FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of July 5, 2016

Below and attached are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 Top Clips for the week of July 5:



NAWCWD engineers’ impact earns Etter Awards

Developmental program manager makes a difference to NAVAIR’s most important resource: people



Interview: HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith

Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up At Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

Navy Fighters Are One Upgrade Away From Changing Carrier Aviation Forever

Congress’ Shrinking Calendar Suggests Omnibus, CR Ahead

US Marine Corps F-35s Cleared For Farnborough

The Navy Builds Strength By Saving Energy

Non-deployed Marine pilots still aren’t getting enough training

Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

Marine Aviation Chief: Readiness Improving But Slowly

Marines: Class C Aviation Mishaps Have Doubled, Service Investigating

Navy Fleets Unable To Fix $500M Ship Maintenance Shortfall On Their Own



The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce our 5th national event!


Guest Speaker: Ms. Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

Agenda: 1 hour of discussion and QA based on topic


For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner ( or Sara Gravatt (






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NAWCWD engineers’ impact earns Etter Awards



NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION CHINA LAKE, Calif. – NAWCWD research mechanical engineer Dr. Jonathan Essel and aerospace engineer Jeremy Abshire were recognized June 22 at a ceremony at the Pentagon for earning 2015 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards in the Scientific Excellence and Engineering Excellence categories, respectively.


The Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award, named after the former assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, was established in 2006 to recognize Navy and Marine Corps civilian and military personnel for exceptional science and engineering achievements and contributions in their fields and to the fleet.


Essel made breakthroughs in developing innovative methods of harvesting explosive nanoparticles for improving the performance and safety of explosives and propellants. Among Dr. Essel’s accomplishments was the creation of energetic inks and precursor materials to be used for additive manufacturing—or 3-D printing—of energetics and energetic devices. Additionally, he initiated the development of a unique nanomaterial laboratory specifically designed for Navy energetic materials.


“It’s really an honor to receive this award,” Essel said. “Nanoenergetics is something that I studied in grad school, so the work I do here is a continuation of that. It’s really exciting because we have a lot of tools now that didn’t exist 20 years ago and that gives us great control of the final product.”


Essel’s work in gathering nanoparticle energetic material has contributed to increased effectiveness and performance of energetic materials in blast and propulsion, providing safer munitions for the warfighter.


“Dr. Essel’s dedication, innovative attitude, and professional demeanor exemplify the Navy’s standards of excellence and professionalism,” his nomination read. “Even with the many projects he directs, he continues to stay active in hands-on technology development.”


Abshire supports multiple development and production programs as a solid rocket propulsion subject matter expert. Through his work on the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology Program (IHPRPT) and the Counter Air Future Naval Capability (CA FNC), Abshire and his team developed, matured, and demonstrated several advanced propulsion technologies that offer significant performance improvements to current and future tactical air-launched rocket propulsion systems.


“I was pleased to learn of my nomination for this award and honored to receive it,” Abshire said. “I knew the work we were doing in IHPRPT and CA FNC was important to the future of tactical rocket propulsion, but I didn’t think it would be recognized at this level.”


Since the conclusion of the CA FNC, Abshire continues to be actively engaged with industry partners to further mature HLG propulsion while protecting the Navy’s intellectual property rights to the technology through patent defense activities with the NAWCWD Office of Counsel.


“I’m also especially proud of and grateful for the multi-disciplined team, made up of individuals from both NAWCWD and industry, that supported me throughout the CA FNC,” Abshire said. “Without them, none of these accomplishments would have been possible.”


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Developmental program manager makes a difference to NAVAIR’s most important resource: people


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Stephanie Souders, program manager for the Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0C) received NAVAIR’s “You Made a Difference” award on June 21. The award recognizes members of the workforce for their extra effort and dedication.


“Stephanie’s focus on continued process improvement has been the catalyst for actions across each of the departments within 6.0,” said Michele DeMoss-Coward, director for the Workforce Strategy, Acquisition and Development, Logistics Management Integration department, NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.6), who nominated Souders for the award. “As a direct result of her professionalism and diligence, departments have reprioritized actions related to their interns.”


“Stephanie is knowledgeable, highly motivated, committed and passionate about the [NADP]program and every individual that is (or has ever been) an intern,” DeMoss-Coward continued. “She is diligent in her efforts to provide NAVAIR a well-developed, talented workforce. Her professionalism has earned her the respect of everyone she encounters, both internally and externally to NAVAIR, and she needed to be recognized as a member of NAVAIR that has truly ‘made a difference.’”


Souders’s accomplishments include developing and streamlining processes for intern hiring and orientation, intern mentorship, new employee onboarding and senior projects. She also inaugurated an intern council and established regular meetings for knowledge and “lessons learned” sharing.


“Being the AIR 6.0 NADP program manager has been the most rewarding job I have had to date,” Souders said. “I get to help guide and mentor 70 wonderful people on a daily basis — how can it be any better than that? Two years ago when I accepted this position, I knew I wanted to make a big difference and take this program to the next level and, now that we’re there, we’re still going to keep moving forward. I couldn’t do it without the support from our leadership and without the help from our NADPs.  I look to them just as much as they look to me.  We are a great team, and I’m thankful that I’m in this position.”


Currently, the NADP has 70 participants at Patuxent River and 135 nationally.


The NADP program provides professional development, coaching and mentorship to promote the growth of entry-level professionals in finance, contracting, logistics, science and engineering. Mid-career professionals can participate in the program as an associate. For more information about the NADP program, contact Stephanie Souders at 301-757-8416 or visit


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Interview: HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith

(DEFENSE NEWS 30 JUN 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON — House and Senate conferees will hash out differences between their defense policy bills behind closed doors this summer, but it is no mystery to Congress watchers where disagreement will be the loudest.


The Senate did not pursue the House-approved plan to shift billions the president’s budget proposed for wartime Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) toward unrequested hardware and troops, which cuts off OCO in April to force a supplemental defense spending bill.


“That’s going to be the sticking point: What’s the number? How do you divide between the OCO and base? And do we stick to the deal we made just last year,” House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., told Defense News last week.


Smith, a voice for limiting Congress’s appetite on defense spending in the name of better strategic choices, favors a throttle on the Pentagon’s nuclear modernization budget, closing excess military bases and the administration’s plan to cut 40,000 soldiers—all thwarted in some form or another by his Republican-led committee’s own policy bill.


In an extended question-and-answer session, Smith spoke with the Defense News about these issues, Brexit, the chances the House’s defense funding plan will deadlock Congress on federal spending, and, of course, a notional Donald Trump presidency. (Hint: Smith thinks that would be “very, very dangerous for our national security and the future of the nation.”)


Q. You cosponsored an amendment to the House defense appropriations bill to cut some $75 million from development of the Long Range Stand Off Weapon and bump the program off of its accelerated schedule, but that was voted down. After that setback, where is there potential for action, legislative or otherwise, and what would it be?


