump. Instead, the Department of Defense needs to completely overhaul its approach to technology strategy, injecting free market principles to keep pace with technological change and outcompete increasingly capable adversaries.

The DoD develops some of the world’s most sophisticated technology, but its fundamental approach to doing so remains optimized for a bygone era. It assumes a clear, singular threat from which to develop rigid requirements. These requirements form the basis for contracts for which only a small number of defense specialist contractors can compete. And the costs of these projects are so high that the resulting weapons systems must remain in service for many decades, despite the rapid pace of technological change and world events.

Today, the United States requires capabilities to address threats ranging from sophisticated national militaries to insurgents and terrorists to highly empowered individuals. The DoD must therefore invest in a wide array of technologies ranging from nuclear weapons to traditional conventional military systems and newer capabilities like cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The developers of many of the newer technologies DoD needs focus on global commercial marketplaces, with sales and R&D budgets that dwarf the DoD’s approximately $60 billion R&D budget. Global R&D spending for 2016, by comparison, is estimated at $1.9 trillion. At today’s valuations, Apple Corporation could purchase the top five U.S. defense contractors from its cash reserves. The massive growth of global technology companies means that the DoD does not wield the influence it did in the 1960s, but it has not adapted to these market realities.

The DoD and its industry partners are acutely aware of these problems, but have not yet been able to effect the change necessary for success. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has sought to encourage innovation, reaching out to Silicon Valley by founding the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental. The United States Air Force and Army have created rapid capability offices aimed to speed the development of new systems. And Congress recently passed one of the most extensive defense reform bills in a generation, forcing a reorganization of the DoD’s entire acquisition organization. These efforts have created an environment in which profound change might take place.

If confirmed, Secretary-designate James Mattis will have a rare opportunity to make changes that have eluded previous secretaries. Success will not be achieved simply by increasing acquisition budgets or production, although that will help. Instead the incoming administration must use free market principles to foster competition and innovation, creating the conditions for military and business success.

To achieve these goals, the DoD must employ a radically different technology strategy. Under that strategy the DoD should invest in many more technology options. Creating a more diverse capability portfolio will allow the Pentagon to make investment decisions based on the systems that prove most effective. It is hard to kill a program like the Joint Strike Fighter when there is no alternative available.

An optionality strategy would yield significant military benefits, imposing intelligence and innovation burdens on the nation’s adversaries and providing the United States with more flexibility to respond to strategic surprise. It would also allow the DoD to manage the cost and sophistication of its technology relative to relevant threats. Most importantly, while others may be able to compete with certain U.S. technologies, no other nation possesses the size and sophistication required to implement this type of strategy.

At the same time, an optionality strategy would create the conditions for a far more advantageous defense marketplace. The DoD should be an attractive customer for technology companies. It offers compelling technical problems, invests in cutting edge systems and is willing to pay early adopter premiums. By lowering barriers to entry and disincentives to innovation, the DoD can take advantage of this latent appeal to stimulate competition from new entrants and traditional defense industry alike.

Changing the Pentagon’s bureaucracy is notoriously difficult. The Trump administration brings a desire to change and the hope of increased defense spending. While positive, this intention also creates the grave risk of pouring new money into old mistakes, which would see a once in a generation opportunity squandered. But with a new strategy and strong leadership, something Secretary-designate Mattis is famous for, meaningful change is possible at this moment in the Department’s history.

Ben FitzGerald is Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington.

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Flight Global

Virginia start-up sets endurance record for small UAV

BY: Stephen Trimble

A Virginia-based start-up company has announced setting a new endurance record with a 56h flight by a combustion-powered unmanned air vehicle (UAV) funded by the US military.

The flight by the Vanilla Aircraft VA001, registered as N204HR, opens a new ultra-long-endurance capability for aircraft in the in the 50-500kg (110-1,100lb) weight class, which roughly spans the UAVs sized between the Boeing/Insitu Integrator and the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator A.

Vanilla Aircraft has not published specifications for the VA001, but a video posted on the firm’s web site shows an aircraft perhaps slightly larger than the AAA RQ-7 Shadow. It is launched by sitting in a wheeled cradled, which is towed down a runway with a long cable attached to a pick-up truck. As the aircraft reaches flight speed, the VA001 jettisons the cable and starts a two-bladed, pusher-propeller mounted on the tail. Lacking a landing gear, the UAV is recovered by skidding on its belly to a stop on a runway.

Elements of propulsion system are also described in a series of documents available online. The company’s press release announcing the record endurance flight discloses the fuel type as JP-8. One of the funding agencies, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also announced the flight in a separate news release, describing the vehicle as powered by a diesel engine. The company’s aircraft registration filed with the US Federal Aviation Administration lists the engine as a “four-cycle” type.

The VA001 is designed to remain aloft for 10 days without refueling. The record endurance mission was planned as a five-day flight, but it was cut short due to weather, Vanilla Aircraft says. But the company notes the UAV landed with enough JP-8 fuel to support an additional 90h in the air, or a more than 6-day mission.

“This effort represents tremendous and unprecedented coordination among civil, defense, academic, and private industry to bring a heretofore only imagined capability to reality,” said Vanilla Aircraft CEO Timothy Healy, a retired Navy rear admiral.

The VA001 is designed to carry 13.5kg payload, but flew with 9.07kg of actual and simulated systems, which included a communications relay and a multi-spectral imaging sensor.

“We could fill a wide cost and payload-capability market gap between small electric and large military unmanned aircraft, which is perfect for many commercial applications,” says co-founder and programme manager Jeremy Novara.

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Fanning: Army Must Change How it Works With Private Sector

National Defense Magazine Online, Jan. 12 | Sandra I. Erwin

As he prepares to leave office as the Army’s top civilian leader, Eric K. Fanning is urging his successor to rethink how the service works with the private sector and acquires technology.

The U.S. military is seeing its technological superiority eroding and needs to find better ways to tap innovation from startups and companies across the board, Fanning will tell a gathering of industry executives Friday in Washington, D.C., hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.

Fanning was appointed 22nd Secretary of the Army by President Obama on May 18, 2016. Before that, he served as acting secretary of the Army and in several senior level posts at the Department of the Army. He previously was chief of staff to the secretary of defense and served as the 24th undersecretary of the Air Force.

According to a draft of Fanning’s prepared remarks, he will call on the Defense Department to create a more “open and flexible” environment for innovative companies. He notes that while the Defense Department often tells industry that “creative solutions are welcome,” for too many companies it feels like they have to “cross a moat to arrive at the front door — and when they get there they find it locked.”

Fanning, like other defense officials, blames the procurement system for stalling innovation. “Often the formal requirements that drive our acquisition process become inflexible guidelines. Rather than promoting the innovative capacity of our industrial partners, we constrain them,” he wrote in his draft remarks. “It’s no secret that some of today’s most innovative companies prefer not to work with DoD.”

Fanning suggests that there should be a closer partnership between the government and industry as national security challenges become more complex. “By finding new ways to incentivize business to make its own investments in adaptable solutions, DoD will ultimately gain access to even more advanced capabilities, more rapidly, at a reduced cost.”

He cites several areas that are “ripe for the private sector to take the lead and provide creative solutions.”

• Cyberspace: The costs of industrial cyber espionage range as high as $500 billion annually and 1.2 million jobs a year. “What is arguably more important and more costly is how states like Russia are incorporating cyber tools to sow disinformation and make it more difficult for democratic systems to make decisions,” Fanning says in his draft speech. “We’re undergoing a real test of that so far and the worst may be yet to come.”

• Space: Commercial companies like OneWeb are launching hundreds of small satellites to provide broadband internet service to individual users and to support potential first responders over the next three years. “There should be ways DoD can piggyback on these kinds of investments to push the access of our networks to the tactical edge.”

• Autonomous systems: The defense sector is driving many cutting-edge efforts forward but some of the most creative advances come from civilian applications. Right now, most of DoD’s autonomous systems do what humans tell them. But many civilian autonomous systems can also interact with humans. “There are opportunities here to develop machines that can learn and make decisions based on analyzing big data.”

• Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence: The leading edge of machine learning is now supported by complex algorithms that enable a computer to learn from prior tasks rather than perform the same task in the same way. Think of Netflix, and the way it will queue up options it thinks you like. “We are working on doing something similar with options and capabilities we provide to our forces on the battlefield. This is one area where the military needs a better way to tap into existing innovation rather than seeking to duplicate it.”

• Big data applications: “What we need and don’t have is a comprehensive approach for using big data to derive a competitive advantage over capable, near peer adversaries. Today, operational big data military applications lag far behind commercial capabilities.”

• Materials science: “We could make the equipment our people need smaller, lighter, and easier to move. And in the long term, it’s an area where the military can save enormous amounts of money. Researchers are working to provide batteries that recharge in minutes or less, don’t die, are difficult to damage, and orders of magnitude more powerful. This will revolutionize how we store and use power in both civilian applications like cars, phones, and infrastructure, but also for military vehicles, communications systems and facilities.”
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The National Interest

The Real Culprit in Defense Spending: Strategic Hubris

Christopher A. Preble

There is a wide and growing gap between what officials in Washington demand of the military and the resources made available to execute its missions. Fixing this problem is arguably the most important challenge facing the incoming Trump administration. Last month, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work estimated that the current shortfall could be as much as $88 billion per year, and that is merely to cover current operations and planned procurement. “That doesn’t buy you an extra ship, that doesn’t buy you an extra airplane, that doesn’t buy you an extra soldier or sailor or airman or Marine,” he said. “That just gets you where you need to be, fills in the hole.”

Work would solve this problem of the means-ends gap by expanding the means, i.e., grow the Pentagon’s budget, despite the fact that it is 36 percent larger in inflation-adjusted dollars than in 2000. Most defense-policy wonks here in Washington agree that we should be spending far more on the military, though they differ on how to do it. Democrats would prefer to raise taxes. Republicans would cut other spending, and divert the proceeds to the military. Most likely, however, increases in defense spending will be paid for with more borrowed money. This “pay for it later” approach would allow policymakers to avoid spelling out any painful tradeoffs. And it remains to be seen whether the budget hawks in Congress will be able to muster the votes to block a repeal of the bipartisan Budget Control Act.

There is a different approach to bridging the means-ends gap.

In a recent essay, Frank Hoffman of the National Defense University made a case for strategic discipline—in other words, focusing on the ends that we seek, not merely expanding the means to achieve them. “There is a better equilibrium point,” Hoffman wrote, “between rampant retrenchment and unbridled hegemonic primacy.” Borrowing from Ian Bremmer’s “cold-blooded, interest-driven approach . . . designed to maximize the return on the taxpayer’s investment,” which Bremmer calls Moneyball, Hoffman assigns to the National Security Council the responsibility to “assess risks and define the liabilities involved in each contingency instead of simply assuming that our leadership and credibility are at stake in every global flashpoint.”

In short, Hoffman concludes, “the United States needs to be more discriminate in judging its core interests and more disciplined in applying force and resources to secure them.”

Many writers here at The Skeptics take seriously the need for rethinking our strategic objectives. The United States needs to make better choices. The Department of Defense is misnamed. If we were serious about defending the United States, we could have a very different military, with very different missions. It would be a smaller military, based in the United States and its territories. It would deploy to places as needed, not attempt to be everywhere, all the time. A different grand strategy, what I and others call restraint, would involve the U.S. military in fewer wars. And a restraint-oriented military, while still the finest in the world by a wide margin, would be far less costly than our current one.

We can afford to rethink our foreign policy and reorient our military, because primacy, the strategy that the United States has pursued for decades, isn’t necessary to defend vital U.S. interests, and will become increasingly difficult to sustain, given low public support for it. The American people have consistently questioned the need for a vast, forward-deployed military, focused on defending other countries, most of whom can and should defend themselves. The latest polls merely confirm what we’ve known for a long time.

During the course of the campaign, Donald J. Trump hinted at some adjustments to U.S. foreign policy that were consistent with the public’s wishes. He questioned the wisdom of regime-change wars and armed nation building. He doubted that the benefits of America’s alliances always outweigh the costs. And he spoke to an American people that has grown tired of costly overseas adventures that don’t deliver on the promise of greater security.

Such positions were unpopular with a broad swathe of the GOP foreign-policy establishment, including a number of former senior officials in Republican administrations. Challenging the elite consensus is difficult, but Trump did it anyway. And he was rewarded in November.

Even if President Trump does not carry through on his promises to focus on “America First,” and even if he doesn’t revisit our global military posture, he can still fulfill his pledge to make the Department of Defense operate more efficiently. This will not be easy. It will require him to take on entrenched interests that defend the status quo.

However, the obsession with eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, though widely popular (who, after all, is a member of the “Waste, Fraud and Abuse Caucus” or gives money to the “Waste, Fraud and Abuse PAC”?), shouldn’t divert our attention from the central dilemma: America’s overly ambitious and under-debated grand strategy.

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The Future of Air Superiority, Part III: Defeating A2/AD, Jan. 13 | Brig. Gen. Alex Grynkewich

Over the last decade, would-be adversaries have been busy acquiring and fielding capabilities to preclude U.S. and allied forces from freely operating around the world. This buildup of military capabilities in the Pacific, Europe, and even in Syria and Iran, poses a complex operational problem for U.S. and allied forces across a range of missions, including in the fight for control of the air. Losing the ability to operate freely at the tactical and operational level has strategic-level impacts. If we do not respond to this trend, we will ultimately lose the ability to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries in conventional conflicts. Having a credible ability to attack an enemy – especially those enemy capabilities that threaten our homeland or our deployed forces – is essential to regaining and retaining the ability to achieve strategic success.

The second installment of this series explained how the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team (ECCT) attempted to solve this problem and bridge the air superiority gaps facing the U.S. Air Force in 2030. While none of our original four frameworks would suffice in the face of expected future threats, we did learn several key lessons from our analysis. We learned that while modernization of current forces alone could not solve the 2030 problem, key upgrades could keep this force relevant at the operational level and increase its overall fighting capacity. We learned that increased reliance on stand-off weapons would be technically feasible if we could figure out how to provide the right degree of targeting information. We learned that capabilities with persistence, range, and survivability were key. And, perhaps most instructively, we learned that the Air Force needs to move from an air domain-centric perspective to one that complements our air assets with cyberspace- and space-based capabilities.

As we continued our work, these lessons led us to develop a vision for an integrated and networked family of air superiority capabilities comprised of both stand-off and stand-in assets. Stand-in assets are those that seek to operate inside the threat range of enemy defenses, such as penetrating bombers or fighters equipped with short-range weapons. By contrast, stand-off assets remain outside those defenses, sending only longer-range weapons like missiles or other effects such as jamming into the most contested areas. The pairing of both stand-in and stand-off capabilities proved absolutely critical to defeating a future adversary’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy. Anti-access capabilities are those that threaten bases and logistical lines into a theater, denying access to basing or to the theater. Area denial capabilities aim to create an impenetrable bubble over key assets, denying a force the ability to operate in the protected area once it gains access to the theater. A key feature of the A2/AD strategy is the defense of high-value anti-access capabilities under the protective bubble provided by area denial assets. This puts attacking forces on the horns of a dilemma. They cannot attack an adversary’s area denial threats because anti-access capabilities prevent them from projecting power into a theater. They cannot attack the anti-access threats because they are heavily protected by area denial capabilities.

As the chief of naval operations recently pointed out, there is nothing new about A2/AD as a strategic approach. It is merely an extension of the long battle for supremacy between offense and defense over the course of military history. In today’s context, anti-access threats aim to force our capabilities to operate from beyond their effective range — whether in air, space, cyberspace, on land, or at sea. These threats include long-range aviation assets with long-range weapons, such as bombers with advanced air-launched cruise missiles. They might also include short or intermediate range ballistic missiles. Together, these weapons increase the risk to friendly forces operating across a wide swath of geography and could even prevent U.S., allied, or partner operations for at least a period of time.

Importantly, anti-access threats are not limited to the air domain or even to the physical domains. Anti-satellite (ASAT) systems are one clear example. A ground-based ASAT capability typically has the range and power (whether kinetic or non-kinetic) to wreak havoc above the atmosphere and deny the exploitation of the space domain for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), communications, or other purposes. Similarly, cyberspace capabilities might be used against air or space capabilities or against friendly cyber forces. Such threats might preclude logistics in forward areas for aircraft or force cyber operators to shift to a defensive focus — the virtual equivalent of denied battlespace in the physical domains.

As noted, an effective A2/AD strategy protects anti-access capabilities with area denial threats. In the air, this is often accomplished using an integrated air defense system (IADS) comprised of radars, aircraft, and surface-to-air missile systems. In space, this might be accomplished by rendering an orbit unusable by spreading debris. In cyberspace, firewalls and other protective systems prevent friendly actions in a similar manner throughout the virtual battlespace. Collectively, these area denial capabilities present a robust defense across air, space, and cyberspace.

Many defense analysts have focused on ways to tackle anti-access systems. Their ideas include longer-range aircraft, missiles, and weapons that allow U.S. forces to stand off beyond the range of threat systems. Others have discussed short-range defensive capabilities to provide the last line of defense at U.S. forward bases, including both active measures (e.g., short-range missile or gun systems) and passive measures (e.g., camouflage and hardening). Other useful solution proposals include advanced air refueling capabilities, robust theater- and base-level logistical systems, and new concepts for fighting from our bases. To these ideas, our team added a few others. For example, instead of always trying to go through the anti-access environment, the U.S. Air Force could and should improve our ability to go above it (in air or space) or below it (on the ground, in air at low altitude, or in cyberspace).

All of these ideas are a necessary part of the solution to the air superiority problem of 2030. Unfortunately, they are not sufficient. All the capabilities mentioned above only address the anti-access portion of the problem, ignoring the area denial portion. Paired with a sophisticated operational approach, these anti-access counters might be able to achieve limited effects over a short duration — a raid or reprisal action — but our analysis showed the adversary would still retain a significant advantage. In more complex scenarios, we found the adversary will likely still be able to mass decisive power at the time and place of its choosing. Through wargaming, our team saw the impact this had on diplomacy, access to the global commons, and a host of other national-level issues. In effect, conventional deterrence failed, increasing the danger that skirmishes or other minor conflicts would quickly escalate.

To regain the ability to deter and decisively win conventional conflicts, we must also build capabilities and concepts to attack the area denial side of the A2/AD strategy. In short, we found we needed a credible ability to attack the anti-access threats where they lived, rather than just protect ourselves against their effects. This concept is not a new one for airmen. Airpower strategists have long known that gaining air superiority by destroying aircraft in the air is necessary, but not sufficient. It is much more efficient and effective to destroy those capabilities on the ground by striking airfields, aircraft, fuel farms, and the like.

This logic still holds in a multi-domain environment. The adage that “sometimes offense is the best defense” still applies in the combined arms fight of the 21st century. For instance, making our on-orbit assets more resilient is again necessary, but not sufficient. We must also protect our spacecraft by eliminating terrestrial threats to them. Just as it is reasonable to strike airfields and aircraft before they leave the ground laden with cruise missiles, it also makes sense to defend our space assets by striking (or threatening to strike) an adversary’s ground-based ASAT capabilities left-of-launch. These strikes need not be kinetic. Similarly, cyberspace anti-access capabilities striking U.S. forces within cyberspace or elsewhere could be targeted either from cyberspace, from the air, or from space. Thus, the air superiority forces necessary to defeat the A2/AD strategy in 2030 require a combination of capabilities across the air, space, and cyberspace domains. Our analysis revealed four main considerations for such a force.

First, this force must be able to operate over long distances. Operating from range allows friendly forces to base beyond the reach of most anti-access threats while still maintaining the ability to strike them where they live, under the area denial umbrella. If forces attempt to fight from close proximity to an adversary employing the A2/AD strategy, thousands of attacks on their position will quickly overwhelm base defenses. These attacks might be ballistic or cruise missiles, ASAT weapons, or cyberspace-based attacks. Generating combat power becomes untenable under such persistent attack. If forces are instead able to operate from range — or from a different orbit, or from behind a firewall — the number of threats able to reach their position is more manageable. Similarly, generating combat power becomes more realistic, whether that’s aircraft sortie generation, space-based effects, or employment of cyberspace weapons. Military history is replete with examples of the benefits of striking from increased range, including moving from lances to pistols, from smoothbore to rifled muskets, and from fighter guns to air-to-air missiles. This concept still applies in the multi-domain air superiority battle of 2030.

Second, our 2030 air superiority force requires a robust logistical backbone capable of delivering key commodities — fuel, spare parts, weapons — even while under attack. Even while operating from range, hundreds of weapons could still harass friendly forces from the air or cyberspace domains. Mobility and logistics capabilities must be able to deliver and support the force in a world in which deploying into theater is a movement to contact and bases are no longer conceived of as sanctuaries, but instead as fighting positions. Concepts and capabilities critical to air superiority in 2030 include passive and active base defensives, logistical networks capable of supporting dispersed forces, and the ability to rapidly reconstitute, recover, and regenerate combat power after a successful adversary attack. The KC-46 tanker will be a critical backbone of that force, along with follow-on advanced air refueling capabilities and new tactics, techniques, and procedures appropriate for deploying and employing a long range force.

Third, to defeat the A2/AD strategy, the 2030 force must include both stand-off and stand-in capabilities. Stand-in capabilities include platforms such as the B-21, a penetrating counterair (PCA) platform, and space and cyberspace capabilities able to operate in or over adversary systems. Long-range strike assets such as the B-21 will provide the ability to neutralize airfields and logistics targets, while the PCA will maintain air superiority for other forces operating within the adversary IADS. Space systems overhead will provide ISR, navigation, and communications support to penetrating capabilities, enabled by a space mission force ready and able to fight through any adversary actions. Outside the IADS, stand-off forces will increase the tempo of friendly operations by providing the necessary volume of weapons and effects to keep the pressure on the adversary system. While able to affect targets at the outskirts of an IADS by themselves, stand-off forces will receive guidance and cueing from stand-in forces on deeper targets. This significantly increases the effectiveness of the stand-off force, improving its accuracy and making it a more viable option for employment. This effectively increases the amount of ordnance and the effects a commander can bring to bear. F-22s and F-35s will remain critical to the fight, providing air superiority for stand-off forces and over friendly bases.

Fully linking the capacity of the stand-off force with the superior capability of the stand-in force requires new concepts for multi-domain command and control (C2) and new multi-domain tactics. Thus, the fourth requirement of our 2030 air superiority force is that it be a truly networked and integrated family of capabilities. This force must be able to take data from the array of available sources and sensors and rapidly turn it into decision-quality information. Such a decision might be at the operational level, allowing a commander to apportion forces for desired effects, or it might be at the tactical level, providing operators with multi-domain situational awareness and targeting solutions.

To achieve this level of integration and networking, the 2030 air superiority force will need to leverage several of the technologies championed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work as part of the third offset. Work posits that the third offset will be enabled by technology and will likely include some combination of autonomous systems along with human-machine teaming and collaboration, all brought together into a battle network. In this battle network, he describes three layers, or grids: sensors, command and control, and effects. As our team looked that the multi-domain integration and networking requirements for air superiority in 2030, we independently came to many of the same conclusions that Work articulated. Foremost, our team developed a concept we referred to as data-to-decision (D2D). This emerged as we realized that in 2030 we would have a robust family of sensors across a number of traditional and non-traditional platforms. We saw a need to build an architecture that would make the most of this data and create decision-quality knowledge.

In D2D, our sensor grid is made up of a variety of assets. These include purpose-built airborne ISR assets, planes built solely for the purpose of gathering intelligence such as the U-2, RC-135, or RQ-4. It also includes other platforms that, while not built strictly for ISR, nonetheless have advanced sensors able to collect valuable data, such as the F-22, F-35, B-21, PCA, and others. It also includes cyberspace-based ISR systems that gather data from the virtual world, as well numerous Air Force satellite constellations. D2D takes the data from all of these sensors and deposits it into a cloud-based architecture, making the data accessible not only to the platform and sensor that collected it, but also to every other system in the family.

To make this happen, the family of capabilities will need an advanced communications architecture to tie this sensor grid together. Historically, the focus of such discussions has been on waveforms and datalinks. In the era of software definable radios, we will need instead to build self-healing networks that lean heavily on autonomous learning. Such an application of autonomy will allow the network to reconfigure on its own in real time in response to adversary jamming. Similar to how a smart phone can seamlessly transition from Wi-Fi to 4G or from 4G to 3G and all the way down to an analog operations, an autonomous, learning, self-healing network will ensure maximum performance of the sensor grid across a host of different operational environments. This does not mean it will always work at maximum capacity, just as a smart phone on 3G lacks the speed and performance it has when on Wi-Fi. But it does mean that the network will be able to adapt and reconfigure to its environment quickly, uninhibited by the slower pace of human assessment and action.

As we move to the command and control grid, the air superiority family of capabilities will rely on a series of applications that take the data from the sensor grid and turn it into meaningful information and knowledge. This portion of the D2D concept is similar to Work’s ideas on human-machine collaboration, in particular how machines can assist human decision-making. Machines will more rapidly turn the sensor data into information and knowledge to allow humans to make more and better decisions. This decision might be at a command and control center to reassign forces to new missions. For example, in a multi-domain combined arms fight, if an air commander loses a bomber mission due to weather or maintenance, she might reallocate that bomber’s targets to a cyberspace team. Conversely, if her cyberspace team runs into unexpected resistance due to a new software patch on an adversary system, she might reassign their target to an aircraft. Importantly, not all decisions supported by this grid will be at the operational or battle management levels. Applications resident on a B-21, PCA, or B-52 with stand-off weapons could also access and fuse sensor grid data to provide precise targeting information for kinetic or non-kinetic employment.

The concepts underlying D2D are foundational to the success of our air superiority 2030 family of capabilities. D2D is the connective tissue that ties our stand-off and stand-in forces together. This linkage is what allows for the precise application of kinetic or non-kinetic fires against the adversary system in mass. This, in turn, begins a virtuous cycle for friendly forces. Initially operating from range, as the anti-access threat is attrited, we can move our forces closer to the adversary, whether in physical or virtual space. This decrease in range translates into an increase in operational tempo, thereby facilitating the further dismantling of anti-access capabilities under the umbrella of area denial threats. This again allows forces to move closer to the adversary, allowing shorter-range and less-survivable capabilities to engage more effectively. Eventually, as tempo increases, the mass of effects brought to bear culminates the enemy force and defeats its A2/AD strategy. The adversary system is rendered ineffective, allowing the full range of joint operations.

Developing an air superiority force for 2030 capable of executing the concepts described above will require significant innovations in how the Air Force has traditionally developed and fielded systems. Not only must we link capabilities across functions (e.g., operations and logistics), but also across the domains of air, space, and cyber. The speed at which we adapt and field such capabilities must increase, as well. And we must develop airmen-leaders who are not only experts at the employment in their particular platform, domain, or function, but who can move fluidly and fluently across some of the traditional boundaries that define Air Force experiences and careers. These challenges and the solutions our team identified to overcome them will be covered in the final installment of this series.

–Alex Grynkewich is a Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force and an F-16 and F-22 fighter pilot. He most recently served as the Chief of Strategic Planning Integration at Headquarters Air Force and as the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capabilities Collaboration Team lead. The opinions expressed above are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Air Force

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 9, 2017


  1. FRCSW Returns Fire-Damaged Super Hornet to Fleet



  1. Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump
  2. After Ratings Change Backlash, Effort To Reform Navy Jobs Moves Ahead
  3. Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says
  4. America’s Military Has A Big Problem: It’s Dead Broke
  5. France Bids To Take NATO Leadership Role From Britain
  6. The Pentagon Needs Its Own Google For All Its Data, Says Eric Schmidt
  7. Pentagon Successfully Tests World’s Largest Micro-Drone Swarm
  8. Pentagon Tester: F-35 Program Rushing Tests, Delays Still Likely
  9. Navy Adds Helicopter Electronic War Anti-Ship Missile Defense
  10. US Army Looking to 3D-Print Minidrones in 24 Hours
  11. CNO Vs A2AD: Why Admiral Richardson Is Right About Deconstructing The A2/AD Term
  12. DARPA drone flew for 56 hours and landed with over half its fuel so looks close to achieving 7 days without refueling
  13. The Navy’s F-35 May Need New Landing Gear





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FRCSW Returns Fire-Damaged Super Hornet to Fleet


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, CA – Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) returned its first fire-damaged F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter to the fleet on Dec. 8, 2016.


The aircraft, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Two Two (VFA-122), a training squadron, made an arrested landing in August 2009 at Naval Air Weapons Systems China Lake after suffering an in-flight engine fire.

There were no injuries.


FRCSW F/A-18 planner and estimator Mark Thaidigsman said that the fire occurred in the aircraft’s right engine bay and that at the time of the incident, the Super Hornet had only 2,183 flight hours on it.


“The aircraft was disassembled in China Lake and sent on a flatbed truck to North Island in April 2010,” he said. “The door 68 was burn damaged. The aft nozzle skin was burn damaged and there were a couple of stiffeners on the center keel that needed to be replaced. We also had to replace the fire bottle, fire warning elements and some other burnt wiring.”


Overall, about 11,000 manhours were devoted to the repairs and servicing of the aircraft. Structural repairs alone totaled 2,500 manhours and included fitting of a new door 68 and replacement of the nozzle skin and burnt stiffeners.


The remaining manhours were devoted toward reassembly, shipping, preservation, engineering, troubleshooting and functional testing and inspection of the aircraft’s systems.


“The most challenging thing was getting the material to repair the aircraft. The long lead times made it difficult to coordinate the staffing and tooling that were needed to perform the repairs. It also created a substantial cost to preserve the aircraft while it was waiting for parts, and there was a late discovery of damage (to the aircraft) that occurred during shipping,” Thaidigsman said.


FRCSW is currently repairing two other fire-damaged Super Hornets: one that also suffered an engine fire and the other a fire in its aircraft mounted accessory device (AMAD) bay. The aircraft are slated for completion in July and September, respectively.


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Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump


(BREAKING DEFENSE 11 JAN 17) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON – Sure, the Navy needs more ships, but first and most urgently, it needs to fix the ships it already has. That’s what Navy leaders are telling Donald Trump.


“When the transition team came around to all of us in the building and asked us what we could do with more money right now, the answer was not to buy more ships,” Adm. William Moran, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, told the Surface Navy Association yesterday afternoon. “The answer was to make sure the 274 we have were maintained to provide 274 ships’ worth of combat power. Then we’ll start buying more ships. They heard that loud and clear, I hope.”


“The first thing we need to do is reinforce the foundation, which is our readiness, the maintenance of the ships we have today,” Moran said.


The Navy even has a specific figure for how much additional readiness money it needs to get its repair yards working at maximum capacity, although Moran wouldn’t disclose it. “We know precisely how much money we need in our readiness accounts to be able to execute the full magnitude of what our yards can handle for ship maintenance and modernization for ’17 and ’18. That number’s pretty well understood,” Moran said. “Any money that comes on top of that, we can start looking at how we would contract out for (new) ships (that) yards and contractors are ready to start building this year or next.”


So while readiness comes first, “that doesn’t mean we don’t need more ships. It’s all connected,” Moran emphasized. “Too small a Navy means we drive optempo (operational tempo) higher,” wearing out the fleet. Since 2001, the fleet has shrunk from 316 ships to 274, but high demand from commanders around the world means the number of ships deployed at any given time has stayed the same, so each ship is now deploying more. That pace increases wear and tear on both hulls and crews at the same time it decreases time to rest and refit. Over time, deferred maintenance leads to unexpected breakdowns that take ships out of service, forcing the rest of the fleet to work even harder.


More maintenance funding will slow down this vicious cycle in the short term, but in the long term the only solution is to buy more ships. Said Moran, “we need a bigger Navy so we can continue to meet demand without driving the current force, the smaller force, into the ground.”


Mabus Agrees – But…


“Bill Moran and I have had this conversation,” Ray Mabus, the outgoing Navy Secretary, told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast this morning. “I don’t think that it’s an either/or here. One of the readiness problems that we do have is we don’t have enough ships.” Cutting shipbuilding budgets to fund near-term readiness just makes the problem worse in the long term, he warned repeatedly.


But if you’re adding dollars to the Navy budget, as Trump has pledged, Mabus went on, then yes, the next dollar needs to go to maintenance, not shipbuilding. “[For] the very close in of the ’18, ’19, budget, (given) the shipbuilding plan that we were on, if you’ll stick to that, then … take those marginal dollars and put them into today’s readiness.”


That’s a remarkable admission from Mabus. The Navy Secretary prides himself on building more ships than his predecessors: 86 ships put under contract during his eight-year term, versus 41 in the previous seven, as he says at every opportunity. Mabus even got into a public fight with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter over shipbuilding funds in the 2018-2022 budget plan.


“We were ordered to cut $16 billion and instead I added $35,” Mabus said with satisfaction. (Carter & co. have told the Navy to spend less on new ships and more on upgrading the ships it has with modern weapons). Since the 2018 plan will be finalized and submitted by the Trump administration, which has promised much higher funding for defense, Mabus considered Carter’s cuts “a useless exercise,” he said bluntly. “This was at best symbolic, and if you’re going to put in a symbolic budget,” he said, why not lay out what the Navy really needs? “To say, nah, fewer ships, just makes no sense,” Mabus said, “and it undercuts one of the central requirements of this administration.”


“The ships that I put under contract will get us to 308 ships by 2021,” said Mabus, but, he emphasized, that’s the Navy’s old goal, calculated in 2012, before Russia seized Crimea or China built artificial islands in the South China Sea. The new Force Structure Assessment just completed calls for 355.


That’s almost exactly the figure Trump called for in the campaign, 350 ships. Some skeptics call the closeness suspiciously “convenient,” said Adm. Moran, but “I assure you our analysis has been going on for more than a year.” It also lines up with older studies that called for a fleet in the “mid-300s” and with three independent studies ongoing of fleet architecture, he said: “All three of those, independently, without any collaboration or guidance from OPNAV (Navy HQ) staff, came up with roughly the same number.”


Getting consensus on 355 ships is a good start, but getting funding for 355 ships will be much harder, Moran warned: “We can’t get overly excited about the potential for that much money coming our way.”


Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump


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After Ratings Change Backlash, Effort To Reform Navy Jobs Moves Ahead


(STARS AND STRIPES 11 JAN 17) … Wyatt Olson


JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – The Navy has backed off on a controversial decision to scrap job-oriented titles, but the effort to reform how those jobs are attained and offered is moving forward, a top Navy official said Tuesday.


“Now that we’ve got the distraction of the naming issue put aside, we’re focusing on things of substance that we wanted to tackle – the rating modernization – as well as Sailor 2025,” Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of Naval Personnel, told a media roundtable in Hawaii.


Sailor 2025, an overhaul of the Navy’s personnel system, is intended to modernize policies, operating systems and training.


The service announced in September it would end the 2-century-old job-ratings system that identifies sailors by occupation and rank, though many vehemently opposed the change.


“Our sailors have many allegiances,” Burke said of the backlash. “They have allegiance to their ships, to their warfare designations, to their squadrons and to their tribe. Ratings are another tribe, and there’s tradition associated with it. I think there’s that aspect of it.”


At least for now, a yeoman first class will remain a yeoman first class, he said, adding that “everything else in the project is continuing forward.”


“We fundamentally haven’t changed our personnel system since the draft went away [44 years ago],” Burke said.


The Navy oversees a massive and sprawling personnel pool, with roughly 40,000 sailors entering the service each year and the same number heading out. There are about 90,000 annual permanent-change-of-station moves for operational and rotational tours alone, he said.


The Navy is hoping to attract and retain sailors through the modernization effort designed to reduce the cost and toll of turnover.


Part of that reform is aimed at increasing flexibility so sailors don’t find themselves at career dead ends. Too many “proven performers” aren’t promoted because their job specialties are “over-manned,” he said.


The modernization would create more flexibility by managing personnel by career tracks. For example, a dental technician could qualify to be an X-ray technician after an additional month of schooling, Burke said.


The Navy is working on identifying and categorizing similar jobs.


“That’s what the rating modernization is about: identifying that DNA that defines that career track he’s in and looking at the differences for the DNA that’s required to do different jobs and just training them on those different elements,” he said. “That’s the goal.”


Burke said the sailors he’s talked to have liked the proposal to change the way advancement exams are structured. For example, he said there are 40 classifications within the corpsman rating that run the gamut from dental and X-ray technician to mortician and aerospace medical technician.


A corpsman is tested on all 40 classifications when taking an advancement exam, Burke said. A worthy goal would be to advance sailors based on testing of their individual skill sets rather than the “the whole larger set,” he added.


“Sailors really like that idea,” Burke said.


However, increased job flexibility as the norm could cause the Navy to revisit the naming issue, he said.

“For example, if you come in as a cryptologic technician and you later become an electronics technician, what do we call you?” he said.


During an all-hands call Monday at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, several sailors suggested that the first rating a sailor assumes in the Navy will be “for life,” Burke said.


“We’ll get the sailors’ ideas on it and bring them to bear on what we call each other,” he said. “We can cross that bridge later.”


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Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says


(DEFENSE DAILY 11 JAN 17) … Marc Selinger


The U.S. Navy, which recently concluded that it needs to buy dozens of more ships than planned, expects it will require more aircraft to support those vessels, though how many and what kind is unclear, according to the service’s top official.


“Clearly, you’ll need aircraft to man those ships,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Jan. 11. But determining the number and types of those aircraft is less urgent than ships because “you can dial up aircraft in a much shorter period of time than you can [with] ships.”


The Navy announced last month that based on a year-long study, or force structure assessment, it needs to expand its fleet size to 355 ships, up from the 308 ships it is currently slated to grow to by fiscal year 2021. The 47-ship increase includes one more aircraft carrier, 18 more attack submarines, 16 more large surface combatants and four more amphibious warfare ships.


Mabus, who spoke to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., and later addressed a Surface Navy Association conference in Arlington, Va., defended the study against those who assert it would overspend on shipbuilding. He insisted the Navy does not have enough ships to meet combatant commander requirements and is overtaxing its fleet.


Critics say “the Navy is focused too much on shipbuilding and not enough on the weapons that go on them,” Mabus said. “How are they going to get these advanced weapons there if we don’t have the ships? We have to be forward-deployed.”


Mabus said shipbuilders have become more efficient due to recent increases in shipbuilding, and he expressed confidence that they could build enough additional ships to meet the Navy’s needs. “Even today with the number of ships we’re building, there are troughs,” he said at a Surface Navy Association conference. “We need to not have those troughs.”


Mabus has not seen interest in building new shipyards. “I’m a big fan of competition,” he said, but industry “would need to be convinced that it’s a profitable enterprise, and I’ve not seen a big line to do that.”


Brian Cuccias, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, said Ingalls, which is currently building 10 ships for four Navy and Coast Guard programs at its 800-acre facility in Pascagoula, Miss., could build more because it is using only 70 to 75 percent of its capacity.


“I can probably produce the ships faster” than the Navy can provide funding, Cuccias told reporters at the conference. “We are positioned right now to accelerate today.”


Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says


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America’s Military Has A Big Problem: It’s Dead Broke


The Pentagon has made big plans for which it lacks the money.




Bank Examiner Carter: “I trust you had a good year?”


George Bailey: “A good year? Uh, well, between you and me, Mr. Carter, we’re broke.” – It’s a Wonderful Life

“We’re broke.” In essence, that’s the message Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work delivered to Defense-Secretary-in-Waiting James Mattis at the December 5 Future Strategy Forum.


Mr. Work admitted that DoD has breathtaking liabilities – as much as $88 billion a year – that ought to be addressed before procuring a single additional plane, ship or tank. Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than that.


Military leaders have testified to the problems caused by five straight years of budget cuts and how these cuts, combined with an extraordinarily high operational tempo, have resulted in a smaller, less capable military force.


What has received less attention is the degree to which the Pentagon’s future plans bank on questionable assumptions and budgetary sleight-of-hand to balance the books for 2018 and beyond. These gimmicks include: relying on rosy future estimates for the cost of labor, fuel and currency exchange; pushing the costs of large modernization programs like the nuclear triad into the ill-defined “out years,” and using Overseas Contingency Operations funds to help cover normal DoD operating costs. Taken together, these liabilities, combined with the administration’s decision to submit budgets in excess of the Budget Control Act caps, constitute about $100 billion dollars per year of unbudgeted liabilities or risk – a staggering sum that will severely limit the new administration’s ability to quickly rebuild the U.S. military.


In October 2016 a Pentagon spokesman publicly acknowledged, and Secretary Work confirmed, what many have known for some time: that as much as half of the money requested in the DoD Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding is planned to go to normal Pentagon operations such as training soldiers, steaming ships or flying planes – not the extraordinary wartime operations which OCO was designed to cover.


The President-elect’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, (R-SC), has decried such misuse of OCO funds, calling it a “backdoor loophole” in the budget process. Considering that comment, if Congress and the country want DoD’s normal operating costs captured in the appropriations process versus the wartime funding mechanism, this $30 billion annual cost must be eventually covered in the base budget, further adding to DoD’s liabilities. And while it may be a worthy goal to move these enduring costs into the base appropriation it’s important to note that this shift by itself won’t do anything to restore military capabilities.