A. We can make this part of the larger debate about the trillion-dollar modernization of our nuclear weapons force. It’s completely and utterly unaffordable. If you look at our national security challenges, make no mistake, we have to have a credible deterrent. But I think to have a Cold War nuclear policy is completely inappropriate to the current times. The challenge we face from radical islamists and terrorists in general is far more pressing right now. The threats from North Korea — there’s a whole lot of things we’d like to have in terms of national security threats — the end-strength of the Army and Marine Corps, the number of ships we have, the necessary technology to improve our weapons — are all more important than having a ridiculously large nuclear arsenal. I have been in the classified briefings where they give out the scenarios where if this, that and the other thing happened, we would really like to have 5,000 warheads. But I think the better approach—and China has the right approach to nuclear deterrence, a small number of nuclear weapons, but they have enough so that it’s a deterrent to anybody messing with them.


I think we ought to rethink our approach, and the LRSO is one place to start, and its only one piece of the larger debate. The final thing I’ll say is the LRSO is low-yield, which is the oxymoron of a tactical nuclear weapon. There is no such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Going nuclear is going nuclear, and we want make sure that to deter that, and not give people the idea there is a lesser something they can do in the nuclear arena. We want no use of nuclear weapons by anybody. So have a credible deterrent, but not one that bankrupts us.


Q. Given the dynamics in the Senate and the short legislative calendar, could this be punted to a future administration without any action? How might this play out next year and beyond?


A. Impossible to say, but it’s an absolute guarantee that this will be taken up by a future administration, because it’s a decade-long, trillion-dollar program. I think the long term decision will be made by the next administration, and we wanted to set the framework for that discussion in a place where we realize we don’t have to spend all this money and there are better choices to be made.


Q. You’ve now introduced legislation to let DoD make targeted reductions to excess infrastructure capacity. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is so unpopular that the House recently voted down a measure that would have allowed it to be considered. How is your bill different and why is it needed?


A. My bill is different. What we do in our bill is we place a greater emphasis on savings, we place a greater emphasis on transparency, we give Congress the ability to vote after the military has made its initial take on what is excess capacity. The first step in a BRAC is [identifying] excess capacity. [With this bill] Congress can say, ‘We don’t buy this, we can cut this off.’ So we do some things to make it a more transparent decision.


Ultimately this is a political decision, and the only way we get a BRAC is if we push political arguments hard enough to make people change their minds. I think the country sees the common sense, if the military is coming out and says it has 22 percent excess capacity. Given the national security threat we face and given the finite resources we have, if there is money to be saved, we have to do it.


The politics are much more personal. Everyone knows if a BRAC comes out, and a base in their district is closed, they will pay a price for that. I’m hoping we’re more enlightened than that. My district has changed — I used to represent Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I don’t have any military bases in my district anymore, but I do have defense contractors. More than that, small manufacturers who would be impacted.


The point is, it’s not my job as a member of the Armed Services Committee to grab every single solitary dollar I can for my district. The American Defense Communities had their annual conference Washington, DC, this week and 75 percent said they would prefer to have a BRAC instead of everything shrinking around them [at random].


Q. As you get ready to reconcile the House and Senate defense policy bills in conference, what are the issues you feel the strongest about? Are those the most contentious ones?


A. The most contentious issue is the top-line number, and we came to an agreement on a top-line of $610 billion. Some members have been chafing at that number and want it to be higher, so we’ll have that discussion. Any effort going above that $610 million number will create conflicts with the president and with Democrats. Or you could do it the way the House Armed Services Committee did it, you know, steal it from OCO to put it in the base and counting on a supplemental six months from now. Now, the Senate didn’t do that, the Senate stuck to the 610 number and OCO the way it was in their authorizing committee. That’s going to be the sticking point: What’s the number? How do you divide between the OCO and base? And do we stick to the deal we made just last year?


The second biggest thing is the end-strength number. Prohibitions that reduce the size of the Army and the Marine Corps are things that could lead to a presidential veto, and if the budget caps come back, you have to be prepared for it [with a gradual drawdown]. You don’t want to slash 40,000 soldiers in a month. That would be an incredibly inefficient and terrible way to do it. So if you do it, you want to be prepared for it. The prohibitions are problematic.


And then the Senate took pretty big swings at reform, on acquisitions reform, Goldwater-Nichols reform, on healthcare reform, on Basic Housing allowance—really it’s those big reforms that will be some of the tougher ideas to resolve.


Q. Is there anything that would have you withhold your signature from the conference report?


A. Well, I voted against the bill. Obviously the answer to that is yes, and funding is going to be the issue. Listen, I feel we have to live within that 610 number, and live with the OCO-base that was agreed to—unless they want to get rid of the budget caps. We have an overarching problem here beyond the defense budget: a $19 trillion debt. We have a lot of pressing needs, not just in defense. The most notable is the [nation’s] crumbling infrastructure. ‘Here’s what we want’ and ‘here’s what we want to spend’—and there’s an enormous gap between the two.


Q. One of HASC Chair Mac Thornberry’s most persistent arguments to add to defense and the maneuver to shift $18 billion from OCO to base budget needs is that it addresses a readiness crisis in the military. Is that argument valid? Isn’t there always a military readiness crisis?


A. It’s valid, but its not what they’re doing. The way they’ve approached this over the last few years is actually helping to create a legitimate readiness crisis. There’s never a time when you have all the maintenance you want, all the training you want. I think we are in a readiness crisis — make no mistake about that, but why? It’s because we have been spending money on programs and short-changing readiness. When the Pentagon says they want to lay up 11 cruisers, three amphibious vehicles, and save $5 billion, and we say, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ where does that money come out of? It comes out of the last person in line at the buffet, and that’s readiness. You don’t repair a building, you don’t fix a plane, you don’t fly as many hours, you don’t train as much. I know the A-10 is a great aircraft, but instead of offering up alternative savings, you put the money back in again and that’s [costing] readiness.


The Army was trying to save money by transferring some of the air assets between the Guard and the active duty, and we’ve stepped in and limited that. All of that comes out of readiness ultimately.

They put a portion of that money and put it into readiness, but they’ve also bought more F-35s and more F-18s and more Black Hawks and more missiles — and maybe that’s stuff we need, but it comes at the expense of readiness because of where the budget is at.


I’ve argued for a long time now what we need to do is step back and say, given where we’re at financially, what should our national security strategy be? Instead what we’ve said is, ‘Don’t tell me about fiscal limitations. We’re going to force through the budget, the defense spending, that we want.’ But it’s done awkwardly because the money isn’t there. Readiness suffers.


Q. Many folks were shocked to wake up and see Great Britain’s decision to exit the European Union. What’s your sense of what that means for US national security and NATO? Does that vote presage support for Donald Trump, as some have said?


A. It’s hard to say, but it’s part of a larger trend toward a more isolationist approach and less cooperative approach among Western allies. How exactly it impacts the national security piece will remain to be seen—but it’s not good. It causes economic turmoil. That impacts our ability to fund defense. Great Britain is going to take a huge economic blow, so what are they going to do? How will they continue to fund their defense requirements? It’s a major problem and it portends a larger trend, which will be a significant challenge as well.


Q. It definitely doesn’t send Russia a signal of unity ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw in July. You mentioned a larger trend and I thought you might mean the American electorate. Could this presage support for Donald Trump?

A. None of the people of Great Britain can vote in the presidential election, so I don’t think that’s a valid point.


Q. But we aren’t dealing with the same sentiment here in the US?


A. There is some of that same sentiment here in the US. But gauging from Great Britain, I don’t think you can make the same comparison. Look at what’s happened in the world today in the stock markets and all the problems out there.


You could make the argument people will say, ‘Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.’ In fact there are articles today with people saying, ‘I didn’t know that was going to happen,’ and that Google searches have gone up four-fold in Great Britain, like, ‘What did we just do?’ Maybe there will be an understanding that compromise with allies, where you don’t get everything you want, is better than every person for themselves and separation. We’ll see. I don’t think Donald Trump’s comments this morning were not particularly inspiring, as far as how the US should engage the world.


Q. Donald Trump is the GOP’s presumptive presidential candidate. What do you envision it would be like for you in Congress under a Trump presidency?


A. [Laughs] It is hard to say. Mr. Trump is unpredictable from one sentence to the next, so I don’t know. I don’t think he knows. I think it would be fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, at least initially, and I think it will be very, very dangerous for our national security and the future of the nation.


Q. To circle back to the funding question, how likely is it that Congress will wind up deadlocked, with a temporary continuing resolution (CR) this fall to fund the government? I’ve heard it said that most lawmakers on the Hill haven’t been around long enough to know what regular order looks like and don’t know how to be functional. How likely is it we’ll see anything other than a CR?


A. I think less than 50 percent. Look, it requires compromise. I just read the article in the Atlantic, ‘How American Politics Went Insane,’ and the gist of the argument is it became an individualized, contractor approach, where compromise and a half-loaf became dirty words — and where you go for it all, and let the chips fall where they may. There was no sense of keeping the basic structure of government functioning to be a good enough thing to merit a compromise approach, and the public has made it clear they will vote for the uncompromising, angry people.


Combine that with how divided we are? Look at your average Tea Party Republican and their vision for what America should be, and take your average Democrat and look at our vision. Finding the middle ground between those two points is a tricky thing to do. In this environment, I’m never going to be betting on a deal. I hope that changes. I hope we understand, certainly people on Armed Services understand, how it impacts DoD when you have this constant uncertainty. What Republicans are going to vote for appropriations bills? They might vote for defense, they might vote for [military construction], but there are four or five [appropriations bills] that 100 Republicans wouldn’t vote for. So, then what?


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Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up At Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

(US NAVAL INSTITUTE 30 JUN 16) … Megan Eckstein


The Marine Corps’ second F-35B Joint Strike Fighter squadron stood up today, as the AV-8B Harrier-flying Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 became Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211.


A re-designation and change of command ceremony was held at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona today, with Lt. Col. William Maples taking command of the second operational JSF squadron. The squadron flew its final Harrier flight on May 6 and received its first two JSFs three days later.


VMFA-121 became operational when initial operational capability was declared on the platform last July.


Due to readiness improvements in the Harrier fleet and ongoing readiness challenges in the F/A-18 Hornet fleet, Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told USNI News earlier this year that the F-35B transition plan may change, with Hornet squadrons prioritized and the Harrier squadrons flying their legacy planes for a bit longer.


Under current procurement plans, the Marines should receive 20 to 24 planes a year, allowing them to transition two squadrons a year. VMFA-122 will be the next Hornet squadron to transition, followed by VMFA-314 becoming an F-35C squadron to operate off of Navy aircraft carriers. This faster rate of squadron re-designations will “allow me to shut down F-18 squadrons faster” and “get out of the old metal into the new,” Davis told USNI News previously.


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Navy Fighters Are One Upgrade Away From Changing Carrier Aviation Forever

(NAVY TIMES 03 JUL 16) … Meghann Myers


ABOARD CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON OFF NORFOLK, Va. – In a typical aircraft carrier landing, a fighter pilot may make up to 300 adjustments with the stick and throttle over 18 seconds before hitting the deck and snagging the jet’s tail hook just-so across one of four arresting wires.


It’s one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in the world because of that landing, but a revolutionary program that’s as simple as a software upgrade will take a lot of the scrambling out of the final seconds of a combat mission.


It’s called MAGIC CARPET, and — don’t laugh — it stands for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. What it does is put jets into a sort of automatic landing mode that guides the plane’s trajectory to the deck and reduces the frantic adjustments out of the process.


It won’t go in the legacy F/A-18A-D Hornets because the jet’s mechanical systems won’t respond to this specific software, but for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, adding this upgrade could not only make carrier landings safer, but increase efficiency to a point that pilots will need fewer traps to get qualified and stay proficient. As a result, aircraft will take less of a beating and pilots can focus more on missions.


It will also come standard in the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter when it goes operational in 2019.


“Over the next year, we’re going to start to look at what kind of checks we can write,” Hornet and Growler program manager Capt. David Kindley explained June 27 during an underway to test the program aboard this carrier.


“I know this is really good, and I think it could be crazy good, but I don’t have a sense of the quantity of that,” he added.


To properly land a fighter on a carrier, a pilot needs to maintain a 3-degree glide slope, while staying lined up with a moving ship and keeping the jet’s nose at just the right angle so it doesn’t slam into the deck.


This requires constant movement of their controls — left and right with the stick for the right direction, back and forth to put the nose up or down, and constant acceleration and deceleration with the throttle to make up for any power lost with all that moving around.


But with Magic Carpet, a flight control software program developed by Navy engineers in-house at Naval Air Systems Command, all of those controls have been decoupled.


Now, Kindley said, the jet will self-adjust to stay on that 3-degree path.


“What we do with Magic Carpet, and it’s very disorienting for an aviator … basically, you take the stick and push it forward until you’re on glide slope, and then let go. Which is so weird to do in an airplane,” he said. “Instead of making multiple corrections with throttle and stick to make glide slope, I just do one.”


The software is still in development and not scheduled for full operational use until 2019, but later this year, Kindley plans to hand it over to Naval Air Forces to decide which squadrons will get to test it.


For now, Kindley suggested, it would be ideal to test the software with squadrons who aren’t deployed or preparing for deployment, because they have enough to worry about.


But for those in a training phase, it would be great to switch on Magic Carpet during a perfect-weather day and see how the pilots like it.


“I’m expecting the fleet to incorporate Magic Carpet as a circus pass,” he said, turning the system on and off to test pilots’ skills, the same way they practice flying without a heads-up display, for example.


Stick and rudder


To operate Magic Carpet, the pilot inputs the glide slope, makes an adjustment to line it up, and the jet locks it in. Unlike before, moving the stick left or right to line up with the carrier is simply a move left or right, rather than a small adjustment that requires several more adjustments of power and angle to maintain glide slope.


“I am uncomfortable with how few inputs I’m making,” recalled Lt. Cmdr. Matthew “Pogo” Dominick of his first time landing on the carrier using Magic Carpet.


Dominick and a few of his fellow Patuxent River, Maryland-based pilots from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 brought two Super Hornets and a Growler aboard GW for a few days to do the final carrier tests for the software, before it’s handed over to the fleet for further testing.