Here are some other liabilities Secretary Work didn’t mention:


Future Costs of Labor


Section 1009 of Title 37 United States Code requires military pay raises to equal the Economic Cost Index (ECI), a common measure of the cost of labor, unless the president invokes his authority to request an alternative pay raise. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in August that “the ECI will grow by more than 3 percent a year, on average over the next several years.” However, in its budget request, DoD has planned on much smaller raises than CBO forecasted. The 2017 DoD budget projects pay raises of only 1.6 percent for 2017-2019, and 1.8 percent and 2.1 percent for 2020 and 2021, respectively.


From 2014-2016 President Obama used his authority to lower the requested pay raises, and Congress complied. After three years of smaller than prescribed pay raises, this year Congress disregarded the president’s recommendation and set the pay raise at 2.1 percent in the 2017 NDAA, matching the growth in ECI.


Because the DoD has banked on being able to lowball military and civilian pay raises for the next five years, the liability incurred by Congress’ inconvenient compliance with law this year, and potentially in the future, will run to the tens of billions of dollars. Just next year’s change in pay will cost DoD about $800 million in 2017 than planned.


Hopeful Fuel Cost Assumptions


The DoD budget estimate projects that fuel costs for fiscal year 2017 will drop 8.2 percent from 2016. For future years, DoD used planning assumptions that reflected minor increases ranging from 4.8 percent in 2018 to only 1.8 percent in 2021.


However, the latest forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts crude oil prices will gradually rise, not fall, next year. And future year energy estimates vary widely, with high end price per barrel of crude oil reaching $150 by 2020. If energy costs grow at even a modest rate of 5 percent annually, the Pentagon will be short billions of dollars compared to its plan.


Living Large In an “Out-year”


Former Secretary of the Army John McHugh famously commented that he always wanted to “live in an out-year.” In Pentagonese, “out-years” fall outside the rigid five-year planning window; they are, consequently, years in which unrealistic procurement plans magically come to fruition and normal budget rules don’t apply.


DoD is notorious for planning to acquire major systems such as planes, submarines and ships in quantities that are patently unaffordable in the next five years, but will be brought on-board when the money somehow materializes in an “out-year.”


This Pentagon has double-downed on that technique. In addition to the unpaid bills associated with the recapitalization of the nuclear triad mentioned by Secretary Work, the replacement for the Ohio class submarine and many other major systems are also all awaiting an out-year deus ex machina to save the day.


For example, the Navy’s current, approved 30-year shipbuilding program only gets them to 308 ships – even though they just announced they need 355, nearly matching the president-elect’s promise to get to 350 ships. Yet when the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the Navy’s 308-ship plan, they found it would cost $3-5 billion dollars more per year than what was budgeted.


In an excellent study of the out-year issue, CSIS’s Todd Harrison suggested that just to execute the DoD’s planned modernization programs would require approximately 7 percent more funding – around $40 billion per year – than was budgeted. This includes nothing of the re-building that President-elect Trump has promised.


Other problems lie ahead. DoD has made optimistic assumptions about foreign currency exchange rates, counting on them to remain near where they are today, which is very favorable for the United States. Another liability includes Pentagon requests for changes to military health care programs that the 2017 NDAA did not fully support.


At the Bottom of a Very Deep Hole


The Pentagon has made big plans for which it lacks the money. The liabilities described above will build to about $100 billion a year over time, seriously complicating matters for a president-elect who has pledged to rebuild our depleted military.


The Pentagon can save some money through efficiencies, base realignment and closure, restructuring and better business practices, and some of these efforts are already underway. But those savings won’t be nearly enough to close liabilities of this magnitude. It’s unfortunate this critical information hasn’t been part of a national discussion by our nation’s leaders, including the president, prior to the imminent transition.


In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey’s financial problems were solved with a crowdfunding solution among the residents of Bedford Falls. General Mattis won’t be so fortunate. It’s among the many challenges that the new administration’s leaders will have to grapple with in their first hundred days to begin the necessary restoration of our military.


Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr (U.S. Army, retired) is the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense. He served as the Army’s Director of the Office of Business Transformation from 2013-2016.


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France Bids To Take NATO Leadership Role From Britain


(LONDON TIMES (UK) 10 JAN 17) … Deborah Haynes


Britain could lose its leading position within NATO after Brexit under options being discussed by member states.


The tradition that a British officer holds the No 2 military post in the alliance is under threat as other European countries eye the coveted role, the Royal United Services Institute think tank indicated. The move would represent a loss of prestige for Britain, which has filled the post of deputy supreme allied commander almost continually since Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in 1951. The alliance has always been led by an American.


Defence sources identified France as most likely to exploit Britain’s exit from the European Union to improve its military standing within NATO. Last autumn Paris sent an unofficial delegation to Washington to lobby U.S. officials, claiming that French armed forces were better placed than their British counterparts to be America’s special ally in Europe after Brexit, The Times understands.


The French team, including a naval captain and a senior official at the defence ministry, “were at pains to point out how useful the French military could be as an ally and their track record in getting things done in trouble-spots where the U.S. was not as strong as it wished to be”, said a source with knowledge of the September mission.


“They also pointed out that, after Brexit, they would be the only EU country with this capability.” A number of NATO member states are understood to be informally talking about whether a British officer should retain the title of the alliance’s No 2 military commander. The post is held by General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, who will hand over to Lieutenant-General Sir James Everard in March.


A key role for the commander is to lead certain EU military missions, including a force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Countries have raised questions about whether a British officer should be allowed to play that role once Britain has left the EU.


Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general at the institute, addresses the issue in a briefing paper on Britain’s foreign and security policy after Brexit, published today. The document cautions Theresa May against using Britain’s role as the leading military power in western Europe as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit negotiations. This approach could undermine the principle of collective defence that NATO relies upon to ward off attack, Mr. Chalmers says.


Referring to the post of deputy commander, he writes: “There is already some discussion of the possibility that the assignment of the position … might have to be transferred to a NATO member that is a member of the EU.”


Britain could fill the role of chief of staff, the third most senior title in the NATO chain of command. Another solution could be to re-create a second deputy command post – a job that was held by a German officer between 1978 and 1993 but disbanded after the end of the Cold War, Mr. Chalmers said. The second deputy could relieve the British commander of all EU-related tasks.


“Whatever the outcome, the substantive consequences of such changes are likely to be relatively limited,” Mr. Chalmers said. “Even so, the fact that they are being raised is a clear message that the UK’s role and influence within NATO cannot be entirely ring-fenced from the consequences of Brexit.”


Sir Adam Thomson, who stepped down as Britain’s ambassador to NATO in November, said he doubted that Britain would lose its deputy command status but said it was likely that the EU element of the job would be stripped away. “Politically, sticking with a Brit to command EU missions seems unlikely given Brexit,” Sir Adam said.


A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We will continue to play a leading role in European security. This includes providing NATO’s deputy supreme allied commander for Europe.”


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The Pentagon Needs Its Own Google For All Its Data, Says Eric Schmidt


A giant Defense Department data warehouse would give the military Google-like capability, and create the richest intelligence target ever conceived.


(DEFENSE ONE 09 JAN 17) … Patrick Tucker


The U.S. military needs an entirely new system for storing and managing data if they want to make it searchable and actionable for front line soldiers as easily as any of us can search Google, according to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, legendary Google CEO, and chair of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board.


The innovation board is a panel of technology giants such as Jeff Bezos and Neil deGrasse Tyson that the Defense Department has recruited to help the United States military. During a meeting of the board on Monday, Schmidt discussed the creation of a data storing and delivery system that sounds uncannily Google-esque.

The pitch came in the form of a new interim recommendation. [The Defense Innovation Advisory Board voted “yes” on its previous 11 recommendations.]


Though no individual board member contributes specific recommendations, Schmidt was clearly personally connected to this one. He explained that the new recommendation rose from the group’s international discussions about future artificial intelligence capabilities and discussions with commanders across the U.S. military.


“In our meetings with the senior leadership, they talk about this thing called ‘data fusion.’ The fantasy goes something like: we’re going to have all these different signals; the signals will be automatically detected; the immediacy … will enable to warfighter to make a better decision,” he said.


It would work sort of the same way Google crawls the web for the most relevant and recent web pages related to specific subject areas and then presents them on demand when people type queries. The proposal would require a single network that allows any operator in the world to access any and all Defense Department data with a quick query, (and based on appropriate permissions levels.) Need to pull up drone footage over Kenya two days ago? Hunting for the design specs on a particular IED? If the DOD has it, it should be findable and mineable at scale, but that requires putting the data in fewer places, making it findable.


Of course Google relies on data that people around the world contribute to the open Web and Google itself doesn’t have to worry about hosting the information, just indexing it.


The Defense Department can’t just send its information to the open Web. But, says Schmidt, if the Pentagon could figure out a more centralized storage scheme, its leaders and commanders could take advantage of search capability at a variety of levels.


“There’s no place in the military where the data is centrally aggregated and a lot of organizations either hide the data, don’t know they have the data, lose the data or don’t care about the data,” said Schmidt. “The problem … is that the signals aren’t available and they aren’t minable. So, [data fusion is] a great strategy but you have no way of implementing it. The reason we wanted to bring this idea up and then work it through the bureaucracy or whatever else you call it is that without some kind of data repository, set of data repositories … you are not going to be able to achieve that vision. It’s a clear bug in the strategy.”


Centralizing data would allow future machine learning and AI programs to mine the information, capable (at least in theory) of discovering new correlations and patterns. It’s the sort of thing that today takes analysts years. In theory, if streaming data on, say, fuel costs, weapons production, mission milestones, casualties etc. were all in one place, leaders would have a much more detailed, accurate, and timely understanding of the global conflict environment, how much they were ahead or behind.


Schmidt, however, cautioned that the centralization process should be gradual. “In practice you would never do such a broad release to the whole military for security reasons. So … you would not have one big database. But the principle is the same,” he said.


Of course, centralizing Defense Department data would also create new information target that could put the nation at unfathomable risk if those targets were ever compromised, Schmidt acknowledged. “Now, before we get too excited about databases here. The databases have to be secure. These are secret, secret information, secured by all the computer scientists that we hire.”


But security is more a matter of will and implementation than miracle work, said Schmidt. “Having worked with and done this for a long time, the algorithms to provide absolute security exist. They just simply have not been implemented. This is a computer science problem. Basically, if you use 2048 bit-encryption [which would take more than a million a years to break using a standard desktop machine] you use two-factor authentication, your information is not going to be leaked except by illegal activity by humans.”


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Pentagon Successfully Tests World’s Largest Micro-Drone Swarm


(MILITARY TIMES 09 JAN 17) … Shawn Snow


U.S. military officials in California have conducted a test launching more than 100 micro-drones from three F/A-18 Super Hornets, the largest-ever test for the cutting-edge “swarm” technology, defense officials said.


The swarm consisted of 103 Perdix micro drones, which are small, low-cost, battery-powered devices, launched from three separate Super Hornets. The exercise was conducted at China Lake, California, by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, working with Naval Air Systems Command.


The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as “collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing,” according to a Defense Department statement Monday.


“This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who created the SCO in 2012, said in the statement.


The test was conducted in October and aired on Sunday’s CBS News program “ 60 Minutes,” according to a Defense Department (DoD) press release.


Perdix are low-altitude micro drones, capable of autonomously conducting intelligence collection and surveillance operations.


“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals. They are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”


Developed by engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department; Perdix drones were eventually modified for military application at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in 2013.


Previous successful demonstrations have included an air-drop from F-16 flare canisters by the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 2014; and in 2015, roughly 90 Perdix missions were undertaken during U.S. Pacific Command’s Northern Edge exercise in Alaska, an exercise that witnessed the first successful swarm test of 20 Perdix drones.


The SCO plans to partner with the Defense Industrial Unit‐Experimental (DIUx), an organization announced by Carter to promote and facilitate technological development for the U.S. military in 2015, in order to produce a thousand units this year.


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Defense One


Pentagon Tester: F-35 Program Rushing Tests, Delays Still Likely


By Patrick Tucker


The F-35 program office’s rush to make an August test deadline will increase risks yet still leave the effort well behind schedule, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said in a report released today.


That verdict, from the Office of Operational Testing and Evaluation, came as no surprise, though it is another black eye for Donald Trump’s least favorite combat jet.


The report did note some progress, such as the completion of important ship-integration tests and steps toward fixing a dangerous ejection seat.


However, most of chief tester Michael Gilmore’s report focuses on what still needs to be done. And it’s plenty. OTE has noted some “276 deficiencies in combat performance” as part of the most recent rollout of improvements. The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, the company that makes the planes, have been working on them, but their plans for the next block of improvements, Block 3FR6, will address fewer than half of the deficiencies.


As for Block 3F, the most recent set of upgrades, the report notes “significant, well-documented deficiencies resulting in overall ineffective operational performance…hundreds of which will not be adequately addressed with fixes and corrections verified with flight testing within the system [development and demonstration phase].”


The report also concludes that “the current schedule-driven program plans to close out [for development and demonstration] testing in 2017 do not include enough time to fix these key deficiencies, nor time to verify corrections in flight test.”


The risk is that the program, out of a sense of urgency, may look to verify fixes in the lab rather than in actual flight tests. This is, a huge safety concern “because the labs proved to not always be representative of the actual aircraft for detecting problems or verifying fixes for stability problems.”


The most important items on the to-do list: fix the plane’s 25mm gun and its analytics and diagnostic software.


While the office did complete ground firing tests for the gun on all the variants of the F-35, only the A model has completed initial flight testing with the notoriously troublesome weapon. Testing has revealed problems in display that the pilot sees in the helmet (when trying to target the gun). The report suggests a “high likelihood” of additional discoveries about the gun as more testing takes place, causing further delays, according to the report.


The biggest problem by far remains the complex Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, which monitors the health of the plane’s parts and tells operators and maintainers what’s happening with the jet. It’s probably the most infamous piece of software in the military, having earned a short spot on “60 Minutes” in 2014. The plane does not need it to fly, but does need it for maintenance.


To accelerate the roll-out of improvements to ALIS, the program office has begun delivering smaller software upgrades, not just big block upgrades.


“Service packs are developed, tested and fielded on a much quicker timeline than our larger increments of ALIS,” Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan testified in March.


The Air Force deadline for conduct important operational tests (also called initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E) has slipped to fall 2017. The report suggests it could slide further.


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Navy Adds Helicopter Electronic War Anti-Ship Missile Defense


(SCOUT WARRIOR 11 JAN 17) … Michael Fabey


To provide better sea-surface electronic warfare capability, Lockheed Martin is marrying enhanced sensors with MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters.


The company is developing an EW pod for both MH-60 R/S Sea Hawk versions to help provide anti-ship missile defense as part of Lockheed’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), says Joe Ottaviano, company EW director.


Called the Advanced Offboard Electronic Warfare (AOEW) system, the airborne sensor and links will extend the range over the horizon and offer some electronic attack potential, Ottaviano said Jan. 9 during a Lockheed briefing in advance of the Surface Navy Association annual conference.


The system can be used for more than just surveillance, he says, and provides the Navy with a first-look capability out on the seas. “You can sense and see long before the enemy know you are there,” he says. But, he adds, he cannot provide any more detail about potential offensive EW measures the system can provide.


Currently, according to the Navy and the Pentagon, only Boeing EA-18G Growlers provide airborne electronic attack.


With a contract award in December, he says, the program is on a fast track that the Navy wants to accelerate. “We have been challenged to go faster,” he says.


Under the SEWIP’s Block 2, the AOEW helicopter pod will be linked with the ships’ SLQ-32 system.

Senior Navy officials have said that upgraded SEWIPs were being acquired for many of the Navy’s forward-positioned ships in strategic locations such as Japan and Rota, Spain.


The USS Bainbridge went through operational testing several years ago as the Navy acquired its first 24 Block 2SEWIP units.


“SEWIP is the Navy’s continued push to keep electronic warfare excellence ahead of the threat. It is an incremental set of upgrades to the SLQ-32 which was designed in the late 70s and deployed in the 80s. It gives the Navy the ability to upgrade and outpace the threat. It provides the ability to quickly upgrade processing as new threats come online and become more complex without overhauling the antenna,” Ottaviano said a in an interview several years ago with (from Kris Osborn)


The Block 2 SEWIP advancements include upgrades to the antenna and digital receiver, Ottaviano said. Block 2 upgrades also include the addition of new software engineered to ensure the system is equipped to recognize new, emerging threat signals.


“It provides the digital architecture so it can quickly upgrade and provide additional capability as threats increase in capability,” Ottaviano added.


The Navy plans to configure including carriers, cruisers, destroyers and amphibs, among others.


The hardware to the system consists of above and below deck components including a display screen and processing technology, he added.


The hardware may be configured differently depending upon the structure of a given ship, Ottaviano explained.


For example, the EW antenna on the Navy’s new destroyer, the DDG 1000, is conformed to align with the ship’s hull.


Following SEWIP Block 2, the Navy plans to develop and acquire a Block 3 SEWIP electronic attack technology, Navy and Lockheed officials said.


In addition to “listening” or passive electromagnetic detection, Block 3 will include the ability to transmit signals and potentially jam or disrupt enemy signals.


Under the SEWIP operational concept, the MH-60R already plays a role with its multi-mission AN/ALQ-210 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system, That system provides proven situational awareness and threat warning with Electronics Intelligence quality measurement accuracy in complex and dense electronic battlefield scenarios, Lockheed says.


The system is currently in full rate production for the U.S. Navy and International customers.


The AN/ALQ-210 ESM system autonomously scans the environment allowing for a high probability of detection and accurate identification, the company says. The system operation is tailorable through mission data loads which can be reloaded in flight for adapting to each specific geographic region.


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Defense One


US Army Looking to 3D-Print Minidrones in 24 Hours


By Patrick Tucker


Imagine a squad of Army Rangers prepping to capture a high-value subject barricaded inside a three-story building. The Rangers decide send in a small camera drone to check for IEDs — but there’s a problem: the enemy has begun putting its booby-traps on the ceiling, where the downward-facing drones can’t see them. If only those little gizmos had cameras on the top…?


A new project by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Georgia Technical Institute just might help. It aims to give soldiers the ability to 3D-print swarms of mini-drones to specific specifications within 24 hours. Its creators call this approach “aggregate derivative approach to product design,” or ADAPT.


“A soldier with a mission need uses a computer terminal to rapidly design a suitable [drone],” says a poster by project chief engineer Zacarhy Fisher. “That design is then manufactured using automated processes such as laser cutting and 3D printing. The solution is sent back to the soldier and is deployed.”


Fisher says the drone itself could be fabricated in less than a day, with total turnaround time of less than three days.


In their research paper on the design approach, they lay out a four-step process: requirements analysis, which is figuring out what type of drone you need for the mission; architecture selection, selecting among a variety of standard and custom parts to build it; interface design, making sure it all fits together; and concept refinement.


The trick is to limit the number of potential build options around one of the four different tasks a soldier might need a small drone for. Previous research from Georgia Tech has identified those as perimeter surveillance and defense, reconnaissance for inside buildings, reconnaissance for inside caves, and jungle reconnaissance. Depending on the mission type, you know if you need a video camera, target designator, light detection and ranging and other pieces.


The authors describe the basic approach as inspired by Lego.


“The on-demand approach is succinctly explained via an analogy to Lego?,” they write. “Lego? bricks contain a number of modular parts that can be constructed into different models depending on what outcome is desired. Instructions are provided to help the user build different systems out of the same set of components.” At the beginning of December, the researchers performed a demonstration on several of the drones at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.


Future capabilities could include combining 3D printing, drones, and artificial intelligence, an of research being led by Kyrre Glette at the University of Oslo, who in 2014 demonstrated the first steps in program to allow robots to 3D-print themselves.


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CNO Vs A2AD: Why Admiral Richardson Is Right About Deconstructing The A2/AD Term


(THE NAVALIST 10 JAN 17) … Sam J. Tangredi


Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson’s desire to minimize use of “A2/AD” made no headway with the rest of the Department of Defense (DoD). In particular it bumped up against Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, who has used the term A2/AD for over 15 years and thinks that it most excellently captures our main warfighting challenge. However, the CNO has a valid point, even if it was not completely articulated. His remarks in his National Interest article (“Deconstructing A2/AD,” October 3, 2016) remain a necessary corrective for “deconstructing” an artificial term that indeed appears to mean too much to some and too little to others.


He is right that “A2/AD is a term bandied about freely, with no precise definition, that sends a variety of vague or conflicting signals, depending on the context in which it is either transmitted or received.” But there is more to it than that.


As those who have read my book Anti-Access Warfare: Countering A2/AD Strategies know, I am no fan of the A2/AD acronym. To most Americans it sounds like a character from the Star Wars movies (R2-D2, CP-3O, etc.), and it is never in the long-term interest of DoD to confuse the public. It would not have appeared in the title of my book if the publisher hadn’t insisted. The problem is that A2 and AD are two distinctly separate concepts that represent different levels of warfare and require differing forms of analysis to be understood.


In short, A2 (anti-access) is a strategy in which combat operations are but one part. In contrast, AD (area denial) represents tactics that can be used to achieve A2 objectives in a military campaign, but are largely indistinguishable from “standard” land warfare or sea denial operations. AD can support an A2 strategy, or can support another strategy. If an opposing force needs to apply area denial (AD) tactics in a combat situation – particularly on land – then we have already won the A2 phase of a protracted conflict.


An anti-access strategy is a plan for keeping a strategically-superior military away from one’s region. It is intended to either deter interference by an outside power while achieving a regional military conquest, or if deterrence fails, achieve a quick victory while avoiding a force-on-force contest. The fear of the nation (or armed group) adopting an anti-access strategy is that if the strategically superior power is allowed to build up its force in the region it will win. They would face the same situation that Saddam did in the Gulf War of 1991; he could capture Kuwait, but could never hold it if opposed by the U.S. and the coalition. The objective is to convince the “outside” power to go away and accept the de facto results. Since nations and non-nations rarely start a war intending to lose, adopting an anti-access strategy when a stronger force may intervene makes logical sense.


Anti-access warfare was the strategy of Imperial Japan in World War II. Japan was determined to conquer the Dutch East Indies, as much of China as possible and everything in between. Since the Philippine and Guam were in between, that would bring it in conflict with the U.S. Admiral Yamamoto and the other Japanese strategists who were not blinded by “racial superiority” knew that in a protracted war, Japan would lose. The U.S. could out-produce every nation in terms of weaponry, and was thus the strategically superior power. Yamamoto specifically stated that he could only guarantee victory for six months. His vision was that if he could destroy the U.S. fleet, both in Asian waters and at Pearl Harbor, and sever the line of communication with Australia, the U.S. government would consider a negotiated agreement since it would be too costly in lives and treasure to fight its way back into the region.


This strategy had some logic; one must recall that Yamamoto traveled the United States before the war and knew the isolationist sentiment that appeared to prevail. Since Britain was fighting for its life, and France and the Netherlands had fallen to Germany, the U.S. was the sole power who could threaten the expansion and control of the Empire. (The Soviet Union could threaten possessions in northern China, but not Japan at sea.)


Of course, the Pearl Harbor attack had the opposite effect. Yamamoto et al. lost the gamble. The anti-access “great wall” of Pacific islands was breached at Midway, and U.S. forces – primarily the Navy and Marine Corps – took it apart brick by brick. American forces faced and defeated the most determined anti-access strategy in its greatest naval war. Admiral Richardson is certainly correct in saying that A2/AD “is not a new phenomenon” and that “history has much to teach us about maintaining perspective.”


Fast forward to today. Given current military and diplomatic capabilities (Soviet military planners would have called it the “correlation of forces”), a force-on-force conflict between the U.S. joint force and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), along with its naval component, fought in some theoretical “neutral” zone away from the Chinese mainland – the Iraqi desert for example – would almost certainly result in a U.S. victory. A force-on-force engagement in Southeast Asia could also result in a U.S./coalition force victory, particularly in conjunction with a Chinese revolt against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). If U.S. land and air forces were firmly entrenched in Taiwan – as well as in place as it is today in Japan, Korea and throughout the “second island chain,” Chinese military power would be constrained in the region it considers its own. A force-on-force confrontation would be a gamble the CCP would be unlikely to take. The logical strategy in any Chinese military expansion would therefore be to attempt to drive forward U.S. forces out of the region (diplomatically if possible, militarily if necessary) and prevent them from coming back in. The primary battlefield would obviously be maritime. Similar situations exist in other parts of the world.


The problem with the A2/AD term is that conflates strategy with tactics in a way that neglects the non-military aspects of anti-access warfare, minimizes the role of deterrence, and focuses us “like a laser beam” on tactical analyses on how particular opposing weapons systems will perform.


How does all this relate to Admiral Richardson’s preference for a different description of the potential situation the Navy and U.S. joint forces might face in East Asia? The problem with the A2/AD term is that conflates strategy with tactics in a way that neglects the non-military aspects of anti-access warfare, minimizes the role of deterrence, and focuses us “like a laser beam” on tactical analyses on how particular opposing weapons systems will perform. Indeed, we do need to analyze how weapons systems will perform. But that does not equate to an analysis on the strategic requirements for defeating an anti-access strategy. I would argue that most national security planners are not analyzing the strategic requirements because we they are too busy debating about Chinese DF-21 missiles versus aircraft carriers. AD has driven our attention away from A2. And, as the CNO maintains, from the tactical perspective “the A2/AD problem is currently well understood – challenging, but understood.” I would also argue that the strategic requirements to counter A2 are not as well understood – particularly in the area of economics – and must be analyzed with the same fervor as the missiles versus carriers debate.


The CNO also claims that our current concept of A2/AD is “inherently oriented to the defense.” Whether one agrees or not with that depiction, and many of the A2/AD scenarios discussed within DoD do include offensive operations, breaking the “great walls” of anti-access strategies requires an offensive orientation, which, by its existence, could provide a greater deterrent effect in East Asia than our concentration on defense. Yamamoto’s goal was to sink U.S. strategy, not just U.S. ships. By separating A2 from AD, perhaps we can begin to truly analyze and understand the big picture as well as the details. For this, A2/AD must indeed be “deconstructed.”


So what should be done? A2/AD is not going to be replaced anytime soon. It has been used too long, was created by the dominant defense-issues think-tank (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments), and there is not a good alternative term. However, it is an operational term and should only be used when discussing DF-21s, aircraft carriers, or other specific hardware. When discussing strategy, which should include political, diplomatic, and economic efforts, not just military, anti-access is the term that captures the concept.


Dr. Sam J. Tangredi is Professor of National, Naval and Maritime Strategy at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies of the U.S. Naval War College.


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Next Big Future


DARPA drone flew for 56 hours and landed with over half its fuel so looks close to achieving 7 days without refueling


A DARPA-backed small business effort broke boundaries for long-endurance flight this month by launching a uniquely designed, combustion-powered unmanned aircraft that stayed aloft for more than two days and two nights. The flight was terminated several days ahead of schedule because of incoming weather. But the craft—built by Vanilla Aircraft of Falls Church, Virginia—landed safely with more than half its fuel still onboard, suggesting it is capable of setting additional records for powered flight in its weight and power class and could ultimately offer important new capabilities to ground forces and others.


Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an increasingly important means for military forces—especially small dismounted units—to bring extra communications or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the field. Current designs, however, offer relatively limited range and flight endurance; additionally, their need for frequent refueling, specialized launch and recovery equipment, and regular maintenance often limit them to flying from fixed bases close to the front lines. Vanilla’s propeller-driven VA001 is designed to carry a 30-pound payload at 15,000 feet for up to 10 days without refueling.


The VA001 started its historic flight on the morning of November 30, 2016 at New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center near Las Cruces International Airport. For nearly 56 hours, the plane flew at an altitude between 6,500 feet and 7,500 feet above sea level, averaging 57 knots before landing on the afternoon of December 2.


A representative from the National Aeronautic Association—the organization that verifies and tracks flight-related world records—certified the flight as achieving the world duration record for combustion-powered UAVs in the 50 kg-500 kg subclass (FAI Class U-1.c Group 1). Moreover, the flight was the fourth-longest for any unmanned airplane and the 11th-longest for an airplane of any type (manned or unmanned, solar or fuel-powered).


“This record-breaking flight demonstrated the feasibility of designing a low-cost UAV able to take off from one side of a continent, fly to the other, perform its duties for a week, and come back—all on the same tank of fuel,” said Jean-Charles Ledé, DARPA program manager. “This capability would help extend the footprint of small units by providing scalable, persistent UAV-based communications and ISR coverage without forward basing, thereby reducing personnel and operating costs. We’re very pleased with what the Vanilla team has accomplished.”


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Popular Mechanics


The Navy’s F-35 May Need New Landing Gear


Changes to the aircraft carrier or the landing gear itself could be in the cards.


By Kyle Mizokami


A group within the Department of Defense has recommended fixes for the landing gear naval version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Should they fail, the team recommends a redesign of the F-35C’s landing gear to address issues, something that will push back delivery of the already delayed and over-budget aircraft.


Inside Defense reports that carrier takeoff and landing testing done on the USS George Washington last year exposed an issue with the aircraft during takeoffs. The aircraft makes a sudden jarring motion that “is not only uncomfortable but the Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) and oxygen mask push up and down against the pilot’s jaw.” This results in an unreadable HMD during and after launch, presumably until the pilot can readjust the helmet.


The F-35’s $400,000 HMD uses LCDs to overlay aircraft and sensor data onto the pilot’s field of view, prompting F-35 supporters to describe it more as a “workspace” for the pilot than the traditional pilot helmet. This however adds to weight—the F-35 helmet weighs 5.1 pounds, creating an “elevated risk” for pilots under 136 pounds to sustain neck damage. Work is underway to reduce helmet weight to a safer 4.8 pounds or less.


The takeoff issue is so serious that in 105 catapult shots, pilots reported 74 instances of “moderate pain” and several more cases of “severe pain”.


The “red team”—typically a group created within an organization to challenge existing assumptions with new ideas—recommended a slate of actions with short, medium and long-term timelines. Short and medium term options range from changing the restraint system for pilots to modifying the nose landing gear. Longer term options include modifications to the aircraft carriers themselves or a redesign of the F-35C’s landing gear, which would take one to three years to complete.


Nobody knows whether or not the long term options will actually be needed. The matter could be solved by relatively quick fixes. But if those fail, a major landing gear redesign will be a major spanner in the works for the Navy’s F-35. The F-35C is currently projected to be initial operations capable—that is, ready for combat—between August 2018 and February 2019.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 2, 2017


  1. NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool

NAVAIR Blog:  What does empowerment look like?  (link)

  1. Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results
  2. NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award
  3. PHOTO RELEASE: FRCSW, NAS North Island join to support Toys for Tots
  4. The NAVAIR Mentoring Program: “Mentoring: Millennial Matters”
  5. AIR-6.0 LOGTALK – The Importance of Maintenance Planning with SES Tracy Moran, AIR-6.7 Department Head (link)



  1. Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators’ safety
  2. What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness
  3. Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness
  4. China’s air force is becoming very powerful
  5. New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones
  6. Big data, software continue to stump defense programs
  7. F-35’s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights






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NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — NAVAIR’s lead business financial manager (BFM) of the year, Denise Mallett, was also recognized by acquisition chief Frank Kendall at the Pentagon Dec. 8 for creating a database that revolutionized the way the command performs acquisition financial management.


After prototyping and proving the concept in the H-1 U.S. Marine Corps Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276), where Mallett served as the lead BFM, she passionately explained her vision to NAVAIR leadership, resulting in the go-ahead to develop a SQL-server based tool that could be used across NAVAIR to manage all appropriated funds. In October, Mallett moved to the Industrial and Logistics Competency as the lead BFM.


Her tool—originally called the spend plan database, now NAVAIR’s Common Spend Plan Tool (CSPT)—integrates all program office financial planning information, connects the data with Navy ERP and standardizes financial processes across every program office. Before her tool, financial plans were stove-piped in hundreds of disconnected and standalone spreadsheets—now her planning tool seamlessly integrates more than $68.1 billion and almost 800 budget accounts, providing unprecedented visibility, insight and speed.


“I had just started as the lead BFM in H-1 and was having trouble getting my arms around everything I needed to do because each integrated program team (IPT) had their own different workbook, and each BFM even within each IPT had a separate workbook for their ledger and their documents with the comptroller. I was struggling to get all of that data into one place,” Mallett said.


The H-1 program office is co-located with the Presidential Helo program, and it was there that lead BFM Matt Aley introduced Mallett to the Microsoft Access database he used.


She took a two-day Access training course, then spent evenings and weekends programming it herself. Once developed for the H-1 program, other program managers asked if she could show it to them and share it. While Mallett was able to share the database on a disk, any improvements or new functionality could not be passed along easily, she said.


“I didn’t have a training package, a help desk or reference guide, or any mechanism to distribute changes, so it has been hard to share, but now that we have the common tool centrally managed and supported by the command, it has become a common process tool,” Mallett said.


The tool offers several advantages for program managers and BFMs.


BFMs now spend less time on data redundancy, manual re-entry and looking for the data, she said. “Now you can just cut to the chase, get the data, do the analysis, make the decision and go. For example, if leadership calls and wants to know how much money your whole program sent to a particular contractor, open the tool, filter your criteria, and you have your answer.


“It also saves time for lead BFMs, who now have access to data with consistent field names, making data easier to find and consolidate. Within a minute you can have the answer instead of spending hours gathering it,” she said.


“Without Ms. Mallett’s vision and persistence, CSPT would not exist in its current state,” said Capt. Aaron Traver, director of operations for the Program & Business Analysis Department. “We have been able to roll out CSPT to over 1,000 users in 2016, with more users being added daily.


“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and this is a testament to the countless hours invested by Ms. Mallett to ensure CSPT would be useful, intuitively simple and flexible enough to accommodate everyone in this very complex and dynamic organization,” Traver said.


Mallett was first recognized for her planning tool in October, when she was named NAVAIR’s BFM of the Year, starting what Todd Washington, director, Program & Business Analysis Department, envisions as an annual award.


“It’s most impressive that Denise supported the CSPT development while also continuing her stellar performance as the PMA-276 Lead BFM,” Washington said. “Her ability to manage both of these significant, dynamic and complex responsibilities—without negative impact to either—was a testament to her commitment and dedication to the Navy and NAVAIR.”


Earning NAVAIR’s first BFM of the Year validated Mallett’s work ethic, she said.


“Being selected for the Department of Defense-level award has been exponentially even more flattering. It is definitely a great advertisement for the support that NAVAIR leadership at all levels has for this tool, recognizing that it saves time and adds value to the operation and mission that we are all doing in the DoD.”

To Mallett, it is more of a team award.


“There were many people working alongside me and contributing to its fruition, from the developers, the programmers and especially my BFM team. They embraced the change and dealt with the learning curving when sometimes they felt like the new database was so much harder than their old spreadsheets. They really did hang with it, along with the program managers and the IPT leads who gave it a chance to succeed,” she said.

Mallett is proud of the role BFMs play.


“We do more than data entry, write checks and create funding documents; we are a very supportive team that serves as the financial conscience of NAVAIR and are the subject matter experts helping to facilitate the decisions made by the command.”


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Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.—Thomas McClay, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Total Asset Visibility (NAWCAD 6.8.3) competency manager, received the 2016 Daniel L. Nega Excellence in Logistics Leadership Award at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, Dec. 19.


Established in 2014, the award recognizes a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) national civilian or military employee annually for excellence in commitment and dedication to the people, mission and professionalism of AIR-6.0.


During the award’s eligibility period, McClay and his team implemented process changes critical to improving NAVAIR’s enterprise asset visibility, reutilization and audit readiness. The work included deploying an Item Unique Identification Data (IUID) marking capability at Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) to resolve obsolescence and information technology challenges associated with the legacy system. Mandated by the Defense Department, IUID is a system of marking items with a globally unique item identifier, or UII, to distinguish them from all others.


If implemented properly, McClay said, the IUID marking capability enables the automatic capture of data for inventory and engineering purposes; improves FRCs’ ability to trace parts; reduces data-entry errors; and is an effective anti-counterfeit management and accurate source for property and equipment valuation and accountability. The IUID marking is used on all new acquisitions on items the government currently owns and on government furnished property that meet specific criteria.


McClay also led the team in the transitioning of NAVAIR’s Central Kitting Activity (CKA) located in Orange Park, Florida, from a legacy stovepipe computer system into the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, supporting NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Paul Grosklag’s guidance for asset accountability. In less than a month, the team conducted a wall-to-wall inventory at the CKA Assembly Plant—an endeavor involving more than 23,000 unique items/parts with a total inventory count of 14 million pieces—and entered 19,661 parts valued at over $473 million into Navy ERP.


“This action addressed the risks associated with incomplete or inaccurate inventory records,” McClay said. “This activity ensured parts are readily available when needed to build kits that directly support readiness, affordability and speed to the fleet by ensuring inventory accuracy, increased asset visibility and reduced costs.”

Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0), acknowledged McClay for his leadership that drove solutions forward, stating “The time and effort you are dedicating to improving our established processes and developing your workforce is impressive and reflected in your division’s support to the warfighter.”


McClay’s focus on advancing the careers of the AIR 6.8 workforce and his drive to personally recruit and mentor five wounded warriors caught the attention of the award board as well. To better facilitate these efforts, he updated the Talent Management Dashboard and Career Guidebook portions associated with the Total Asset Visibility (TAV) division—work critical to ensure tools are available to employees seeking to advance their careers.


McClay said he values the approaches that people from different backgrounds, races, ages, military experiences and education levels bring to a team and especially wanted to harness the skills and abilities of veterans. He credits that outlook to his Navy career, from which he retired in 1999 as a data processing chief petty officer. “I believe in leadership by example, especially in areas of ethics, diversity and personnel development,” he explained. “Each and every person is unique and contributes their perspectives and experiences.  Wounded warriors especially bring viewpoints and insights that are not ordinarily found.”


The award’s namesake, Daniel Nega, director of the NAVAIR Cost Estimating and Analysis Department, said McClay’s “commitment and leadership stood out amongst all nominees. He clearly came out on top and exemplifies the leadership the award was created to commend.”


McClay said the successes recognized by the award reflect the empowerment of the team members and credited their initiative. “I believe that responsibility should be delegated when appropriate and not to micromanage the work,” he said.  “Not every decision or communication is required to come through me.  My employees choose solutions and courses of action while I observe. Although my name is on the award, the spotlight is theirs.”


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NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) In-Service Support Center (ISSC) North Island, Advanced Aircraft Technologies Team recently earned a 2016 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) Far West Regional Award.


Located at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, the NAVAIR ISSC won the award in the “Outstanding Technology Development” category for its F/A-18 Hornet Landing Gear Strut Operational Readiness Monitoring (STORM) System.


The FLC is comprised of more than 300 federal laboratories, research facilities and their parent commands. Its goal is to streamline partnership prospects for federal labs, and to promote resulting federal technologies in the marketplace.


STORM acts as a pressure gauge for F/A-18 landing gear, which endures about 150,000 pounds of force when landing, and was created in view of aircraft mishaps attributed to faulty or improperly serviced shock absorbers.

As an engineering representative to the Naval Safety Center’s Aircraft Mishap Board, NAVAIR aerospace engineer Chrys Starr has analyzed numerous incidents where shock absorbers were suspect catalysts in mishaps.


Starr also serves as the landing gear advisor to a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program targeting airframe and landing gear fatigue damage to multi-mission P-8 Poseidon aircraft.


The SBIR encourages private business participation in federal research and development projects that may have the potential for commercialization. The P-8 SBIR project is held in conjunction with ES3, a small San Diego-based engineering firm.


STORM is a portion of the P-8 SBIR.


Starr realized that STORM could be adapted to other existing military and civilian airframes, and formed a team of other aerospace engineers to develop the system for F/A-18 use.


The team collaborated with the P-8 technical point of contact, NAVAIR SBIR, the F/A-18 Program Office and Science and Technology Lead to establish another SBIR with ES3 to develop STORM for the Hornet airframe.

Monitoring landing gear strut oil levels cannot be performed while an aircraft is sitting “weight on wheels.”


Consequently, aircraft need to be removed from service for an extended period while maintenance is performed.

To avoid taking the aircraft out of service, the maintenance plan had been to pump nitrogen into the strut system. An inert gas, nitrogen does not corrode or react with landing gear components. However, its use in place of oil has become a leading cause of landing gear mishaps.


STORM will work much like the oil light in a car, providing a simple means of monitoring the landing gear oil levels of the Hornet. A red-yellow-green lighting system positioned in the wheel well of the aircraft will allow maintenance personnel easy access during routine inspections.


The system will measure temperature and pressure of the shock absorber while the aircraft is in flight, at landing and stationary. Its software is based upon “Boyle’s law,” which states that the pressure and volume of gases are inversely proportional under constant temperatures.


The relationship with SBIR and FRCSW began about one year ago; the project is in Phase 2 of its development where the software is being optimized for the F/A-18 application. SBIR is projected to have a proto-type ready for Phase 3, an implementation phase, by early 2018.