The squadron flew 598 approaches, the majority of them touch-and-go’s, over six days aboard GW, averaging about six hours of flight time a day. The VX-23 fliers flew plenty of perfect passes, Kindley said, but were challenged to purposely mess-up and see how much effort it took to correct themselves.


“I’m going to be high at the start, I’m also going to overshoot the line-up there, so now I’ve got to make a correction to both line-up and glide slope all before I make it to touchdown,” said Lt. Christopher “U-Turn” Montague, of one of his more daring passes.


“On the old system, no chance — I probably would have been told to wave-off before I even started my approach,” he said.


But instead, Montague said, he was able to move the stick just so to land perfectly centered with a few seconds to spare, making half as many corrections as he would have needed to without Magic Carpet.


They also tested out a variation of ship conditions, moving the carrier to get between 20 and nearly 50 knots of wind coming across the deck.


“And it didn’t matter,” Dominick said. “The aircraft could handle all those conditions.”


Changing the game


Dominick and Montague’s jobs are some of the world’s toughest, just because of the risk involved in landing on a 300-foot runway.


Magic Carpet doesn’t take all of that danger away, but it does make the task much simpler. Landing the jet is technically just an administrative task after completing a mission, so taking away much of the stress allows the pilot to focus on the real reason for flying.


For the pilots, that’s a win-win situation, even if automation diminishes the bad-ass factor.


“I don’t derive satisfaction from landing aboard the ship and going, ‘I’m cool. I’m a carrier aviator,’ ” said Dominick, who has 11 years in the cockpit. “I’ll be honest. If you want to look at my flight jacket, I have no patches on it. I don’t have any patches for traps or Top Hook or any of it. I wake up and I just want to do my job.”

For Montague, whose father was an F-14 Tomcat pilot, landing on the boat was the whole reason to pick the Navy over the Air Force.


“I can tell you that I’m proud of the work that goes into that, and the work from the whole system, in order to be able to do that,” he said. “It is an incredible feat from all people involved, from the human system and the mechanical system, to be able to regularly operate aircraft from an aircraft carrier. And I think it’s a valid source of pride.”


Montague, an 8-year rhino driver, said he had a feeling he’d be testing Magic Carpet when he joined VX-23, and he thought about what it might mean to the fighter pilot culture.


“I was curious as to how that was going to play out. ‘Hey, are we going to take away this thing that makes me think I’m special?’ ” he said. “After my first couple passes here, it went away.”


The point of the job, they said, is to drop the bombs or jam the enemy’s communications, and a beautiful landing on the carrier hours later is just an afterthought.


“I’m getting goosebumps right now thinking about the number of scary passes I’ve seen as a [landing safety officer], watching people come aboard the ship,” Dominick said. “I know two specific times that my life was saved by LSOs. For me, it’s the risk, and now I can stop focusing on admin and focus on being an even better tactician for the guys on the ground.”


Lightening the load


It’s too soon to tell, Kindley said, but Magic Carpet could have benefits far beyond aircrew safety.


In a perfect world, a pilot would hit the flight deck and hook the third of the four arresting wires laid out across the runway every time. Obviously, that’s rarely the case.


Landings are regularly waved-off, to start. During training, a pilot will get two or three chances before they’re told to go land back on base. On deployment, another jet will have to launch to act as a tanker to keep the other jet in the air until it can safely land.


Then there are the scary landings, when the jet comes down hard, or the tail hook misses all four wires and the pilot has to get airborne again.


All of that requires countless hours of practice to keep the pilots proficient, and countless hours of maintenance for the extra time spent in the air and the airframe stress from the impact of landing.


But if you can make it easier, Kindley said, it might have a positive effect all everything else.


“What the ship is seeing, and what I was seeing when we were standing out there is, these airplanes are tagging the three-wire,” he said. “There’s smoothness to the airplanes, I’m not seeing the nose move. They’re consistent with where they’re going, and it looks to be very, very predictable.”


That has the potential to change the way pilots are trained and qualified.


“So if we’ve really done that, if we’ve really made it that easy, then what do we have to do go to sea?” Kindley said. “Do I need to spend the amount of time in the future preparing for the ship then as I do now? I think it’ll be less.”


But he’s not ready to commit to how much less, he added.


Then there is the amount of time and money spent maintaining fighters. The Super Hornet is due to operate to 2040, and the new Growlers will be flying beyond that, Kindley said.


“There is a tax that we’re paying for these airplanes in having to bounce them before they go to sea, and the inconsistencies you’re seeing on the carrier,” he said. “It’s difficult to say what that tax is, but I know it’s not zero.”


With less stress on the aircraft, the 6,000 or 10,000 flight-hour limits on the planes might stretch a little further.

“We may have done a really good thing in terms of the long-term support of the airplane,” he said.


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Congress’ Shrinking Calendar Suggests Omnibus, CR Ahead

(DEFENSE NEW 05 JUL 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed the House will work against the clock to pass appropriations bills as Congress’ waning calendar suggests a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past Sept. 30 and an omnibus spending resolution grows ever more likely.


Both loom over Congress’s election-year schedule, which has eight working days ahead, then a seven-week recess for party conventions and campaigning, and then four working weeks in September. McCarthy, R-Calif., all but acknowledged his caucus would not complete all 12 appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year.


“I think we will work through to get as many [appropriations bills] done as we can do before Sept. 30,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.


At McCarthy’s news conference, a reporter asked not whether there would be a CR but how long it would last. McCarthy would not say.


“We will deal with that when we reach it, but right now we have appropriations bills before us, so why would we stop now?” he said.


House Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters last month that he wants a CR to run from Oct. 1 through early December, followed by an omnibus to fund the government through the end of fiscal 2017.


The House has only managed to pass three appropriations bills — including the defense and the military construction-Veterans Affairs bills. The House is on track to consider one this week and another next week, but it would still fall behind the seven it had passed by this time last year.


Work on appropriations bills was delayed before the July Fourth recess when Democrats staged a 26-hour sit-in to demand the House take up gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando shooting.


Democrats also derailed a 2017 energy-water appropriations bill last month by including an anti-discrimination amendment that cost Republican support. That prompted House GOP leadership to tighten rules governing which amendments may be considered on the floor.


McCarthy touted the rule as a means to speed along appropriations.


“I believe the House should do its work, and I think you’ll see the House be very productive with appropriations, especially with the new structured rule,” McCarthy said. “When you have a structured rule, the approps process goes much faster, and I think we’ll continue with that work to get as much done as possible.”


House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had promised an “open rules” process, which allows more rank-and-file members to amend bills on the floor, and McCarthy said leadership has continued to keep the floor “very open.”

“We want to make sure we are moving legislation through, and I think you’ll find the approps process works a little smoother,” McCarthy said.


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US Marine Corps F-35s Cleared For Farnborough

(DEFENSE NEWS 05 JUL 16) … Valerie Insinna


RAF FAIRFORD, England — Two US Marine Corps F-35Bs on Tuesday completed validation flights with the UK government, clearing the jets to perform at Farnborough International Airshow next week.


During a validation flight, the UK Ministry of Defence confirms that an aircraft’s flight profile meets regulations and approves it for the show. The two jets took off around 2 p.m. from RAF Fairford and flew to Farnborough, landing back at Fairford after about 20 minutes.


The F-35Bs will do practice runs for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) on Wednesday, said Lt. Col Richard Rusnok, one of the Marine Corps F-35B pilots in town for the air shows.


The Air Force F-35As, which will fly only at RIAT, conducted their flight validation at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia before the jets flew across the Atlantic Ocean last week, said Maj. Will Andreotta, F-35A heritage flight team commander and an F-35 pilot.


One of the A-variants conducted a practice flight Tuesday morning, Andreotta said. A different F-35A will run through the same profile Wednesday morning, and the F-22s will practice Thursday.


“It’s our first time flying in the UK so they have different rules. We’re doing actually a new profile here that we don’t do [in the US],” he said. “So today was one of those days to go out there and kind of look at the overall lay of the land, see where the show line is, where the crowd lines are. Obviously safety is our priority while we’re over here.”

During heritage flights, the aircraft typically conducts three maneuvers. The pilots first conduct an “arcing” or “banana pass,” which gives the crowd a view of the top of the jet, then do a “flat pass” where the aircraft flies straight and level. In the US, the pilots fly over the crowd before breaking formation and landing, but because flying over the crowd is prohibited in the UK, the pilots will instead repeat either a flat or arching base, Andreotta said.


The F-35As will be joined during the heritage flight by an F-22 and a P-51 Warbird but will not be practicing in the UK with the other aircraft before the demonstration at RIAT, said Master Sgt. Samuel Smith, F-35 heritage flight team chief.


“It’s our eighth air show, so we’ve actually done this quite a few times,” he said.



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The Navy Builds Strength By Saving Energy

(WASHINGTON POST 05 JUL 16) … David Ignatius


The week of July Fourth is a good moment to salute an unlikely champion of saving energy and switching to alternative fuels — the U.S. Navy. Once a supreme fuel-guzzler whose energy needs sometimes dictated foreign policy, the Navy has become a model for how the country can curb its appetite for fossil fuels.


The Navy’s energy diet began seven years ago with an edict from newly appointed Secretary Ray Mabus, who issued five goals for radically changing how the Navy bought and consumed fuel. A former Mississippi governor who had served two years as U.S. ambassador to Riyadh in the mid-1990s, Mabus worried about how vulnerable the U.S. military was to foreign energy sources.


The Navy, like most military services, likes its traditions. So the idea of a “Great Green Fleet” met considerable resistance from admirals and their allies in Congress. The Navy brass resisted, in particular, Mabus’s commitment to switch the Navy’s consumption so that by 2020, at least 50 percent of its fuel would come from alternative sources. At that time, many Navy commanders thought that 30 percent was a realistic target.


The Navy has already exceeded that 50 percent target in its contracts for fuel ashore, Mabus told me in a recent interview. And it expects to meet the overall goal well before 2020. Under the rules Mabus set for transition, the alternative fuels must be ready to “drop in” for any requirement, including jet fuel for an F/A-18 Hornet; the fuels must be competitively priced; and any biofuels can’t take land away from food production.


Mabus, who served aboard a cruiser in the early 1970s, argues that this energy shift is as much about national security as environmental goals. Saving fuel reduces combat vulnerability: He notes that in Afghanistan, the Marine Corps suffered one Marine killed or wounded for every 50 convoys of fuel. Less fuel consumption means fewer casualties.


The Navy’s main push has involved alternative fuels for ships, planes and shore facilities. The cost curve has come down sharply: Mabus says that four years ago when the Navy began buying jet fuel that used a heavy mix of biofuel, it cost $25 a gallon. Today, it costs less than $2 a gallon.


The Navy is also making some new “hybrids,” such as the amphibious assault ships USS Makin Island and USS America. These ships use electric propulsion for lower speeds and save the gas turbines for higher speeds.


Mabus says the “Prius of the sea,” as he jokingly calls the Makin Island, was able to remain at sea 44 days longer than expected without refueling. Over a ship’s lifetime, the savings could add up to $250 million, the Navy says.


Mabus also pushed the Navy and Marines to begin using alternative technologies for electricity. The Navy is refitting ships to use long-lasting LED lights; so far, 7 percent of the fleet has made this transition, saving the equivalent of 1 million gallons of marine diesel fuel annually. Marines deployed in combat are now using solar panels, where possible, to produce power that would otherwise come from generators and batteries. For a Marine company, this could spare troops from lugging 700 pounds of batteries into combat.


Another nice thing about using green technology in combat, says Mabus, is that it’s quiet. He notes a comment by a SEAL Team officer after a recent deployment: “When you turn off the generator, you can hear the bad guys.” In remote, rural areas of Afghanistan, “a generator is likely putting a target on your back,” says Mabus.


The Navy has always been at the cutting edge with energy: Sailing vessels that depended on the wind gave way to steamships, which were replaced by diesel-powered vessels, which made way for nuclear carriers and submarines. Mabus says the Defense Department is still the largest single user of fossil fuels on earth, with the Navy accounting for about one-third of that total.


Climate change is a very practical problem for a seagoing Navy. Melting polar ice changes the strategic map of the world; rising sea levels are expected to displace up to 150 million living in coastal areas by 2050, adding to global instability; the Navy’s prize Atlantic port of Norfolk may be at risk, as sea levels rise through this century.


Occasionally, environmental and defense policy converge. Mabus’s energy initiative, which drew jeers at first, now looks like a demonstration of how to make the country stronger and greener at the same time.


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Non-deployed Marine pilots still aren’t getting enough training

(STARS AND STRIPES, 6 July 16) … Tara Copp


WASHINGTON — The Marines have made slight improvements to increase the number of training flight hours its non-deployed pilots receive monthly, but it remains far below what is required and could have long-term consequences for the service, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis told lawmakers Wednesday.


According to the Marines’ own standards, those pilots should have 16.5 hours of flight training each month. But they have received far less because the needed aircraft or the funds to pay for training have been transferred to deploying units.


Last year, non-deploying Marine pilots on average were getting only six to nine hours of flight training each month, Davis told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on readiness. Since Congress added funds to help address the readiness problem, hours of training have increased to average seven to 11 hours each month, said Davis, the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation.


“It is an improvement but still six hours per month shy of what a trained-and-ready force requires,” he said.


Retired Cmdr. Chris Harmer, who flew SH-60F Sea Hawks and is now a senior analyst at the think tank Institute for the Study of War, said the single-digit monthly training hours are putting servicemembers’ lives at risk.


“A pilot flying only 100 hours a year is not really deployable and not really even safe,” Harmer said. “If you are flying just 7 to 11 hours per month you are not only completely non-proficient in combat, you are dangerously lacking in basic airmanship – takeoffs, navigation and landings. The pilots not in the deployment queue, their skills are eroding. They are a danger to themselves and their fellow Marines.”



Davis said the Marines continue to increase its flight training availabilities. But the longer-term consequences of having a new generation of aviators receive so few flight hours could lead to more “Class A” mishaps, where aircraft and crews are lost, because future leaders, who should have at least 2,000 hours of training, might only have 500 to 600 hours when they are called to guide a less-experienced aviator.