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Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators’ safety


San Diego Union-Tribune, By Amy Schafer


The collision of two Marine jets off the coast of Southern California in November gave San Diego a front-row seat to the life-or-death consequences of delaying maintenance and denying training hours to Marine Corps aviators. The lack of funding for these core elements of the USMC mission — due mostly to Congress’ self-inflicted wound of sequestration — constitutes a breach of faith with the men and women who risk their lives serving our nation.


Sequestration’s toll on the core “man, train, and equip” missions now has a body count, and United States Marine Corps aviation is the canary in the coal mine.


The recent removal of USMC Fighter Attack Squadron 232’s commander is the fourth involuntary change in aviation leadership in 2016, a phenomenon underscoring a much broader deterioration in the quality of USMC aviation. Facing untenable budgetary instability and frequent deployments, readiness has plummeted and crashes have increased precipitously. Department of Defense accountability may come via an inspector general report in 2017, but that is too little, too late.


Pilots are not being given enough flight time to safely perform their duties, creating unnecessary and deadly risk for pilots and their crews. After a Sept. 2, 2015 CH-53E Super Stallion crash, USMC aviation deaths were already at a five-year high. Less than five months later, two more Super Stallions collided off the coast of Hawaii, with 12 more Marines lost in the crash. The investigation cited pilot error, based on “low aircraft readiness that led to inadequate pilot proficiency.” Following these devastating losses, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller testified to Congress, “our aviation units are currently unable to meet our training and mission requirements,” also noting, “when you don’t have enough airplanes to fly, then your flying hours go down and it becomes difficult to maintain your currency.”


In the wake of these accidents, the Marine Corps Times highlighted the endemic problems facing USMC aviation; the mandatory sequester — followed by budget caps — has limited flight training hours, the maintenance and upgrading of platforms, and the purchase of new systems, plaguing readiness and corresponding with a marked increase in aviation accidents. In the wake of these accidents, USMC spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns confirmed there are 85 F/A-18s available for training, less than half the 171 required.


The aviation community is hamstrung and struggling to prepare to fight future conflicts, all while facing increasingly dangerous training conditions at home. With a high operational tempo, aging equipment, and a shortage of funding, it is nearly impossible to rectify the deadly cocktail of slashed training hours, equipment that hasn’t received on-time maintenance and prioritization of deploying squadrons. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for USMC aviation, has acknowledged that not only is the situation dire, but “we’re in a deep hole and have a ways to go to climb out.”


After Gen. Neller’s March testimony, the USMC began investigating whether there was a “linear correlation” between the lack of training hours and increase in aviation accidents. As part of debate over the National Defense Authorization Act in April, Lt. Gen. Davis testified to issues arising with the F/A-18 Hornet, noting the operational tempo and overutilization had led to a “low flight time and short training progression” for pilots.


Since the beginning of the summer of 2016, there have been seven “legacy hornet” crashes or incidents involving U.S. forces, three of which have killed their pilots. On Oct. 26, an F/A-18 crashed on a training flight, and two weeks later two F/A-18s collided midair, while in June a Blue Angels pilot was killed in a crash, and on Dec. 17, Naval aviation grounded all F/A-18s in response to yet another problem.


Without change, armed forces aviation will be defined by maintenance failure and deadly training accidents. The USMC stand-down on all nondeployed aviation over the summer played well with critics, and is a first step in re-evaluating the safety with which aviation can function at these low levels of funding, but does not go far enough. The problem is so dire that a single safety review is a drop in the bucket of deferred costs.


Aviation has always been a high-risk endeavor and even in the best of operating environments, accidents do happen. However, the inexcusable degradation of readiness at the hands of an irresponsible Congress is simply unacceptable. This should be a bipartisan issue. Those suffering at the hands of sequestration are our men and women in uniform. It is imperative that Congress remove the danger inherent in allowing aviation to degrade by providing robust funding increases and further safety measures. “It’s a dangerous business” is no longer a sufficient explanation.


Schafer is a research assistant for the Military, Veterans & Society program at the Center for a New American Security.


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What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness


Task & Purpose, Dec. 30 | Carl Forsling


On Dec. 13, when a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey landed in the water just shy of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, it became yet another high-profile incident for an aircraft that has had more than its share. The aircraft is notorious after four high-profile mishaps during its development phase, including one that claimed the lives of 19 Marines in 2000.


After that disaster, the Osprey program was revamped and the aircraft substantially redesigned. It became the mainstay of the Marines’ vertical lift and Air Force special operations. As a 20-year Marine aviator, I started my career in the Osprey’s predecessor, the CH-46E Sea Knight. I felt safer in the V-22 than I did in the CH-46. Its mishap rate is comparable to any other platform in the inventory, but I worry that my successors are not as safe though – not because of the aircraft, but because the system is not giving them enough time to train.


What most stories about the accident in Okinawa do not pay sufficient attention to is that the aircraft struck an aerial refueling drogue with its proprotors – in other words, it hit part of the refuelling equipment trailing the tanker with its propellers. The underlying reasons that happened will be the subject of a detailed investigation.


Undoubtedly that investigation will describe a laundry list of causal factors ranging from the flight schedule to the unit’s operating procedures to how much sleep the pilots had the night before to what they had for breakfast. The story here is almost certainly some form of human error on the part of the aircraft’s crew. Those human errors are a lot more likely when pilots don’t get enough practice. A well-practiced crew can usually overcome the friction points that happen in military aviation, be that weather, fatigue, or personal stress. One that isn’t is a lot more likely to have severe problems when events go astray. What’s very unlikely is that the aircraft itself was to blame. That the V-22 Osprey was involved should not be the takeaway from this story.


The most important takeaway is that this incident is very similar to others across the Marine Corps recently. There has been an alarming trend in Marine aviation – a high rate of mishaps, many, if not most, involving aircrew error. Four Marine F/A-18s have been involved in Class A mishaps (involving $2 million, loss of aircraft, or death) just since this October, two due to a mid-air collision. This March, 12 Marines died in a midair collision involving two CH-53Es. Another CH-53E recently suffered severe damage after striking a building. The mishap rate in the first three months of this fiscal year is an astonishing 11.26 per 100,000 flight hours. For the last 12 months, it’s been 5.0. There are well above historical norms, though the Naval Safety Center optimistically rates fiscal year 2017 thus far as the “36th best year in history at this rate.” 36th? Time to celebrate! The Corps’ message should have been to highlight the readiness and training problems that Marine aviation as a whole is experiencing.


This latest incident should serve as another warning that Marine aviation training has reached a dangerously poor level. These accidents were not the result of enemy action, but occurred during normal operations and training. No Marine aircraft is a deathtrap. Or rather, any aircraft can be a deathtrap if you only get to fly it a few times a month, then have to perform demanding missions in order to pack in required training for an upcoming deployment. Even tasks that are the bread-and-butter of military flight operations, like the aerial refueling that claimed the Osprey in Okinawa, are extraordinarily dangerous by civilian standards. They are only made safe by continuous practice.


The Marines are known for doing the extraordinary so often that it has become routine. When pilots don’t get sufficient stick time to be confident in the fundamentals, the extraordinary isn’t routine, it’s pushing one’s luck. According to a Marine Corps source, as of Spring 2016, Osprey pilots were getting an average of 15.3 of 16.2 hours required to maintain proficiency in required skills. CH-53E pilots were getting 10.7 of 15.1. Hornet pilots were getting a truly abysmal 8.8 of 15.7. Fifteen hours a month is the minimal acceptable level to safely fly military aircraft. At least 20 are required to become confident and proficient.


Over the course of my 20-year career, I personally saw my flight time go from an average of 25 per month at the beginning to less than 20 by the time I left in 2015. Now it’s sunk even lower, except that today’s aviators don’t have a foundation of years of consistent flying. Many have known nothing but sporadic training, interrupted by brief periods of frenetic operations while deployed. Even when the average number of flight hours per pilot reaches the minimum of 15, it doesn’t mean that the aviation community is safe, because that distribution is heavily skewed.


A current squadron commander I spoke with told me he is forced to triage his pilots. His key instructors and flight leaders who will fill key roles on the next deployment get what they need, but everyone below that gets whatever is left over, and is barely enough to keep the squadron qualified to fly its assigned mission sets. His squadron “hog board” of pilot flight hours showed his top five senior instructors averaging a decent 24 hours a month. His bottom five, mostly lieutenants, all had less than five hours a month. At five hours a month, every flight is just relearning what one forgot since the last time. Those lieutenants are going to have to step up soon.


Ironically, his top five are planning on leaving the Corps in the near future. Their replacements will come from among those getting less than five hours a month of training. This isn’t getting better until more aircraft are ready to fly. The budget squeeze brought about by the continuing sequester plus the demands of continuing deployments have brought aircraft readiness dangerously low. The new aircraft, like the MV-22B, the UH-1Y, and the AH-1Z don’t have enough parts and maintainers to keep them flying. The old ones, like the F/A-18 and CH-53E, are just worn out.


According to the head of Marine aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Corps is making efforts to bring readiness back to healthy levels, but that depends greatly on the success of acquisitions like the F-35 and CH-53K. President-elect Trump says he has plans to increase the Corps by 8,000 to 12,000 Marines. Hopefully within that plan is one to restore readiness in what the Corps already has first. Otherwise, we’re just sending players into varsity games after attending JV practice.


No pilot goes to fly giving anything other than his utmost. The ones who died bet their lives on the fact that the Corps gave them sufficient training to extricate them from almost any situation. That their training was insufficient to do so is not their fault, but ours.


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Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness


(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 03 JAN 17) … Col. H. Wayne Whitten, USMC Retired


President-Elect Donald Trump has called for hard-hitting initiatives to be included in a first-100-day thrust to make America strong again. Hoping to be included in that effort are some common-sense, low-cost changes to our land-based expeditionary electronic warfare (EW) force posture that would immediately improve operational readiness and have a positive economic effect to boot.


These changes would delay, if not cancel, the ill-timed phase-out of Marine Corps EW aircraft; retaining the highly-trained aircrews; and a geographic realignment of the Navy’s expeditionary squadrons. These are proactive force posture changes that would signal a higher priority for warfighting readiness without increasing deployments abroad.


As the combatant commanders know – and our adversaries respect – this is about the frontline force they call upon to support warfighters engaged in operations across the spectrum of conflict. EW aircraft and their powerful electronic attack systems were initially designed to counter sophisticated air defenses but now support ground and special operations forces engaged in conventional and asymmetric warfare. These versatile assets are fully integrated into the battlespace command and control architecture to provide commanders unparalleled situational awareness and targeting to support battle management decisions. With an ever-evolving array of offensive EW weaponry that now extends to PSYOPS and on to cyber warfare, they are well equipped for sowing chaos in keeping with a strategy espoused by secretary of defense nominee retired-Gen. James Mattis.


Today EW forces may be tasked to counter improvised explosive devices and communication devices used by ISIS and the Taliban, or target frontline Russian-supplied surface-to-air missiles in Syria that they may be tasked to jam later on. In the Pacific, they stand ready to take on the sophisticated Chinese air defense systems protecting made-made islands as part of their anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategy.


Since the retirement of the U.S. Air Force EF-111s in the mid-1990s, the expeditionary EW mission has been entrusted to the Navy and Marine Corps. That meant the Navy began sharing a mission pioneered by the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and performed with distinction in the Persian Gulf and Balkan campaigns. For many years both services employed the EA-6B Prowler, initially designed to counter integrated air defense networks but quickly modified during the Iraq War to provide direct support to U.S. and coalition ground and special operations forces. Those efforts came in time for the Prowlers to support Marines engaged in the bloody fight for Fallujah in 2004.


The Navy has now retired its EA-6Bs and is transitioning both its carrier-based and expeditionary squadrons to the EA-18G Growler, a hybrid variant of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Standup of the Navy’s expeditionary squadrons is not complete, with about 40 new production EA-18Gs yet to be delivered. The expeditionary and carrier-based squadrons are all to be homeported at NAS Whidbey Island, WA.


In a departure from the Navy’s aircraft modernization strategy, the Marine Corps some years ago chose to pass on the Super Hornet and Growler in favor of awaiting development of the F-35B, the V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. Unlike the Navy, the Marines saw the promise of the stealthy fifth-generation F-35B with its integrated EW systems as obviating the need for external support in high-threat environments. That premise resulted in the decision not to replace their aging EA-6Bs with new production EA-18Gs. Instead, their VMAQ squadrons are to be phased out in favor of a system-of-systems concept designed around non-dedicated platforms including UAVs to support the ground combat element. The first of four squadrons has already stood down and the second is scheduled to sunset in June 2017. Overall this plan stands down 50 percent of the joint expeditionary EW force and drops a Marine aviation capability that dates back to the Korean War.


These changes are still taking place as scheduled despite major delays in fielding the F-35B and its as-yet unproven capabilities to penetrate emerging air defense radar networks. It will be well over five years before half of the Marines F/A-18 Hornet aircraft that heavily depend on EA-6B support are replaced, and at least three years before the system-of-system concept bears fruit.


There is no planned back-up reserve capability.


The resulting three- to five-year gap in expeditionary EW capability impacts Marine Corps and joint force readiness and must be dealt with quickly by the new administration. Suspending the retirement of the VMAQs and retaining their highly trained and career-oriented EW officers is an obvious first step. They remain a vital component of the force that must be able to “fight tonight” and contribute to joint warfighting requirements. Given the circumstances, this should garner Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller’s support, as it is in keeping with his recently stated priorities to beef up the Marine Corps’ cyber/EW capabilities.


Luckily the former chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, an avowed EW advocate, committed the Navy to taking additional EA-18Gs funded by a far-sighted Congress to support both carrier-based and expeditionary requirements. This will help bridge the capability gap but raises operational readiness issues given that all the EA-18Gs are destined to be homeported at NAS Whidbey Island. It’s noble in intent but highly questionable from a roles and mission standpoint that all land-based EW aircraft will be owned by the Navy, the service with the least natural ties and expertise in ground combat operations.


To compound that issue is the imbalance in cross-training afforded joint forces if the entire expeditionary EW force is based on the Northwest coast. The inherent logistical advantages of single-site basing must be secondary to restoring joint force operational readiness and improving joint force warfighting capabilities, two key stated objectives of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. It is also counter to warfighting doctrine which calls for synergistic training of all combatants under train-as-you-will- fight scenarios. Bear in mind over half of the Army, Marine Corps, SOF and tactical Air Force units are in the eastern U.S. Additionally, DoD has a sizable investment in East Coast ranges that continue to be under-utilized for EW training.


Given the increasingly unsettled Middle East and NATO commitments, a realignment of expeditionary forces would send a message to Russia, its Syrian cronies and Iran that the pivot to the Pacific is not an open door for adventurism elsewhere in the world. Achieving a geographic balance by establishing an East Coast homeport for the EA-18Gs is consistent with long-held Navy policy. Eventual re-commissioning of a reserve squadron on the East Coast should also be considered, as there was an EA-6B squadron based at Joint Base Andrews before the transition from Prowlers to Growlers began. Again, the timing is right, as new production deliveries will support standup of EA-18G squadrons on the East Coast.


Finally, the regional economic benefits must not be ignored. Ironically, the increase in aircraft loading at NAS Whidbey Island has created an environmental impact even as the draw down in EA-6Bs at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, and delays in the F-35B deliveries are causing serious economic concerns. One would think North Carolina officials would see now is the time to put aside fears that questioning the EA-6B drawdown would somehow be viewed as threatening the F-35B. In fact, they should be making the case to homeport the Navy expeditionary EA-18Gs at MCAS Cherry Point.


For the first time since the Reagan years the Pentagon’s table of change is set and invitations sent from the new commander-in-chief. For the Marine Corps, this may mean more Title 10 missions “such as the President may direct.” No regrets please, the joint warfighters now more than ever need you to bring your proven EW assets to the table.


Col. Whitten flew nearly 200 combat missions over North Vietnam before going on to a career that spanned operations, requirements, acquisition and testing of EW aircraft and systems. While on the HQMC staff, he worked closely with President- elect Reagan’s DoN transition team, and later served in the Navy Secretariat as Special Assistant for Marine Corps Programs.


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China’s air force is becoming very powerful

But Suffers from One Super Fatal Flaw


(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 03 JAN 17) … Dave Majumdar


Will the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E be the last jet fighter that China imports? The Chinese government’s official media certainly seems to believe so. “With the commissioning of the J-20, the Su-35 will soon lose its value in the Chinese market,” the People’s Daily states.


It is certainly possible that the advanced Russian-made jet will be the last fighter aircraft that Beijing imports, however, China will likely be dependent on Russia for subsystems such as engines for some time to come. Beijing has made tremendous progress with developing its own combat aircraft and the avionics needed to equip those machines, but China continues to be hampered by its inability to develop and produce reliable jet engines.


Indeed, China has demonstrated progress with developing not only stealthy new airframes such as the J-20 and the FC-31, but also seemingly with the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, electro-optical/infrared sensors and electronic warfare systems, data-links and even the cockpit displays that are typical of fifth-generation fighters.


At the Zhuhai airshow last November, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation exhibited a video of the FC-31 showing off capabilities such as a distributed aperture system (DAS) and an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) similar to those mounted on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aircraft is also reputed to feature a KLJ-7A AESA radar that is being developed by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology.


However, it remains to be seen if China has come close to mastering “sensor fusion” – which is to tie all of those myriad sensor and data feeds into a single coherent picture. That’s a capability found onboard the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35, but it has taken years of effort and billions of dollars to master (and in the case of the F-35, it’s still a work in progress). Beijing will eventually get there in time, but it’s hard to say how long that will take.


Engines, however, continue to remain a weak spot for Chinese industry. But jet engines are inherently difficult to develop and produce. Indeed, only a handful of advanced industrial nations have the technological capacity to independently develop and build their own working and producible jet engines – the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. Almost every other power is dependent on others to develop propulsion technology.


China is determined to close that gap, but it has not yet succeeded in doing so. Last year, Beijing setup the Aero Engine Corp. of China (AECC) as part of its efforts to solve the problem. The firm has $7.5 billion in capital and 96,000 employees. According to a CNN report, Beijing’s most recent five-year development plan states that developing and producing indigenous engines is one of China’s most important goals.


China has the money and the willpower to develop its own aerospace engine industry. It’s just a matter of time before Beijing masters jet engine technology and starts developing and mass-producing its own propulsion systems. When that day comes, China will be independent of Russian engine technology and might indeed become a major aerospace industrial power in its own right.


Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest.


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New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones


(NAVY TIMES 02 JAN 17) … Emily Cole


As Naval aviation continues to transition to its future force, 2017 milestones and transitions may bring a new supercarrier, the first unmanned patrol squadron and improved aircraft including the stand-up of the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron.


The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be commissioned in 2017, improving upon the Advanced Arresting Gear and engineering efficiencies. “A new nuclear propulsion and electric plant on the Ford class will generate almost three times the electrical power over the Nimitz class,” Naval Air Forces spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld said.


Two squadrons will debut in the coming year, the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-125, and the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19. F-35C Lightning II will stand up at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California as a critical addition to carrier strike groups. The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft squadron held a commissioning ceremony on Oct. 28 and will begin training in mid-2017 with the intention of achieving safe-for-flight status in 2018.


The transition process to the P-8A Poseidon from the P-3C is also scheduled to complete in 2017. To date, six of the 12 fleet squadrons have transitioned, and two more squadrons (VP-4 and VP-47) are scheduled to complete their transition in the next calendar year. The permanent duty station will change from NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.


The Navy will increase its inventory of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye squadrons to three, including VAW-126 which recently completed their transition, and VAW-124 in late 2017, Groeneveld said.


On the technology side, Naval Air Forces completed delivery in 2016 of the landing software Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, thankfully shortened to Magic Carpet. The final version of the software is targeted to begin installation in late 2017.


“The Magic Carpet capability significantly reduces pilot workload both by causing the aircraft to default to a stable glideslope on approach to landing, requiring only minor inputs to adjust glide path, and by accounting for the motion of the carrier in the display, allowing the pilot to much more easily judge the expected point of touchdown,” Groeneveld said.


In 2017, Naval aviation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Naval Air Station North Island, also known as the birthplace of Naval Aviation. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway will also be commemorated. The battle marked not only a turning point in the Pacific during World War II but an important moment in naval aviation history.


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Big data, software continue to stump defense programs


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 20 DEC 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


A struggling effort to upgrade Air Force combat operations centers speaks to larger problems that continue to dog information-technology programs across the Defense Department.


Buzzwords like “data fusion” and “open systems” are part of the lexicon in most big-ticket acquisitions of defense technology, but bringing that vision to life has been difficult at best.


The latest illustration of this challenge is an Air Force project to modernize command centers that are deployed in strategic parts of the world to plan and execute air warfare operations. The three-year-old program suffered a major setback last month as it became clear that the upgrades are going to take much longer and cost far more than expected.


The project, known as air operations center, or AOC 10.2 is a complex “system-of-systems” made up of least 45 different third-party software applications. The improvements are intended to give commanders modern decision-making tools, including real-time intelligence and data to make targeting faster and more accurate. That requires considerable software integration and machine-to-machine data transfer to produce more timely data and reduce human error. Making this effort even tougher are stringent cybersecurity requirements to protect highly sensitive information.


AOC 10.2 appeared to be sailing smoothly after the Pentagon signed off on a preliminary design review in 2013. After that Milestone B decision, prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded a new contract option to continue the development.


But after discovering significant problems over the past year, the Air Force in November submitted a “critical change” report to Congress concerning AOC 10.2. It indicated that the program – considered a “major automated information system” – would need more time and money to reach its goals, doubling development cost from the original estimate.


The critical change report was required due to a schedule delay of Milestone C – production and deployment phase – of more than one year from the original plan, said Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog.


Air Force leaders had conducted an in-depth evaluation of the AOC 10.2 program, which led to the revised plan, Hertzog said in a statement. The AOC 10.2 needs to fix “point-to-point integration and cybersecurity shortfalls of the currently fielded version, AOC 10.1.”


Many of the troubles involved converting the legacy AOC environment into a “modular open systems architecture,” which the Pentagon now requires of all its information systems. A modular, open architecture is the Holy Grail in defense systems because it allows the Pentagon to insert new software and keep technologies up to date more easily.


“It improves the Air Force’s ability to integrate similarly modular and modernized application updates or new applications as they become available,” explained Hertzog. That also applies to cybersecurity, as the Air Force seeks to “improve system security more easily as threats continue to evolve.”


The new target for Milestone C is January 2019.


The Pentagon’s top weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore reported that major cybersecurity problems in AOC 10.2 were identified in August and September 2015. “The severity and quantity of the functional and cybersecurity deficiencies identified during the test resulted in the Air Force issuing a cure notice to the prime contractor.”


Northrop Grumman spokesman Brandon “Randy” Belote referred specific questions to the Air Force. In a statement he said the company is working to “ensure that the AOC 10.2 successfully provides for the security of the system including against future threats it will face. While there have been some challenges on the AOC 10.2 program, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force have forged a strong partnership that is working together to address the issues.”


The critical change report submitted to Congress projects the development of AOC 10.2 will cost $745 million, compared to the original $374 million estimate, Bloomberg News reported. The report said the Air Force had underestimated the complexity of integrating numerous third-party software applications and ensuring the networks were sufficiently protected from future cyber intrusions.


The Air Force Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, first issued a request for proposals in December 2010 for the AOC upgrade, estimating the value of the program at more than $800 million over the next eight years.


The modernization of air operations centers has been a long-term pursuit by the Air Force, noted retired Gen. Charles F. (Chuck) Wald, a former air war commander and now vice chairman of Deloitte Services.


The integration and interoperability of equipment at the AOC has “always been an issue,” Wald told National Defense. “How do you make sure you have feeds from the various intelligence sources and monitoring sources, and how do you apply that capability to an air tasking order?” he said. Open architectures and data fusion, if executed properly, are “game changers.”


During an industry conference more than a year ago, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering Stephen P. Welby spoke about the difficulties in developing modular open systems. One of the obstacles is a lack of “technical insight” by government program officials. “These designs will increase demand on DoD engineering competence, capability and capacity.”


Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva recently called out contractors for not being forthcoming about the challenges of building open systems. “For those of you in industry that are in this room, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked the following question, ‘Will your widget subscribe to an open architecture?’ Answer is always, ‘Oh sir, of course,’” Selva said in October at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In reality, though, it’s an “open architecture but only inside of our company or only inside of our proprietary IT that’s in the system,” he said. “We really have to find a resilient open architecture to which all of our systems can subscribe and we’ve only scratched the surface on that.”


The Defense Department’s top weapons buyer Frank Kendall said the idea of modular designs and open systems goes back decades. “It’s been part of my initiation since day one,” he said. “How do you basically keep those systems modern? Well, you do it through modular designs. Modular design gets you the ability to take something out, put something else in,” Kendall said. “Industry always tells us that they like open systems, but they give us a lot of designs that aren’t open. There’s no secret about this. You basically want to retain market share and one way you do that is you have proprietary intellectual property that allows you to do that. It makes hard for people to come in and displace you.”


The Pentagon has to “work hard at this and the devil is in the details,” Kendall added. “That’s the only way we’re going to have technology refresh on reasonable cycles relative to the pace at which technology is moving.”


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F-35’s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights


(DOD BUZZ 20 DEC 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


A software fix designed to make the F-35 Joint Strike fighter’s state-of-the-art helmet easier to use for Navy and Marine Corps pilots landing on ships at night is still falling short of the mark, the program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office said Monday.


One discovery made as the F-35C Navy carrier variant and F-35B Marine Corps “jump jet” variant wrapped up ship testing this year was that the symbology on the pricey helmet was still too bright and distracting for pilots landing on carriers or amphibious ships in the lowest light conditions, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters.


During the final developmental test phase for the F-35C aboard the carrier George Washington in August, officials told they were testing a new software load specifically designed to address this “green glow” problem, which can make it difficult for pilots to detect outside light sources and the cues they need to land their aircraft safely.


While testers were hopeful at the time the problem was solved, Bogdan said officials are not yet satisfied.

“The symbology on the helmet, even when turned down as low as it can, is still a little too bright,” he said. “We want to turn down that symbology so that it’s not so bright that they can’t see through it to see the lights, but if you turn it down too much, then you start not being able to see the stuff you do want to see. We have an issue there, there’s no doubt.”


Bogdan said the military plans on pursuing a hardware fix for the helmet, which is designed to stream real-time information onto the visor and allow the pilots to “see through” the plane by projecting images from cameras mounted around the aircraft. But before that fix is finalized, he said, pilots of the F-35 B and C variants will make operational changes to mitigate the glare from the helmet. These may including adjusting the light scheme on the aircraft, altering how pilots communicate during night flights, and perhaps changing the way they use the helmet during these flights, he said.


“We’re thinking in the short term we need to make some operational changes, and in the long term we’ll look for some hardware changes,” Bogdan said.


The window for making such adjustments is rapidly closing. The first F-35B squadron is expected to move forward to its new permanent base in Japan in January ahead of a 2018 shipboard deployment in the Pacific. The F-35C is also expected to deploy aboard a carrier for the first time in 2018.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – December 12, 2016



  1. FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey
  2. Game-Changing Analytics Tool Nets Dennis Recognition




  1. Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending
  2. Navy Working Early Integration of MQ-25 Drone onto Aircraft Carriers
  3. China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank
  4. Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says
  5. MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22
  6. Trump Targets F-35, but Aircraft Means Jobs in 45 States
  7. Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It
  8. Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35





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FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – All roads lead to the paint complex in Building 466, where Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) aircraft products are concerned.


Most recently, that road was traveled by the first MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to undergo painting at the command. The Osprey was inducted in November and flown from its Planned Maintenance Interval-2 (PMI-2) event that was completed at FRCSW Site Miramar.


This course of events was quite unique: FRCSW Site Miramar completed the PMI-2 earlier in the year, returning the aircraft to the Marines of Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161) for build-up and testing before flying it to FRCSW for final painting and weight/balance as part of the PMI-2 process.


Final paint at FRCSW is typically applied before the build-up and testing of the aircraft prior to delivery to the customer; however, adequate paint facilities and the proper certifications are not available at Site Miramar, and so, required a different flow of events.


Preparation for the MV-22 paint event began more than a year ago when two journeyman, crew leader David Powers and painter Charles Broadnax, traveled to FRC East (FRCE) at Cherry Point to receive training on the MV-22’s strip and paint operations.


While FRCE’s operations and facilities differ from those of FRCSW’s, the team learned the unique differences and challenges involving the removal the aircraft’s original coatings, preparing the surfaces for painting, and applying the new Type IV paint, including the required stenciling and markings.


Logistics preparations continued throughout the year with stakeholder meetings that included materials lab engineers; deputy IPT leads; production control; production managers; planning department; paint crew leaders and artisans; supervisors; financial; safety office; and business office personnel. These critical preparations ensured the right materials were ordered along with the appropriate source documentation, and solutions to concerns were tailored to successfully assist the paint complex.


As an airframe, the MV-22 is a unique configuration both in its body and its large nacelles and subsequently massive 38- foot propellers.


The propellers require appropriate masking for sanding, and then separately for paint operations to include rotation during the painting process. Planning when to rotate the propellers, as well as the stenciling/marking of the areas, was critical due to the need to raise or lower the aircraft’s struts to allow clearance in the dual-bay operation.


The V-22 fuselage and empennage are comprised of aluminum, carbon/epoxy composite, and carbon/epoxy composite overlaid with 5 thousandths-of-an-inch copper mesh. The wing and nacelles are comprised of carbon/epoxy composite and fiberglass.


This mix of substrate materials and subsequent treatments fell under the expertise of materials engineer Esther Chan. Her dedication was critical in the timely success of the project, as she became respirator-certified and suited up to provide the necessary guidance to the artisan team.


Pre-training on the copper mesh (Astro-Strike) and the new primer and Type IV paint were stepping stones to success for the paint complex. Powers and Chan developed a training regimen consisting of an eight-hour education and lab environment for the artisans.


Using donated aircraft surfaces from the composite shop so as not to damage the Astro-Strike surface, the artisans learned new sanding techniques with new sanding materials, as well as painting with the new Type IV paint.


After induction of the MV-22, artisans and materials lab engineers overcame their first objective: fitting the new fall protection stands to the airframe under the instruction of FRCSW safety specialist Javier Trujillo.

FRCE crew leader James Kanuck and materials lab engineer Ryan Glembocki provided direct support and guidance to the FRCSW crew leaders and team members. The experience of the FRCE members translated directly to the paint artisans, reducing a potential 30-day estimated turn-around-time to a 14-day delivery from the paint complex to the weight/balance team.


The MV-22 paint process requires hand/scuff sanding of the entire surface of the airframe; and with such a large aircraft, the paint complex team needed to ensure enough members were trained. The aircraft was swarmed, creating a “leopard” pattern look on the airframe without sanding into the Astro-Strike.


Wiping the aircraft down following sanding, the artisans masked it for painting the tri-color paint scheme. The stenciling and marking of the aircraft with several hundred stencils of various sizes was another challenge, as well.


Since FRCE and FRCSW are the only FRCs to provide paint services to the fleet for this aircraft and with a growing population of MV-22s on the horizon that includes Navy models, it is anticipated that FRCSW will paint upwards of 15 units per year.


Currently, the paint complex is scheduled for three units in fiscal year 2017, with a goal to reduce the TAT through experience gained from this and future evolutions.


The success of FRCSW’s first MV-22 paint operation may be attributed to excellent logistics integration planning and good material sourcing. But success is also truly rooted within the people involved: the artisans, engineers, logisticians, P/Cs, QAs, and other members who take pride in their work, teaming together, determined to succeed for the fleet.


For FRCSW aircraft, all roads lead to paint: Taking the “Pain” out of Paint, leaving the “T” for on target delivery!


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Game-changing analytics tool nets Dennis recognition


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Aubrey Dennis, Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Aviation Logistics and Maintenance Analysis Division (AIR-6.8.2) division head, was presented with a DoN Superior Civilian Service Award Dec. 6 for his work on Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that moves Naval Aviation closer to predictive capability.


Vector pulls from more than 20 maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems, providing analysts, providers and other Naval Aviation stakeholders with a single source analytical tool which depicts actionable data, reducing the time to identify readiness degraders from several months to minutes. Dennis, who headed the team that created Vector, was recognized for his tenacity in pursuit of funding to incorporate future enhancements and instruct more than 1100 military and civilian users across the NAE on its use. Additionally, he and his team trained the Type/Model/Series teams of over 600 personnel in two months on the tool and its uses.


Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, NAVAIR (AIR-6.8), said Vector was a game changer for the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). “With little staff and no money, Dennis and his team created Vector, which is now the go-to tool for not only program managers at NAVAIR, but also for [type/model/series] leads and others in the fleet who need to see the status of their platform at any given moment,” he said.


Harris also commended Dennis on his vision and foresight before Vector was released in July 2016. “Before this summer, Vector was known as ILSMS [Integrated Logistics Support Management System] and was primarily being used by program managers at NAVAIR. Dennis believed that others in the fleet could use the same aggregated data to better manage their readiness.


“He pursued funding through a NAE Future Readiness initiative to make Vector accessible through the web so that everyone in the enterprise could have visibility,” he said.


“But he didn’t stop there,” Harris said. “Dennis travelled to the fleet to personally train them on Vector and to ensure its proper implementation and use.”


Dennis’ foresight also extended beyond today’s use of the analytic tool. Its components are modular, Dennis said, so that updates can be incorporated by section.  “This way, the entire tool does not have to be recreated as technology updates.”


Vector is scheduled to incorporate other reporting databases over the next three fiscal years from supply, engines, support equipment, weapons and the P-8 Logistics Cell, a cross-functional collaborative organization.


Later this month, Dennis will be taking on a new challenge as the National Director of 6.3 (Industrial Operations Management Department) at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. Dennis said while he was the one recognized with service award, the success of Vector is a reflection of the teamwork and creativity residing in AIR-6.8.2.  “I didn’t do this alone,” Dennis said.  “This award is just as much theirs as well.”


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Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending


(BLOOMBERG 13 DEC 16) … Sangwon Yoon


It’s not just President-elect Donald Trump who’s bent on military build-up.


From Europe all the way to China, the next decade will be marked by an increase in global defense spending amid rising feuds and pockets of instability, according to IHS Jane’s latest annual Defense Budgets report.


Global defense expenditures rose to $1.57 trillion this year from $1.55 trillion in 2015 as Asian nations act on growing nervousness around the South China Sea, said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at the London-based defense and security analysis firm. Fenella McGerty, another analyst at IHS Jane’s, expects spending levels to return to pre-2008-2009 financial crisis levels by 2018. Here is a breakdown by regions.




– China’s defense budget will nearly double from $123 billion in 2010 to $233 billion in 2020, according to the report, which forecasts defense expenditure for 105 countries. That is four times what the U.K. spends and more than the combined expenditure of Western Europe.


India has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the fourth-largest spender in the world. If the pound continues to weaken, India will spend more on defense than the U.K. by 2018, according to IHS Jane’s.




EU members boosted their combined budget to $219 billion in 2016, with Western Europe leading the charge, the report said. The only things holding back future increases are economic constraints in the south – take Greece, for example – and the question marks hanging over Brexit.


Russia cut its budget for the first time since the late 1990s to $48 billion this year. Despite a hit from the dramatic drop in oil prices, the Middle East as a whole is not expected to dramatically reduce expenditures considering regional instability, Caffrey added.




At $622 billion in 2016, the U.S. is still the world leader in defense spending, with its budget accounting for about 40 percent of the global total, according to the report.


The Pentagon’s “investment levels going forward were to decrease by 1.1 percent in real terms, but with the election of Trump, the expectation is that both investment and readiness will receive injections of much needed funds,” said Guy Eastman, a senior analyst.


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Navy working early integration of MQ-25 drone onto aircraft carriers


By: Mark Pomerleau


The Navy is working to integrate the MQ-25 Stingray drone onto aircraft carriers.


The much anticipated UAV will be a tanker for aerial refueling. This, senior leaders said, would allow highly reliable aircraft, some with specifically tailored capabilities such as the premier aerial electronic attack aircraft, the EA-18G Growler, increase its range in the face of anti-access, area-denial environments, which seek to push adversaries farther away.


With this announcement, the Navy must ready itself from an integration standpoint to support the new UAS platform – building upon the successes of the X-47B demonstrator aircraft tests. At this early stage in the program, which will encompass many Navy system commands, one official is pleased by the coordination taking place.


“I was just with Capt. [Beau] Duarte, [ program manager for PMA-268, or the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office], Tuesday up in [Patuxent] River and what was really encouraging about the discussion was that Capt. Duarte and his PMA were still really aligned to ensure that the integration of all the capabilities on the MQ-25 was being coordinated with fellow SYSCOMS like SPAWAR and NAVSEA to include PEO C4I,” Capt. Andy Gibbons, the program manager for Carrier and Air Integration at PEO C4I, told C4ISRNET on Dec. 9 on the sidelines of the C5ISR Summit, hosted by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association.


“We’re all still all in the game with [PMA-]268 and their way forward. . Definitely a win-win in moving forward with that program,” he said, regarding the teaming across the Navy and contracting community.


In terms of integrating a new aircraft onto the carrier platforms, Gibbons noted various challenges, saying that with a “a tremendous capability coming to an aircraft carrier that not only has to be designed from an aircraft perspective to be on a carrier . the carrier has to be designed to support that airframe.”


Gibbons noted that from a C4I perspective, he’s working with the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office to ensure that there are modernization efforts for the carriers to support the timeline for the new airframe to be on the carrier. “The good news is that we’re able to do that with current budgets . as it pertains to our fielding plans. That’s where my focus is,” he said. “We have to expand and ensure that the networking, the command and control, the ISR capabilities that we normally field are fielded in such a way that they all arrive in time for MQ-25. Right now we’re on [a] path to do that.”


Gibbons declined to get into any specifics regarding the acquisition aspects of the MQ-25 given that it is not in his lane. A NAVAIR spokeswoman told C4ISRNET that there have not been any recent acquisition updates to the program.


There has been some discussion about whether MQ-25 will also serve some ISR capacity in addition to aerial refueling, which will come down to the final requirements. The NAVAIR spokeswoman said an RFP will be released in summer 2017 for the platform itself as well as the requirements component.


However, Gibbons expressed that within his lane, he is working the ISR component as it applies to overall integration of the aircraft into the carrier. This includes not only the pipes down to the ship, “but the pipes off the ship to the wider team as it were,” Gibbons said. “I want to reemphasize, that’s the good teaming with [PMA-]268, they really came to us early in the process to make sure that what we were doing on the carrier aligned with their program. So we’re able to make the necessary moves, and again, no cost to the program to make sure that we’re all in concert with that delivery.


Moreover, from an ISR and integration perspective, Gibbons noted he doesn’t need to be concerned with the pilot – or in this case, lack thereof.


“From a C4I perspective, I don’t necessarily need to know if it’s got a man in it or it doesn’t . for me it’s another air platform,” he said. “From a C4I perspective, what we like to look at it as another node extending the network to the air domain. So whether that’s piloted by a human or if it’s unmanned, we’re still going to work on it and make sure its interoperable with the carrier.”


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China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank


(REUTERS 15 DEC 16) … David Brunnstrom


WASHINGTON – China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported, citing new satellite imagery.


The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings, made available first to Reuters on Wednesday, come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.


China said on Thursday that, while its construction on islands and reefs in the South China Sea was mainly for civilian use, it was “legitimate and normal” for it to take steps to defend its territory.


AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.


“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs,” it said citing images taken in November.


“This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs.”


Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.


Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.


AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.


“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” it said.


“Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases.”


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing that he “did not understand” the situation referred to in the report.


“The Nansha islands are China’s inherent territory. China’s building of facilities and necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own territory is completely normal,” he said, using China’s name for the Spratlys.


“If China’s building of normal facilities and deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own islands is considered militarization, then what is the sailing of fleets into the South China Sea?” he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. “freedom of navigation” patrols in the waters.


Philippines Says “Big Concern”


The Philippines, one of several countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, said it was still verifying the report.


“But if true it is a big concern for us and the international community who use the South China Sea lanes for trade,” said Defense Minister Delfin Lorenza during a visit to Singapore with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area which is not good.”


Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


AMTI director Greg Poling said AMTI had spent months trying to figure out what the purposes of the structures was.


“This is the first time that we’re confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there,” he told Reuters.


“This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it’s only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.


“They keep saying they are not militarizing, but they could deploy fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles tomorrow if they wanted to,” he said. “Now they have all the infrastructure in place for these interlocking rings of defense and power projection.” The report said the installations would likely back up a defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms like the HQ-9 system deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, farther to the north in the South China Sea.


It forecast that such a deployment could happen “at any time,” noting a recent Fox News report that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.


“Ready Your Slingshot”


Singapore-based South China Sea expert Ian Storey said he believed the move would help ready the facilities for the probable next step of China flying jet fighters and military transport planes to its new runways.


“From the outset it’s been quite obvious that the artificial islands were designed to serve as military outposts in the South China Sea,” said Storey, of the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.


“Even while tensions are at a relatively low ebb, I think we can expect to see military flights to the Spratlys in the coming months – including the first jet fighters,” Storey said.


The United States has criticized what it called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.


U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has also criticized Chinese behavior in the South China Sea while signaling he may adopt a tougher approach to China’s assertive behavior in the region than President Barack Obama.


The State Department said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but spokesman John Kirby added:

“We consistently call on China as well as other claimants to commit to peacefully managing and resolving disputes, to refrain from further land reclamation and construction of new facilities and the militarization of disputed features.”


China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its microblog on Thursday that it was “legitimate and lawful” for it to place defensive military installations on islands where it said Beijing had “indisputable sovereignty.”


“If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?” it said.


(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Karen Lima, Greg Torode, My Pham, Manuel Mogato, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Alistair Bell, Lincoln Feast and Alex Richardson)


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Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says


(DEFENSE DAILY 13 DEC 16) … Pat Host


President-elect Donald Trump might focus on managing cost-plus defense development programs as a way to extract better deals for taxpayers, according to an adviser to Trump’s transition team.


“I see this as a deal making proposition,” former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.) said at the Eilene Galloway space law symposium in Washington. “My guess is you’re going to see him do that.”


Trump’s Monday tweet calling F-35 costs out of control came on the heels of another attack against a high-profile defense program: the Air Force’s Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR), or new Air Force One, program. Walker said Trump’s Twitter call for the Air Force to cancel PAR was a declaration that the administration will not have cost-plus contracts extend out the cost of programs in unacceptable ways. Boeing [BA] is the prime contractor for PAR.


The federal government is liable for cost overruns in cost-plus contracts while the contractor is liable for overruns in fixed-cost contracts. Complex defense development programs like the F-35 are traditionally cost-plus contracts. Lockheed Martin [LMT] spokesman Michael Rein said Tuesday that the F-35 program, of which Lockheed Martin is serving as prime contractor, has been working on fixed-price contracts since the award of low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 4 contract in fiscal year 2010. An exception is the Air Force’s KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, which is hurting Boeing’s bottom line due to development issues.


A leading defense analyst believes it is too soon for investors to react to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent online attacks on a pair of big-budget defense programs. Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners in Washington said Tuesday while concerns over whether the next administration could be hostile to the defense industry are legitimate, investors should wait and see who Trump names to key second- or third-level Pentagon positions like deputy defense secretary and acquisition czar. Once those positions are filled, Callan said investors will have better information to guide investment action.


Callan said history doesn’t show that emphasis on fixed-price defense contracts necessarily brings decreased costs and improved program performance. He said there was a lot of emphasis on fixed-price contracts for development work in the late 1960s and early 1980s and that he didn’t think winners could be declared from such an effort.


“It’s just not clear from the data that fixed-price contracts have necessarily developed complex technological systems on a lower cost schedule,” Callan said.


Callan said investors could see a markdown in defense stock prices and an increase in portfolio risk if the new administration does pursue an emphasis on fixed-price contracting. It may not happen immediately, he said, but would happen when a big “blowup,” or a big writeoff on a program, takes place. Callan said a blowup gets investors to question contractor margins and cash flows and that blowups happened on the C-5, C-17 and P-7 programs.


Callan said if Trump follows through on Walker’s prediction of getting involved in deal-making for large cost-plus defense programs, it would break precedent. He said he couldn’t remember the last time over the past couple administrations where a president got involved in cost issues on specific defense programs.


Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says


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MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22


Breaking Defense | Richard Whittle Marines in Afghanistan with V-22


When V-22 Ospreys full of Marines take to the skies 10 years from now, they could be escorted by armed high-speed drones called MUX.


That’s become the Marine Corps plan because drones let you do things differently. Doing without a pilot inside makes it possible to build unorthodox aircraft that would work poorly carrying tender humans. You can also test unmanned aircraft more quickly, because you don’t have to validate pilot safety features, and because crashes don’t cost human lives. So the Marines figure they can get the MUX – a new armed, ship-based, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone – four to seven years before the Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) project starts replacing existing helicopters with advanced, far speedier manned VTOL aircraft.


The Marine Corps’s rotorcraft requirements director, Col. John Barranco Jr., told me after a CSIS panel Friday on FVL that his service wants the drone first because “we have a gap that the Army does not have.” Specifically, the Corps needs an armed escort for its V-22 Osprey tiltrotor troop transports, which at 250 knots (287 mph) cruise more than twice as fast as its AH-1Z Cobra gunships. The Army doesn’t have that problem because the Army transports troops in conventional helicopters.


Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team are building manned technology demonstrator aircraft under the FVL umbrella – the V-280 Valor and SB>1 Defiant, respectively – that will be required to fly fast enough to escort an Osprey. First flights are scheduled next year. But no production FVL aircraft are expected until the early 2030s.


By contrast, “we’re trying to accelerate MUX and field it in 2026,” said Barranco, using the acronym within an acronym adopted for the sea-based drone. (MUX stands for MAGTF Unmanned eXpeditionary; MAGTF, in turn, stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force). For manned aircraft, Barranco said, “we have a lot of testing requirements. A lot of the burden in test is really related to aviation life support systems, air crew survivability, which we don’t have in an unmanned system. Crashworthiness. G-(force)-compliance for the air crew.” Since that won’t be needed for a drone, he said, “MUX could fill that gap, temporarily, to escort the Osprey.”


Obligingly, Barranco then posed and answered a pertinent question: “Why temporarily? Why not permanently?” Because, he explained, “You have to escort to the objective area and from the objective area. (That’s) kind of defeating some of the purpose and advantage that an unmanned system gives you, which is overhead persistence in the target area.”


Tern, DARPA’s proposed ship-launched drone.


Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy Marine commandant for aviation, has said the Corps wants the MUX to do everything the Air Force’s fixed-wing MQ-9 Reaper drone can do and more. The Reaper, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ derivative of their MQ-1 Predator, offers airborne endurance in the 20-hour range; carries sensors to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and is typically armed with four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and four 500-pound guided bombs.


Barranco said what the Marines primarily want the MUX to do is, when an assault is being mounted, “go ahead of you, get over the target area, show you that picture, stay there once troops are on the ground, and when you have to go back, be there when you come to resupply, be there when you come back, to do close air support, give you that persistent SA (situational awareness).” Escorting Ospreys to and from objective areas would sacrifice the ability to loiter over the target area, he said, but the MUX “can be a gap-filler temporarily for the seven or eight years until FVL starts coming on line to be our manned solution to provide escort in support of our Ospreys.”


Davis has said a relay of MUX could also serve as an airborne “picket line” around ships, which is one reason Bell Helicopter has named a tiltrotor drone it is offering for the job “V-247,” pronounced “vee-twenty-four-seven” to emphasize the potential for round-the-clock operations. Other contenders for MUX include a tail-sitter flying wing called Tern, which is being developed by Northrop Grumman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and a Karem Aircraft tiltrotor called Swift.


The powerful Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approved moving ahead with the MUX on Oct. 27 and the Marines will conduct an official Analysis of Alternatives next year. The JROC has also approved the much larger FVL program.


Barranco and two Army colonels on the FVL panel at CSIS indicated the services are gradually coming to agreement on broad requirements for the first aircraft to be developed, known for now as “Capabilities Set 3,” or as insiders say it, “cape set three.” In the past, Army leaders have been a lot less enthusiastic than the Marines about paying more for faster aircraft, since they generally operate over shorter distances. But Army Col. Erskine Bentley, Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for FVL, began his remarks by noting the strategic and tactical advantages faster VTOL troop transports could offer his service.


“The three panelists highlighted the broad support of the Army, Navy/Marines and SOCOM (Special Operations Command) for FVL within their services,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “There’s also growing support in Congress for FVL and accelerating it. Advocacy in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill is going to need to be strengthened for that to happen.”


Maybe they could speed things up


MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22


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Trump targets F-35, but aircraft means jobs in 45 states


AP | Richard Lardner


WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to corral the “out of control” cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But congressional Republicans and Democrats, aware of the tens of thousands of jobs the aircraft generates in 45 states, will be wary of any plans by Trump to cut the program. A Monday morning tweet from Trump targeting the F-35 doesn’t explain exactly how he’ll save billions of dollars in military purchases while also honoring a campaign vow to rebuild the armed forces. Once Trump is in office, he can propose deep cuts to the F-35 or even elect to cancel the program altogether. But Congress, not the president, controls the government’s purse strings and makes the final decisions about the budget.


Built by defense giant Lockheed Martin, the nearly $400 billion price tag for the F-35 makes the program the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition ever. Despite the huge cost, the program has strong bipartisan support in Congress, where lawmakers view the aircraft as essential to national security.


Lockheed Martin’s stock tumbled after Trump’s tweet, wiping out nearly $2 billion of the company’s market value. The company’s shares fell $6.42, or 2.5 percent, to close at $253.11 Monday.


The F-35 program made up 20 percent of Lockheed’s total 2015 revenue of $46.1 billion. U.S. government orders made up 78 percent of its revenue last year.


“Whoever has this airplane will have the most advanced air force in the world. That’s why we’re building the F35. That’s why it’s important to not only the U.S., our partners and our partners like the Israeli Air force to have this airplane,” said Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, at a base in Israel.


Israel and several other U.S. allies are also buying the F-35, expanding the program’s international footprint. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Israel on Monday as Tel Aviv received the first two next-generation F-35 fighter jets that will help preserve the country’s military edge in the volatile Mideast.


The F-35, which uses stealth technology to avoid being detected by radar, is being built in different configurations to be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy’s version, for example, is designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.


Current plans call for the United States to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s. Close to $13 billion will be needed annually between 2016 and 2038 to hit that procurement number, according to the Government Accountability Office.


While the F-35 had massive budget overruns early on, the cost has stabilized and even dropped a bit following tough negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, according to Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


“Trump is unlikely to squeeze more blood out of this rock,” Harrison said.


Lockheed said that it has worked to lower the price of the F-35 by 60 percent and expected the aircraft to cost $85 million each in 2019 and 2020. But the company’s estimate appears to omit the price of the engine and the cost of development. When those elements are added in, the cost per F-35 in current-year dollars is closer to $138 million, according to Harrison.


Companies from 45 states are involved in the F-35’s production, with Texas, Georgia, California, Arizona and Florida playing the leading roles in testing and manufacturing the jet fighter. The company is teamed with more than 1,250 domestic suppliers to produce thousands of components ranging from highly sophisticated radar sensors to parts of the aircraft’s fuselage, according to Lockheed Martin.


Overall, the F-35 program is responsible for more than 146,000 U.S. jobs, the company said.


The Lockheed Martin plant where the F-35 is being built is located in Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger’s district. She’s vice chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, represents the district next door to Granger’s.


In a statement Monday, Granger hailed the F-35 delivery to Israel, calling the aircraft “what we need to keep our two countries safe in these dangerous times.”


Thornberry’s committee has supported buying more F-35s than the Obama administration had asked for in its budget request. The F-35 will replace an aging inventory of U.S. aircraft that many lawmakers believe are becoming increasingly unsafe to fly.


Claude Chafin, a committee spokesman, said Thornberry “shares the president-elect’s determination to have the Pentagon get weapons in the hands of our troops faster, while being better stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”


The tweet on the F-35 marks the second time in a week Trump has blasted U.S. aircraft spending. Last week, he tweeted that costs to build new presidential planes by Boeing Corp. were “out of control” and ended the tweet with “Cancel order!”


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Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It


(WASHINGTON POST 12 DEC 16) … Robert J. Samuelson


Any reporter who’s written about the federal budget knows that there’s a surefire solution to every problem. It’s called “fraud, waste and abuse.” You want to end budget deficits? Just eliminate all the “fraud, waste and abuse” in the $4 trillion budget. The same is true for cutting taxes or raising spending. Attacking fraud and waste is virtuous and dispenses with the hard political work of making unpopular choices.


It’s a fantasy, of course. There isn’t enough “fraud, waste and abuse” – or we can’t get at it – to evade the difficult choices. But we cling to the mythology because it makes us seem “responsible” and reduces the budget problem to purging sloth and policing misdeeds.


I was reminded of this last week when The Post published a fascinating front-page story headlined “Pentagon hid study revealing $125 billion in waste.” The article, meticulously reported by Bob Woodward and Craig Whitlock, disclosed that a Defense Department study had found that the Pentagon was “spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.”


These jobs need doing, but it seems that the generals are being overwhelmed by accountants and property managers. If we could squeeze $125 billion out of the Pentagon’s annual budget, there’d be plenty of money to spend on true military needs. Indeed, the report asserts that the savings could cover the costs for 50 Army brigades. It sounds straightforward.


It isn’t. On inspection, it turns out that the estimated savings of $125 billon are spread over five years, from fiscal 2016 to 2020. This changes the numbers dramatically. Instead of annual savings of 22 percent of the defense budget ($125 billion out of $580 billion), the plausible cuts are closer to 4 percent ($125 billion out of the roughly $3 trillion projected in defense spending from now until 2020).


The confusion over whether the estimated savings apply to one year or five is the weak spot in an otherwise excellent piece of reporting. Whitlock and Woodward do say that the savings occur over five years, but they don’t emphasize the point. Moreover, there are mixed messages. Much of their discussion of costs focuses on the annual budget. A prominent graphic shows the annual defense budget and then claims that the Pentagon report “identified a way to save $125 billion.”


What would a “reasonable reader” conclude from the muddled evidence? By “reasonable,” I mean curious and intelligent readers who are not experts and are somewhat casual in their reading. These people, I think, might get the wrong idea. They’d come away thinking that the potential annual savings are enormous and that reducing waste would ensure an adequate military.


Of course, we should do everything possible to reduce waste, and the incoming Trump administration should take a second look at the report. But some outside budget experts are unimpressed. “It’s a somewhat speculative study,” says Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. The targets for savings are more “back-of-the-envelope calculations” than detailed road maps for change.


Some “waste” reflects complexity. A few years ago, the Army tried to replace its Bradley Fighting Vehicle; it abandoned the project as too complicated, after spending $18 billion, recalls Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The new study complains that the Pentagon has more than 700,000 civilian and contract workers to support 1.3 million active-duty troops. But these workers, says Harrison, are often the cheapest way to get a job done.


Like O’Hanlon, Harrison doubts that the study’s full savings can be achieved. Many proposals would founder on congressional opposition and management practicality. “Can you do the same work with fewer people?” he asks. “If so, who should be cut? The study doesn’t answer that.”


These questions are obviously more than academic. The Pentagon says it needs more spending than the existing budget ceilings allow. Some experts agree. O’Hanlon argues that defense spending should increase by nearly $50 billion annually over existing levels. How should we respond to the various threats: terrorism, cyberwarfare, Russia, China?


Whatever the answer, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the contradiction can be resolved by eliminating vast amounts of waste. If we wish to reduce defense spending, we have to cut the military’s size and capabilities. If we wish to expand the military, we need to pay for it.


The underlying struggle pits the Pentagon against the welfare state. Over the decades, national priorities have shifted dramatically. As late as 1990, defense spending constituted 24 percent of the federal budget and 5 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). In 2015, defense was 16 percent of the budget and 3 percent of GDP – and these figures were declining. This is one war the Pentagon is clearly losing.



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Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35


(ARES (AVIATION WEEK) 01 DEC 16) … Lara Seligman


Donald Trump left the collective defense community quaking in its boots last week after he threatened to cancel Boeing’s new Air Force one. Now he’s going after another massive aerospace firm, slamming Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for “out of control” costs.


“Look at the F-35 program with the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump said on Fox news Dec. 11. “It’s out of control.”


If the president-elect is looking to cut costs or send a message to defense contractors, the $100 million-a-copy JSF is a huge target. The program has succeeded in bringing costs down for the past few years, but is still haunted by a critical cost breach in 2010. The Pentagon’s most recent estimate pegs the cost to operate and sustain the F-35 fleet over its 60-year service life is just over a trillion dollars.


Trump also appeared to double down on his recent proposal to ban defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon acquisition officials, criticizing the industry’s revolving door.


“The people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies,” Trump said on Fox. “You know, they make a deal like that and two or three years later, you see them working for these big companies that made the deal … they should have a lifetime restriction.”

Trump first floated the potential lifetime ban during a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week, according to Reuters.


Trump’s remarks come just days after Northrop Grumman named recently retired Gen. Mark Welsh, who served as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff last year when it selected the company to build the next-generation stealth bomber, to its board of directors.


There are rules restricting what government employees can do if they move to industry, but they do not prohibit Welsh from joining Northrop, says Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. Welsh had no involvement in the source selection process for the new bomber or the decision to award the contract to Northrop, she stressed.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – December 5, 2016

Below are the FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of Dec. 5:



  1. Leaders Discuss Logistics Challenges, Solutions during 2016 DOD Maintenance Symposium
  2. Government Leaders Talk Depots at DoD Maintenance Symposium


  1. Marine One Maintenance Jobs Not Coming to Jacksonville
  2. The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 Was Something Extraordinary
  3. Misleading F-35 Answers Drafted by Pentagon, Testing Chief Says
  4. Air Force Seeks Virtual Elements in Flight Exercises to Heighten Realism, Complexity
  5. U.S. Navy Aims to Buy More Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: Source
  6. Innovation Drive Essential to DoD’s Future
  7. Defense Market Facing Major Transformation
  8. Pentagon Hid Study Revealing $125 Billion In Waste
  9. Post Expose on Pentagon Waste Draws Mixed Reviews
  10. $125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith



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Leaders Discuss Logistics Challenges, Solutions during 2016 DOD Maintenance Symposium


Albuquerque, N.M.-Readiness is the number one priority in Naval Aviation today, but aging aircraft, lack of resources and other challenges are inhibiting effective air operations across the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Supply, maintenance and logistics leaders outlined some of the problems and discussed the mitigating actions and potential solutions Dec. 7 at the 2016 DoD Maintenance Symposium.


As part of a panel of service component leadership entitled Senior Logisticians Roundtable, Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), pulled no punches in outlining the severity of the issues facing naval aviators and the support personnel striving to keep them airborne.


“We have a readiness gap across the TMSs [type/model/series],” Zarkowski said. “Every TMS has its own challenges and its own story. I will tell you, the challenges that we deal with every day at COMFRC are to try to close those gaps, to get those ready basic aircraft out of the depot and get them on the flightline.”


Depot personnel are looking for ways to reduce the time aircraft spend undergoing in-service repairs (ISRs), trying to find quicker and more agile solutions. In keeping with total enterprise deployment, COMFRC leadership wants to ensure inclusion of the appropriate Level II Shore Maintenance Facilities.


On the journey toward those goals, several issues must be addressed. Zarkowski laid them out: chronic underfunding of enabler accounts; integrated resource management and training for artisans at the depot level and for Sailors and Marines on the flightline; increasing ISRs on aging aircraft; lack of technical data and structural repair manuals to effect repair at different levels; facilities degradation and lack of resourcing; inaccurate bills for material that cause delay to turnaround times at the depot; degraded material condition of aircraft; and supply issues.


COMFRC also has identified several concerning trends. One is the demand to push the aging F/A-18 A-D series aircraft to 6,000, 8,000 and even 10,000 flying hours. It takes extensive engineering analysis and workload planning to extend that life. In the meantime, because of the current gap in availability of those platforms as they transit through the depot pipeline, a more growing concern is the increase in utilization of F/A-18 E-F aircraft, resulting in logisticians and engineers looking at service life extension plans for that platform much earlier in its lifecycle then previously planned.


The same challenges exist on the Marine Corps side of Naval Aviation with the H-53. Because not enough inventory is available for missions, the B-22 is pushed into additional service. “The hours and material condition of those aircraft as they come into the depot are causing us concern, and we’re experiencing increased turnaround time in our depot events because of usage and condition,” Zarkowski said.


To get after the issues, COMFRC has introduced two methodologies. One, a Jonah methodology, takes teams from COMFRC and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) 6.0 and deploys them to Navy and Marine Corps flightlines to better understand undesirable effects. That approach has allowed for increased agility and a decrease in turn-around time while addressing immediate issues and improving readiness.


On the depot side, COMFRC personnel are returning to Critical Change Program Management. In the two years since roll out of this production management system, they have seen signs of success with increasing throughput and ready for training aircraft.


While the two methodologies address the tactical-level needs, COMFRC has strategic vision. Big-picture-wise, the sustainment system in Naval Aviation maintenance is behind the best business practices of today. The 30- to 40-year-old system has seen only marginal improvements. Zarkowski explained that while much has been done with Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and Theory of Constraints to improve efficiency, the field needs an overhaul.


“We need visibility,” he said, adding that some initiatives underway involve supply optimization in which requirements come from a pull not a push. Other needs involve condition-based maintenance and big data. “We have 19 data sets right now, just at NAVAIR, that don’t talk to each other . Lastly, we see this working very successfully at TRANSCOM [U.S. Transportation Command], [we need] an operations center where the right folks are empowered to make decisions with the right information” Zarkowski said.


Naval Aviation overall has already made strides in applying the use of some innovative tools and processes, such as additive manufacturing, to advance and sustain readiness and maintain its technological edge. Naval Aviation marked its first successful flight with a 3-D printed, safety-critical part in July 2016, when an MV-22B Osprey completed a test flight with a 3-D printed link and fitting assembly.


Now and in the future, the success of Naval Aviation demands an enterprise-wide participation from around the Navy, Marine Corps, wider government and the private sector.


Rear Adm. Vincent Griffith, director of the Defense Logistic Agency’s (DLA’s) operations (J3), also spoke on the panel, explaining how his organization is seeking improvements in support to the military services. One of the major efforts is the improvement of cost recovery. Every dollar DLA doesn’t spend on overhead, service branches can spend on buying what they need from the agency such as tools, services and fuel.


Griffith said the way to get better is through collaboration, so DLA has a number of programs in place with its service partners as they look to become more efficient. To speed up processes, DLA is pushing the Time to Award initiative that uses LSS to reduce the time it takes to get a requirement onto contract.


All the efforts planned by other service components and Naval Aviation to improve readiness rely on finding the right people to fill the right jobs. Naval Aviation has made it a priority to attract, retain and develop members of its workforce (civilian and military) as well as to partner with industry. The private sector has a big role to play in continued 3-D efforts, as aviation leader’s work toward putting greater 3-D printing capability into the hands of warfighters-giving them the ability to print required parts where they need them, when they need them.


Regardless of methodology or metric, the measure of success for all efforts across Naval Aviation will be readiness on the deckplates and on the flightlines.


The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


For more information about the Naval Aviation Enterprise, please visit


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Government Leaders Talk Depots at DoD Maintenance Symposium


Albuquerque, N.M.-The health of depots is crucial to our nation’s sustainment and readiness, but lack of funding, confused requirements and ineffective communication among stakeholders is threatening them, according to a panel on Title X funding held Dec. 5 at the DoD Maintenance Symposium.


Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), stressed early on during the event that partnerships are going to be key to keeping depots on track.


“Whether you’re uniformed, whether you’re civil service or whether you’re a contractor (or OEM [original equipment manufacturer]), these are the three legs of our milking stool that have been providing readiness in defense of this country most especially since 2001 and beyond,” he said.


COMFRC’s mission is to produce quality airframes, engines, components and support equipment, and provide services that meet the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s aircraft ready-for-tasking goals with improved effectiveness and efficiency.


Successful partnerships among Navy organizations, the wider government and the private sector are helping to ensure the various FRCs are able to meet their mission requirements. Private partnership is especially important at the depot level, with up to half of all work done by contractors. Naval Aviation is partnering closely with industry to solve readiness challenges, using readiness on the deckplates and flight lines as its driving measure of success.


To stay on track, COMFRC has set two strategic initiatives: Be ready to fight tonight; and keep our mind on the future. The Navy has many readiness challenges and gaps across its enterprise. Addressing the gaps requires adequate sustainment planning as well as the use of innovative tools and processes to advance readiness and sustain readiness, ensuring Naval Aviation maintains a technological edge. To complicate matters, personnel are dealing with aging facilities and aircraft while simultaneously having to keep the most technically advanced aircraft in history up and running.


“If the balloon goes up tonight, do we have enough aircraft with enough hours to answer the call?” Zarkowski posed to the attendees.


Fellow panelist Mark Van Gilst, director of logistics, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Logistics and Product Support, had some words of wisdom to impart to his Navy and other colleagues. The U.S. Air Force is the only service branch to violate Section 2466 (also known as the50/50 rule, a U.S. Code that mandates not more than 50 percent of each military department’s annual depot maintenance funding can be used for work done by private sector) twice. To avoid ever going through that pain again, they’ve made what Van Gilst called a “sea change.”


To start, the Air Force consolidated two departments and placed them under the Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. “If we’re not in compliance, the Secretary of Acquisition has to go talk to Congress,” Van Gilst said.


Program managers are now at the center of compliance, and planning is done upfront, a major change for the Air Force. Sustainment conversations have moved from the back third of all briefs to the front third, underscoring how it has grown in importance. The Air Force also worked to become more efficient. For example, resource expenditure is sometimes measured in dollars, sometimes in hours, depending on the policy driving certain measures. But the same number of hours in different aircraft can have very different costs. At the same time, through their earlier mistakes, “one lesson we also learned is when you get close to a violation, it’s very hard to turn the Titanic,” Van Gilst explained. “So you end up doing things that aren’t smart.” To compensate, The Air Force is making more decisions from a total business perspective.


However, being efficient is challenged by cumbersome regulation. Panelist Vickie Plunkett, a House Armed Services Committee professional staff member told the audience that the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has more than 3,000 pages and 100 new acquisition provisions, not including several for small businesses.


“For every reporting requirement that we repealed, we probably added two more,” Plunkett said.

The NDAA does leave depot statutes in place, which she explained means Congress is willing to bear the cost of sustaining and supporting these facilities, but the challenge lies in determining the sufficient level of funding.


Legislators, and the military, also grapple with ensuring policy keeps up with technology and the ability to sustain adequate depot capabilities so that they remain a ready and controlled source of repair. The 50/50 is meaningless without funding. “Fifty percent of nothing is nothing,” Plunkett said. Later adding that, “Setting and validating requirements for depot-level maintenance and other sustainment needs has always been a weak link in the process.”


Congress has started to pay more attention, but there is still work to be done to convince some members that planning for sustainment should be done earlier in the process. The Defense Department hurts its own cause in some cases by not providing clear objectives, milestones and resources for items such as the product support manager career path. Even the delineation of program manager responsibilities versus those of product support managers is murky.


What is clear is that a skilled, competent workforce is critical to depot success, so the Fiscal Year 17 NDAA provides several new direct-hire authorities. Not everyone is convinced this will help the manpower shortage, but Plunkett believes there are areas of untapped recruitment among unemployed or underemployed skilled workers in various trades. Through all the methods available to it, Naval Aviation is committed to attracting, retaining and developing members of its maintenance workforce.


She also believes the military must better communicate policy needs to other stakeholders in the sustainment community, with access to technical data rates playing a key role in the sustainment life cycle. Explaining that all the changes in the new NDAA are very complicated, Plunkett closed by sharing that some options for sustainment are no longer available, and having everyone on the same page is important because history has shown how “foregone conclusions” have been extremely costly.


The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


For more information about the Naval Aviation Enterprise, please visit


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Marine One Maintenance Jobs Not Coming to Jacksonville


Jacksonville, FL – The Navy will not be moving Marine One helicopter maintenance duties to Jacksonville.

For months, it’s been reported that maintenance for Marine One would be moving from Sikorsky in Connecticut to the Fleet Readiness Center at NAS Jax.


However, First Coast News has learned that move will not happen.


“Lockheed Martin and the Navy came to an agreement to keep the SPAR (Special Progressive Aircraft Rework) work with Sikorsky in Stratford, Conn.,” said Paul Jackson, a spokesman for Sikorsky.


According to Jackson, talk about moving the maintenance contract to Jacksonville happened after Sikorsky failed to reach an agreement with the Navy in July.


Negotiations to keep the work in Connecticut continued between the Navy and Lockheed Martin.


“While those discussions were ongoing, NAVAIR still needed to ensure that regularly scheduled SPAR maintenance would continue without interruption, so they pursued a parallel plan to conduct SPAR work at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast,” Jackson said.


Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, has worked on the presidential chopper for the past 4 decades according to congressional leaders who fought to keep the maintenance contract in the northeast.


Some of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Rich Blumenthal (D-Conn) who service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy on August 22.


“We strongly urge you to suspend any relocation until a thorough review of all direct and indirect costs of any relocation are made,” the letter said.


The letter says there were 85 workers who performed maintenance on the fleet described as “difficult and costly to maintain.”


Days later though, the Fleet Readiness Center told our news partner The Florida Times Union on September 5th they were getting ready for Marine One.


“We are definitely in preparations to take on the work load, so that’s the intention and if we are chosen then we will be performing that maintenance,” said Terresa White.


On November 7th, more than two months later, Sikorsky and the Navy agreed to a new maintenance agreement for the Presidential helicopter fleet.


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The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 Was Something Extraordinary


2016-12-06 By Todd Miller


Statistics, Milestones, Capabilities, Flight characteristics, Test protocols, Cost, Software blocks. It is easy to get lost in the complexity of the F-35 program.


The combined F-35 fleet now has over 75,000 flight hours, yet for many there remains a lack of understanding. Much of this can be expected given many of the F-35s capabilities are classified.


This is compounded by the reality that many do not grasp the war the F-35 was designed to deter – or fight.


Aerial warfare of the 21st century is not anticipated to consist of within visual range (WVR) dogfights, but rather the prevailing aircraft will dispatch its adversary without even being detected. 21st Century Warfare is defined by new terms; “Information Dominance,” “Full Spectrum Dominance,” “Distributed Lethality,” “The Kill Cloud/Kill Web.”


This warfare has about as much in common with wars of the past as your 1970’s land line has to your smartphone.


It is in this battlespace that the F-35 is designed to fight and to do so with a distinctly unfair advantage.

To understand the significance and value of the F-35, and whether “it works” or not, cut through the complexity and noise. Simplify.  Put aside the politicians, the ideologues, the self-proclaimed experts and listen to the voice of the pilots.


The pilots will take the aircraft into combat, their own lives in the balance as they penetrate contested space and are likely to be outnumbered by adversary aircraft.


Second Line of Defense and a handful of journalists recently had the opportunity to visit with four such pilots during a “Proof of Concept” demonstration on the USS America, November 19, 2016.


The four pilots are some of the most experienced F-35B pilots in the United States Marine Corps (USMC);

George “Sack” Rowell, Commanding Officer (CO) of VMX-1 (Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron).


Prior to the F-35, Rowell spent appx. 3000 hours over 18 years of flying the F/A-18 Hornet. Previously the CO of VMFA(AW)-533 Col. Chad “Mo” Vaughn, CO of VMFA-211. Prior to the F-35, Vaughn spent a couple 1000 hrs over 13 years in the F/A-18A-D Hornet, as well as time in the F-16A-B Fighting Falcon/Viper and F/A-18 Super Hornet at NAS Fallon.


Col. Rich “BC” Rusnok, slated to become the CO of VMFA-121 in March 2017. Prior to the F-35, Price spent appx. 7 years flying the AV-8B Harrier II with additional time in the F/A-18 Hornet.


Col. John “Guts” Price, slated CO for VFMA-122 (2018). Prior to the F-35, Price spent appx. 1200 hrs and 10 years flying the AV-8B Harrier II, and has about 400 hrs in the F-35 over the past 3 years.


The comments have been edited for readability with best efforts made to maintain context and integrity of intent.


As you look at the F-35s combat capabilities, what two things really mark it as either a superior or inferior weapon compared to what you have previously flown?


Mo: The closer you get to the airplane, the more positive you are about it.


The airplane provides awareness of what is going on around you. All around you. It is second to none.

I tell people this all the time.


I cannot tell you how awesome the sensor suite is, combined with the survivability of the airplane.


It’s not just that it is a stealth airplane, it is everything rolled into one.


It makes it unlike any other plane anywhere in the world right now.


BC: Stealth works.  Low observability is not a fallacy.


You see it in the airplane and realize what a powerful capability it is.


None of the airplanes we flew prior had that capability.


To echo what Mo said, the situational awareness (SA), the fusion piece of it stands out.


In Gen 4 aircraft the pilot is the fusion engine, what’s in between your ears is what’s making that fusion happen.

To some degree that’s still true, the human is a major part of this weapons system.


However, the aid that the fusion system gives a pilot to make high level decisions, coupled with situational awareness well beyond what was had before – that’s what makes it a game changer.


Guts: Situational awareness and the freedom of maneuver that stealth brings.  The workload required to have that unprecedented SA is greatly reduced over previous platforms.


I’m getting all this information, I have freedom to maneuver, and I work significantly less than I did in a previous platform to have that level of information.


That frees up my processor to be able to fight the battle vs. each individual part that I used to have to put together.


The workload is reduced in all aspects of flight, and that enables me to focus on the fight at hand.


Mo: The aircraft allows me to be a tactician, rather than worry about physically manipulating sensors to get information I need.


I have a good picture that I can execute tactically.


It is almost like a chess game.


I can make sure the moves I make in the cockpit are the best moves not just for me, but for everybody out there.

Can you talk a little about the AEGIS Integration?


BC: The synergistic effects of other platforms, especially powerful platforms like the AEGIS combat system not only makes us that much more effective, they have phenomenal SA, phenomenal power and a phenomenal weapons suite.


Sometimes we may not be in the right position, or be the best shooter – but now we can work synergistically with AEGIS and figure out that big picture.


Then we can share all that onboard information to other platforms that may or may not have the same capabilities. The integration makes us that much more effective.


We came in with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Industry, Big Navy to perform a demonstration in September out of White Sands, NM. The F-35 performed an engagement with that combat system through a gateway that allowed us to talk via Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) to the AEGIS combat system and engage the target.


We talked electronically to the AEGIS combat system, like a remote sensor, and AEGIS engaged the airborne target successfully.


And when I say engaged successfully, it was a metal on metal engagement from a significant range. I’d say more than a tactically significant range.  It was a very, very impressive shot.


That was not something we did here at sea, [it was done in September] that was a developmental test, a proof of concept, but it gives us an idea of what we can do to plug the F-35 into the bigger picture.


Can you talk about the interface for that kind of targeting?


BC: It is super simple.


It is targeting the way we target any of our own weapons and it is passed off.


There is really no difference, it is just a battle management issue as to who is going to engage.


Can you describe what the F-35 allows you to do from a tactical perspective that the 4th Gen platforms could not do?


Mo; The sensors on the airplane are our center of gravity.  Our ability to know what’s going on around us in the battlespace and then push that to everybody we are working with.


Not just air to air (A2A), but air to ground (A2G) as well. Add our ability to operate in areas that we have never been able to before such as contested environments.


Physically flying the airplane is extremely easy, that’s the beauty of it, so you just focus on the tactical employment.


It makes you much more lethal.


Is it fair to say that your missions can become more dynamic than with Gen 4 platforms, such as loiter, gather information, be more flexible as a pilot with your mission?


Mo: The F-16 and F/A-18 are extremely capable platforms and they do the swing role /multi role mission very well.


However, they are going to struggle vs Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) or IADS, and in those cases they will be on a dedicated mission. We do have a lot more flexibility to flip flop missions, and we do it a lot in training.  We will escort a package on a strike mission and then we will break off do some A2G, or suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), perhaps some Combat Air Patrol (CAP) or dynamic targeting in the target area – then we’ll rejoin the package and come out with everybody.


Especially along with the F-22, we’ll open the door, wait while everyone else comes in and completes their mission, then come out with the package and close the door behind us.


We do some different things.


As Marines we are on call for a number of different missions, close air support (CAS) etc. that we could not have done in one airplane.


The Marines are writing the CAS Manual for the F-35. How are you finding the F-35 in that role compared to what you have now?


Price: In the CAS role it is performing well.  Being a new aircraft there are some capabilities we’d like to continue working on, but the basic execution of CAS is “On Time, On Target.”


The jet is more than capable to execute that.


The unique capability it brings is executing CAS in the presence of a wide range of threats (something I could not do with previous platform).


Can you give me an example?


Traditionally (Gen 4) if we are executing CAS and a medium range surface to air missile (SAM) pops up on the battlefield, we are done with CAS.


We immediately transition into a SEAD, destruction of enemy air defense (DEAD), or reactive SEAD mindset. With the F-35, we may continue to execute CAS because of freedom of maneuver (stealth) and the SA I have about the threat, its location and its nature.


I may advise the forward air controller (FAC) that a threat has appeared, but it won’t impact mission execution. If the situation gets more threatening, I have the organic capability to go deal with the threat and then roll right back into CAS.  Previously I would have to call in another platform, potentially call in our Prowlers or call in other combined arms to take care of the threat.


The F-35 enables a wide array of CAS execution in a wide array of environments, so from the low-end threat spectrum to the high-end threat spectrum I am capable of executing any of those missions.

Mo: We have greater all weather capability.


The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) maps give the capability to see through weather and deploy ordinance through the weather from a significant stand-off distance (or in proximity).


The ability to employ ordinance through the weather with high quality targeting is impressive.


I know every guy up here and myself included, we take a lot of pride in the fact of our CAS.


There’s been much said about the airplane in the CAS role, some good, some bad, but to us it’s important that a lot of that goes back to the man/woman in the cockpit and the fact that it says Marines on the back of the airplane.


It means the guys in need of CAS are going to get a level of support consistent with what they’ve had out of the Hornets, Harriers and all the airplanes we’ve flown before.


We all take pride in that.


We’re going to give you a lot more capabilities, but it is the fact that we are Marines, and Marines is written on the aircraft – that makes it very important to us up there.


Thinking about the electronic warfare (EW) suite and its ability to detect waveforms and come up with countermeasures.


How do you interface with that as a pilot, is it something you make decisions about, or is automatic?

Mo: Without getting into the technical details it is very, very simple for us.


The way the jet is set up, we make a move to execute electronic attack and the jet will take care of it.


On a personal level as pilots, coming from other platforms and stepping into the F-35, do you have an “aha” moment that you can share?


Guts: My first “aha” moment was a seemingly simple thing.


I was executing a familiarization flight near MCAS Yuma. I was coming back to the airfield and I basically just turned the jet and pointed its nose at Yuma.


Immediately the jet is providing me the information of all the traffic that is out there in the airspace.

When I talk to approach for the first time they are telling me about the traffic that is out there that I already know about and I see it.


I can tell who everybody is that he is talking about and the jet also saw traffic that ATC hadn’t seen yet and I asked about it. And I thought, “holy cow,” here I am coming back to the field from a simple familiarity mission and my jet is telling me everything about the operational environment I am about to go into.


In this case, something very simple, the traffic pattern coming back there, but I didn’t have to do anything to have that level of SA.


I can start making decisions about what altitude I wanted to go to, if I wanted to turn left or right, speed up or slow down.


There’s somebody coming up next to me, I want to get in front of them – or whatever.


It is a very simple example, but I thought WOW this is amazing that I see everything and can do that.


The other was the first time I vertically recovered the airplane. The flight control law that the airplane has is unbelievable and I always tell the anecdote.  Flying AV-8B Harrier IIs, I only had one specific aircraft I felt like I could kind of go easy on the controls and it would sit there and hover.


I love the Harrier, love flying that aircraft, but there was work involved to bring it back for a vertical landing. The very first time I hovered an F-35B I thought, I am the problem here, and I am just going to let the jet do what it wants to do.


The F-35 was hovering better than I could ever hover a Harrier without doing a thing. That’s back to that workload comment I said earlier.  I am performing a vertical landing, and I have the time to look around and see what is taking place on the pad and around me. It is a testament to the jet.


BC: I was conducting a strike mission and Red Air was coming at me.  In a 4th Gen fighter you must do a whole lot of interpretation.  You see things in azimuth, and you see things in elevation.  In the F-35 you just see the Gods eye view of the whole world.  It’s very much like you are watching the briefing in real time.


I am coming in to perform the simulated weapons release, and Red Air is coming the other direction.


I have enough situational awareness to assess whether Red Air is going to be a factor to me by the time I release the weapon. I can make the decision, I’m going to go to the target, I’m going to release this weapon.


At the same time I pre-target the threat, and as soon as I release the A2G weapon, I can flip a switch with my thumb and shoot the Red Air.


This is difficult to do in a 4th Gen fighter, because there is so much manipulation of systems in the cockpit.

All while paying attention to the basic mechanics of flying the airplane and interpreting threat warnings that are often very vague, or only directional.


In the F-35 I know where the threats are, what they are and I can thread the needle. I can tell that the adversary is out in front of me and I can make a very, very smart decision about whether to continue or get out of there.  All that, and I can very easily switch between mission sets.


Mo: I was leading a four ship of F-35s on a strike against 4th Gen adversaries, F-16s and F/A-18s.

We fought our way in, we mapped the target, found the target, dropped JDAMs on the target and turned around and fought our way out.


All the targets got hit, nobody got detected, and all the adversaries died. I thought, yes, this works, very, very, very well.


Never detected, nobody had any idea we were out there.


A second moment was just this past Thursday. I spent a fair amount of my life as a tail hook guy – [landing F/A-18s on US Navy Supercarriers] on long carrier deployments.


The last 18 seconds of a Carrier landing are intense. The last 18 seconds of making a vertical landing on this much smaller USMC Assault Carrier – is a lot more relaxed.