Davis called the lack of hours “concerning … the loss of experience this generation of Marines aviators has.”


The readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps’ helicopters and aircraft came into sharp focus after a string of fatal aircraft crashes in recent months, including the January 2016 collision of two CH-53E Super Stallions that killed 12 Marines off the coast of Hawaii. The investigation into that crash is close to complete, Davis said Wednesday.


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Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

(DEFENSE NEWS 06 JUL 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has submitted its reprogramming request to Congress, with roughly $2.6 billion in funding shifts targeted.


The request, signed off by comptroller Mike McCord on June 30, will now need to be weighed by Congress.

In broad strokes, the reprogramming features the following pots of money:


$1.174 billion in fiscal 2016 appropriations

$54.8 million in fiscal 2016 overseas contingency operation (OCO) fund

$583 million from the Defense Working Capitol Fund towards operations and maintenance requirements

$155 million among various fiscal 2015 appropriations

$499 million in fiscal 2015 OCO funding

$128 million among various fiscal 2014 appropriations


Inside the fiscal 2016 increases, the Army gets a boost of $267 million. Included in that is $21 million in funding for testing and procurement on the Hellfire Longbow L7A missile and $1 million for the an engineering study for the Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter System (E-HETS), but the majority of the funding goes to support for the service’s Long Haul Communications program.


That funding has to come from somewhere, and for the Army, it’s primarily by dropping $207.5 million from personnel costs. Much of that savings comes from lower-than-budgeted Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) average costs.


The reprogramming brings the Navy a boost of $476 million, including $129 million to boost flying hours for pilots. It also features $7 million to address depot level repair of components for Advance Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) on CVN-78, as well as $4.6 million to complete certification for the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) capability.


As with the Army, the Navy found significant savings on personnel this year, freeing up $85.3 million. The Navy also freed up $40 million for F-18 funding due to a delay in the FY 2016 contract award for Infrared Search and Track (IRST) low rate initial production 2 (LRIP 2) contracts.


The US Air Force gained $273 million, including $10 million to support the aging UH-1N helicopter fleets, $7 million to support maintenance at ICBM sites, and $6 million for the Space Mission Forces initiative, which seeks to improve the training and organization of airmen focused on the space domain. It also requests $10 million in a new start effort to procure the PGU-48/B weapon for the F-35A joint strike fighter, a sign that the long-delayed jet is close to going operational. The Air Force expects that funding stream to include $4 million each in its fiscal 2018 and 2019 budget requests.


Roughly $54 million is being sought to increase research and development efforts for the Air Force, including $23.9 million to keep the Air Force’s next-generation fighter program, referred to as “Next Generation Air Dominance” by the service, on schedule to support a 2017 milestone.


The funding is needed to keep “identifying and/or eliminating candidate technologies early in the analysis process to ensure more effective use of planned air superiority investment, and to ensure the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) incorporates an accurate capability picture. If funds are not received, [Next-Generation Air Dominance] activities will not be able to remain on schedule to support the FY 2017 [Material Development Decision],” according to the reprogramming note.


For the Air Force, the reprogramming shifts around $86 million in delayed aircraft procurement and maintenance, largely due to overperforming systems not needing as much work as expected.


Roughly $3 million was saved because of delays to the Guardian Angel Air-Deployable Rescue Vehicles (GAARV) program, due to “suitability issues found during testing. The fielding decision has been pushed to the 4th quarter of FY 2017 to allow time to resolve these issues.”


Intriguingly, the reprograming includes a plus up of $9.2 million for procurement on a classified Air Force program. Another $9 million are reprogramed under the research and development heading. The Navy also shifted $20 million from a classified program marked as “LINK PLUMERIA.”


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Marine Aviation Chief: Readiness Improving But Slowly

(DEFENSE DAILY 06 JUL 16) … Marc Selinger


The Marine Corps’ aviation chief said July 6 that his service’s well-publicized aviation readiness problems are improving but that progress is not fast enough and is endangered by another potential budget stalemate in Washington.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, told the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel that 42 percent of his service’s 1,000-plus aircraft are flyable, up from about 33 percent the last time he testified. “However, we are still far short of what we need to be the force of readiness,” Davis said. “42 percent is not good enough. It’s not good at all.”


The readiness of the AV-8B Harrier jump jet has rebounded, but the CH-53E Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopter lags and will take until 2019 or 2020 to recover, the general said. And while non-deployed air-crews are flying seven to 11 hours a month, up from six to nine hours the last time he testified, they are still falling about six hours short.


Davis was encouraged by the progress of the new Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Lightning II fighter, saying “we can’t get the airplane fast enough into the fleet” to replace aging, hard-to-maintain aircraft. The Marine Corps stood up its second operational squadron last week.


Davis said the F-35 had a 24-to-0 kill ratio in a spring drill, which was like “watching a Velociprator,” an aggressive dinosaur that “kills everything” in the Jurassic Park movies. He also praised the CH-53K King Stallion, the CH-53E’s planned replacement, noting that it recently lifted a 27,000-pound external load in a test. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is developing the CH-53K.


But Davis warned that continued progress for Marine aviation depends on funding stability, which could be jeopardized by a possible political stalemate on the fiscal year 2017 budget request or by the potential return of sequestration’s deep budget cuts. “I would characterize our current recovery as fragile,” he said. “We’re in a deep hole and have a ways to go to climb out.”


According to Davis, shortfalls in readiness and flight time do not seem to have caused an increase in serious accidents for Marine aviation. But ground mishaps have jumped, and he recently hired an outside expert to find out why.


The general also expressed concern about airspace restrictions around military training ranges. The F-35 needs more room than older fighters to try out all of its capabilities, he said.


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Marines: Class C Aviation Mishaps Have Doubled, Service Investigating

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, 6 July 16) … Megan Eckstein



The Marine Corps has hired an independent review team lead to look at Class C aviation mishaps, which have doubled over the last year amid the current aviation readiness crisis.


Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told reporters after a House Armed Services Committee hearing today that he hired someone who will spearhead a review team – which will have access to travel dollars to get out to the fleet and see first-hand what’s going on with Marine pilots and aircrews. While Class A mishaps – the most serious class, involving either a fatality, the loss of an aircraft or more than $2 million in damages – have remained steady over the last four or so years, Class C mishaps – which involve damages of $50,000 to $500,000 or personnel injuries – have doubled compared to last year.


“I don’t know the reason for that,” Davis said.

“I know that people are running pretty hard with not a lot of gear, and we’re just making it – if you are getting your airplanes ready at the last possible minute to get out the door for deployment, there’s a wear and tear on the fleet, a wear and tear on the enlisted Marines and the officers to get ready. I don’t know what the answer is to that, we are going to look at that in great detail.”


Davis said the review would focus only on ground-based Class C mishaps that occur during towing, taxiing, aircraft maintenance or other activities. He could not give a timeline for the review, saying it would be up to the review team to take the time they needed to get to the bottom of the problem.


“These are the very best Marines we’ve ever had in the Marine Corps, so if they’re making mistakes, why?” Davis said.

“We’ve already looked at it, I obviously don’t have it right, or I’m not seeing the problem the way I should. I want someone else to kind of help me see it more clearly.”