The F-35C is doing some great stuff. Making a vertical landing [my first this week] on the moving ship, that is much smaller than anything I’ve landed on at sea – with less stress, was pretty awesome.


Sack: It was my first flight at Edwards AFB Jan ’16.  I got in the airplane and started it up.  I was still on the deck and there were apparently other F-35s airborne – I believe USAF, I was not aware.  I was a single ship, just supposed to go out and get familiar flying the aircraft.


As the displays came alive there were track files and the SA as to what everyone else was doing in the airspace, and I was still on the ground. I mean, I hadn’t even gotten my take-off clearance yet.


I didn’t even know where it was coming from. It was coming from another F-35.  The jet had started all the systems for me and the SA was there.  That was a very eye opening moment for me.


The second one, took place when I came back from that flight. In a Hornet you would pull into the line and had a very methodical way in which you have to shut off the airplane and the systems otherwise you could damage something.


So you have to follow a sequence, it is very methodical about which electronic system you shut off. In the F-35 you come back, you do a couple things then you just shut the engine off, and it does everything else for you.  Sounds simple, even silly – but it is a quantum shift.


The voice of the pilots is clear.


The F-35 is a platform with the ultimate level of sophistication, made simple.


And therein lay the beauty of the F-35, and just why it will be so deadly: it’s simple.


The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 was Something Extraordinary


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Misleading F-35 Answers Drafted by Pentagon, Testing Chief Says


by Anthony Capaccio


Pentagon officials have been preparing a misleading assessment of progress on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons program, the Defense Department’s chief tester warned.


“If not changed, the existing responses would at best be considered misleading and at worst, prevarications,” Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation, wrote in an internal memo criticizing the draft response to questions about F-35 testing from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.


Gilmore’s memo is the latest example of his vocal doubts about the F-35’s performance in key tests. His critiques are at odds with the Pentagon’s narrative that the program is on course after earlier problems. President-elect Donald Trump and his defense secretary — he’s nominating retired General James Mattis — will have to decide next year whether to increase F-35 production to 70 in fiscal 2018 from 63 this year, as requested by the Defense Department.


Trump, who on Tuesday complained that the cost of thenew Air Force One being built by Boeing Co. “is totally out of control,” has also raised some questions in the past about the F-35. In an October 2015 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump criticized the fighter’s cost and said he heard “that it’s not very good” and that “existing planes are better.”


McCain’s Disappointment


In a Nov. 3 letter to departing Defense Secretary Ash Carter, McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he was “extremely disappointed to learn of another delay” in the $57 billion development and demonstration phase of the F-35 “with an associated cost overrun that may be upwards of $1 billion.”


Several of the answers in the draft response to McCain “ignore acknowledged facts, are ambiguous and misleading and if signed and sent as-is” could “generate substantial issues with the Congress,” Gilmore wrote to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, in the Nov. 28 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.


The draft answers should “be revised to provide clear, accurate and complete answers,” said Gilmore, who also raised concerns about the F-35 in a Nov. 18 letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


Gilmore “has shared his concerns” with Kendall who “has them for advisement in his response to Senator McCain,” spokesman Mark Wright said in an e-mail. Navy Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work, said in an e-mail that Gilmore’s information “was and continues to be used to help senior leaders make informed decisions.”


Assertions Challenged


Gilmore challenged passages in the Defense Department’s draft response to McCain that assert:


.The F-35’s development phase is due to end in “early 2018.” Gilmore said the department should “state clearly that development flight testing will not complete — at the earliest” — until mid-2018.


.Operational combat testing that all weapons systems must pass will start in mid-2018 and be completed a year later. Gilmore labeled that “false.” Instead, he said the tests will commence “no sooner than late 2018, or, more likely, in early 2019 but could be as late as 2020.”


.An Air Force certification to lawmakers that F-35s delivered in fiscal 2018 will have full combat capability remains “valid.” Gilmore said that is “highly unlikely” because of delays in testing the critical final version of the plane’s software and correcting 276 pending deficiencies.


Live-fire testing of the jet’s gun system for attacking ground targets and in dogfights against enemy jets faces new delays, Gilmore said. In flights last month, symbols on the helmet display used by pilots to aim air-to-ground attacks were “unusable and unsafe to complete the planned testing.”


F-35 Office’s Comment


Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, said in an e-mail that “there have only been a couple of flights” where the stability issue “was apparent, and the flight test data is still under review to determine root cause.” Additional improvements were incorporated in a software update released in November, and pilot evaluations are planned.


Concerning the development phase’s status, DellaVedova said the program office and Lockheed continue “to drive toward the completion of the test program, including solutions” for the issues cited by Gilmore. The program intends to complete all the flight-testing of the most capable software by late 2017, with delivery of the capability to deployed aircraft from late 2017 to spring 2018, he said, although the schedule could slip about three months.


Wingtips, Helmets


The Navy’s version of the plane, the F-35C, also has inadequate wing strength, Gilmore said. Its wingtips aren’t strong enough to carry the AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, a primary weapon, at some altitudes and airspeeds. Testing on a fix is under way.


“This is a serious deficiency that would have restricted” F-35C flight with the missile, Army Major Roger Cabiness, Gilmore’s spokesman, said in an e-mail. The initial defect reports on the structural weaknesses surfaced in 2013 “so the Navy is not just learning about it, but the proposed fixes are just now being implemented,” Cabiness said.


In addition, “excessive F-35 vertical oscillations,” or shaking, in catapult launches from aircraft carriers must be resolved, Gilmore said.


The Navy has identified the shaking as a “must-fix deficiency” but “the program waited so long to take action that it is unlikely a solution can be implemented within” the development phase “unless a quick fix is developed soon,” Cabiness said.


Rear Admiral Roy Kelley, director of the Navy’s F-35C integration office, said in an e-mail that “we are confident that the program will address discrepancies found and aggressively pursue the fixes.” Kelley said the development phase “has identified a few F-35C specific discrepancies, to include the load limitations for carriage of AIM-9X, as well as the vertical oscillations during catapult launch.”


A potential fix for the wingtip limitations “has already been implemented with the modification of the outer wing panel on F-35C,” Kelley said.


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Defense News


Air Force Seeks Virtual Elements in Flight Exercises to Heighten Realism, Complexity


By: Valerie Insinna


ORLANDO, Fla. – With live training alone unable to provide the complex scenarios meant to push the F-35 to its limits, the US Air Force is banking on a suite of cutting-edge technologies that will fuse virtual and constructive elements into live exercises.


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is about halfway through the technology demonstration phase of the Secure Live, Virtual and Constructive Advanced Training Environment (SLATE) program, which will secure the technologies needed to give pilots as close of an experience as they can get to an actual battle.


The program is set to begin demonstrating the system aboard F-15E Eagles and Navy F/A-18s in 2018, but the technology probably won’t be ready for the F-35 and other fifth-generation aircraft until the mid 2020s, said Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFRL commander.


“We’ve learned over the past that our training systems are not up to the task that we have,” he said during a Nov. 29 keynote speech at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education (I/ITSEC) conference in Orlando. “The cost of bringing live training environments and exercise environments to the level of fidelity that we really need to simulate what we would expect to be a conflict environment is probably cost prohibitive.”


Live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training has become a buzzword in the simulation industry over the past couple years, but SLATE is not about merely developing the capability for LVC assets to train together, said Dave “Moses” Noah, SLATE program manager at AFRL. A true LVC environment uses virtual and constructive elements to make live training as realistic as possible, enabling highly complex and advanced scenarios.


When the Air Force conducts live training today, there are elements of make believe that keep the pilot from having a truly immersive experience. For instance, an F-15E flying against an F-16 functioning as an aggressor aircraft will still see an F-16 on its radar shooting American weapons, he told Defense News.


But once SLATE is integrated into the fleet, that F-15E will be able to see the F-16 as a MiG-29, or any other adversary aircraft, on all of its sensors and displays. The idea is to more accurately replicate the conditions of battle, including simulating various environments, adversary weapons and other systems not in the US inventory.


“When we take off, go around the area and point at each other, I have the radar cross section signature of a MiG-29, I have all of the radar emissions of a MiG-29, so when I lock him up, he doesn’t see on his radar warning receiver a symbol for an F-16. He sees a MiG-29,” Noah said.


“The first time that he knows that I’m not a MIG-29 is finally, at let’s say 2.1 miles, gets a visual on me,” he said. “Up until then, he doesn’t know.”


AFRL is overseeing the development of three key technologies for the program: a radio waveform that can manage the unprecedented throughput of data between the different LVC assets, high-level data encryption that keeps sensitive information like radar signatures from proliferating, and a multi-level security system that allows different data to be passed to US and international assets depending on the level of classification.


The waveform, called the Fifth Generation Advanced Training Waveform (5GATW) has been fully developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and performed final flight tests in September, Noah said. During the tests, Lincoln Labs stressed the waveform by passing as much data as possible between ground stations and two aircraft, an L-29 and Dassault Falcon 20 owned by the labs.


Cubic is responsible for the rest of the system, including creating the encryption and security architecture as well as manufacturing a software-defined radio about the size of a smartphone capable of managing and processing the 5GATW, said Mike Knowles, vice president of air ranges. It’s also making the ground support system that will provide connectivity between the LVC elements.


Over the upcoming months, the company will integrate those technologies – along with an antenna, power amplifier and a processor – together into a pod that will be attached to fourth-generation aircraft.


“Inside our labs as systems integrator in San Diego, we’re already putting together the software-defined radio, the waveform we integrated, the multi-level secure architecture and the ground station,” he said. “So in our lab now, we’re at the point where we can do simulated connectivity of the system, so we can test out and verify the communications. The encryption system is already under the NSA [National Security Administration] process for certification.”


During I/ITSEC, the company showcased some of the systems that will be encapsulated into the pod, which will be about the size of an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. For fifth-gen jets like the F-35 and F-22, more engineering will be required to internally install the capability, preserving its low observability. That’s not a part of SLATE’s technology demonstration phase and will be done later on when the service starts an acquisition program, but Cubic has proposed some ideas to AFRL on how the core systems could be integrated into the joint strike fighter (JSF).


“For JSF, it’s not going to be that hard. [For] a lot of the SLATE components, the hardware is designed to be able to be able to port into JSF in the future,” said Tim Cockerham, a senior principal systems engineer for Cubic. For instance, some of the technologies used for SLATE could replace older processors or other subsystems that are larger in size.


The Air Force has committed $49 million for the technology development phase, and the Navy plans to add about $20 million of its own funds.


AFRL and Cubic are going to continue testing and developing SLATE over the next year. Three two-week demonstrations at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which will include Navy participation, are planned in 2018, Noah said.


The first demo, planned for March, involves a couple F-15Es and F/A-18s interfacing with some virtual and constructive players.


“We’re just making sure we have connectivity out on the range at Nellis,” he said.


Another demonstration in May increases the number of actors and the influx of data being exchanged. The capstone event in October will take it up yet another notch: up to 16 live aircraft acting as blue forces, additional live aggressor forces, and then “a classified number” of virtual and constructive forces.


“But it’s going to be a lot because we want to show how much the system can handle,” he said.


Future Acquisition


Once technology development ends, it will be up to the service to spin SLATE into a competitive program of record. That’s not exactly an easy thing to do in this fiscal environment for a capability that will cost billions, and possibly tens of billions, Noah said. However, the service’s Life Cycle Management Center, the acquisition arm of Air Force Materiel Command, has designated employees to help ensure a smooth transition.


“They come to work in our building just to be joined at the hip with what AFRL is doing with SLATE,” he said.


AFRL is already engaged in regular meetings with Air Combat Command – which has been designated the lead command for LVC platforms – and with Lynda Rutledge, the program executive officer for the agile combat support directorate, who is in charge of acquiring simulators.


The acquisition strategy has not been finalized, but “this is going to be multiple programs of record because LVC is so huge,” he said.


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U.S. Navy Aims to Buy More Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: Source


(REUTERS 4 DEC 16) … By Andrea Shalal | SIMI VALLEY, Calif.


The U.S. Navy plans to divest its older model Boeing Co (BA.N) F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in coming years and hopes to buy dozens of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to deal with a shortfall of strike fighters aboard its carriers, a Navy official said.


The plan, which is still being finalized, could be implemented as early as part of the fiscal 2018 budget, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.


“To decrease the strike fighter shortfall and to best prepare future air wings for likely threats we will soon divest from legacy Hornets, look to buy several squadrons worth of Super Hornets and continue with efforts to bring on the F-35 carrier variant,” said the official.


The Navy also plans to field and deploy a new unmanned carrier-based refueling plane, the official said.

Sources familiar with Navy plans say delays in the fielding of the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet, longer-than-expected maintenance times for older model Hornets, and higher usage rates have left the Navy facing a shortfall of about 70 fighter jets in coming years.


If implemented, the plan would provide dozens of new orders for Boeing and keep its St. Louis production line running for several more years.


“We would welcome an opportunity to develop a plan, with the Navy, that would allow us to continue providing the robust capabilities of the Super Hornet well into the future,” said Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher.


The company had suffered a setback last month when Congress failed to include 12 Super Hornets in the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, opening a potential gap in the Boeing production line until several foreign orders for Kuwait and Canada are finalized. The $618.7 billion bill was passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.


Navy officials say the jets could still be added to the fiscal 2017 budget as part of a supplemental budget that lawmakers are urging Republican President-elect Donald Trump to submit after he takes office.


Republicans, who will control both houses of Congress and the White House after Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, see good prospects for raising military spending levels and scrapping a 2010 law that imposed mandatory cost caps on defense spending.


The older model Hornets could be transferred to the Marine Corps, which has faced its own maintenance issues, including a lack of spare parts.

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Innovation Drive Essential to DoD’s Future


(DEFENSE NEWS 05 DEC 16) … Secretary Ash Carter


At my swearing-in ceremony as secretary of defense, I said the Pentagon had to “think outside this five-sided box,” and since taking office, opening the Defense Department to new ideas and stoking its innovative culture has been one of my top priorities. I have made it my mission to innovate because if we are to remain the finest fighting force in the world, treading water won’t get it done. We’ve made important progress on multiple fronts, implementing changes I believe will serve my successors for years to come.


Innovation is all the more necessary in today’s dynamic security environment. We are currently addressing five major, unique, and rapidly evolving challenges: countering Russian aggression and coercion, especially in Europe; managing historic change in the Asia-Pacific, the most consequential region for America’s future; strengthening deterrence and defensive capabilities against North Korea; checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf; and accelerating the certain and lasting defeat of ISIL. At the same time, the Pentagon also must prepare for challenges we can’t anticipate.


To take on these challenges and stay ahead of our competitors in an increasingly complex international landscape, DoD is changing and adapting how we invest in technology, how we fight, how we operate as an organization, and how we attract and nourish talent.


To ensure that our military continues leading change technologically, we are pushing the envelope on research and development. The last budget we proposed called for $72 billion in research and development in the next year alone — more than double what Apple, Intel, and Google spent last year on R&D combined. Beyond that, we’ve made progress in building, and in some cases rebuilding, the bridges between the Pentagon and America’s technology community. I created our Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to connect with startups and other commercial technology firms innovating in Silicon Valley; Boston; Austin, Texas; and everywhere in between.


Those DIUx outposts are already producing new ideas that will help our warfighters. We’re pursuing these new initiatives while still looking to the innovative companies in our traditional defense industrial base to help us accomplish our mission as only they can. America’s defense contractors will need to keep us on the cutting edge in the years ahead.


Of course, technological innovation and operational innovation go hand-in-glove. As a result, the Defense Department is reinvigorating training across the military branches to return to full-spectrum readiness, and re-thinking how we operate to find new advantages against potential adversaries. We have fundamentally revised our core contingency plans to account for changes in potential adversaries’ capabilities, to apply innovation to our operational approaches, and to better counter emerging threats such as cyberattacks. These updated plans will ensure we have the agility and ability to win the fights we are in, the wars that could happen today, and the wars that could happen in the future.


Innovation in technology and operations are necessary, but insufficient, because at the pace today’s world demands, the Defense Department can only succeed as a flexible institution that nurtures innovation in all its forms. We cannot afford to be bureaucratic, too slow to act or risk-averse, nor to discourage thinking differently. One effort to encourage innovative thinking is the Defense Innovation Board, which I established this year. The board, led by Alphabet and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, has already provided its first set of recommendations on how to apply America’s wider innovative culture to military problems. One recommendation I’ve already accepted is the establishment of a chief innovation officer position to act as a senior adviser to the defense secretary on innovation.


Of course, people are the bedrock of our military superiority – that’s always been the case and always will be. While we can acquire the best technology, and employ the soundest operational and organizational concepts, we are nothing without our people. So as our country and young citizens change from generation to generation, so must our methods for attracting and retaining the smartest, hardest working, and most talented among them. That’s why I launched the Force of the Future initiatives, to ensure that our people will always remain cutting-edge. In total, these initiatives span the career of a uniformed service member and DoD civilian, from recruiting men and women to join, to caring for, retaining, and developing them, and then to helping successfully transition those who want to move on.


From outreach to the tech community and innovative ecosystems across the country, to operational and organizational innovation, to building the Force of the Future, the thread that connects all these efforts is that their real payoff will come down the line. Just as I’ve benefitted from actions by my predecessors, I am confident the Defense Department and its future leaders will benefit from these initiatives for years to come as each ensures our military remains the strongest, most capable, most innovative force on Earth.


Ash Carter is the U.S. secretary of defense


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National Defense


Defense Market Facing Major Transformation


By Jon Harper


Multiple factors are set to compel a major transformation in the makeup of the defense market in the coming years, according to an industry executive who previously held the number two position at the Pentagon.


Since the outset of World War II, the U.S. defense industry has undergone two major pivots, said William Lynn, a former deputy secretary of defense, who is now CEO of Leonardo North America and DRS Technologies Inc.

The first occurred when the United States moved from a government-run arsenal system to one where the defense industry comprised large conglomerate manufacturing companies that had defense-focused divisions such as General Motors, IBM and GE, he said.


The second one followed the famous “Last Supper” at the end of the Cold War when then-Secretary of Defense William Perry gathered defense industry leaders and told them that the Pentagon no longer had the capacity to support the breadth of industry that existed at the time, Lynn noted.


“We ended up with the structure we have today which moved really from conglomerates to specialists,” Lynn said Dec. 1 during a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


For most of the major defense industry players today, 60 to 80 percent of their revenue comes from defense, he added. “We’ve gone from 40 or 50 major players of size in the defense market to a half a dozen.”


Another major sea change is on the horizon, he argued. “We’re at the cusp of a third pivot in terms of the structure of that market,” he said. Several trends will drive the transformation, according to Lynn. One is consolidation.


“At the platform level, the numbers of major platforms that the department is buying is getting narrower and narrower,” he said. “As a consequence, the number of competitors in that space is narrowing down to two and in some cases one” company.


There is only one prime contractor that builds aircraft carriers, and only two that build the Navy’s submarines, he noted.


“Tactical aircraft is moving in that direction,” he said. “You still have Boeing and Lockheed but at some point we will stop making . [Boeings] F-18s and F-15s and we’ll center on the [Lockheed-built] F-35. How do you keep a competitive structure in that?”


A second driver of change is the internationalization of the industrial base.


“You see it very definitely now in terms of the supply base of all of the major defense companies,” Lynn said. “It’s a global supply base, whereas if you look even 20 years ago it was heavily an American supply base. And now it’s very global [and] they go for the best technology, the best prices. I would argue that that’s going to start to shift to the prime level as well, and it has already started.”


The third and perhaps the most important force leading toward another structural change is the source of technology, he said. In previous decades, research-and-development spending by the Defense Department was a key driver of innovation that later spilled over into the commercial sector, he noted, citing the development of GPS and the internet as examples.


But today, much of the cutting-edge innovation is happening outside of the Pentagon and the federal government including areas such as 3D printing, autonomy, material science and nanotechnology, Lynn said.


“The weight of the R&D is more on the commercial side. And so one of the big challenges for defense is how do you pull that technology now into the defense industrial base and operationalize it for military uses?” he said. “It’s a different model.”


“All of those forces are pushing us toward a different type of defense structure. I think the most important thing for the new [Donald Trump] administration is to think about how they want to shape it,” he added.


The new Pentagon leadership needs to focus on improving the agility of the acquisition system and incentivizing R&D spending, Lynn argued. The uncertainty surrounding the defense budget in recent years is making it difficult to do the latter, he said.


“It’s very hard to ask companies to make significant investment in R&D if they don’t know what the department is going to buy even 18 months from now,” he said.


Embracing the commercial sector will also be critical, he noted.


“Probably the most important [question is] . how do you have a structure that allows defense companies to import commercial technologies or allows commercial companies to compete directly?” Lynn said. “The department I think has a strong interest in making sure that the defense market is permeable to those commercial structures.”


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Pentagon Hid Study Revealing $125 Billion in Waste


(WASHINGTON POST 06 DEC 16) … Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward


The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.


Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.


The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.


The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.


The data showed that the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people – 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel – to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.


The cost-cutting study could find a receptive audience with President-elect Donald Trump. He has promised a major military buildup and said he would pay for it by “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”

For the military, the major allure of the study was that it called for reallocating the $125 billion for troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.


But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.


So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.


“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money. We proposed a way to save a ton of money,” said Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, a private-equity investor from Jacksonville, Fla., who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board.


Stein, a campaign bundler for President Obama, said the study’s data were “indisputable” and that it was “a travesty” for the Pentagon to suppress the results.


“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he added.


The missed opportunity to streamline the military bureaucracy could soon have large ramifications. Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Pentagon will be forced to stomach $113 billion in automatic cuts over four years unless Congress and Trump can agree on a long-term spending deal by October. Playing a key role in negotiations will probably be Trump’s choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.


The Defense Business Board was ordered to conduct the study by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking official. At first, Work publicly touted the efficiency drive as a top priority and boasted about his idea to recruit corporate experts to lead the way.


After the board finished its analysis, however, Work changed his position. In an interview with The Post, he did not dispute the board’s findings about the size or scope of the bureaucracy. But he dismissed the $125 billion savings proposal as “unrealistic” and said the business executives had failed to grasp basic obstacles to restructuring the public sector.


“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” he said. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that … I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”


Work said the board fundamentally misunderstood how difficult it is to eliminate federal civil service jobs – members of Congress, he added, love having them in their districts – or to renegotiate defense contracts.


He said the Pentagon is adopting some of the study’s recommendations on a smaller scale and estimated it will save $30 billion by 2020. Many of the programs he cited, however, have been on the drawing board for years or were unrelated to the Defense Business Board’s research.


Work acknowledged that the push to improve business operations lost steam after then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was replaced by Ashton B. Carter in February 2015. Carter has emphasized other goals, such as strengthening the Pentagon’s partnerships with high-tech firms.


“We will never be as efficient as a commercial organization,” Work said. “We’re the largest bureaucracy in the world. There’s going to be some inherent inefficiencies in that.”


‘Dark Matter’


Work, a retired Marine officer, became deputy defense secretary in May 2014. With the military budget under the most pressure since the end of the Cold War, he sought help from the Defense Business Board, an advisory panel known for producing management studies that usually gathered dust.


Work told the board that the outcome of this assignment would be different. In a memo, he directed the board to collect sensitive cost data from the military services and defense agencies that would reveal how much they spent on business operations.


Pentagon officials knew their back-office bureaucracy was overstaffed and overfunded. But nobody had ever gathered and analyzed such a comprehensive set of data before.


Some Defense Business Board members warned that exposing the extent of the problem could have unforeseen consequences.


“You are about to turn on the light in a very dark room,” Kenneth Klepper, the former chief executive of Medco Health Solutions, told Work in the summer of 2014, according to two people familiar with the exchange. “All the crap is going to float to the surface and stink the place up.”


“Do it,” Work replied.


To turn on the light, the Pentagon needed more outside expertise. A team of consultants from McKinsey was hired.


In a confidential August 2014 memo, McKinsey noted that while the Defense Department was “the world’s largest corporate enterprise,” it had never “rigorously measured” the “cost-effectiveness, speed, agility or quality” of its business operations.


Nor did the Pentagon have even a remotely accurate idea of what it was paying for those operations, which McKinsey divided into five categories: human resources; health-care management; supply chain and logistics; acquisition and procurement; and financial-flow management.


McKinsey hazarded a guess: anywhere between $75 billion and $100 billion a year, or between 15 and 20 percent of the Pentagon’s annual expenses. “No one REALLY knows,” the memo added.


The mission would be to analyze, for the first time, dozens of databases that tracked civilian and military personnel, and labor costs for defense contractors. The problem was that the databases were in the grip of the armed forces and a multitude of defense agencies. Many had fought to hide the data from outsiders and bureaucratic rivals, according to documents and interviews.


Information on contractor labor, in particular, was so cloaked in mystery that McKinsey described it as “dark matter.”


Prying it loose would require direct orders from Work. Even then, McKinsey consultants predicted the bureaucracy would resist.


“This is a sensitive exercise conducted with audiences both ‘weary’ and ‘wary’ of efficiency, cost, sequestration and budget drills,” the confidential memo stated. “Elements of the culture are masterful at ‘waiting out studies and sponsors,’ with a ‘this too shall pass’ mindset.”


Overstaffed Chow Hall


From the outset, access to the data was limited to a handful of people. A $2.9 million consulting contract signed by the Pentagon stipulated that none of the data or analysis could be released to the news media or the public.


Moreover, the contract required McKinsey to report to David Tillotson III, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer. Anytime the Defense Business Board wanted the consultants to carry out a task, Tillotson would have to approve. His office – not the board – would maintain custody of the data.


“Good news!” Work emailed Tillotson once the contract was signed. “Time to cook.”


In an Oct. 15, 2014, memo, Work ordered the board to move quickly, giving it three months to produce “specific and actionable recommendations.”


In a speech the next month, Work lauded the board for its private-sector expertise. He said he had turned it into “an operational arm” of the Pentagon leadership and predicted the study would deliver transformational results.


In an aside, he revealed that early findings had determined the average administrative job at the Pentagon was costing taxpayers more than $200,000, including salary and benefits.


“And you say, hmmm, we could probably do better than that,” he said.


The initial results did not come as a surprise.


Former defense secretaries William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates and Chuck Hagel had launched similar efficiency drives in 1997, 2010 and 2013, respectively. But each of the leaders left the Pentagon before their revisions could take root.


“Because we turn over our secretaries and deputy secretaries so often, the bureaucracy just waits things out,” said Dov Zakheim, who served as Pentagon comptroller under President George W. Bush. “You can’t do it at the tail end of an administration. It’s not going to work. Either you leave the starting block with a very clear program, or you’re not going to get it done.”


Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine general and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said lawmakers block even modest attempts to downsize the Pentagon’s workforce because they do not want to lose jobs in their districts.


Without backing from Congress, “you can’t even get rid of the guy serving butter in the chow hall in a local district, much less tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.


‘Time To Hunt!’


The Defense Business Board assigned five members to conduct the study alongside consultants from McKinsey. Scott Rutherford, senior partner at McKinsey’s Washington office, declined to comment.


The team ran into resistance as several Pentagon offices delayed requests for data, according to emails and memos. Work and Tillotson had to intervene to get the data flowing. At one point, more than 100 people were feeding data from different sectors of the bureaucracy.


Laboring under its tight deadline, the team hashed out an agreement with Pentagon officials over which job classifications to count in their survey. The board added a sixth category of business operations – real property management. That alone covered 192,000 jobs and annual expenses of $22.6 billion.


On Christmas Eve, Klepper emailed Work and Tillotson to thank them for putting their muscle behind the project. Without it, he said, “this would all have been DOA and the naysayers would all have been right.”

He hinted the board would make some eye-catching recommendations and expressed relief its work had not been torpedoed.


“I have to admit, with all the caution, negative reaction and pushback,” Klepper said, “I had a bit of concern at the end of the analysis some form of censorship would stop us from showing the true opportunity.”

Work replied that he could not be happier.


“Time to hunt!” he said in an email, adding that he was “very excited about 2015” and ready to make “some bold moves.”


The year kicked off with promise. On Jan. 21, 2015, the Pentagon announced Stein, the private-equity investor, had been reappointed as the board’s chairman and praised him for his “outstanding service.”


The next day, the full board held its quarterly public meeting to review the results of the study. The report had a dry title, “Transforming DoD’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” and was packed with charts and jargon. But it began plainly enough.


“We are spending a lot more money than we thought,” the report stated. It then broke down how the Defense Department was spending $134 billion a year on business operations – about 50 percent more than McKinsey had guessed at the outset.


Almost half of the Pentagon’s back-office personnel – 457,000 full-time employees – were assigned to logistics or supply-chain jobs. That alone exceeded the size of United Parcel Service’s global workforce.


The Pentagon’s purchasing bureaucracy counted 207,000 full-time workers. By itself, that would rank among the top 30 private employers in the United States.


More than 192,000 people worked in property management. About 84,000 people held human-resources jobs.

The study laid out a range of options. At the low end, just by renegotiating service contracts and hiring less-expensive workers, the Pentagon could save $75 billion over five years. At the high end, by adopting more aggressive productivity targets, it could save twice as much.


After a discussion, the full board voted to recommend a middle option: to save $125 billion over five years.


Hordes Of Contractors


Afterward, board members briefed Work. They were expecting an enthusiastic response, but the deputy defense secretary looked uneasy, according to two people who were present.


He singled out a page in the report. Titled “Warfighter Currency,” it showed how saving $125 billion could be redirected to boost combat power. The money could cover the operational costs for 50 Army brigades, or 3,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, or 10 aircraft-carrier strike groups for the Navy.


“This is what scares me,” he said, according to the two people present. Work explained he was worried Congress might see it as an invitation to strip $125 billion from the defense budget and spend it somewhere else.


A few weeks later, Carter replaced Hagel as defense secretary. Carter sounded as though he would welcome the kind of revolutionary change the board was urging.


“To win support from our fellow citizens for the resources we need, we must show that we can make better use of every taxpayer dollar,” Carter said in an inaugural message in February 2015. “That means a leaner organization, less overhead, and reforming our business and acquisition practices.”


In briefings that month, uniformed military leaders were receptive at first. They had long groused that the Pentagon wasted money on a layer of defense bureaucracies – known as the Fourth Estate – that were outside the control of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Military officials often felt those agencies performed duplicative services and oversight.


But the McKinsey consultants had also collected data that exposed how the military services themselves were spending princely sums to hire hordes of defense contractors.


For example, the Army employed 199,661 full-time contractors, according to a confidential McKinsey report obtained by The Post. That alone exceeded the combined civil workforce for the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.


The average cost to the Army for each contractor that year: $189,188, including salary, benefits and other expenses.


The Navy was not much better. It had 197,093 contractors on its payroll. On average, each cost $170,865.

In comparison, the Air Force had 122,470 contractors. Each cost, on average, $186,142.


Taking Fire


Meantime, the backlash to the $125 billion savings plan intensified.


On Feb. 6, 2015, board members briefed Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer. Kendall’s operations were a major target of the study; he oversaw an empire of purchasing agents and contractors that were constantly under attack from Congress for cost overruns and delays.


Kendall put up a stiff fight. He challenged the board’s data and strenuously objected to the conclusion that his offices were overstaffed.


“Are you trying to tell me we don’t know how to do our job?” he said, according to two participants in the meeting. He said he needed to hire 1,000 more people to work directly under him, not fewer.


“If you don’t believe me, call in an auditor,” replied Klepper, the board’s restructuring expert. “They’ll tell you it’s even worse than this.”


In an interview, Kendall acknowledged he was “very disappointed” by the board’s work, which he criticized as “shallow” and “very low on content.” He said the study had ignored efforts by his agencies to become more efficient, and he accused the board of plucking the $125 billion figure out of thin air.


“It was essentially a ballpark, made-up number,” he said.


Still, Kendall knew that lawmakers might view the study as credible. Alarmed, he said, he went to Work and warned that the findings could “be used as a weapon” against the Pentagon.


“If the impression that’s created is that we’ve got a bunch of money lying around and we’re being lazy and we’re not doing anything to save money, then it’s harder to justify getting budgets that we need,” Kendall said.

More ominously, board members said they started to get the silent treatment from the Pentagon’s highest ranks.


Briefings that had been scheduled for military leaders in the Tank – the secure conference room for the Joint Chiefs of Staff – were canceled. Worse, the board was unable to secure an audience with Carter, the new defense secretary.


Stein, the board chairman, accused Carter of deliberately derailing the plan through inaction. “Unfortunately, Ash – for reasons of his own – stopped this,” he said in an interview.


Peter Cook, a spokesman for Carter, said the Pentagon chief was busy dealing with “a long list of national security challenges.” He added that Work and other senior officials had already “concluded that the report, while well-intentioned, had limited value.”


The fatal blow was struck in April. Just three months after Stein had been reappointed as board chairman, Carter replaced him with Michael Bayer, a business consultant who had previously served on the panel and clashed with Stein. Bayer declined to comment.


A few weeks later, Klepper resigned from the board. The $125 billion savings plan was dead.


In an interview, Tillotson, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer, called the board’s recommendations too ambitious and aggressive. “They, perhaps, underestimated the degree of difficulty we have in doing something that in the commercial sector would seem to be very easy to do.”


Yet he acknowledged that its overall strategy for scaling back the bureaucracy was sound and that, given more time, it would be possible to realize huge savings.


“If we had a longer timeline, yes, it would be a reasonable approach,” he said. “You might get there eventually.”


Ending The Debate


Frustration, however, persisted in some corners over the Pentagon’s unwillingness to tackle the inefficiency and waste documented by the study.


On June 2, 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He complained that 20 percent of the defense budget went to the Fourth Estate – the defense agencies that provide support to the armed forces – and called it “pure overhead.”


He singled out the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency, which together employ about 40,000 people, as egregious examples.


When a reporter in the audience asked whether he thought the agencies should be abolished, Mabus resisted the temptation to say yes.


“Nice try on getting me into deep trouble,” he replied.


But trouble arrived in Mabus’s email the next day.


“Ray, before you publicly trash one of the agencies that reports through me I’d really appreciate a chance to discuss it with you,” wrote Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer, whose management portfolio included the Defense Logistics Agency.


He said that if Mabus had a complaint, he should raise it directly with their mutual bosses, Carter and Work, and copied the email to both.


In his interview with The Post, Kendall said he was “completely blindsided” by the Navy secretary’s criticism, “so I sent him what I thought under the circumstances was a pretty polite note.”


Mabus did not back down. In an emailed retort to Kendall, he referred to the ill-fated Defense Business Board study.


“I did not say anything yesterday that I have not said both publicly … and privately inside this building,” he said. “There have been numerous studies, which I am sure you are aware of, pointing out excessive overhead.”

That prompted a stern intervention from Work.


“Ray, please refrain from taking any more public pot shots,” Work said in an email. “I do not want this spilling over into further public discourse.”


Evelyn Duffy contributed to this report.


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Post Expose on Pentagon Waste Draws Mixed Reviews


(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 06 DEC 16) … Charles S. Clark


With the words “exclusive” and “Bob Woodward” on top of its story, The Washington Post’s Tuesday expose on a “buried” Pentagon study that identified an $125 billion in waste over five years drew considerable attention.


Several lawmakers, the Defense Department’s chief union and at least one anti-waste advocacy group greeted the story as vindication of their past critiques of military contacting bloat. But the department itself and former officials told Government Executive that the alleged value of wasted money was overstated.


Woodward and veteran investigative reporter Craig Whitlock’s story, headlined “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” described a McKinsey & Co. study commissioned by the Defense Business Board at the behest of Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


A version was released in January 2015, but only after officials attempted to hide the data from the public – efforts the Post documented. The study, which was covered at the time by Defense News and other major defense publications, “revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management,” the Post wrote.


The data showed that Defense is “paying a staggering number of people – 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel – to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940,” the reporters wrote, supplying new numbers such as 457,000 in supply chain and logistics and 207,000 people in acquisition and procurement.


The response on Capitol Hill on Tuesday was quick. Armed Services Committee chiefs Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, joined in a statement calling the findings “not a surprise … We have known for many years that the department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”


Which is why, they continued, the committees over the past two years have mandated a 25 percent cut in the Pentagon’s administrative support and headquarters staff, along with a 12 percent reduction in flag officers and civilian Senior Executive Service employees.


Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who in January will become the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, reacted more strongly. “If this is true, the Pentagon played Congress and the American public for fools,” she said. “It would mean that while some in Congress were busy debating cuts to vital services, furloughing employees, and threatening working people’s’ pensions, the Department of Defense literally knew it could save the American people billions and billions of dollars in bureaucratic waste, and instead, they buried it. I vow to get to the bottom of this.”


American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement to Government Executive that the report “confirms what we have known for decades: that the Pentagon is flagrantly wasting taxpayer money by hiring costly and less accountable contractors to do support work that civilians can do for far less. By insourcing much of this work, the Pentagon could free up tens of billions of dollars a year to invest in our troops.”


Cox added, “We are glad that this long-suppressed report has seen the light of day and hope it spurs action in Congress to curb the Pentagon’s wasteful spending on service contracts,” but AFGE actually commented on the report back in January 2015, expressing surprise that the Defense Business Board had changed its past leanings and called for cutting the civilian workforce.


In the Post story, Work highlighted savings reforms already underway at the Pentagon, adding that the Defense board’s reforms for saving $125 billion were “unrealistic on the intended timeline given the defense program, budgeting procedures and the unique impediments facing the department that do not apply in the private sector.”


Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook on Tuesday told the Associated Press that senior managers at the Pentagon concluded that the study, “while well-intentioned, had limited value” because it didn’t take into account existing programs to improve efficiency and because it lacked “specific, actionable recommendations appropriate to the department.”


Also skeptical was Robert Hale, the former Pentagon comptroller who left in June 2014 (before the Defense Board study) and is now a fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton. “There is no question that there is waste and inefficiency at DoD,” he told Government Executive. “And a number of items the board mentioned – such as getting rid of low-priority contracts and optimizing labor contracts – are things the department has tried and has achieved some progress.”


But the projected savings of $125 billion in five years “appears based on some assumed productivity gains, 9 percent savings in the first year, 3 percent to 5 percent per year after that, but in my experience you don’t get those kinds of savings.”


The study’s own private-sector comparisons, he noted, showed that only 17 percent of optimization efforts achieve their full potential. Also, “the department is busy fighting wars, which does take away the time they have to spend” on efficiency reforms, said Hale, who recently laid out his own 10 efficiency recommendations in a paper published by Center for New American Security.


Plus, Defense employees’ “incentives are not the same as in the private sector, where if you save money and keep customers, you’re happy to get a big bonus,” Hale said. “In DoD, some comptroller like me is likely to grab savings for some other purpose.”


Mark Cancian, an alumnus of the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget who is now senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that the Post’s phrasing of the story as “bureaucratic incompetence” will have impact because the paper has influence in Washington. But the study “doesn’t actually specify any actions for savings,” instead calling for “a committed leadership to stand up cross-functional teams that will look at contracts and the workforce and apply the best commercial practices.”


Cancian said he can see why Deputy Secretary Work would be frustrated that the study “threw $125 billion around as if it were on the table,” he said. “You have to talk about specifics, not just paint with a broad brush.”


As a veteran himself, he added, “applying commercial practices that identify specific areas of savings often cause people to recoil and push back.” The example he gave is the often-offered proposal to shut down commissaries.


“No company has its own grocery store, but to many in the military community, they are a symbol of a commitment made to them,” Cancian said. “It’s part of what makes the military culture so distinctive.”


Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, called the Post story “a perfect illustration of the three biggest problems affecting the Defense Department: a contractor workforce that costs too much; a culture of secrecy; and a fear that exposing waste will lead to cuts in defense spending. It and other reports also show there are plenty of opportunities to cut Pentagon spending and the next administration should be skeptical of anyone who tells them otherwise.”


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Breaking Defense


$125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON: Want to save $125 billion by slashing Pentagon “waste”? Not so fast. If you take a closer look at the much-touted Defense Business Board study proposing those cuts- which was published in 2015 but went viral after Monday’s Washington Post story saying the Pentagon had “burie[d]” it – and talk to experts, officials, and the top House Democrat on defense policy, the savings turn out to be less of a slam-dunk than advertised.


“I don’t necessarily think the report is overstating the ease with which that savings can be achieved,” said Rep. Adam Smith, the cerebral and snarky ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. “But I certainly think the reporting on the report is overstating the ease with which we can save that $125 billion.”


First, divide by five: A crucial detail the headlines always omitted is that the DBB forecast $125 billion in savings over five years. That makes the annual savings from their proposed efficiencies a still respectable but hardly game-changing $25 billion a year. “That’s [about] 4% of total DoD outlays,” calculates Capital Alpha analyst Byron Callan, “which is well within the types of savings corporations would strive to achieve.”


Why does that figure happen to be well within the norm for private sector cost-cutting practices? It’s because the whole premise of the study, in essence, is to ask how much DoD could save if it followed – all together now – private sector cost-cutting practices.