These mishaps exacerbate the larger readiness problem the Marine Corps and the other services face today. With only 42 percent of planes in flying condition today and pilots who are not in next-to-deploy units only flying seven to 11 hours a month, “what I’ve asked this team to look at is, not just the cost of (the mishaps), but what’s the lost readiness from having an airplane not ready to train or fly because we’re fixing it.”


During the hearing, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9) Rear Adm. Michael Manazir said the Navy has seen its Class C mishaps double since 2008, while Class B mishaps are down and Class A has remained steady.


“We’re diving hard with the Safety Center to see what the causal factors would be for increased Class C mishaps, ground mishaps,” he said.

“Were the mistakes made because of inexperience? Were there procedures that were not followed? This might be an indicator that the lower level of our mishap classes, potentially some effects of readiness. When we asked to look at, to weigh the causal factors against the mishaps, there were none that stood out as low readiness, low currency, lack of familiarity with procedures for our aircrew or our maintainers, but we continue to look at that Class C mishap rate to see if there might be a problem.”


Manazir and Davis agreed that a big concern for them is that today’s low readiness and low flight time for pilots will lead to a rash of mishaps in the future, as today’s young pilots progress through their careers and eventually are responsible for training the next generation.


“We probably won’t see the effects of critical underfunding in readiness, critical under-flying, critical lack of experience, for several years, as people are now put in leadership positions and leading larger flight operations or they’re leading squadrons, and with the lack of experience, that lack of exposure, you might start to see some effects on the units that they lead because of the lack of flying” today, Manazir said.


When asked about a connection between the readiness crisis and recent Class A mishaps – particularly the January incident when two CH-53Es crashed in Hawaii, killing all 12 Marines onboard the helos – Davis said the data does not support any connection yet.


He said the Marines are still conducting their investigation and he would not comment ahead of the final report’s release, but Davis said that “I can’t make a direct line to Class A, but there is risk there by not flying,” and he worries that a couple years from now the Marine Corps will conclude that a fatal crash was caused by pilot inexperience.


“I think we could see future mishaps spikes in Class As because of low flight times, the low experience,” he said.

“it’s hard to tie the low flight time to the Class A mishap rate right now, but we are seeing high (operational tempos), the deployment-to-dwell I think has an impact for sure on the Class C mishap rates, which impacts the readiness.”


Though the data may not show a direct line from today’s low flying hours to the recent Class As, “I can’t tie the low readiness rates to a Class A mishap rate even though my gut sense says there’s something there. I can’t tie it to the data right now.”


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Navy Fleets Unable To Fix $500M Ship Maintenance Shortfall On Their Own

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, 6 July 16) … Megan Eckstein


The Navy fleets have a $500-million ship maintenance budget shortfall leftover from last year that they cannot pay for on their own. Any existing budget slack is already stretched too tight – meaning that $500-million shortfall will likely be pushed into the next year, U.S. Fleet Forces Command officials told USNI News.


The Pentagon budgeting process forces Navy leaders to predict their spending needs two years out – and a lot can change in two years. Previously, though, there was enough margin in U.S. Fleet Forces’ other accounts – ship operations, air operations and combat operations – to help cover unexpected cost increases in the ship maintenance account. Now, USFF executive director and chief of staff Mark Honecker said, there is little to no slack in the fleet’s budget – so the combined $500-million shortfall in ship maintenance funding U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet faced at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2016 has barely shrunk, forcing the two organizations to search higher up the chain of command for money or continue the cycle of postponing maintenance work.


“What’s happened this year that made it a little more challenging is, we’ve gotten much better at pricing out our flying hours account, models have gotten better on the ship ops account, and so those margins that we had, they’re gone,” he said. “And so in previous years we would have been able to address these shortfalls and not defer these (maintenance) availabilities within our own account, but this year’s been a little bit different because we got better at models and then we also took a couple-hundred-million-dollar hit in our flying hour account. So those margins are gone now to solve our own problems.”


“Each year we do have a shortfall, each year we do manage the shortfall,” he continued, but “as budgets get tighter and margins go away, we’re unable to do that just within the fleet accounts, and we have to raise it up a few levels and see where we get resources elsewhere. But even Navy overall, there’s very limited resources and flexibility because there’s shortfalls in other accounts too.”


This year, it appears that without assistance from the Defense Department or Congress, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET will have to push that shortfall forward by deferring the maintenance availabilities of four surface ships and an attack submarine into FY 2017.


Rear Adm. Richard Berkey, U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s director of fleet maintenance, told USNI News that this fiscal year has played out very differently than the original plan called for. Planning for FY 2016 started in the fall of 2013, and several kinds of assumptions – on operational needs, the shipyard workforce, work package scopes and more – have proven wrong.


For starters, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET started the year at a combined $520 million in the hole in the ship maintenance accounts – $76 million and $444 million, respectively, Berkey said.


Fleet Forces’ shortfall was due to one simple event: the attack submarine USS Montpelier’s (SSN-765) interim dry docking period was moved from a public yard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, to a private yard.


“[General Dynamics] Electric Boat won that contract, and when they won that contract their bid was $76 million higher than what we had anticipated,” Berkey said, noting that it wasn’t unusual for the private yard bid to be higher than the original government estimate. However, the contract was awarded after the program objective memorandum (POM) planning two years ahead of the start of the fiscal year, and also after the detailed budgeting process that starts one year out, creating a FY 2016 bill that wasn’t budgeted for.


The $444-million shortfall at PACFLEET, on the other hand, was much more complex.

•The biggest factor was that many availabilities took much longer than anticipated, not due to unexpected maintenance work but rather because modernization work suddenly started driving schedules. “Modernization, in the past, has generally not been a driver for schedule in availabilities – they would have been specific to particular parts of the ship, or particular machinery, or some capability like that. We’re now getting into modernization that really takes the ship apart completely,” Berkey said, citing the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) as an example. The scope and duration of a CANES installation is now well understood, he said, but “they didn’t know until between that budget process and the beginning of the year.”

•Additionally, three submarine availabilities were moved from public shipyards into private yards, which costs more. A fourth submarine was moved from the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard San Diego Detachment, which was more expensive but was necessary due to workforce imbalance issues, Berkey said.

•The Littoral Combat Ship class has proven more expensive to operate and maintain than was predicted a couple years ago, Berkey said. “I don’t think that’s a secret, that’s a new class of ship and we generally have that for every new class of ship. It’s a little bit more particular on the LCS because of the sustainment model that we have, where we minimize the manning on the LCS with the idea that we would sustain it from the shore with contractors and those types of things. We continue to mature that model and to understand what those real costs are going to be. So we’ve done that with the LCSs out of San Diego, and now moving them to Singapore adds a little bit of complexity to that that we’re still getting our arms wrapped around.”

•Workforce challenges at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility that “go back to the sequestration back in FY ‘13” led to delays in an availability for USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and pushed work from FY 2015 into 2016.

•And finally, three maintenance availabilities were intentionally moved from FY 2015 to 2016 to deal with a budget shortfall at the time.