In fact, the analytical underpinnings of the study seem to have been done by McKinsey & Company, a world-famous private-sector management consultancy. McKinsey has a reputation for hiring bright young things with zero experience, a former director convicted of insider trading, and a client roster that includes Enron, AOL before its disastrous merger with Times-Warner, and many more imploded companies. But, whether following McKinsey & Co.’s advice is wise or otherwise, the study’s 77 pages of publicly released briefing slides don’t say how to apply these private-sector practices to the Pentagon – which rather begs the point.


For example, it says that a “4-8% annual productivity gain for DoD is a realistic goal,” but its only argument for why that’s realistic seems to be that corporations routinely achieve it (slide 9), without saying how well that would translate into the public sector. The study projects “15-40% gains in IT productivity and effectiveness” (slide 19), but it doesn’t say how to realize them, or how hard it might be. To the contrary, the IT goal glosses over the disastrous record of past government information technology mega-projects, even though some of them are cited as case studies in backup slides (49-54). “Even in the private sector, only 17% of fundamental change projects deliver their full potential,” the report admits at one point (slide 26).


Another major area of savings is large-scale early retirements (17-18, 41). While it makes some provision for retention bonuses to keep the most skilled employees (3), the study ignores the looming demographic crisis of too many retirement-age employees leaving the civil service at once, with too few experienced mid-career personnel to replace their institutional knowledge.


“The report lacked specific, actionable recommendations,” Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told me. “Where the study did offer concrete recommendations, the department has taken action. For example, we have implemented service contract review boards that are projected to achieve billions of dollars in savings.” Overall, the department is aiming to save $30 billion over four years from efficiencies, an average of $7.5 billion a year.


That’s hardy $25 billion a year, though. “I think it is probably not a reasonable goal, and the work the DBB did doesn’t provide any basis to set it as a goal,” said Andrew Hunter. As the former head of the Pentagon’s celebrated Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, and now director of defense industrial initiatives at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Hunter knows a thing or two about making defense procurement faster and more efficient.


Where the DBB does provide specific courses of action, they’re not necessarily feasible, either. “Their proposal to renegotiate contracts across the board is impractical,” Hunter told me, “and they don’t appear to have been aware of the significant efforts (already) underway across the services to reduce service contract costs.”


That said, Hunter emphasizes, “they did a nice job of collecting business operations costs across the Department. The value in what the DBB did is if you collect this information consistently over time, you can detect and act on positive and negative trends in business operations.”


Data is vital to accurate analysis, and the Washington Post’s most damning accusation the Pentagon “imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings.” When I asked Pentagon sources about this, though, they weren’t quite sure what the Post meant.


The substantive section of the report – the 77 slides of recommendations and analysis – “has been available continuously online since January 2015,” said Trowbridge. “We understand some members of Congress might be interested in seeing the underlying data, and, as always, we’ll respond to those requests.”


“Data wasn’t classified, but some was marked proprietary,” said another defense official. “If someone wants the info, they just need to ask and DBB will give it out, minus proprietary stuff.” Proprietary in Pentagon parlance specifically refers to the intellectual property of contractors, and one of the major thrusts of the report was negotiating lower contract costs.


“The report was valuable and continues to shape the way the Department is pursuing efficiencies in cross-enterprise business functions,” the official emphasized. But it’s not an executable plan of action on its own, the official continued, and the Pentagon now “has DBB looking at ways to actually achieve the $125B in savings.”


The Washington Post story has certainly turned up the pressure to save. The chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, acquisition reform crusaders Rep. Mac Thornberry and Sen. John McCain, called for all the underlying data to be made public. Their scathing joint statement read (in part), “We have known for many years that the Department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”


But maybe the reason is not so simple. Maybe it’s a complex interaction of a $496 billion-a-year organization – that’s more than Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company – building cutting-edge hardware and operating it in life-or-death circumstances, all under unrelenting scrutiny from 535 members of Congress.


“It’s an enormously important report, and I think it’s something we should look at closely,” said Rep. Smith, speaking to the US Naval Institute’s annual defense conference at the Newseum. “(But) I wouldn’t get overexcited about it – like, ‘wow, $125 million just laid on the table that we can go spend!'”

“I have not yet encountered the human endeavor that does not contain waste, fraud, and abuse,” Smith said.


“There’s waste fraud and abuse at IBM, at Microsoft, at Amazon.” (We just don’t know as much about it because Congress can’t routinely see their books or haul their executives up to testimony). “I think it’s our job in Congress and the job of whoever ends up running DoD to do their level best to get as much of that savings as possible, and I’d be interested in looking at the details of where they think they’re going to get that $125 billion.”


“But,” Smith concluded, “understand it’s not as easy as it might appear.”


$125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith



FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of November 28, 2016



  1. FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter
  2. Senior NAVAIR Leadership Share Experience, Advice on NLDP



  1. Kuwait to Buy 28 US F-18 jets
  2. Israel Approves Purchase of 17 More F-35s
  3. F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now
  4. No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill
  5. Canada Plans to Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition in 2017
  6. The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them
  7. The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts
  8. New Insider Threat Regulations to Hit Contractors Hard















FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) recently selected Seaman Deserae Kimber as its fiscal year (FY) 2016 Blue Jacket of the Quarter, fourth quarter.


Kimber, who is assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), is also the command’s FY 2016 Blue Jacket of the Year.


“I was shocked in winning the COMFRC of the quarter award. It made me open my eyes to what I’m doing and how it can benefit me as a Sailor in branching out to help other people —- the good influence I could have on other senior E-3s and other junior Sailors who come to this command,” she said.


A native of Hudsonville, Mich., Kimber joined the Navy in 2015 and, accompanied by her uncle, enlisted in Tampa, Fla.


“My uncle Rudy retired from the Navy in 2014 as an aviation ordnanceman. He was a recruiter, and actually took me to his recruiting station in Tampa, which is why I enlisted there,” Kimber said.


“I joined the Navy to better my life and to make bigger opportunities for myself. I wanted to go a different route than just going to college; I wanted to do new and refreshing things instead.”


Kimber’s uncle is not the only family member with a history of naval service. Her husband, Scott, is currently a Seaman assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 stationed aboard Naval Air Station North Island.


After graduating from Naval Training Center, Kimber, who is 20 years old, reported to FRCSW and was appointed to the Support Equipment (SE) shop in Building 767.


The shop performs periodic maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs to equipment used to support aircraft, including pneumatic and hydraulic systems and liquid oxygen systems. Its primary customers are squadrons assigned to Naval Base Coronado.


“I’d like to stay in my field of aviation support,” Kimber said. “And for now, I plan on staying in the Navy but maybe not the full 20 years.”


Meanwhile, in addition to her work in the SE shop, Kimber stays busy handling command and collateral duties as an auxiliary security force (ASF) member and an assistant command fitness leader, which is a second class petty officer billet. She is also a member of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) and an MWR volunteer.


“I like the comradery and teamwork in the Navy,” she said. “It’s a lot different than being on the outside and it’s something I’d miss if I left.”


Kimber is awaiting orders to her next duty station and is schedule to rotate out in October 2017.


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Senior NAVAIR leadership share experience, advice on NLDP


NAVAIR SESs: Relationships top list of reasons to submit NLDP application


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Networking is essential the work of Naval Aviation. One of the best opportunities to establish those relationships in and outside of the command is the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Leadership Development Program (NLDP) Program.


That’s according to four senior executive service (SES) leaders who shared their career histories and advice with potential NLDP candidates and their supervisors during a nationwide Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) workshop panel Nov. 9. Serving on the panel were Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, (AIR-6.8); Martin Ahmad, deputy Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (AIR-6.0D); Tom Rudowsky, director, Air Vehicle Engineering Department (AIR-4.3); and Daniel Nega, director, Cost Estimating and Analysis Department (AIR-4.2).  All four are members of teams that review and score NLDP applications.


NLDP is a three- to five-year program that provides training and educational opportunities to promote personal and professional growth for mid- to senior-level civilians, Sailors and Marines who have demonstrated leadership ability. The application period for 2017 runs from Jan. 17 to March 3.


In addition to NLDP’s required courses, seminars and shadowing opportunities, the panel said developmental assignments, which are six month-long rotations, provide participants with unparalleled personal and professional dividends. “Before I applied, I had no desire to leave the Cost Department,” Harris said.  “My first lesson while in NLDP was how to get out of my comfort zone.  Rotational assignments, turned out to be a career changer for me.  Now, in my present job, I have to figure out how to remove barriers and overcome them.  You do that through networking, by reaching out to your counterparts and working through problems.”


Candidates, they said, must also make their careers a priority. Ahmad advised workshop participants to plan their rotational schedule soon after being accepted into the program.  “It’s never a good time to take rotation,” he said.  “Just as the command needs to invest in the employee, the employees must invest in themselves.”

“Twenty years later,” Nega said, “I still have and use connections I made while on rotation.”


When writing ECQs, potential candidates were advised to take one example from their past experiences that reflected their leadership skills and write a narrative that shows context, challenges, actions and results. “Be sure to set the stage about your experience and convey what the challenge was,” Rudowsky said.  “Communicate to the panel the thought and decision processes you took and why you made the decision to get to the action that is meaningful.”


Examples do not have to be directly related to the military or work at NAVAIR but must be ones that show how changes that were made affected the organization. One of the most impressive applications Rudowsky said he read contained a narrative about challenges an applicant faced while getting a homeowners’ association into solvency.


Having mentors is another component to a successful career and should be tapped as a resource throughout the application process.   “It’s those relationships outside of where you work that benefit you the most,” Ahmad said.  “A mentor will give you an introspective look and cause you to think about your strengthens and weaknesses.


“My mentor told me I needed more business acumen—to think beyond my job and better understand the business of NAVAIR,” he said. “I learned that the better I understand others, the better we can do our jobs.”

The panelist also advised potential candidates to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. “Have the courage to take it when it presents itself,” Rudowsky said. “Many people don’t recognize it.”


Stephanie Rice, who works in Supportability Test and Evaluation (AIR 6.7.4) took those words to heart and decided to submit a package this year based on the panel’s advice. “I attended the NLDP panel discussion and workshop in 2015 but decided not to submit a package after reviewing the ECQ process.  Today, I learned that if I don’t challenge myself and submit an application, I will never know my where my shortfalls are or take the necessary steps to better my career.”


Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division 6.7 competency manager/site lead Mindy Hermann, found the panel’s description of a well-written application revealing. “My goal in going to the workshop was to gather information to help strengthen my employees’ packages,” she said.  “It was very helpful to hear the perspective of the leadership team that rates packages.  I appreciated the panel members taking time out of their schedules to help give the workforce critical information.”


Becoming a leader, Harris said, is about one’s work ethic. “Be good at what you do and be known for being good at what you do,” he said. “Be able to work with people and produce in a collaborative environment.  Focus on goals and be known for producing quality.”


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Kuwait Times


Kuwait to buy 28 US F-18 jets


KUWAIT: Kuwait will buy 28 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to replace a fleet of earlier versions of the US fighter jets, a top official said yesterday.


The value of the deal is not expected to exceed $5 billion, the KUNA state news agency reported the head of armament and procurement at Kuwait’s defense ministry as saying. Maj Gen Lafi Al-Azmi said the deal stipulates the supplier will repurchase the old Hornet fighter jets from Kuwait.


He added that details of the sale would only be disclosed after it is officially signed. “Given Kuwait’s proximity to turbulent locations, we certainly need effective military equipment,” he was quoted as saying.


The US State Department this month said it has authorized the deal, as well as the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Kuwait’s Gulf neighbor Qatar at an estimated value of $21 billion. In April, Kuwait signed a contract with Italy’s Finmeccanica for the purchase of 28 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes for under €8 billion ($8.5 billion). The National Assembly in March approved spending an additional $500 million as an advance payment for the jets.


That funding came on top of $10 billion additional defense spending already approved by parliament in January to upgrade the country’s military. Kuwait is a member of the US-led coalition bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq, and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.


Last year, it bought 24 Caracal military tactical transport helicopters and French light armored vehicles.

– Agencies


Kuwait to buy 28 US F-18 jets

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Israel approves purchase of 17 more F-35s


BY: Arie Egozi


The Israeli cabinet on 27 November approved the purchase of 17 more Lockheed Martin F-35Is, bringing the total number for the Israeli air force (IAF) to 50.


The additional acquisition was made possible following the signing of a new US military assistance agreement with Israel, and the cabinet approval followed a briefing of the IAF command which concluded that two operational squadrons were required, totalling 50 aircraft.


As the delivery date of the first aircraft approaches, the IAF is getting ready to equip it with Israeli-developed systems that are needed to tailor the aircraft’s capabilities to the country’s operational requirements.

Of the 33 on contract, the first two examples are scheduled to land in Israel on 12 December, followed by another six in 2017, and the remaining 25 in the years after that.


The IAF plans to achieve full operational status for its F-35s as quickly as possible, and as part of this effort, technicians from Nevatim air base are due to go to the USA just before delivery of the first aircraft.


They will participate in a series of test flights that Lockheed plans to perform at its Fort Worth facilities, to familiarise themselves with maintaining the aircraft and preparing it for a combat mission.


The “Golden Eagle” squadron technicians will also visit Hill AFB in Utah to see procedures related to operating the F-35.


Immediately after delivery, the Israeli systems that were developed for the stealth fighter aircraft will be installed.


The assistance agreement covering the additional F-35s was signed on 14 September, and sources say that next on the list will be the Boeing KC-46A tanker.


The new 10-year, $38 billion package will come into effect in 2019, and expands the $31 billion deal that has covered the past decade.


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Defense News


F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now


By: Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – The compromise version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act protects the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) from elimination, but requires the Pentagon to report on alternatives for the management of the joint strike fighter by the end of March.


The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA, rolled out in May, included language that would disband the JPO after the F-35 reaches full-rate production in April 2019. At that time, control of the plane would devolve to the Air Force and Navy, in essence ending joint control of the jet and turning it into another traditional program.


However, the House rejected that proposal in conference, and instead put in language requiring “the Secretary of Defense, no later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on potential options for the future management of the Joint Strike Fighter program.”


JPO spokesman Joe Dellavedova said the office “appreciates the support of Congress” for the program.


The committees do want to get input from the Pentagon on how the JPO could eventually be wound-down in the coming years, senior congressional aides told reporters on Tuesday. But for now, there were no changes to the F-35 program structure, although some reporting requirements were altered.


For example, the conference report requires that the Comptroller General of the United States shall provide an assessment of the eventual F-35A IOT&E report, and submit that assessment to the committees within 90 days of the IOT&E report being finalized. That report will include an assessment on whether those conclusions were comprehensive and sufficiently detailed, as well as a list of any concerns with how the report was handled.


In addition, the NDAA also contains language preventing funds from being used to retire the A-10 Warthog, a move in line with previous years. In 2013, the Air Force began a serious push to retire the A-10 in order to free up funds and maintainers for the F-35, but ran into a blockade in Congress. While the service has backed off the idea for now, Congress remains wary of future groundings.


The compromise language did not include an extra 11 F-35 jets that had been proposed by the House Armed Services Committee, although HASC chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Wednesday he hoped president-elect Donald Trump would add those planes back in.


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DoD Buzz

No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill


By: Oriana Pawlyk


The U.S. military doesn’t get extra fighter jets in the compromise version of the 2017 defense authorization bill.


Lawmakers in the House of Representatives had supported funding for 11 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and a total of 14 F-18E/F Super Hornets made by Boeing Co. “to address a critical fighter shortage,” according to language approved earlier this year.


But their counterparts in the Senate didn’t sign off on the plan for extra fighter jets.


Thus, the compromise version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which sets policy and spending targets for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, would authorize funding in keeping with the Defense Department’s original budget request.


The Pentagon asked for $10.5 billion for 63 of the F-35 fifth-generation fighters — including 43 A models for the Air Force and 16 B variants for the Marine Corps and four C models for the Navy — as well as $185 million for two of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F fourth-generation fighters.


The legislation also dropped a provision to shift management of the nearly $400 Joint Strike Fighter program — the Pentagon’s largest acquisition effort — to the Air Force and Navy. But lawmakers still want to study different ways to manage the program.


They opted against dissolving the F-35 Joint Program Office, headed by Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, as previously proposed by Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.


“The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the requirement to disestablish the JPO and require the Secretary of Defense, no later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on potential options for the future management of the Joint Strike Fighter program,” states a report accompanying the bill.


Interestingly, conferees also opposed treating the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program as a separate acquisition effort — but agreed it should have similar reporting requirements.


“The Senate bill contained a provision (sec. 1087) that would require the Department of Defense to treat the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program as a separate Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP),” the report states.


“The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the requirement to treat the Follow-on Modernization program as a separate MDAP and require the Secretary of Defense, not later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the basic elements of an acquisition program baseline for Block 4 modernization,” it continues.


The bill is expected to go to the House for a vote as early as Friday and the Senate is expected to follow suit next week.


— Brendan McGarry contributed to this report


No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill


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Canada Plans To Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition In 2017


(DEFENSE NEWS 22 NOV 16) … Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – Canada will explore an interim buy of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing, a blow to Lockheed Martin that kicks a final decision on whether to procure the F-35 further down the road.


“Canada will immediately explore the acquisition of 18 new Super Hornet aircraft to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement arrives,” the Canadian government announced in a release. “Canada’s current fleet is now more than 30 years old and is down from 138 aircraft to 77. As a result, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) faces a capability gap.”


Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada will launch a larger fighter competition next year after it wraps up its defense policy review. But the competition will likely take about five years, which kicks the decision into the next administration. Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed not to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.


“We have a capability gap. We have selected the minimum number of aircraft to meet this capability gap here. At the same time, we are launching a full competition and making sure that we take the appropriate time, without cutting corners to get the right airplane,” Sajjan said.


Judy Foote, the country’s minister of public services and procurement, said it would start talking with Boeing “immediately” so that the country could amass an interim fleet as quickly as possible. She said Canada’s Ministry of Defence had “some idea” of how much the planes would cost but that the details would be finalized in negotiations.


Despite questions about whether Canadian investments in Super Hornet infrastructure and training could skew a future competition in Boeing’s favor, Foote refuted the notion that the government was “stacking the deck in favor of Boeing.” The government sees it as important to meet its urgent needs, and Canada, an international partner in the joint strike fighter program, will continue its participation in the program, she said.


Boeing was elated by the news, a major win for the company that could help extend the life of one of its fourth-generation fighter jets.


“Boeing is honored to provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with the only multi-role fighter aircraft that can fulfill its immediate needs for sovereign and North American defense,” the company stated in a news release.


“The Super Hornet’s advanced operational capabilities, low acquisition and sustainment costs, and Boeing’s continued investment in the Canadian aerospace industry – U.S. $6 billion over the past five years alone – make the Super Hornet the perfect complement to Canada’s current and future fighter fleet.”


Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin was less pleased with the decision, restating its hope that the Canadian government would ultimately purchase the fighter.


“Lockheed Martin recognizes the recent announcement by the Government of Canada of its intent to procure the 4th generation F/A-18 Super Hornet as an interim fighter capability,” the company said in a statement.


“Although disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors. The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years.”


Further down the road, Lockheed could strip Canadian industrial participation – which totals 110 Canadian firms with $750 million in contracts, according to Lockheed – should the country ultimately opt not to buy the F-35. The company has not signaled whether it would be willing to do so.


Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.


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War is Boring


The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them


Program office cuts development short




When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed.


Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.


In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.


Development cuts breed further cost overruns


Contractors, the JPO and Pentagon acquisition officials have failed for years to deliver on their grandiose promises of program success. Now the program appears to be out of money, with lots of development testing and re-engineering left to be done.


Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”

Instead of admitting to these failures, F-35 program officials are kicking the development can into the future by arbitrarily cutting short this process now with the intention of eating into funds set aside for operational testing and production later.


The F-35 Program Office is now belatedly asking for some additional funds to complete development while simultaneously asking Congress to approve its plans to buy increasing numbers of new, incompletely-developed production aircraft they know will require extensive and expensive modifications.


The current block buy plan of 410 aircraft could cost between $34 billion and $54 billion, depending on whether you believe the optimistic public statements of Pentagon officials or the figures released in more subdued fashion.


We now know that there is every possibility the F-35 will not be fully designed before it is placed in active service. Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”


He also warns that if the Joint Program Office persists in its current plan, there is a high risk the F-35 will fail operational testing. If the F-35 fails, this will require an expensive correction process followed by a repeat of the entire operational test program.


The test rerun alone would cost taxpayers an extra $300 million. Engineering the fixes and installing them on all the production aircraft would cost vastly more.


Following an article on the Gilmore memo published on Bloomberg, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter raising concerns that Pentagon officials had misled the committee about the progress of the program.


He specifically challenged statements from F-35 Program Manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan that development would be finished in late 2017. He also questioned Air Force Secretary Deborah James certifying that the program had the funds necessary to complete development on time, since it was clearly refuted by the testing memo.


Given “the troubled performance, continued delays, and persistent cost overruns of this program,” McCain disputed the Department of Defense’s insistence that the current requirement for 2,433 F-35s was realistic and affordable and recommended the Pentagon adjust its buy quantity based on actual costs and schedule.


Rather than completing the development phase, let alone the highly critical combat-realistic operational tests, F-35 advocates on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon seem to place the survival of their too-big-to-fail program ahead of building a warplane that works in combat.


The current congressional authorization and appropriations bills have increased the F-35 buy beyond the Pentagon’s request. Not satisfied with this add-on, 70 House members want to fund an additional 11 aircraft.


Mission software woes top the list


Though problems in the plane’s structure, aerodynamics, engine, and reliability also abound, the latest schedule delays are largely due to continuing problems in developing F-35 mission system software.


The mission software controls every input the pilot receives regarding threats, targets, weapons, and the mission profile to be flown. As the Air Force has claimed repeatedly, the mission software — if and when it works — is, together with stealth, intended to be the most important advantage of the F-35 over all current fighters.


The early, rudimentary versions of the software now installed in the operational fleet — Block 2B and 3i — enable the F-35 to conduct only basic flight and to fire one radar missile model and one type of guided bomb.

Yet even this rudimentary system software has repeatedly failed developmental tests — and is too limited in combat capability at this point to even enter combat-realistic operational testing.


The new mission systems software needed to perform the plane’s real combat functions — close support of troops, deep strike bombing and air-to-air fighting — is being released in an alphabet soup of software upgrades, increments and block packages.


Each version adds a few extra capabilities and attempts to fix the failures in earlier versions. The version currently in development test, Block 3F Revision5, added a few weapons and was supposed to reduce the frequent computer crashes of the previous version.


These crashes, Gilmore wrote, forced the pilot to shut down and restart the radar in mid-mission.


Developmental Revision 5 will still fall short of the minimum range of combat capabilities the F-35 needs to even begin realistic operational testing. To start those crucial tests, the F-35 needs another upgraded software version, Block 3FR6, which has yet to be developed.


Developmental testing of earlier Block 3F versions found capabilities for Close Air Support, Destruction/Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Offensive and Defensive Counter-Air, Air Interdiction, and Surface Warfare missions were all “unacceptable overall, with significant deficiencies in capabilities and or/performance shortfalls.”


Kicking the can down the road


With a mountain of development test failures, costly fixes and retests staring them in the face, the JPO decided to arbitrarily truncate the developmental test phase and to defer all the unfinished development tests and retests to later operational test phase.


Those developmental tests and retests will be funded by operational test budgets, which don’t yet include money for such testing.


Repeatedly stopping operational tests to fix basic design problems that should have been completed during development will wreck the carefully crafted operational test plan and schedule that have been in place for more than four years, as agreed to by the services and DOT&E.


— Michael Gilmore


Gilmore’s memo warns that this is a highly risky proposition. In useful and realistic operational tests, fully developed weapons systems that have passed their development tests and met their design specifications are put through their paces performing missions in realistic combat conditions.


To begin combat testing a weapon system that still needs engineering development fixes and retests–and to conduct these engineering tests in the middle of the operational test schedule — is courting disaster.


Incompletely developed F-35s undergoing rigorous combat tests will certainly experience new design failures. These must be corrected and tested again, a potentially lengthy process.


Repeatedly stopping operational tests to fix basic design problems that should have been completed during development will wreck the carefully crafted operational test plan and schedule that have been in place for more than four years, as agreed to by the services and DOT&E.


The result will be more delays and increased costs, exactly what critics of Gilmore and defenders of the F-35 say they want to avoid.


When the Pentagon restructured the F-35 program in 2012 it postponed production in order to decrease concurrency in the program, which is overlapping production before development and operational testing is complete, violating the principle of “fly before you buy.” The JPO’s truncation of development is a deliberate increase in the F-35’s concurrency.


The stated purpose of concurrency is to speed up the schedule and save money, but the real motive is to protect an increasing flow of procurement funds against any possibility of slowdown or cancellation due to failure in testing — a practice that has rightly been called “acquisition malpractice.”


Moreover, history has repeatedly shown us that it actually delays programs and adds to costs.


The F-35 still doesn’t have a gun


The F-35A’s internal cannon, a critical weapon both for close support and dogfighting, remains problem-ridden and needs further development. When the cannon’s stealth-preserving door opens, the extra drag on one side turns the plane’s nose enough to spoil gun-aiming.


Engineers hope that flight control software changes can cure the problem, but that remains to be tested.

Far more serious is the fact that the only sight for aiming the gun is the $600,000 Helmet Mounted Display. The very first shooting accuracy tests with the helmet, scheduled for October 2016, have been delayed until 2017 due to the software delays.


There are strong engineering reasons to believe that the helmet sight is incapable of meeting the plane’s gun accuracy design specifications.


Pilots have reported that the helmet’s displayed symbols can lag behind their eye’s movement while they are flying through turbulence or being buffeted during hard maneuvering. Whether the gun is actually combat suitable or not will not be known until realistic operational test results become available in 2020 — at the earliest.


The Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants will have even more serious gun accuracy problems because both use an external gun pod with an unavoidably less rigid mounting than the internal cannon. Firing this pod creates recoil forces that pull the plane’s nose down, potentially creating worse effects on accuracy than the F-35A’s muzzle door.


A software solution has yet to be completed.


Even if these serious airframe and helmet sight accuracy impediments are overcome, the cannon may still not be able to meet its original design requirements for hitting and destroying targets due to a change in the 25-millimeter ammunition.


The F-35A will now fire a new, non-explosive fragmenting round of untested accuracy and lethality while the F-35B and F-35C will use the older Navy-developed Semi-Armor Piercing High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer rounds. The program office “determined that the specification requirements for gun accuracy could not be met with the new ammunition planned to be used.”


As reported by DOT&E, the JPO is addressing these concerns by deleting all cannon lethality and accuracy requirements from the program’s contractual Operational Requirements Document — without formal approval from either the services or OSD. The contractor now has no contractual responsibility for air-to-air or air-to-ground accuracy and lethality.


Should the F-35 cannon prove incapable of hitting or destroying targets, in test or in combat, no one can be held accountable nor can the program be stopped until a fix is found.


Weapons test delays jeopardize operational testing


Before proceeding to combat-realistic operational testing of the F-35’s weapons capabilities, the developmental weapons delivery accuracy tests must establish, for each air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon, that the F-35 can accomplish its “find-fix-identify-track-target-engage and-assess” functions according to specification.


Only after these functions are verified can more stressful and combat-realistic testing of the same “kill chain” be operationally tested. It is pointless to do these complex, expensive operational tests with a weapon that fails to see and or hit targets under benign engineering test conditions.


The F-35 has had occasional successes in developmental accuracy tests so far, but according to DOT&E the overall results are not promising. During several events, testing officials had to resort to “control room intervention” to make tests appear successful.


As an example, the memo describes how a recent test of the long-range AIM-120 radar air-to-air missile required the controllers on the ground to tell the pilot when to fire because the F-35’s radar and computer system failed to display any enemy target cues.


Moreover, 13 of the scheduled developmental weapons accuracy tests have yet to be performed. JPO has not stated whether these will be ignored, completed during the development phase, or kicked down the road into the operational testing phase.


These incomplete weapons tests could not be flown because program managers had to fix and retest numerous failures uncovered in earlier tests, thereby using up the available test range time and money.


Gilmore warns that unless these weapons accuracy tests are rescheduled, funded, and completed during the F-35’s development phase, they will have a major disruptive effect on the operational test phase. This would result in more schedule slippages, cost overruns and possibly even jeopardize any ability to assess the combat suitability of the F-35.


Simply following the agreed test master plan to complete all weapons developmental testing before operational testing starts is, technically and ethically, clearly the right thing to do.


Unfortunately, that requires JPO and OSD official to admit to more cost and schedule growth, refuting their ongoing narrative that all problems are being solved, the program is on track, costs are going down, and the concurrent production of scores more F-35s should not just continue but accelerate.


Truncating testing and declaring success


As we reported earlier this year, the current F-35 program is at significant risk of never being ready for combat. That assessment was based on an official Air Force internal review of its own testing data.


On the day the Air Force declared the F-35 ready for combat, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said, “Today’s declaration of IOC is an important milestone on the road to achieving full warfighting capability for the F-35A.”


He said that at the precise moment when the testing process was falling further and further behind. According to the latest DOT&E memo, as of the end of September 2016 the program had only completed 65 percent of the scheduled flight test points, 1,120 short of the 3,189 planned.


Rather than redoubling their testing efforts to catch up, the JPO decided to terminate flight testing scheduled for early 2017, arbitrarily declaring development of the Block 3F software to be finished by then.


A number of the combat capabilities that were expected to be completed for the F-35A’s August IOC date have only recently entered developmental flight testing. Others haven’t even made it that far, thereby rendering the planned 2017 date for startup of operational flight testing wildly premature.


Gilmore warned that JPO officials, perhaps deliberately, have not scheduled and funded enough operational test-ready aircraft to conduct the planned combat tests.


Inadequate preparations for IOT&E


An immature design is not the only factor imperiling useful operational testing of the F-35’s combat suitability. Gilmore warned that JPO officials, perhaps deliberately, have not scheduled and funded enough operational test-ready aircraft to conduct the planned combat tests.


The number of operationally typical, production representative F-35s required is one of the key criteria for starting operational testing. The Test and Evaluation Master Plan agreed to by both DOT&E and the F-35 Joint Program Office required that 18 aircraft, each with the necessary flight test instrumentation installed and tested, were needed to begin the testing program.


But the F-35 Program Office is not even pretending to go through the motions of executing the operational test program they agreed to. F-35 program officials have yet to plan or contract for the necessary test aircraft, despite knowing for seven years they were required to do so.


In contrast, they have been diligent in making sure taxpayers were on the hook for $6.1 billion to buy more incomplete, untested F-35s.


The Program Office has repeated that same pattern of neglect in managing the other essentials for completing the operational testing of the F-35, including verified, fully realistic, man-in-the-loop mission scenario simulators and fully tested threat electronics simulators for the test ranges.


Without these essentials, it is impossible to test the full capabilities of the F-35.


As an example, no one is going to fire a missile at an F-35 during testing to see if the stealth capabilities and counter-measures will work. The only way to test many of the F-35’s capabilities is in a virtual simulated environment because the test ranges cannot accurately replicate the full spectrum and quantity of threats the jets would confront.


It is on this point of neglecting to acquire the planes needed to start operational testing that Gilmore issues his most stinging rebuke of the F-35 Joint Program Office:


“Expecting DOT&E to allow IOT&E to start without a full complement of fully production representative aircraft, as agreed to and documented for years, is a recipe for a failed test, especially in light of the aircraft availability issues mentioned later. Failure to meet the TEMP entrance criteria means not only that the program is unready for operational test — it means JSF is not ready for combat and, therefore, certainly not ready for a Block (i.e., Multi-Year) Buy or full-rate production.”


Enhancing the political effectiveness of the F-35


Politics, particularly election year politics, is always a factor in any large weapons program. The F-35 is certainly no exception.


From the very beginning, the plane’s program managers have diligently worked to ensure the F-35 is bulletproof — or, more accurately, that its funding is bulletproof. Components of the aircraft are built in 45 states.


By evenly spreading F-35 subcontracts across the United States, the defense industry has ensured the F-35 has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.


With members of Congress serving as boosters for the F-35, there is little doubt that program officials in the Pentagon are feeling the pressure to keep the F-35 budgets growing as rapidly as possible.


Many of these friends banded together recently to convince their colleagues of the need to buy more F-35s.

A letter, signed by 70 members of the House Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, urged members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to support the Senate’s plan to add $100 million for advanced F-35 procurement.

The advanced procurement funds would allow the Air Force to buy some of the parts for new F-35s in 2017 so they can be built and delivered in 2018.


This spreads out the cost of these F-35s over at least two years. It would also conveniently commit taxpayers to buying these planes now, long before the operational tests have a chance to determine whether or not the F-35 is effective in combat.


This fact was somehow omitted from the lawmakers’ letter.


Not surprisingly, an analysis of campaign donation data by the Center for Responsive Politics shows most of the letter’s signers benefited from defense industry campaign contributions in the 2016 election cycle.


The co-chairs of the Caucus, Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and John Larson (D-CT) received $144,300 and $43,150 each, respectively, in contributions from major contractors and unions with a stake in the program.


With members of Congress serving as boosters for the F-35, there is little doubt that program officials in the Pentagon are feeling the pressure to keep the F-35 budgets growing as rapidly as possible.


Digging a deeper hole


Despite the desperate state of F-35 development and testing now and for the foreseeable future, the JPO is planning to award contracts to develop the expanded and presumably more expensive Block 4 “full capability” aircraft in 2018.


The specifics of Block 4 remain undefined, and these contracts for new planes may well be signed before the currently planned IOT&E of Block 3 planes has even begun.


There is no telling how many new F-35 problems will be discovered as the program limps to the initial operational test finish line. The JPO and its co-advocates throughout the Pentagon and Congress steadfastly defend staying with the present unworkable schedule to buy more F-35s guaranteed to have a plethora of known and yet-to-be-discovered-deficiencies.


Attempting to design and produce a large number of Block 4 F-35s now, when the program management avoids completing or testing the Block 3 F-35s, is the aeronautical equivalent of a construction company deliberately building an inadequate foundation yet continuing to build a skyscraper on top of it.




The F-35 program has been a 15-year saga of performance failures, schedule delays, and cost overruns.

When Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop the aircraft just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the company promised that the Air Force and Marine Corps would be flying brand new fully capable new fighter jets in 2008, with the Navy following suit in 2010. They planned for 2,866 F-35s for just under $200 billion.


But here we are in 2016 with the revised plan of 2,457 aircraft for just under $390 billion, which means we are paying double the unit cost, ultimately adding up to almost $200 billion more for 409 fewer aircraft.


Frank Kendall, the current undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics famously described the practice of buying F-35s before the aircraft has been fully developed as “acquisition malpractice.”


He was certainly right in 2012 when he said that, but since then has taken few steps to lessen, much less end, that malpractice.


Gilmore’s message is very clear. The F-35 will not be effective in combat and will place American military lives in danger unless drastic measures are taken now.


By proceeding with the current plan to truncate F-35 development testing and to not fund — or underfund — the operational test aircraft, instruments, mission simulators and urgently needed threat simulators, Congress and the Pentagon are in effect sabotaging any realistic testing of the combat suitability or unsuitability of the F-35.


Underfunding these efforts increases the likelihood of failing to identify and correct preventable problems in testing and leaves pilots having to address deficiencies in combat.


The new president, new Congress and new secretary of defense need to exercise the oversight necessary to stop this bureaucratic sabotage. As a first step, they need to stop expanding the annual F-35 buy.


Those savings should be transferred to finish F-35 development and development testing as originally planned.


Thorough, truly realistic operational testing of the F-35 must be fully funded and overseen by a director of Operational Test and Evaluation tough and honest enough to get that difficult job done.


The men and women who will risk their lives taking these fighter jets into combat deserve nothing less.

Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight, where this article originally appeared.


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Popular Mechanics


The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts


An innovative marking system spots the fakes.


By Kyle Mizokami


A V-22 Osprey, laden with eighteen Marine infantrymen, speeds towards a landing zone under enemy fire. Dodging anti-aircraft tracers, the pilot pushes the aircraft to the limit. Until suddenly the Osprey falls from the sky.


This time, the killer isn’t the anti-aircraft fire. It’s inside the aircraft—a series of counterfeit, substandard bolts holding the engines together.


That’s the nightmare scenario confronting the Defense Logistics Agency, the arm of the Pentagon tasked to ensure the services receive the correct spare parts in a timely fashion. There are 4 million repair parts in the DLA system. In 2011 according to the Washington Post, a congressional probe found at least 1,800 counterfeit parts, with an estimated 1,000,000 or more counterfeit parts hiding in the Pentagon’s global spare parts system, sold by hucksters making a cheap buck.


Fighting counterfeit parts is a tough job. The sheer number of parts and the many ways fakes can infiltrate the system is daunting. The only solution is to mark each part so its journey through the system can be tracked and verified from factory to fighter plane. But how do you mark a tiny microchip, or a bolt that holds together an aircraft engine, in a way that’s impossible to counterfeit and won’t compromise the part’s performance?


A new marking system invented by Applied DNA Sciences looks to be part of the answer. The system uses botanical deoxyribonucleic acid—that is, plant DNA—to forensically mark replacement parts. The mark, in the form of DNA suspended in a tiny dot of epoxy ink, is applied pneumatically and heat-cured.


The plant-based DNA provides a unique signature that counterfeiters can’t duplicate, and Applied DNA Sciences claims its DNA-based validation system is unbreakable. Sophisticated counterfeiters using DNA sequencers cannot reverse-engineer the mark, as the company claims to have additional levels of security and complexity built into the system. Maybe they’re right. In any case, for fake-makers just interested in selling a mountain of bolts made from pot metal, the mere presence of a DNA marker will be a big enough barrier to entry.


Unlike a barcode, the epoxy dot is tiny and unobtrusive. It can be applied at the factory to the surface of microchips destined for the military supply chain. It can be placed on tiny mechanical parts, such as a bolt face, without worry that it will fall off or interfere with another part. The mark and the DNA inside is tough, capable of withstanding demanding conditions.


Once applied, the mark can be scanned by the end user to verify the part’s provenance in the supply chain. The user can check that the part did indeed pass from the factory through the Department of Defense system.


The technology has been fast-tracked by the military. In 2014, Applied DNA Sciences received a Rapid Innovation Fund award from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to further develop the program. So far 150,000 DLA microcircuits have been marked. The technique will also be used on electrical and electronic components, bearings, vehicle components, engine parts, pipes, tubing, hose and fittings, and hardware and abrasives.


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National Defense


New Insider Threat Regulations to Hit Contractors Hard




By Daniel C. Schwartz, Andrew J. Schoulder and Jennifer Kies Mammen


The Department of Defense and other government agencies have recognized that competition and innovation from smaller technology companies are critical to overcoming shortfalls in technology and to providing proposed solutions.


At the same time, the country has witnessed an increasing number of successful cyberattacks and insider threats against the U.S. government and the private sector, many associated with state actors.


Federal contractors face a Nov. 30 deadline to begin to implement a number of significant and potentially costly steps to protect against insider threats and outside cybersecurity risks. The new rules are found in conforming change 2 to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, or NISPOM.


Change 2, known as CC2, places a substantial cost burden on contractors, which may not all be reimbursable. Large companies are better able to undertake these costs and to spread them over a wider array of larger contracts. But many small businesses — those the government is trying to attract — will find that satisfying these requirements will strain their technical and personnel capabilities, and their budgets.


The unwelcome result may be a diminution in competition in the classified government contractor space, particularly from smaller, often more innovative entities. For the Defense Department, this means fewer opportunities to develop experimental and innovative solutions through smaller, new contractors and subcontractors, and less creativity in addressing problems.


All of this may not be offset by a significant rise in actual security and may, potentially, result in a diminished ability to protect information.


In May, the Department of Defense issued Industrial Security letter 2016-02 requiring contractors to have a written program plan to implement the insider threat requirements of CC2.


The insider threat program must detail a contractor’s system for gathering, integrating, reviewing, assessing, and responding to information indicative of a potential or actual insider threat. An insider threat is defined in the NISPOM as the “likelihood, risk, or potential that an insider will use his or her authorized access, wittingly or unwittingly, to do harm to the national security of the United States.”


The definition of an “insider” is far reaching, as it encompasses cleared contractor personnel with authorized access to any government or contractor resource, including personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks and systems. Insider threats may include harm to contractor or program information, to the extent that the information impacts the contractor or agency’s obligations to protect classified national security information. Thus, for smaller contractors, this could effectively cover all employees and contracted personnel.


A contractor’s insider threat program must, among other things, establish monitoring of classified computer networks and systems, including monitoring both systems and users and implement certain security controls on classified information systems.


In addition to cybersecurity required by contract and the agency that oversees the contractor’s facility clearance, contractors must now also develop and implement a system security plan. The SSP must include policies and procedures for the contractor to provide information security for the contractor’s information system and reduce the security risks to those systems. It must establish processes for planning, implementing, and evaluating remedial actions to address deficiencies in information systems’ security policies and procedures; and create procedures for detecting, reporting and responding to security incidents.


The SSP must mandate self-inspections of the contractor’s own performance, as well as provide draft formal reports of the inspection findings and written certifications that the contractor’s management has been briefed on the results of the self-inspection and corrective action has been taken to address any issues. Each certification must also include a statement that management “fully supports” the contractor’s security program.


This self-inspection obligation is in addition to a requirement for annual testing of information systems security and auditing processes and procedures to detect cyber incidents.

To add teeth to the requirements, CC2 requires contractors to certify that it has sufficient protections, including the appointment of any necessary personnel, in place as a condition to the government’s grant of an authorization to allow the contractor to process classified information.


Of particular importance is the wide net that CC2 casts over personnel. As part of the insider threat program, the contractor must designate a cleared, senior employee to be the Insider Threat Program Security Official,who will be responsible for establishing and executing the program. Contractors must appoint a properly qualified employee to serve as the Information Systems Security Manager to oversee the development and implementation of the contractor’s security plan. Likewise, all employees who access classified networks must receive appropriate training.


Beyond that, the contractor must provide training for identified insider threat program personnel and awareness for cleared employees, establish procedures to analyze and report personal information regarding cleared employees, and provide for annual self-inspections and reporting of those inspections.


The foremost cost wedge potentially is the requirement for contractors to hold employees responsible for SSP compliance through monitoring measures, the results of which can be used for criminal, security or administrative proceedings. Contractors will need to procure or contract for technology that will enable this level of monitoring. For contractors with tight budgets or contracts with thin margins, the burden could be significant.


As a result of these programs, individual employees may face loss or suspension of their security clearances, and termination of their employment, on the basis of suspicions of not preventing or causing a cybersecurity breach, or being an “insider threat,” as identified through the more proactive, but potentially incomplete, investigative actions by their employers. While those employees may have an opportunity to win back their individual clearances via an adjudicative process, the burden of proof shifts entirely onto the individual to establish that having a security clearance is in the national security interest of the country.


Companies must be careful in reporting suspicious activity about an employee if a loss of that employee’s security clearance results in a loss of employment. The contractor can reasonably expect to hear from that former employee’s attorney with claims of wrongful termination, particularly if the reported activity turns out to be incorrect. In this regard, the contractor must try to avoid actions that could be alleged to be in conflict with civil rights and equal employment requirements, while also complying with the requirement to report all “relevant and credible” information about possible insider threats. Notwithstanding the best efforts of a contractor, that wider net the revised NISPOM casts over employees adds yet another layer of potential compliance costs.


Historically, the NISPOM has required contractors to file reports upon learning of adverse information that could have an impact on a security clearance or the entity’s status as a cleared facility. Similarly, contractors have always been required to report and assist security personnel to assess known compromises of classified information.


To date, these have been largely passive requirements, not requiring a proactive investigative effort in the absence of a reason to suspect that violations of security requirements have occurred. Even then, most sophisticated contractors would employ outside counsel to conduct internal investigations and advise company management or the board, under attorney-client privilege, regarding the likelihood and extent of concern and appropriate actions for the company to take in compliance with existing statutes and regulations.


That practice will change under the tenets of CC2, which requires contractors to undertake an affirmative and continuing investigative role, both as to the activities of their employees and contracted personnel and as to the security of their systems. Under the auditing and reporting requirements of CC2, a contractor must report relevant and credible information within 72 hours. This requirement must be viewed in combination with any other contractual requirements to report cyber or related incidents. The DFARS, in particular, now contain reporting requirements that are potentially more stringent than those set forth in CC2.


Further, CC2 requires contractors to grant Defense Department personnel access to the systems that are the subject of a suspected cyber threat. As a consequence, contractors may not be able to fully assess the nature of a possible breach before the government begins its parallel investigation.  While CC2 includes nominal limitations on the level of access a contractor must provide, in practice, the government may attempt to use such demands for much broader purposes.


This demand for access could begin to replace criminal investigative and grand jury subpoenas as the preferred method of initial government discovery. Contractors may choose to negotiate or even resist in court compliance with a government subpoena, invoking Fourth Amendment and privileges protections, but it remains unclear whether any such protections apply to a DoD demand for access to the contents of computer systems under the NISPOM.


Under various executive orders and a DoD Directive issued in 2014, components of the Defense Department and other government agencies were required to establish processes and policies to protect against insider and cybersecurity threats. It is apparent, however, that uniform application of these requirements across the government is expensive and time consuming and are not being met uniformly or quickly. Thus, the government is imposing security requirements on contractors that it has not itself met consistently. Furthermore, there is no real enforcement mechanism within the government to ensure that adequate programs are put in place contemporaneously with the imposition of such requirements on contractors.


As a result, the requirement that a contractor report vulnerability of its personnel or its computer systems to a government agency may simply place sensitive information where it may be no more secure from outsider access than it was in the hands of the contractor, and it may be less secure. Moreover, if the government collects all information about a suggested insider threat or the data that maybe subject to a cyber threat and places it in its own imperfectly secured systems, that centralization may simply increase the possibility that the information will be improperly accessed. This may provide cyber threat actors with a much more lucrative target for attack by focusing on the data from numerous, threatened contractors stored in a single government site, making it unnecessary to attack numerous contractors’ individual systems.


DoD has been candid that there will be substantial costs associated with complying with these requirements. The Nov. 30 deadline only requires contractors to certify written insider threat programs and begin to implement those plans, but the costs to achieve all of the policies, procedures, and programs implicated by such plans are unlikely to be fully realized for some time.


A contractor’s ability to recover those full costs is uncertain. DoD has declined to develop cost recovery models for compliance with these programs, and simply advises that those costs should be treated similar to the costs associated with any other DFARS requirement during proposal preparation. And failure by a government contractor to adequately protect against insider or cyber threats may result in termination of contracts, recovery of costs and damages, and loss of a facility clearance or status as a responsible contractor.


It is of little comfort to the small contractor for DoD to point out that the cost to the nation of lost or stolen protected information is significantly greater than any financial burden placed on contractors. DoD appears to reject any opportunity by small contractors and subcontractors to treat costs for compliance with these required programs in a way that would make them more competitive with larger contractors.


Inevitably, this may disqualify smaller firms from competing for sensitive government contracts unless they combine with other small or larger contractors so the costs imposed by these programs can be spread.

The authors are members of Bryan Cave LLP’s national security practice. Schwartz and Mammen are resident in the firm’s Washington office. Schoulder is resident in the firm’s New York office.

FRCSW/COMFRC top clips for the week of Nov. 14


  1. Lilly earns Air-6.0 employee of the quarter nod
  2. Production leads, program mangers meet to advance CCPM across all FRCs
  3. Enabling technology is focus of second annual FRC safety meeting
  4. New CMM Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing Capability
  5. Manufacturers association recognizes FRCSE with top award
  6. PHOTO RELEASE: Mazzone honored with Meritorious Civilian Service Award
  7. PHOTO RELEASE: McMichael receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award



  1. F-35 Contract Feud Exposes Rift Over ‘Fair’ Prices
  2. DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value
  3. Defense Sector Post-Election: Caution Sets In
  4. Lawmakers Seek To Boost F-35 Purchases
  5. Marines look for a small UAS to equip Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squads





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Lilly earns Air-6.0 employee of the quarter nod


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Handling thousands of maintenance tasks on tight timelines and tighter budgets is something Naval Air Systems Command logisticians do on a regular basis. Developing more than 10,500 maintenance tasks across 26 major systems six months ahead of schedule and at more than $5 million under budget gained one NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) logistician Employee of the Quarter recognition.


Herbert “Gene” Lilly, CH-53K King Stallion Design Interface and Maintenance planning lead (Air-6.7, Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department) received his crystal award Nov. 8 from Todd Balazs, NAVAIR deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) during a PMA-261 Heavy Lift Helicopter Program meeting.


“When you are trying to get ahead of your maintenance planning . you have critical items that need to be identified. Gene has done that,” Balazs said. “He also got his maintenance planning six months ahead of schedule and saved five million dollars. The areas that really suffer are the areas he addressed.”


Lt. Col. James Cooksey, assistant program manager for logistics for PMA-261, nominated Lily for his ability to push innovation and creativity.


“Creatively thinking within the guidelines, he identified critical item management barriers, coordinated the effort between the Fleet Support Team and vendors, to include coordinating appropriate funding, resulting in more accurate Critical Safety Item identification and effective provisioning, ” Cooksey wrote in Lilly’s nomination letter. “Lilly’s knowledge of logistics processes facilitated development of an organic depot capability establishment process sensitive to technical and budgetary factors and allowing early identification of public-private partnership opportunities. His innovative approach eliminated unnecessary linear process delays reducing component pilot repair resource requirements by 30 percent.”


Cooksey further praised Lilly’s efforts to pass along knowledge by developing a course for the NAVAIR College of Logistics and Industrial Operations on integrated product support concurrency management, which training for all PMA-261 logistics elements managers.


“As a result, the technical data assertions process was restructured to integrate Finance, Contracts, Engineering and Logistics with specific procedures and techniques resulting in effective sustainment plans and outcomes,” Cooksey wrote. “Lilly provided input to the CLIO Logistics 101 Course. He ensured logistics and integrated product support were clearly tied to development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment.”


By using the most common form of project management, Lilly said the team quantified what needed to be accomplished and how long they had to work. “We worked backward toward a completion [burn] rate and then worked the tasks, identified barriers, and developed better processes whenever we had to,” he said.  “The most important lesson is that you have to have a set of reasonable goals to work toward and your team has to be invested in the outcomes.”

Lilly said the award not only reflected the teamwork of all that were involved, but emphasized the need for diversity. “Logistics is a team sport.  All around you, there are brilliant ideas, approaches and perspectives that really influence the way we solve problems.”

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Production leads, program mangers meet to advance CCPM across all FRCs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Increasing speed to the fleet with the utilization of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) was the main topic of discussion at the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers’ (COMFRC) off-site held at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Maryland, Nov. 2-3. More than 50 representatives from Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) program offices (PMA) and FRC production were in attendance focusing on alignment, standardization and communication.


CCPM, which currently is in place at all three major depot maintenance sites, is a Theory of Constraints-based, project management solution that uses a systems-view approach to account for variability and resources required to execute all maintenance and repairs and de-conflicts resource contentions in the planning stage, COMFRC Aviation Maintenance and Material Director Ann Wood said. “CCPM accounts for variability within projects and uses back scheduling methodology to manage across the entire portfolio of projects, protecting the delivery date to the customer by incorporating project-level buffers.  It provides cross-project solutions to prioritize tasks and resources.”


The meeting, which was held to advance CCPM across all aircraft lines at the FRCs, focused on developing templates and buffers for each type/model/series (TMS) aircraft, gaining consensus and a plan of action on two-year induction and production plans for each TMS, setting the groundwork for a five-year pipeline and a resource planning schedule for each TMS, and engaging the TMSs on the removal of production delays.


Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), who kicked off the two-day offsite, said the business of producing aircraft for the fleet is complex and that COMFRC must communicate with the customer about capability and capacity and execute solutions before readiness gaps emerge. “There are immense requirements in Naval Aviation, for component work, for aircraft and for engines. We must be able to articulate to our customers what our capacity is and what we can do for them in the future.  And where there is a gap, we must work with the PMA and other stakeholders and get industry involved or reach out to the Air Force or Army for additional assistance, if necessary.


“Our responsibility is to communicate and then deliver what the fleet requires.   The steps we are taking today will help answer that,” he said.


2016 saw FRCs make inroads into reducing readiness gaps, Zarkowski said.   “The numbers of aircraft deliveries are up.  And your hard work isn’t only reflected in the number of aircraft we delivered,” he said.  “Many of those airframes had complex fixes.  For example, the F/A-18 A-D Hornets required an additional 1,100 maintenance man-hours on average per aircraft than they did in 2015.”


Using technology, he said, will provide the enterprise with enabling visibility into production and its inherent constraints. He also said that Concerto, a CCPM software solution for managing multiple projects, will be used at all maintenance sites by the end of 2017.  “We use our personal devices to track our purchases and monitor schedules.  In our personal lives, we expect real time information. Why wouldn’t we expect that in the business of Naval Aviation so that it runs efficiently and effectively? With Concerto, we can collaboratively look at near real time status of aircraft. It also highlights where the constraints are and informs leadership on where to move resources across the enterprise.”

Martin Ahmad, who became COMFRC’s deputy in September 2016, also spoke at the event and echoed Zarkowski’s comments on communication and visibility on aircraft readiness across the enterprise. “Naval Aviation readiness is centered at the FRCs.  We are the ones responsible for getting aircraft back on the flight line.  We have to reach out and make sure that we are communicating and working with organizations and entities that affect us that so that resources are available to do the job.”


While CCPM methodologies have been in use at FRCSE for a couple of years, FRC SE Aviation Maintenance/Material Production director Holly Martinez said the meeting ensured that the FRCs and integrated program team (IPT) leads all heard the same message. “Now we all know where we are going in the future,” she said.  “Concerto will get all of us on a level playing field.  It will make data integrity ‘spot on’ and increase our confidence in the real-time data.

“With this, information we will better communicate with the customer on the ‘what and whys’ of production and show them how they can be part of the solution.”

Sandie Brazda, AV-8B IPT lead, agreed. “Pulling together the customer, IMC [Integrated Maintenance Concept] coordinators and the program office is critical to [FRC] throughput,” she said. “We now all have a better appreciation of what CCPM is and how it improves our business acumen.”

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Enabling technology is focus of second annual FRC safety meeting


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – More than 25 senior safety officers from eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) sites worldwide and representatives from DoD attended the Annual Safety Director Meeting at FRC Aviation Support Equipment in Solomons Island, Maryland, Nov. 1-3.


Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) Director for Safety and Regulatory Compliance Mitch Bauman said the event was held to provide safety officers with a forum to share ideas and train them on the Safety Management System (SMS)-a safety reporting software recently introduced into the FRCs.


Safety, he said, is an enabler of readiness by precluding the costly impacts of injuring artisans, Sailors and Marines. It will help minimize the costly mistakes in damaging aircraft, engine and components and must be embedded throughout the command, he said. “Using SMS will make reporting easier, increase accuracy and give us actionable data across all of COMFRC.”  Already in use at seven of the FRCs, it is scheduled to be introduced at all FRC sites by the end of the year.  Petty Officer 1st Class Henry Larreynaga, who recently became the lead safety officer for FRC Northwest, welcomed the SMS training.   “SMS hasn’t been introduced to our command yet, so this is new guidance for us,” he said.  “By listening and learning from other FRCs who are already using it, we have a better idea of how to get it running right and properly establish its use.”


One of SMS’s tools, iAuditor, will improve the ease and accuracy of recordkeeping in the FRCs. Dina Geilenkirchen, FRC Mid-Atlantic safety director, said she is looking forward to using this feature. “With iAuditor, we will be able to conduct inspections using tablets instead of on paper.  That not only will help us save time, but be able to get the word out to our workforce and to other FRC safety officers quicker,” she said.

Safety regulations and compliance, COMFRC safety goals for 2017 and common issues across all FRCs were also discussed. “All FRCs have similar challenges,” FRC East safety director Luc Desilets said. “For example, FRC Southwest is looking into stands for V-22 maintenance. FRC East already has them, and we shared our experiences with them.  We have a responsibility to reach out to each other.”


For Larreynaga, one of the most surprising facts he learned at the meeting was the amount COMFRC must shoulder each year due to injuries. “Hearing that injuries cost roughly $10 million a year out of our budgets and that by reducing them by 10 percent could return a million dollars to us really got me thinking,” he said. “I’ll make it a point to educate my command that there is a bigger picture to safety and budgets that they don’t see.”

Efforts to reduce those numbers are paying off. Bauman said that COMFRC is on track to having one of its safest years ever with incident rates well below the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ averages for the Aerospace, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Industry.


Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers, commended the leads in his remarks during the meeting and urged them to stay diligent. “2016 was a good year, but you can never declare victory when it comes to safety and quality. We need to keep that momentum up as we close out 2016 and start 2017,” he said.


He also reminded them that safety and quality must be foremost in every aspect of work and must never be compromised. “Safety is the most critical thing that we do.  It is the beginning of everything,” he said.  “Production is the scorecard and gets us the visibility. But it means nothing if we don’t do it safely.”


No FRC stands alone when it comes to safety, Zarkowski said. “Our goal is enable artisans to have an incident-free career so that they can enjoy the retirement they deserve,” he said.  “At the end of the day, there is only one scorecard we all are responsible for when it comes to safety and readiness.  You play a role in that.”

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New CMM Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing Capability


(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 08 NOV 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Precision in manufacturing aircraft parts not only ensures performance as intended, but safe operation under a gambit of stresses and circumstances. Accuracy is paramount.


Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) recently improved the accuracy of its manufacturing measurements to 0.001of an inch by purchasing a new Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) through the command’s Capital Investment Program (CIP).


The CIP invests in new technology equipment that will improve the command’s efficiency.


“This project was to be completed in 12 months; it was awarded in April and completed November 4, so it was ahead of schedule and under budget,” noted CIP project manager Martha Hoffman.


Located in Building 472 and costing approximately $500,000, the CMM will not only help FRCSW meet its demand for manufacturing measurements, but will also allow for measurements of parts manufactured before installation.


Five artisans who are assigned to operate the new measuring machine recently completed a week-long certification class provided by Zeiss, the CMM manufacturer.


“Engineering will send a blueprint and 3-D model (of the part) for us to use,” said machinist Kevin Guittar.


“We program the CMM. It uses a stylus and touches different points on the part, and during the programming we can pull dimensions that will match the blueprint. So using the blueprint, we write a program to make the measurements and it will record those measurements. This will tell us if it’s a good or bad part.”


The bridge-type measuring machine uses computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software with a toolkit, and can be adapted to meet future sensor and software requirements.


“The training is pretty constant as we get more involved and deeper in the software. The goal is to get enough people trained up to run three shifts,” Guittar said. “It has all of the latest and greatest things and the tool kit has all of the accessories we need and more than enough to do the job.”


To ensure a quality product within technical specifications, parts undergo First Article Testing, or testing procedures that oversee production steps.


Guittar said that flight critical parts, like F/A-18 ribs and formers, undergo a 100 percent inspection on every dimension.


Prior to the installation of the new CMM, artisans were using an older measuring machine that was built in the early 1990s.


“And before that,” Guittar noted, “they used a lot of large fixtures for gauges so they could put the parts in and manually check everything; it was very time consuming and took up a lot of space.”


Now, artisans will use the Zeiss CMM which delivers faster results with a greater capacity.


“The new machine runs approximately six times faster than the older one and it can run multiple parts. The older machine required us to write a program and run one part and then set the next one. But with the new one, we can set all of the same parts and run at the same time. So, we can get everything done in one shot,” Guittar said.


Another advantage of the Zeiss model is its advanced scanning head.


“When we’d measure a circle on the old machine you’d take a single point, and the machine would take 8 to 16 points to make the circle. This one takes 1,000 to 3,000 points so you get a true form; if it’s a true circle, an oval, or a trimetric shape. It provides a lot more information that’s important to intricate things, like bushings.”


In the event a measurement is not within required specifications, engineering is notified and the machining modified to increase the accuracy.


The Zeiss CMM is the third measuring machine in the manufacturing department, and a fourth from the reverse engineering department will be added soon, Guittar said.


“We’ll be using all four of them, hopefully across all three shifts. All of this will result in less rework which will save manpower and money and increase readiness,” he said.


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Manufacturers association recognizes FRCSE with top award


(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 07 NOC 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


Jacksonville, Fla. – Lake Ray, president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA), named Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) as the recipient of the FCMA Manufacturer of the Year Award at the association’s annual ceremony Oct. 19 in St. Augustine, Florida.


FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart received the award on behalf of the facility, which performs maintenance, repairs and overhauls of aircraft for military and civilian clients – necessitating a large manufacturing capability.


“For FRCSE to be recognized by such a distinguished group of manufacturers who are dedicated to sustaining and improving the local economy is a tremendous honor,” Stuart said. “This award is a testament to the skill, commitment and dedication of our Sailors and civilian employees.”


Formed in 1989, the FCMA is made up of more than 300 companies with a manufacturing presence in Northeast Florida. The association provides workforce training and fosters business and networking relationships.


The Manufacturer of the Year Award is given each year to an organization that embodies a commitment to improving the local economy, environmental protection and providing education for its workforce.


FRCSE achievements cited by the association for the award included the facility’s allocation of more than $7 million over the past five years to construct a full-spectrum training building for the education of its employees. In addition, the manufacturing group also noted FRCSE’s environmental improvements, consisting of reducing its energy footprint, as well as recycling more than 160 tons of used oil.


The last point was of particular importance to Stuart.


“It is extremely important to us to be good stewards of taxpayer resources,” Stuart said. “Running our facility efficiently allows us to do that, as well as get aircraft and components to our military as quickly as possible.”


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PHOTO RELEASE: Mazzone honored with Meritorious Civilian Service Award


Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations, Naval Air Systems Command (Air-6.0), right, presents Darlene Mazzone, Aviation Readiness and Resources Analysis Department technical director, a Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work as the assistant program executive officer for Logistics, Tactical Aircraft Programs Nov. 8. Mazzone was instrumental in standing up the Air Warfare Mission Area/From the Air Program Office (PMA-298) which laid the groundwork for all Naval Integrated Fire Counter-Air Programs. (U.S. Navy photo/released)


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PHOTO RELEASE: McMichael receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award


Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) (AIR-6.8), right, presents Elizabeth McMichael, Additive Manufacturing Integrated Program Team lead, Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work to incorporate additive manufacturing into Naval Aviation maintenance. Thanks to McMichael and her team, an MV-22B Osprey equipped with a 3-D printed titanium link and fitting inside an engine nacelle flew during a July 29 demonstration at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland. The flight marked NAVAIR’s first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing techniques. (U.S. Navy photo/released)


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F-35 Contract Feud Exposes Rift Over ‘Fair’ Prices


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 03 NOV 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Shockwaves rippled across the defense industry following the news that Lockheed Martin is challenging the Pentagon over a $6.1 billion “unilateral” contract awarded to the company to continue building F-35 joint strike fighters for the U.S. military.


The low-rate initial production contract announced Nov. 2 would fund 57 F-35s aircraft. “The LRIP 9 contract represents a fair and reasonable deal for the U.S. government, the international partnership and industry,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer.


The manufacturer disagrees. Lockheed spokesman Michael J. Rein said in a statement that company was “disappointed with the decision by the government to issue a unilateral contract action.”


Officials declined to comment further as the company considers taking legal action. The parties are said to be wide apart on program cost estimates and the contractor fee – which partly is derived from program costs.

Industry sources said this is possibly the largest unilateral contract ever awarded by the Defense Department. The estimated $400 billion F-35 program is the Pentagon’s largest weapons acquisition.


How did it get to this point? Lockheed and the F-35 program office have been negotiating for 18 months over the terms of the LRIP 9 and 10 deals. Under national security provisions in the federal acquisition regulations, the government can at any point stop negotiations and issue a contract. The JPO can assert that these airplanes are urgently needed by the armed forces and that the contractor has to keep producing them even if they haven’t reached an agreement on the price. Lockheed is obligated to continue the work, but faces the choice of either accepting the terms or appealing the decision – either to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, or to the Court of Federal Claims. The company has 90 days to decide.


What led to a collapse in the negotiations was the JPO rejecting Lockheed’s accounting of what it costs to build these airplanes. One industry source said the government did not believe the cost data submitted, which was based on the previous eight LRIP contracts, was reasonable. The JPO also challenged Lockheed’s claims that its fee should recognize capital outlays the company made to pay for parts, factory upgrades and other program-related expenses. This strikes at the core of the defense industry’s business model, in which a company assumes risks upfront but expects to be rewarded later. The dispute also speaks to brewing disagreements in Defense Department programs between what contractors assert something costs, versus what the government believes it “should cost.”


Industry analysts were surprised by the developments even though contracting disputes are not unusual in Pentagon programs. The government “used a very extreme approach to definitize the F-35 LRIP 9 contract,” wrote Roman Schweizer, of the Cowen Washington Research Group. The JPO “used a bazooka on LRIP 9,” which could signal long-term troubles for the program.


Schweizer said “bare-knuckle contracting is nothing new to the F-35 program, and the government and Lockheed have used ‘undefinitized contract actions’ to keep the money flowing and the jets coming together while the nitty-gritty was hammered out.” But after the latest standoff over pricing, the government “decided to break the ice with a colossal sledgehammer.”


“Contract officers can use unilateral actions to adjust or tweak contracts but we’ve never seen it applied this way,” Schweizer noted.


It is still unclear how this will affect a much-anticipated three-year block-buy deal for at least 450 more aircraft for U.S. and international customers in 2018, he added. “We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that if negotiating a two-year pact devolved to this outcome, the prospects for rolling up a deal three times the size may be extremely difficult.”


The LRIP 9 price the government enforced in the contract is a 3.7 percent reduction from the LRIP 8 contract signed in December 2014 and an overall 58 percent price reduction since the LRIP-1 contract, the JPO said in a statement. Once production of LRIP 9 aircraft is completed, more than 250 F-35s would be in operation by eight nations. The LRIP 9 engine contract between the government and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney was signed in April.


Contracting experts speculate that, if Lockheed chooses to take legal action, it will file a claim with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. The ASBCA is a neutral, independent forum that has been in existence for over 50 years. It mostly handles post-award contract disputes between contractors and the Department of Defense, NASA and the CIA.


Under the Contract Disputes Act, contractors can take their case to the ASBCA or to the Court of Federal Claims.

“Contractors often choose the board,” said federal contracting attorney Todd Overman, of Bass, Berry & Sims government contracts practice. “It’s not the same level of formality as the Court of Federal Claims,” he said.


ASBCA allows the agency to stay involved in the case during the fact-finding process. A decision written by a board judge is binding. The next appeal then goes to the federal circuit court. Without knowing the details of the Lockheed case, Overman guessed that the company did its research and likely believes there is “precedent at the board that will be more helpful to them.” ASBCA judges are known to be “very knowledgeable about DoD programs.”


Legal issues aside, the contractual troubles that are now disrupting the F-35 program are largely the product of the Pentagon’s own decisions on how to compensate contractors under cost-plus contracts. “Industry makes its fee on cost-type contract based on the amount of cost it justifies,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. David Dunaway, former commander of Naval Air Systems Command who oversaw multibillion-dollar programs.


“We have a fundamental problem in that we can’t quantify value, therefore we can’t come to a price,” Dunaway told National Defense. When incentive fees are assessed in part as a percentage of cost, “you have a system that doesn’t match the free market,” he said. “We need to value things better. That’s a tough problem. In a cost world that’s the way companies make money. It’s counter intuitive when you want to cut costs.”


One of the F-35’s toughest critics, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the “recent breakdown in F-35 contract negotiations between the Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin is troubling and disappointing. It should be seen, more broadly, as yet another symptom of our flawed defense acquisition system in general and the structure of the F-35 program in particular. To be sure, developing advanced fighter aircraft is extremely complicated. But the decision to produce hundreds of aircraft, on a cost-plus basis, before the technology is developed and completed, and to do all of this, lot after lot, without an actual contract in place between the government and industry, is the height of acquisition malpractice.”


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DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value


(DEFENSE DAILY 03 NOV 16) … Pat Host


FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – The Defense Department will ask Congress for additional wartime spending, but leadership hasn’t decided how much more to request, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.


Carter told reporters he’s said since the first Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request was submitted this for fiscal year 2016 that it’s the “nature of warfare” to not know, at the beginning of the year, what everything will cost. The Pentagon is bolstered by what Carter called success in both its counter ISIL efforts and work in Afghanistan.


Bloomberg reported Pentagon comptroller Mike McCord told the publication in an interview the request would be worth more than $6 billion, but Carter declined to put a dollar figure on the request, saying only that he’d submit one.


“We haven’t settled on how much those are worth,” Carter said. “We’re still doing those estimates and assessing the situation.”


Carter spent Tuesday and Wednesday traveling between New York and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He addressed City College of New York and Stand Up for Heroes audiences in Manhattan on Tuesday, discussing new DoD initiatives to better recruit well-qualified prospects and candidates in challenging territories like the northeast.


Carter on Wednesday spent the day here getting briefings on the Army’s munition training and counter-IED efforts and participated in hands-on demonstrations. These included using the hand-held mine detector ANPSS-14, performing a thermal breach of metal using an exothermic cutting rod and Talon robots.


Carter will spend Thursday attending the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) change of command ceremony and will visit the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Air Force Gen. John Hyten replaces retiring Navy Adm. Cecil Haney as the leader at USSTRATCOM.


DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value


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Defense Sector Post-Election: Caution Sets In


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 14 NOV 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Investors’ euphoria about rising Pentagon budgets and a lessening of regulations in a Donald Trump administration is giving way to realism and caution.


Defense watchers overwhelmingly agree that military spending will go up under Trump, but warn of caveats. Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of government almost ensures that the current caps on discretionary federal spending will be lifted.


Doubts are growing, however, over whether the administration and Congress will be able to come together around a defense budget plan in the long term. Whereas congressional defense hawks will seek to immediately pour money into areas like equipment modernization and force readiness, Trump has been adamant that any defense boost would have to be offset by reductions in overhead, bureaucratic bloat, fraud and waste in Pentagon programs.


“It’s incumbent on the administration and the Department of Defense to come up with a sensible plan that can be executed,” says Jack Deschauer, a partner at the Washington, D.C. office of Squire Patton Boggs, a lobbying firm.

The Trump White House’s first order of business will be the fiscal year 2017 budget that Congress is unlikely to pass during the lame duck session. Republicans want an $18 billion increase for defense and President Obama has vowed to veto such a measure unless the money is split evenly between defense and nondefense agencies.


“I don’t see any reason why Republicans would compromise on that,” says Deschauer. Since the Republicans do not have the 60 votes to roll over Senate Democrats, the minority will have a say in the process, he notes. But without the threat of a presidential veto, they will not be able to prevent defense budget increases of some magnitude. He predicts the full $18 billion boost for defense will be enacted after Trump takes office.


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 canceled the automatic reductions in discretionary spending for 2016 and 2017. Defense spending was capped at $551.1 billion for 2017. Current law limits defense spending to $549 billion in 2018.

Looking farther ahead, if and when the Budget Control Act spending restrictions are lifted, the Pentagon is going to have to present a reasonable funding plan that addresses “readiness and recapitalization the right way,” he says.

The Pentagon will be pressed to restore credibility with Congress on fiscal responsibility. Over the past decade, it has relied on war budgets known as “overseas contingency operations” accounts to fund basic needs like personnel and weapon systems. “That shows that there hasn’t been any budget discipline in the Department of Defense in a long time,” says Deschauer.


The Pentagon over the years has used so-called budget gimmicks to claim cost savings that never materialized. One of the Obama budget proposals, for instance, included $60 billion in “efficiencies” such as contracting reforms and reductions in administrative overhead. These phantom savings may no longer be acceptable. “It will be the administration’s responsibility to hold the military accountable,” Deschauer says. With a single party in control, it should be easier to reach a compromise, he says, although the White House and the Pentagon will have to “show budget discipline and demonstrate how funding increases contribute to defense.”


On the issue of federal regulations in military procurements, there has been much speculation that Trump might repeal measures that the defense industry claims add unnecessary cost and delays to Pentagon programs. While there may be a push to reconsider Obama’s labor-related executive orders, nobody should expect any sweeping deregulation, says Deschauer. “I don’t think there’ll be any rolling back of defense acquisition policies.”


With Sen. John McCain still at the helm of the Senate Armed Services Committee, there will be continuing pressure to crack down on contractors. “I don’t think they’re going to suddenly give defense contractors free rein or a blank check,” he says. “That’s not going to happen at all.”


Potentially of more significance to Pentagon weapon buyers and defense contractors is whether Trump delivers on campaign promises to withdraw the United States from international trade treaties and adopt protectionist policies. Any anti-trade measures, or even just fears of such actions, would be detrimental to the defense and aerospace business, analysts warn.


“This is a complicated area,” says Luigi Peluso, managing director in the aerospace and defense practice at AlixPartners. The aerospace and space sectors are truly global markets, he says. “They have global customers, global suppliers. They are very intertwined.” If trade relationships fracture in any way, “there are potentially significant risks.”


Aerospace and defense are sectors of the U.S. economy that have thrived in the global market. According to the Aerospace Industries Association, U.S. aerospace and defense companies generated a record $142 billion in exports in 2015. Over the past five years, exports have grown by 62 percent, from $88 billion in 2010. Aerospace and defense accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. exports in domestic goods and is the nation’s third largest exporting industry. This sector generated a trade surplus of $81 billion in 2015. Over the past five years, the industry’s trade surplus has grown by an annualized growth rate of 8.2 percent.


A trade war with China, for instance, could be devastating to aerospace exports as China might retaliate by directing its airlines to buy aircraft from Airbus rather than Boeing, Peluso says. Before the United States initiates a trade dispute, he says, “caution is warranted.”


Could defense companies do business in an anti-trade climate? “It would be very difficult,” he says. “It’s easy to see how you could do a lot of damage on the supplier and customer sides.”


Arms sales, additionally, are a key component of U.S. foreign policy. “We want compatible technology. And it creates U.S. jobs,” says Peluso. He speculates Trump will soften his campaign trade stance as it becomes apparent that it could backfire.


Deschauer points out that every major defense contractor is pursuing international sales. Companies also have to worry about Trump’s pledge to shift security burdens to U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. “If the administration increases allies’ responsibility to pay for their own defense, that could have an effect on how much money they will have to buy American-made equipment.”

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Lawmakers Seek To Boost F-35 Purchases




A group of 70 lawmakers is pressing appropriators to fund significantly more joint strike fighters than the Pentagon asked for in its fiscal year 2017 budget request. But a contract disagreement has raised concerns about the future of the program.


The Defense Department requested about $8.3 billion to procure 63 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in 2017. The House defense appropriations bill added 11 joint strike fighters to the planned buy. The Senate version added just four aircraft.


In an Oct. 4 letter to the leaders of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, representatives from both parties prodded them to stick with the House blueprint in upcoming budget negotiations.


“As you head into conference [with Senate lawmakers], we write in strong support of the F-35 joint strike fighter and urge you to continue supporting increased production rates at this critical juncture for the program,” they said.

The letter was signed by 41 Republicans and 29 Democrats.


“Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” they said. “Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”


The lawmakers expressed concern about cuts to follow-on modernization that were included in the Senate bill.


“These cuts would delay critical … capability upgrades needed to ensure the F-35 stays ahead of increasing future threats. We urge the conferees to restore as much of this funding as possible,” they said.


Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and the chief operating officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute, said increasing the production rates would help reverse a negative trend.


“The Air Force has slipped off of its production ramp for F-35, and as a result each plane is going to cost more,” he said. “That is not the way the business plan was supposed to be implemented.”


Thompson believes there is enough support in Congress to fund additional F-35 buys beyond the level requested by the Pentagon.


“The most likely approach would be to take money out of other items” in the budget, he said. One option would be to scale back upgrades of legacy fighters, he noted.


But a contract spat could potentially upend future production of the F-35.


In November, the Defense Department announced a $6.1 billion low-rate initial production contract for 57 F-35s in lot 9. In a statement, Lockheed said it was “disappointed” by the Pentagon’s “unilateral” move, and noted that the contract was “not mutually agreed upon.”


The company could potentially take legal action and appeal the decision. Lockheed executives “will evaluate our options and path forward,” the statement said.


Roman Schweizer, an industry analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a note to investors: “The government’s decision to use a bazooka on LRIP 9 could signal turbulence ahead as the program ramps into a potential block buy.”


The spat could make it more difficult for the Pentagon and Lockheed to reach large production deals in the future, he said.


The next “inflection point” in the program is a potential three-year block buy deal for 450 or more aircraft that would start with international customers in 2018, he noted.


“We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that … rolling up a deal three times the size [of LRIP 9 and the anticipated LRIP 10] may be extremely difficult,” Schweizer said.

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Marines look for a small UAS to equip Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squads


Inside the Navy, Nov. 14 | Lee Hudson


The Marine Corps is looking for a small unmanned aerial system to equip each Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad after identifying a gap in a requirements document last year, according to the service.


Maj. Jamie Murphy, MERS capabilities integration officer, told Inside the Navy during a Nov. 10 interview the MERS initial capabilities document was updated last year and identified 16 gaps. “Some of the gaps are starting to be covered,” he said. On Oct. 12, a request for information was released for a vertical-takeoff-and-landing small UAS to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during the day and at night in all environmental conditions. “The system should be rugged, lightweight and ready to use as delivered with minimal logistic, training and support requirements,” according to the RFI.


“The system should provide real-time full motion video via electro-optical and/or infrared sensors.” The Marine Corps is looking for a system that has a man-portable ground control station and has the necessary equipment to monitor the sensor position and status, control its movement and view its video, the RFI reads. Specifically, the ground control station should weigh 20 pounds or less, the UAS should have a minimum range of one kilometer and a minimum endurance of 30 minutes. The system should be of “adequate maturity to be fielded immediately,” according to the RFI. Responses to the RFI are due no later than Dec. 31. Currently, the service has three small UAS in its inventory: the RQ-11B Raven, RQ-20 Puma and Wasp IV. “The VTOL SUAS RFI is specifically to refresh our understanding of what VTOL SUAS technologies are commercially available today,” Lt. Col. Noah Spataro, UAS capabilities integration and requirements officer, wrote in a Nov. 7 email to ITN. Murphy said the Marine Corps may not be able to equip every squad with a Predator or a Reaper but there is some commercially available capability that could be fielded. The service is working closely with the Army on a couple of related projects. Murphy said the Army has the same issues from the perspective of their Squad X program that is equivalent to the Marines’ MERS effort.


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FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of October 31, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 clips for the week of Oct. 31:



  1. Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
  2. Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’
  3. New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15



  1. New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns
  2. Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position
  3. Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment
  4. Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes





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Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 31 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – “We have a mishmash of full birds and darts in here,” said Tim Guilbert as he walked between the F/A-18 legacy and Super Hornet aircraft stored in a cavernous new tension fabric aircraft hangar at the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Test Line.


The “full birds” have wings, the “darts” don’t.


About 115 feet in width and almost as long as a football field, the hangar is well lit, ventilated and climate-controlled by two gas and electric units located outside of the building to regulate the humidity inside.


“Our optimum health and humidity is 35 percent relative humidity plus or minus five. We want to be in the 30 to 40 percent range,” Guilbert said.


The production line manager and preservation supervisor and Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) aircraft preservation manager, Guilbert oversees the FRCSW preservation program.


And thanks to Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) the program recently received two hangars to help the command manage its F/A-18 preservation program.


Costing approximately $2.5 million each and able to accommodate up to 16 full Super Hornets, or 36-40 legacy “darts,” the hangars’ sole purpose is for storage. They are not outfitted for repairs or maintenance activity. Construction took about eight months.


The fabric “skins” are made of flame-resistant polyester pulled over a framework of steel. The materials can last five to 10 years, dependent upon environmental factors.


“The new hangars will minimize the cost of our level 2 preservation maintenance cycles,” Guilbert said. “We had 60 plus aircraft, and at one time we had almost 90 Hornets in level 2.”


There are four levels within the preservation program.


Level 1, not applicable to FRCSW, is preservation at the squadron level.


Level 2 occurs upon an aircraft’s induction, and encompasses the preservation procedure which includes fuel system preservation, caps and plugs. Aircraft in a level two preservation are typically seen wrapped with a laminated metal foil to prevent moisture contamination at intake openings.


Aircraft may remain in a level two state for up to one year.


“After one year you have to refresh them and do the whole thing over again. In the meantime, there are maintenance schedules that include daily inspections, seven-day, 28 and 56-day inspections all with different requirements. And there are heavy weather inspections where we inspect any wrapped areas and check for water intrusion,” Guilbert said.


“The goal of level 3 is if the shelter is there, the aircraft are put into a `dynamic level three,’ which means to take the whole aircraft and put it in a climate-controlled environment,” he said.


Level 4 signifies when the aircraft have reached an overhaul or Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) cycle, a time when the requirements for a stringent level two or three can no longer be met.


If parts are unavailable during the analysis of overhaul or PMI, work must stop and the aircraft may revert back to a level 3 preservation state depending upon the parts arrival date.


“If it was level 2 (under this scenario) we would have to wrap them back up, but now we have the level 3 capability with the hangars and can hold them for the duration,” Guilbert noted.


Overall, the preservation process takes about 50 hours per aircraft, he said.


FRCSW is currently slated to receive a third tension fabric aircraft hangar at its test line in late June 2017. It will exclusively store H-60 Seahawk helicopters.


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Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 31 OCT 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Seven NAVAIR women were recognized for their leadership, technical skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the 2016 Women of Color STEM Conference Oct. 13-15 in Detroit.


Sharon Keith, a mission systems lead engineer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office based out of Arlington, Virginia, won a Technical Innovation – Government Award for her work on the U.S. military’s largest, most complex program and her long career in naval avionics.


“[This award] meant finally knowing, after working 30-plus years in naval aviation, my professional accomplishments were being recognized among such a diverse audience of my peers on a national and international stage,” she said. “My engineering career has given me great pleasure knowing I’ve played a significant role in providing guidance and mentoring to junior engineers and providing our warfighters, servicemen and women the capabilities necessary to protect the U.S. while supporting our international partners as well.”


Keith said her mother inspired her to take on new opportunities and value education. She advises new employees to engage in STEM activities as much as they can.


“Look at ways to develop your critical thinking skills, take advantage of internship programs and look for individuals currently in your field to mentor,” she said.


NAVAIR also had six Technology Rising Star Award winners: Tashara Cooper, Lt. Cmdr. (select) Rolanda Findlay, Nikeya Gibbs, Bethany Harris, Connie Standifer and Kendra Woodruff. Rising Stars are women with fewer than 22 years in the workforce who are helping to shape technology for the future.


Cooper is part of the Human Integration and Performance Division, one of the largest STEM departments at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Florida. Her research helps provide improved, more effective instructional strategies to train warfighters.


She said she feels pride in helping pave the way for other individuals with visual disabilities within the scientific field.


“It means a lot to me to not only change the world for myself – however small or great – but to change the vision of possibility for others,” Cooper said. “Transitioning from the role of management analyst to research psychologist says persons with disabilities can not only serve well in administrative roles, but in technical roles as well.”


Findlay said she decided to become a naval aerospace experimental psychologist because it was a unique career path unlike anything she had previously seen.


“I could use my background in industrial and organizational psychology to make a direct impact in naval aviation,” she explained. “I was intrigued by the possibilities, and it appeared to be a powerful way to use my skillset.” Findlay, who is based out of Orlando, has brought several scientific advances from her field of industrial and organizational psychology into applied selection and training technologies that support mission accomplishment and safety for the aviation community.


Standifer is NAVAIR’s first Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) competency manager to be selected for the Technology Rising Star Award, which she said brings her career full circle.


“My parents taught me and my siblings to always give 100 percent in whatever we set forth as our goal,” she said. “They were right in that you may not hear your name called in the moment, but just keep pushing forward, for greatness never goes unnoticed.”


Recent college graduate Woodruff said the movie “Toy Story” inspired her to pursue a career in modeling and simulation. She works as a computer scientist based in Orlando, where her biggest accomplishment has been integrating the latest electronic learning standard, Experience API, into a previously developed 3-D game-based training course. Her team became the first Navy entity to communicate successfully with two remote learning resource stores owned by the Naval Education and Training Command and the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab.


NAVAIR relies on its STEM professionals to accomplish its major goals and initiatives, such as delivering integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities. In fiscal year 2016, women accounted for approximately 18 percent of all STEM positions at NAVAIR.


Each of the award winners encouraged new and up-and-coming STEM employees to seek out new opportunities and mentoring.


“If it’s your dream to go into any certain field, you must first take fear out of the equation and go for it,” Standifer said. “You can achieve anything you set your mind to; always remain goal oriented, and there’s really nothing you can’t do.”


Cooper advised finding a mentor: “Surround yourself with those who believe in you and your dreams,” she said. “Embrace that it will be really hard at times, and you may fall short here and there, but push through while remaining true to who you are. Know that everything that happens – or does not happen – is all part of a perfect plan for you, so hold steady, because we are all riders on our own unique journey. No two paths are identical.”


At the conference, hosted by Women of Color Magazine and with a theme of “STEM is a Girl Thing,” attendees also participated in workshops, training and networking opportunities.


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New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15


NAVAIR teammates,

We know recognizing the talent and commitment our people bring to their work is incredibly important. A pat on the back for a job well done inspires, motivates and makes us feel valued.


The recent NAVAIR Command Climate Survey indicated rewards and recognition as an area needing improvement. Whether big or small, formal or informal, individual, team or peer-to-peer, we need to recognize great work more often.


One of the actions we’ve taken at the NAVAIR command level is to revamp the annual Commander’s Awards.


We’ve changed the award categories to recognize achievements that align directly to our strategic priorities. There are four categories:

–Improving Fleet Readiness

–Increasing the Speed of Capabilities to the Fleet –Business Innovation

–Technical Innovation


Each category will include several winners: first, second and honorable mention.


We’ve also simplified the nomination process (a new 2-3 page write-up replaces the old 14+ page nomination package), and moved the awards ceremony closer to the period of achievement (March 2017). As always, civilian and military teams from all sites are eligible.


This year’s nominations are due to your competency/site awards POC by 15 December 2016. SES/Flag champions will chair panels for each award category and sit on the Awards Board, along with myself and Deputy Commander Garry Newton.


These awards are a great opportunity to showcase people and teams who are adding tremendous value to fleet readiness and capability. I look forward to sharing their stories with you at the 2017 awards ceremony.


If you have questions, please contact the NAVAIR Awards Office at For more information on award criteria and submission guidelines, visit the Awards Toolkit at



VADM Paul Grosklags



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New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns

(FLIGHTGLOBAL (UK) 27 OCT 16) … Leigh Giangreco


WASHINGTON – Lockheed Martin will begin studying options for adding a software filter to the system that tracks maintenance and training data for the F-35 fighter as part of an effort to limit the amount of data that gets shared with U.S.-based contractors over concerns about privacy and sovereignty.


The U.S. government intends to award a sole source contract to F-35 prime Lockheed to conduct a trade study for connecting a “sovereign data gateway” (SDG) to the autonomic logistics information system (ALIS), according to a 17 October Federal Business Opportunities website announcement.


Lockheed’s ALIS is programmed to keep track of thousands of operational details about the F-35 fleet, including data from health monitoring systems on board the aircraft as well as the training and flight logs for each of the pilots. As the global data hub, ALIS is supposed to order parts and schedule training as they are needed, saving operators the burden of managing and back-filling spare inventories. For the system to work, the jet must automatically transmit information after and even during each flight by an F-35 to Lockheed’s ALIS hub in Fort Worth, Texas.


But that automated stream of data also worries some of the F-35’s international customers.


To address those concerns, the SDG software will remain within the partner country’s central point of entry and will control the flow of data to the Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU), the F-35 Joint Programme Office says in an emailed response to questions.


The software will allow each partner country to inspect and verify data flowing to and from the U.S. hub, the JPO stays. The software will also be able to block, modify or delay sensitive data. One example of sensitive data are details in the pilot’s training and flight records, which in some countries are protected by privacy laws.


“Most partners have this inspection requirement as a prerequisite to their own certification and approval of ALIS on their national networks,” he says. “An example of SDG’s use could be to enforce regulations in place to protect data containing personally identifiable information, which in some cases is subject to national privacy legislation.”


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Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position

(DEFENSE NEWS 28 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – Less than a month after his Defense Innovation Board had its first public meeting, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is moving on a trio of suggestions on how to drive innovation forward for the Pentagon – including the creation of a new chief innovation officer position.


Carter made the announcement during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He did not go into details about when that office would be stood up or who might fill that role.


“Many different organizations have recently embraced this position, and also started to regularly run these kinds of innovation tournaments and competitions – including tech companies like IBM, Intel and Google – and it’s time we did as well, to help incentivize our people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches,” Carter said about creating the chief innovation officer.


The suggestion was first raised by the Defense Innovation Board at an Oct. 5 public meeting. At the time, Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School who has served in various government positions, described the sharing of best practices around the DoD as currently “less than ideal” and noted that the position could act as the umbrella from which funding for low-level projects could flow.


In addition to the creation of that spot, Carter said the Pentagon will launch targeted recruiting initiatives to increase recruitment of computer scientists and software engineers.


“We’ll do this through targeted recruiting initiatives ranging from our Reserve Officer Training Corps to our civilian Scholarship For Service program that’s intended to help build the next generation of DoD science and technology leaders, with the goal of making computer science a core competency of the Department of Defense,” Carter said.


Carter later added that the Pentagon needs to do a better job directly recruiting on college campuses, noting that may require changes to hiring statutes.


College students “don’t want to live a career that’s an escalator where you get on the bottom stair and you wait and it takes you up to the top,” Carter said. “They want a jungle gym where they can get higher by climbing around. We need to recognize that’s the way many people see their lives.”


However, Carter did not go as far as to endorse the “digital ROTC” idea put forth from the board’s public meeting.


Finally, the department is going to invest broadly in machine learning, including the creation of a “virtual center of excellence” that Carter said “establishes stretch goals and incentivizes academy and commercial technology companies [that] have been making significant strides.”


That center of excellence was a direct suggestion from the board, which emphasized, as Carter has in the past, that machine learning will be key to all technologies going forward. Interestingly, the lead here will be taken by Carter’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) group, which will sponsor an initial prize challenge for machine learning issues.


Carter has made innovation a key part of his tenure, and of his legacy in the position. He has also tied those groups closely to his office, which some have speculated could be a problem when a new secretary comes in – an idea Carter dismissed in his speech.


“Going forward, I’m confident that the logic behind everything I’m talking about today will be self-evident to future defense secretaries, as will the value of these efforts – but they also need to have the momentum and institutional foundation to keep going under their own steam and continue to thrive,” he said. “We must ensure they can keep leading the way and keep disrupting, challenging and inspiring the rest of the Defense Department to change for the better.”


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Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment

(DEFENSE NEWS 31 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta


Excerpt: Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down. … For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.


Full story:

WASHINGTON – As the Department of Defense focuses on ways to reduce sustainment costs for future programs, it could look to increase the use of services contracts and improve how it handles cost estimates for software upgrades.


Speaking to reporters Oct. 21, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said targeting sustainment costs is the next frontier for getting the price of defense programs down.


Kendall reiterated a statement, first made in September, that a fourth round of his Better Buying Power initiatives should focus on sustainment, noting that development costs average about 10 percent of a weapon system cost, production averages another 40-50 percent, and the rest comes due for upkeep.


“By far most of the cost we bear is in the sustainment phase. We don’t have as good data on it,” Kendall said, adding that officials need to develop “best practices” going forward.


What could that look like? Andrew Hunter, a former Pentagon acquisition official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says one area to look at is how the department treats services.


“There’s a lot of opportunity to do more partnering and rethink what is the critical government role, what’s the inherent government function, and what is something industry can do,” Hunter said. “Especially when you’re trying to get the price of software talent and other technical talent. Are you going to be able to recruit [for the] government or are you better off working more closely with industry?”


In any war on sustainment costs, the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) would likely play a big part. Jamie Morin, the current CAPE director, told Defense News in an exclusive interview that he sees “progress” in current sustainment cost controls, thanks in part to Kendall’s focus on services contracting.


“A lot of the success there really just depends on regular management review of requirements and performance and pricing. That is just blocking and tackling at the individual contract level that has to occur,” Morin explained. “In some cases, you need to pay top dollar because you need a top-dollar service. In other cases, you can drive to the lowest-cost provider because it’s an area where you can afford to take technical or performance risks.”


The Software Challenge


Another area Hunter predicts the Pentagon needs to deal with is how the department performs software-cost estimates. In particular, he wonders if the Pentagon’s estimates for those upgrades are operating on realistic timetables, given that future weapon systems are expected to feature software updates regularly, as opposed to a major system update every few years.


“The idea that I’m going to need to be adding and interacting with new capabilities every six months, as opposed to every five years, that’s where we have the potential to underestimate the extent to which we’re going to need to plan for,” he said.


Morin acknowledged that projecting O&S costs for software upgrades comes with “wider uncertainty” than hardware estimates, but noted that some of the same considerations would apply across the board.


“You say you are going to put, each year, X number of people worth of software engineering and do it to fielding capability. Or you look at programs that have modular and spiral approaches in software that have continued to [be fielded] and you get a sense of what is the annual expenditure associated with that. Then you work it across, balance it across all the differences between the two or the multiple programs.”


At a broad level, CAPE is working to improve how it predicts and handles sustainment costs for new programs – but Morin cautioned that the nature of those costs means analysts won’t know immediately if the new approach is working.


“This is one of those things where our Washington tempo doesn’t really support the adequate distance from the problem to understand it,” Morin explained. “So we are making decisions now on programs as they go through acquisition milestones with much more visibility and rigor in estimating future O&S costs, but those won’t actually be realized, in many cases, for five or ten years.”


“It’s incredibly unsatisfying, but I just have to counsel patience,” he added.


Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down.


For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.


“Are you using a material in building this [system] that you will need to replace with parts on this that is so rare, that the fact that you are buying thousands of this item is going to drive its price to spiral up faster than other commodities? Are you building something that is so software intensive, in a highly specialized way, that you are going to drive up wages among experts in this kind of software more than wages for programmers in general? Those are the things you have to think through a little bit,” he said by way of example.


“The precise numbers, bottom line, are probably precisely wrong, but the process of doing the estimates identifies management levers for you and so can really help you converting broad affordability of the portfolio,” Morin added.


That question of labor rates will apply to high-end software development, Hunter predicted.


“In some specialized areas DoD could be very much driving demand for the workforce and you could find yourself driving up prices in little niche technology areas,” Hunter said.


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Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes



The once-maligned, $1.4 trillion Joint Strike Fighter jet program passed another milestone Monday, executing a successful vertical landing on a Navy warship pitched by rough seas.


The latest success of the F-35B aircraft in the Marine Corps’ third phase of testing – plus ongoing mock engagements with American jets like the F-18 Super Hornet – seems to show just how capable the stealthy, fast and menacing “fifth generation” strike fighter has become during a rocky pathway to the fleet.


“The biggest surprise is that I can prosecute a target without him ever knowing that I’m there,” said Marine Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette, a test pilot from Phoenix who previously flew the F-18. “It’s a completely unfair fight. It’s an assassination, that’s what it is.”


Guyette and his fellow test pilots are slated during the next two and a half weeks to finish all remaining sea tests for the F-35B, the Joint Strike Fighter variant for the Corps. The jet can land vertically – either on a rolling flight deck, like that of the San Diego-based amphibious warship America on Monday, or in austere battlefield conditions found in places like Afghanistan.


Two Marine F-35B squadrons in Yuma, Ariz., are now classified as “operational.” The Green Knights of Fighter Squadron 121 are slated to deploy to Japan in January, while the Wake Avengers of Squadron 211 are scheduled for sea duty near the Middle East in 2018.


“Everything we do is geared toward protecting the lance corporal,” said Guyette, referring to troops who make up the core of the Marine force – its infantry.


“The great thing about having Marine test pilots is that we are always agents for the Marine Corps and for that 19-year-old kid with the rifle. Our objective is the clear the sky above and clear the path forward,” the 36-year-old, who served in Afghanistan as a forward air controller directing bomb strikes against the enemy and medical evacuations of wounded Marines, added Monday afternoon.


The Navy’s version of the fighter, the F-35C, lands on aircraft carriers. The Air Force’s F-35A takes off and lands on runways.


Mounting delays in getting these jets to the full operation phase forced the Navy to revamp its aging Hornet strike fleet, pushing those already old aircraft far beyond their anticipated service lives. To keep the Marines’ Harrier II ground-attack planes, the Corps bought scrapped British jets to cannibalize for parts.


Plagued by cost overruns, mechanical gremlins and fears that its high-tech sensors would overload a human pilot’s ability to analyze the aerial battlefield, the F-35 project infamously became known in the Pentagon as “acquisition malpractice.”


But Guyette said the “bucket” of pilot – the capability of aviators to sort out, prioritize and quickly react to vital information flowing to them – is helped, not hurt, by the Joint Strike Fighter because it does most of the work.


He pointed to Sunday night’s tests in “zero illumination” conditions, performed on the America’s churning deck in between bouts of rain.


Marine Lt. Col. Richard M. Rusnok, 40, a former Harrier pilot, said those sorts of conditions used to make for a “scary night,” but the F-35B turned Sunday’s tests into a “fun” ride.


Monday’s exercises took place aboard an America rocked by six-foot waves and whipped by gusty winds about 100 miles off of Southern California’s coastline.


They were delayed by the early afternoon fall of an unnamed male sailor from the warship into the sea. A 2:48 p.m. announcement by Navy Capt. Joseph Olson to all hands indicated that the sailor was safely recovered by a helicopter rescue team and he “was in medical, getting some treatments.” The Navy declined to say how the sailor fell overboard.


The Pentagon has scheduled 19 more days of testing for the F-35Bs aboard the America.


The drills, which run day and night, are meant to examine the jet’s night vision and landing capabilities, the pilot’s high-tech helmet and even the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, aboard the ship. That system constantly monitors the fighter jet to diagnose potential maintenance problems, with the goal of slashing potential downtime.


In an April report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office uncovered “functionality” problems with the $16.7 billion system, which is pronounced like “Alice.”


The agency warned that the Corps failed to prove that it could deploy successfully with the system, largely due to a lack of server connectivity and the ability to generate enough power to run it. The Marines declared their Yuma squadrons to be operational but never proved that ALIS could work in real battlefield conditions, the agency reported.


The Pentagon has since unveiled a new version of ALIS.


Engineers and high-ranking officers connected to the Joint Strike Fighter program said they so far have detected no problems with ALIS during their ongoing tests.



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FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of October 17, 2016


New Fleet Support Team at FRCSE looks to make explosive impact

FRCSW Names FY 2016 Civilian of the Quarter

WOC STEM Conference Recognizes FRCSW Employee



Pentagon’s No. 2 Needs To Slash Overhead, Says Defense Business Board

Defense Innovation Unit Announces Contracting Results

USS Zumwalt Commissions In Baltimore; Will Test, Train On East Coast Before Transit To San Diego

Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear Traps First Flying Aircraft

Adm. John Richardson: Improving The Health Of The Navy’s Civilian Workforce

House Lawmakers Push For More F-35 Funding In FY17 Budget

Navy Federal Contacting Customers Eligible For Part Of $23 Million Settlement



Road Closures during the Oct 29-30 NAS Patuxent River Air Expo


From Oct. 28 to Oct. 30, 2016, personnel at NAS Patuxent River can expect increased traffic, selected road closures and restrictions, and selected building closures before and during aerial performances.


On Friday, Oct. 28, restricted access areas include portions of the base between Taxiway Alpha and the intersection of Taxiways Echo and Foxtrot. Employees who present ID and state their destination will be permitted access to this area.


Saturday and Sunday restricted access areas include:

– The entire base with the exception of general traffic routes from Gate 1 to Taxiway Alpha and Gate 2 to Taxiway Alpha. Anyone who needs to leave the general traffic route will need to present valid credentials and a reason at checkpoints.


From noon to 6 p.m. on Friday Oct. 28, Saturday Oct. 29, and Sunday Oct. 30 the following road closures will take place:

– Cedar Point Road between the Test Pilot School and the intersection with Bronson Road

– Bronson Road between its intersections with Cedar Point Road and Taxiway Golf

– Cedar Point Road will be closed between the intersection with Johnson Road and the intersection with Runway 32. NOTE: Traffic will only be permitted to transit this route with expected delays of up to 20 minutes.


NAS Pax River Golf Course patrons during these times will enter Gate 2 and turn right on Buse Road, following it to Cedar Point Road.


No ID will be required to enter Gates 1 and 2 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Gate 3 will be closed to traffic.


If you believe you will be impacted by these closures during working hours, please contact your chain of command.






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New Fleet Support Team at FRCSE looks to make explosive impact

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST 13 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new Fleet Support Team (FST) formed at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Sept. 28 will combine jet fuel and armaments in hopes of an explosion – of speed and efficiency.


The FST will help maintain and support bomb racks, missile launchers, external fuel tanks, air-to-air refueling systems and more – whether at FRCSE or anywhere else across the globe. FST members regularly travel thousands of miles to fix problems wherever their aircraft or components might be.


The move is a collaborative effort between PMA-201’s Precision Strike Weapons Program Office and FRCSE.


“The whole move, from cost, to schedule, to performance is all about efficiency,” said PMA-201 Chief Systems Engineer and Technical Director Juan Ortiz. “This is all aligned with speed to the fleet, and trying to get everything to the warfighter faster and cheaper, while still having good technical quality.


“The idea is to consolidate people, functions, resources and proximity so that everything goes to the warfighter more efficiently.”


The move brings what was the Aircraft Armament Equipment (AAE) technical program office from Indianapolis to FRCSE at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax). It puts the FST on the grounds of the largest industrial employer in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. FRCSE performs maintenance and overhauls for the Navy’s aircraft, putting the FST within arms’ reach of massive technical expertise and maintenance capabilities.


The relocation also aligns the Navy’s initiative to move maintenance capabilities closer to the flight line in order to speed-up the process of returning aircraft more quickly to the fleet.


Each of the Navy’s main tactical aircraft has its own FST. Most of these aircraft use the launchers, bomb racks and fuel tanks in which the new FST will specialize.


“One benefit the Navy gets out of the move is many of the FSTs that support platforms that carry the AAE equipment – such as the EA-6B Prowler, P-3 Orion, F/A-18 Hornet, and P-8A Poseidon – are physically located in Jacksonville as well,” said Alexis Padilla, FRCSE’s Systems Engineering Department Director. “The new AAE/FC FST will have direct access to the platform FSTs, thus improving collaboration.”


The new team consists of 26 employees forming the Aircraft Armament Equipment/Fuel Container FST.


“On the engineering side, the FST’s role will be maintaining the health of the components through structures, mechanical systems and electrical avionics,” said FRCSE engineer John Giangaspro. “On the logistics side is sustainment, making sure that we’re able to provide products and services to refurbish that equipment and get it back up to standard.”


The team members are also responsible for updating publications, like repair and maintenance manuals that serve as instructions to the fleet.


“We’ll be providing every aspect of service to make sure we can take care of this equipment, while being conscious of the American taxpayer and doing it as efficiently as possible,” Giangaspro said.


Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for PMA-201’s Precision Strike Weapons program, was a driving force behind the creation of the combined FST.


“People have been looking at combining these departments for more than 20 years,” Engdahl said. “The only way we were able to get this accomplished was because of the teamwork between our program office, NAS Jax and FRCSE.


“I’m extraordinarily proud of how everyone came together to make this happen.”


The move is estimated to save the Navy $1.8 million per year.


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FRCSW Names FY 2016 Civilian of the Quarter

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST 13 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) selected William Fields as its Fiscal Year 2016 Civilian of the Quarter, second quarter.


Fields, an acquisition program specialist (commodity lead), was recognized for his work in contracting and purchasing functions in the 6.13 division by FRCSW Commanding Officer Capt. Craig Owen in ceremonies Sept. 30 in Building 94.


“The division 6.13 has only been up and running for about the past two and a-half years. We make sure everyone is in compliance for the acquisitions and contracting outside of the Defense Logistics Agency,” Fields said.


“We’re the liaison between the contract officer, who generally doesn’t understand naval aviation because that’s not their cue, and whoever comes through the door in need of everything from credit cards, to General Services Administration purchases, to labor and facilities contracts.”


A former electrician for Navy contractor AES, Fields worked at Camp Pendleton servicing AH-1 Cobra and UH-1 Huey helicopters before transferring to FRCSW in 2003 and promoting to an electrical planner/estimator for manufacturing the following year.


He has been an acquisition program specialist since 2014.


A paramount concern is keeping the command’s machinery operational to ensure a consistent flow of artisan work within production timelines.


“We’ve only got so much experience on the floor to fix those machines here that break down, so sometimes we need to bring in the vendors or the original equipment manufacturer to come in to repair or overhaul — so we make sure we get the right contracts, so what their requirements are matches up to the compliance, mostly Fleet Logistics Center, to make sure we’re getting what we want,” Fields said.


To further reliable artisan work flow, Fields revised the command’s tool ordering procedures down from an average of nine months to only 30 days, and also provided input to the development of the Government Commercial Purchase Card Request portal.


The variety of his duties and the people he meets, Fields said, are what he enjoys most in his position.


“You never know what requirements will come. But after two years I know some will be repeats, but by the time you have it figured, something new comes in. You don’t get stale here,” he said. “And I get to interact with a lot more people than previous jobs I’d had, and we’ve got some pretty neat people here.”


The father of three, Fields lives in Riverside County with his wife Darilynn.


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WOC STEM Conference Recognizes FRCSW Employee

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST 17 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – A Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) employee was honored during the 2016 Women of Color (WOC) Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) conference held Oct. 13-15 in Detroit.


Bethany Harris, an FRCSW engineering technician, was one of six STEM “Technology Rising Star” recipients. She received the award for her work within the command’s facilities organization.


The WOC STEM conference is designed to help and provide women with methods to improve their careers and educational goals.


Harris began her career at FRCSW in 2004 as a wage grade (WG) entry level aircraft mechanic helper.


“Shortly after 9/11, the company I was working for began downsizing so I started applying to the website that is now USAJOBS. I had welding experience from a previous job I had at National Steel and Ship Building Company (NASSCO) and that was the experience that got me the mechanic helper position,” she said.


Her determination to contribute to the command led her to enroll in classes to earn certifications as a collateral duty as an “entry authority,” where she verified that the air and environment of confined spaces, like aircraft fuel cells, were suitable for artisans to occupy.


Eight years later, Harris transitioned to her current general services (GS) position via a 120-day detail that became permanent.


She is assigned to the Production Planning Division where her work targets the management of FRCSW’s facilities and the development of the command’s Facilities Master Plan which strives to efficiently manage, reconfigure and upgrade office spaces, furniture and equipment.


To that end, it was decided to standardize the command’s office spaces for budgetary advantages. Harris was initially assigned as the procurement project manager.


She said she arrived to a program that was lacking established processes, and in need of “.checks and balances.”


“When I got here I was asked to procure furniture for the XO. But then it became bigger, so now I’m in the process of establishing a purchase agreement (with the General Services Administration (GSA)) for furniture not only for our FRC, but for all of the FRCs,” she said.


“In doing this I had to create and standardize the process. Last year, we established the contract for the first procurement; there was no support, so I had to define the requirements for that and come up with a standard process.”


Harris said that the first Broad Purchase Agreement (BPA) for furniture was about $976,000 for one year. After installation, the usable life of furniture is roughly 10 years, depending upon work space requirements.


Harris screens all furniture and appliance requirements to ensure that requests are within standards, energy conscious where applicable and avoid higher-end purchases in order to save the government money.


“Right now we buy furniture through GSA with up to a 25 percent fee for them to handle the process. This new BPA will set the fee at five percent; so whatever we order through this BPA will automatically save the government 20 percent,” Harris said.


The agreement is for one year with a four-year option.


As Harris works to fine tune the BPA and improve the command’s Facilities Master Plan, she also targets her own professional development and that of those around her.


Having earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from National University last year, she continued her educational achievements by completing a master’s degree in organizational leadership just 16 months later, graduating with honors.


Since 2012, Harris has been a member of Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) African-American Pipelines Advisory Team which focuses on career planning, recruitment and retention of members from NAVAIR’s African-American workforce through mentorship and lessons-learned programs.


“We try to identify barriers; including promotion and pay barriers,” she said. “I champion that because a lot of people have problems transitioning from a WG to a GS like I did. There’s no track you can take to get from a WG to a GS — that’s one of the things we’re working on.”


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Pentagon’s No. 2 Needs To Slash Overhead, Says Defense Business Board

(DEFENSE NEWS 13 OCT 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – The Defense Business Board is recommending that the next presidential administration run the Pentagon more like a business and turn the deputy defense secretary into a cost-cutting, efficiency-hunting chief management officer.


The board, a DoD advisory committee comprised of private-sector executives, says the role should focus more on reining in overhead and less on substituting for the defense secretary. The board made the recommendation in a recent, 112-page report on the presidential transition, which comes as Congress and the Pentagon are pursuing their own agendas for DoD reform.


“In the past, it has been quite normal for the Deputy to spend significant time away from the Pentagon, either ‘filling in’ for the Secretary or on matters requiring coordination with other agencies, international partners, or the White House,” DBB chair Michael Bayer said in a letter accompanying the report. “The adverse consequence of this has been an insufficient attention to the important primary function of managing the Department. The management challenges of this, the largest institution on the planet, require the full-time attention of a Chief Management Officer.”


The Defense Department is the nation’s largest enterprise, and if its expenditures were gross national product it would be the seventeenth largest nation, the report notes. It is the nation’s largest employer, with more than 1.3 million people on active duty, more than 700,000 civilian personnel and roughly 600,000 contractors. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces, and about 2 million military retirees and their family members receive earned benefits.


The current deputy defense secretary, Bob Work, has championed a vision for a Defense Department that is more technologically agile and globally engaged, and spearheaded its so-called “Third Offset Strategy.” Work also has called for cost cutting, and, pointing to estimates that the department has 22 percent more in installations and real estate than it needs, urged lawmakers to consider a new round of the politically unpopular base-closure process.


As envisioned by the advisory board, the deputy defense secretary would take bold action to tame the costs associated with overhead, personnel, benefits and unnecessary work, all of which Bayer considers necessary for DoD to “swiftly and shrewdly adapt to maintain its superiority over determined adversaries.”


“Without major surgery, our overhead and personnel costs will continue to eat away at our modernization and readiness,” Bayer’s letter reads. “This is not about policy; it is about running the Department like a modern business.”


The report argues DoD must look closely at off-limits budget areas like intelligence, classified programs and their overhead, the combatant commands and the armed services, and bring in specialized expertise to lead a re-structuring review of the Pentagon. This would ultimately cut entire organizations, activities and contracts, as opposed to picking around the edges of the budget.


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Defense Innovation Unit Announces Contracting Results

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 13 OCT 16) … Jon Harper


An office established by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to build bridges between the U.S. military and commercial technology hubs awarded $36.3 million in contracts in the last quarter of fiscal year 2016, the director told reporters Oct. 13.


The Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, known as DIUx, is headquartered in Silicon Valley, with additional outposts located in Boston and Austin. The initiative, created last year, is intended to cut through bureaucratic red tape that often plagues the Pentagon’s procurement system, and fast-track contracts with high-tech commercial firms.


“Core to our value and our approach here … is to help non-traditional vendors work with the department so we get access to their technology earlier and more directly than we normally would,” DIUx managing director Raj Shah told reporters during a conference call where he provided the first quarterly update on the initiative since the new leadership team took over.


In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30, DIUx awarded 12 contracts. The average time between solicitation response to contract award was less than 60 days, Shah noted. The $8.3 million initial spend by DIUx was augmented by $28 million that the services and other Defense Department agencies kicked in to support the initiative.


Following a leadership shakeup in May, DIUx launched the “commercial solutions opening” contracting mechanism to provide a shot in the arm to the initiative, which in its early days was criticized for being ineffective.


The mechanism “facilitates fast, flexible and collaborative work between DoD and technology companies that traditionally have not done business with the department. This enables us … to work at the speed of business,” Shah said.


Projects funded to date include prototyping efforts in areas such as high-speed drones, autonomy, cybersecurity and wireless technologies.


An additional 13 projects are moving through the pipeline, according to a DIUx fact sheet. They include multifactor authentication for data access, cyber protection toolkits, micro-satellites and advanced analytics.

“These are things that the private sector is investing hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars towards, and for us to leverage and harness that investment will be critical to our national defense,” Shah said.


The Pentagon requested $30 million for research, development, test and evaluation for DIUx in fiscal year 2017. If Congress approves that level of spending, the office expects to combine it with funds contributed by other Defense Department organizations, he said.


For many small commercial companies, there are several impediments involved in the traditional contracting process that dissuade them from doing business with the Pentagon, he noted.


DIUx has used new authorities granted by Congress in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act to break down some of those barriers.


“It’s not really exclusive to us but we have leveraged it to great use,” Shah said.


The commercial solutions opening mechanism has increased speed and transparency in the contracting process. Upon the success of a prototype, the process enables a “quick translation or transition” into procurement contracts that enable the services or other Defense Department organizations to scale the prototype if it meets their needs, he said.


DIUx also requires less cumbersome accounting standards, and intellectual property and data rights are negotiable on project-by-project basis, Shah noted.


He hopes that other Defense Department organizations will follow his office’s lead when it comes to using new contracting authorities.


“Whenever you try something new there has got to be someone that’s first that goes through the motions and irons out the wrinkles and makes it into a reputable process, so we’re happy to have played that role,” Shah said.


“We’re in fact spending time educating others in the department of how they might use this capability and authority, and I’m very optimistic that others in the department will follow suit,” he added.


The DIUx initiative has been Carter’s pet project. Shah said he’s confident that it will survive well past the Pentagon chief’s tenure, which is expected to end when a new administration takes office next year.


“I’m quite optimistic that … the subsequent secretary and the subsequent secretary after that will see the value of this engagement and will be pleased to have DIUx in his or her quiver of tools to achieve their mission and goals,” he said.


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USS Zumwalt Commissions In Baltimore; Will Test, Train On East Coast Before Transit To San Diego

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 17 OCT 16) … Megan Eckstein


The Navy commissioned its most technologically advanced ship this weekend, bringing destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) into the fleet in a ceremony in Baltimore, Md.


Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Tom Rowden at the ceremony called Zumwalt “the most incredible ship of our time” and told namesake Adm. Elmo Zumwalt’s family in attendance that “a ship bearing your dad’s name is long overdue.”


“This ship symbolizes our commitment to remain bold, to remain the world’s preeminent naval force,” he said.


“It has been said that Adm. Zumwalt’s forward thinking brought the Navy kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Indeed, it is only fitting that this ship’s forward design and innovative technology will set the pace for the 21st century as well. And just like Bud Zumwalt, this ship and her crew will remain dedicated to our Navy and our nation in good times and bad and for decades to come.”


The ship will eventually join the U.S. Pacific Fleet and operate out of San Diego. U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris said at the ceremony that “we can’t get this technological marvel to the Pacific fast enough, and it couldn’t come at a more pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”


Naming the many global threats the Navy faces and pointing to North Korea as the most dangerous threat in his area of operations, he said “Zumwalt will play a heavy role in giving us the clear edge in these challenges.”


“We must continue to develop and field combat power like this ship to defend the U.S. homeland and the homeland of our allies,” Harris continued.


“Indeed, it’s fitting that Zumwalt’s motto is Pax Propter Vim, Latin for ‘peace through power.’ … The technology in Zumwalt’s unique hull and the ingenuity of her stalwart crew are powerful guarantors of peace. They are embodiment of America’s determined will. As our newest class of destroyer enters active service, I can’t imagine a ship more like its namesake – Adm. Zumwalt was an innovative visionary and the groundbreaking DDG-1000 delivers not just credible combat power but incredible combat power. Zumwalt will assure our Navy and our entire joint force remain ready to fight tonight.”


Ahead of the commissioning ceremony, the ship’s leadership hosted media on Oct. 13. Ship Commanding Officer Capt. James Kirk told reporters on the pier next to his ship that he was honored to be the first commander of a ship named after former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Zumwalt.


“Adm. Zumwalt was a reformer; he changed our Navy in massive ways,” he said.


“Some that make this ship and the fleet a more potent fighting force, but most importantly he reformed the institution of the Navy to be more just and fair to all its sailors, making sure that all sailors regardless of race or creed, color, faith had an opportunity to serve in whatever capacity that their heart and their passion desired to.


And those reforms we see today manifest in this great Navy that we have that reflects all of the diversity of our country.”


Zumwalt delivered to the Navy in May and left the Bath Iron Works shipyard last month to head to Naval Station Norfolk and eventually to Baltimore for the commissioning ceremony. Kirk said the ship had used that time at sea to continue refining the operating manuals sailors developed, making them clearer, more precise and more effective. For example, he said, “one of the steps in our transfer of our throttle control, we had one of those steps that you really had to know how many seconds to push it, and if you didn’t push it that long it didn’t like that. So we made sure that we’re very specific about that in our procedures, and now we have a very effective procedure that works every time.”


Kirk said the ship would conduct tests, trials and other operations on the East Coast for a bit before heading to San Diego and arriving in its homeport by the end of the year. The ship will then undergo combat systems installation, activation and testing in San Diego before becoming an operational asset for the fleet and preparing for its maiden deployment.


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Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear Traps First Flying Aircraft

(DEFENSE DAILY 17 OCT 16) … Marc Selinger


The Navy’s troubled new advanced arresting gear (AAG), which is slated to be the landing system for the first Ford-class aircraft carrier, recently completed its first “fly-in” recovery of a manned plane on land.


The event involved an F/A-18E Super Hornet and occurred Oct. 13 at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, N.J., Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said Oct. 14. The test followed more than 200 “roll-in” arrestments at the Lakehurst site since late March.


“This milestone test event demonstrates AAG’s capability and signifies a big step forward in getting the system ready for duty on board the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Stephen Tedford, the Navy’s program manager for aircraft launch and recovery equipment.


The AAG, whose prime contractor is General Atomics, has been plagued by technical glitches, schedule delays and cost overruns. But Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, NAVSEA’s commander, said in July that the Navy has a plan to fix those problems so that aircraft flights can start on the carrier deck of the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) in January.


However, the Navy also indicated that it is studying whether the second Ford-class carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), should be equipped with an alternative landing system, such as the Mk 7 arresting system from the existing Nimitz-class carriers. Earlier this year, a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General recommended that the Navy perform “cost-benefit analyses to determine whether AAG is an affordable solution.”


The AAG is one of several systems the Navy is tending to prepare to take delivery of the CVN-78 from shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries. The other systems include the main turbine generators, which have a component that needs repairs, and the dual-band radar, whose three faces need to be synchronized so they can share target-tracking information with each. The ship was most recently scheduled for delivery in November, but the timing is now under review.


Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear Traps First Flying Aircraft


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Adm. John Richardson: Improving The Health Of The Navy’s Civilian Workforce



The Chief of Naval Operations is in charge of manning, training and equipping the Navy – and Adm. John Richardson, the current CNO, says that means civilians too. In a bit of an unusual step for a military service chief, he’s issued his own framework for improving the health of the civilian workforce.


The new document calls for each of the Navy’s commands to develop a strategy to make sure their civilian workforce is as healthy and well-developed as the military side – from hiring and training to performance management and professional development. Adm. Richardson spoke with Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu by phone to talk a bit about the new framework, and what comes next.


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House Lawmakers Push For More F-35 Funding In FY17 Budget

(DEFENSE NEWS 18 OCT 16) … Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – The defense-policy and -spending bills are at a standstill on Capitol Hill, but 70 House lawmakers are hoping that when Congress returns after the election, they can press appropriators to boost the total F-35 purchase for fiscal year 2017.


In an Oct. 4 letter to House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ, and the subcommittee’s top Democrat, Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, the lawmakers advocated for F-35 production increases, citing the impact such a move would have on lowering unit costs.


Both the Senate and House appropriations bills increased joint strike fighter procurement over the levels requested in the budget. The House bill added 11 F-35s – five F-35As, four F-35Cs and two F-35Bs – numbers that would satisfy the services’ “unfunded priorities” list. The Senate took a different tactic, opting instead to augment procurement by adding two more F-35Bs and two F-35Cs in 2017 while also increasing F-35A advance procurement by $100 million, a move that allows the Air Force to increase its production rate in 2018.


The 70 bipartisan signatories want the best of both worlds – for appropriators in conference to add 11 F-35s to the budget while also raising advance procurement. The lawmakers also recommended that appropriators reverse cuts to the F-35’s Block 4 modernization program included in the Senate bill.


“Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” they said in the letter. “Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in the numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”


The letter was initiated by the co-chairs of the House Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, Reps. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and John Larson, D-Conn. Both lawmakers represent regions that profit from the F-35, with the Lockheed Martin jet built in Fort Worth and the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine made in Connecticut.


The signatories argued that the services require the F-35 at a quicker rate than current budgets allow.


“Events around the globe continue to demonstrate the urgent need for the F-35’s capabilities,” they wrote. “The program is gaining momentum with the Marine Corps declaring initial operating capability last year and the Air Force declaring IOC this summer. We believe it is essential for Congress to provide the funding necessary to continue increasing F-35 production at a rate sufficient to meet future threats and to reach at least 120 U.S. aircraft per year as quickly as possible.”


As Congress debates how quickly to ramp up F-35 production, the government and Lockheed Martin remain gridlocked on the price of the ninth and tenth lots of aircraft. Lockheed on Monday received a $743 million award, which modifies a previous undefinitized contracting action for the ninth batch of low-rate initial production aircraft. Besides providing additional advance funding to the company, the agreement also establishes not-to-exceed prices “for diminishing manufacturing and material shortages redesign and development, estimated post production concurrency changes, and country-unique requirements.” However, a larger agreement on the production of LRIP-9 and -10 is still in the works.


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Navy Federal Contacting Customers Eligible For Part Of $23 Million Settlement

(MILITARY TIMES 19 OCT 16) … Karen Jowers


Think you’re eligible for part of the Navy Federal Credit Union $23 million settlement affecting hundreds of thousands of customers? If you are, you should be hearing from NFCU soon.


“Consumers should know that Navy Federal Credit Union will contact you if you are eligible for compensation under the consent order,” said Moira Vahey, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency that investigated the credit union’s allegedly deceptive debt-collection practices.


Some consumers have contacted Military Times with questions about who to contact for information about whether they might qualify for compensation. If you believe you’ve been overlooked, you can contact the credit union at 888-842-6328, NFCU spokesman Brian Parker said, or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at, according to Vahey.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged that the credit union misled its members about its debt collection practices and also unfairly froze customers out of their own accounts without adequate warning, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. In addition to the $23 million in compensation to consumers, the credit union must correct its collection practices and pay $5.5 million to the CFPB civil penalty fund.


Navy Federal officials agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying the allegations, according to the consent order. Officials said earlier in a statement that “where our collection practices have come up short in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s estimation, we have made all the necessary changes. We have cooperated with the CFPB throughout the process.”