Berkey said Fleet Forces ultimately shifted some of its money over to PACFLEET to help address all those challenges – though ultimately the shortfall is about the same size now as it was at the beginning of the fiscal year in October, with Fleet Forces facing a $330 million deficit and PACFLEET a $160 million deficit. That combined total equates to about 6 percent of the total ship maintenance budget for the two fleets.


That the deficit hasn’t shrunk much over the last nine months isn’t for lack of trying, though. Berkey said the Navy had begun awarding firm fixed-priced contracts for surface ships on the East Coast in FY 2016 instead of the old multi-ship/multi-option (MSMO) setup. Preliminary data shows that costs are coming down, freeing up money for the Navy to spend on other emerging ship maintenance work. Fleet Forces was also on track to save in FY 2016 due to the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) delivering in October instead of March 2016 and therefore pushing its selected restricted availability into FY 2017 – though that potentially creates a larger shortfall going into FY 2017.


However, the Navy will be facing a big unplanned bill this fiscal year when carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) returns home from a deployment that was not only extended a month but was also essentially the second in a back-to-back deployment with only bare-bones maintenance work in between.


“What we’re seeing now with the actual testing of equipment prior to the availability, the additional steaming time Truman has, we’re seeing a lot more work now coming into that package,” Berkey said.

“That availability will be much bigger than we anticipated, starting in September.”


So despite an effort to dig out of the funding shortfall, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET find themselves having to push that deficit into the next year – via deferring the five ship availabilities – unless the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or Congress step in and find the money to pay for that work in this current year.


“We’re still hoping that money can come in, and the beauty of the contract strategy that we use is that if we get money in time we can put money back on contract using FY ‘16 funds, but if we don’t then that requirement then moves over into FY ’17,” Berkey said.

“And when we go into that year, similar to what I said about PACFLEET where they had three availabilities that went from ‘15 to ‘16, there will be five availabilities that move from ‘16 into ‘17 in aggregate between the two fleets.”


Asked if money was the limiting factor or if other reasons may preclude the Navy from carrying out those availabilities this year, Berkey said, “if we were resourced this year, we could award the contracts for those maintenance availabilities, if we got it early enough.


“If we got a check written to us tomorrow, we could award those contracts and not bow wave that work into ’17,” he continued.

“It is executable if resources are provided early enough.”


Budgeting In The Future


Berkey said there are two reasons to be optimistic that, even as planning for air operations and ship operations has gotten more accurate over the years, planning for ship maintenance will become more accurate too to avoid some of the problems PACFLEET saw going into this fiscal year.


First, the Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program (SURFMEPP) is already doing a better job of predicting the maintenance needs of specific ship hulls and should continue getting more accurate over the next few years.


SURFMEPP, which was stood up in 2010, has technical foundation papers that look at each class of ship and, based on where a hull is in its lifecycle and what type of maintenance availability it is approaching, outlines what type of work the ship is likely to need. SURFMEPP also maintains ship sheets for each individual hull, monitoring deferred maintenance and other things the engineering community knows about that particular warship.


Berkey said the Navy is about four years into using the technical foundation papers and ship sheets, so most of the ships have come in for an availability but not all have been in for a docking availability – which occurs every eight years or so. Once all the ships have been through a docking availability, where they are more thoroughly taken apart and inspected, SURFMEPP should have a very clear idea of the state of each ship and what to expect for future maintenance periods.


“I see the problem (of work package growth) reducing,” Berkey said, but “I don’t see it ever going away. There is always something that will surprise us when you take a pump off of a foundation that you couldn’t see before and then that foundation is eroding.”


The good news is that the Navy plans for 20-percent work growth when drafting the POM two years out, and they generally can stay within that margin.


“Where we see growth today is still on ships that have not gone through that process, that docking process that I was talking about before, and really getting into the tanks and understanding what those conditions are,” Berkey said, and within the next four or so years the Navy should have cycled all its ships through at least one docking period. He praised SURFMEPP as a “constantly improving process with the goal … to know exactly what the condition of the ship is so we can properly plan for it, order the material and be able to do the work on schedule and on time.”


A second positive for the future is that, after furloughs and hiring freezes in 2013, the workforce size has stabled out, though training continues to be a challenge.


“You can go back to the sequestration back in FY ‘13 where we stopped hiring for a while at the naval shipyards. We had pretty much recovered from the pure numbers of people we need back into the naval shipyards by the end of FY ‘15, but now there’s a training period,” Berkey said, noting that 20 percent of the shipyard workforce was hired within the last year and 50 percent within the last five years.


But the yards have created learning centers to help new hires become proficient at their trades faster, and Berkey said he was confident that cases of schedule delays and therefore cost increases due to workforce challenges – particularly like the case if Nimitz – will be less of a budgeting problem going forward.


FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of June 27, 2016


The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce its fifth national event!


Guest Speaker: Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner ( or Sara Gravatt (






COMFRC Change of Command video

Nearly 400 guests gathered June 16 in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School hangar to honor and to bid farewell to Rear Adm. Paul “LJ” Sohl, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), as he handed over the helm to Vice Commander Capt. Mike Zarkowski. View the entire video at




Vision 2020 Capacity and Capability

Vision 2020 is the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation. Cross-functional teams are at work on the plan’s seven “threads” — or lines of effort — to evolve the current sustainment system into one that is globally managed in real time and cost effective. In this video, members of the executive leadership team and the capability and capacity team share an update on their progress. Check out the video at

Logistics interns tour NIST and learn of innovations that are improving life

(COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS CENTERS, 27 June 16) . Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs



NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP) participants from Naval Air System Command’s (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) toured the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) June 16.


The participants received an overview presentation of the facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, toured several working labs and visited the NIST museum.


“We learned about the surprising impact the organization has on our lives, at both a personal and professional level,” said Jonathan Rosen, operations research analyst. “The NIST creates thousands of its own consumer products (such as peanut butter and detergent), all precisely measured, so that industries can properly measure and calibrate their own production lines. We toured the low-background infrared facility (LBIR), which tests infrared sensors and is responsible for standards that many of contractors use in producing Navy aircraft’s forward laser infrared (FLIR) pods.”


Laquisha Thomas, logistics management specialist, said she didn’t realize the work of the NIST “dealt with almost everything in our everyday lives. I liked the lab that dealt with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening methods. They’re trying to develop new methods to screen us where we won’t have to remove our belts, shoes, etc.”


Arthur Flood, logistics management specialist, said he, too, “learned a lot about the history and the vital role that NIST plays in our everyday lives. NIST does a lot of testing and measuring to help set a standard. From the foods we eat, to the standards for car safety and detection of trace explosives or drugs and countless other things that can be measured or tested for a vast amount of government agencies and the private sector.”


Nicholas Long, logistics management specialist, was impressed with the ballistics traceability lab where the NIST is “using 3-D printing in order to create better technology to detect chemical or ballistic residue.”


The tour was one of many set up to expose NADP participants to different naval acquisition and NAVAIR program offices and activities.




Taylor lauds Sailors at FRCSE Detachment Mayport Change of Charge

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 28 June 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast


Jacksonville, Fla. – The tight-knit group of 200 Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Detachment Mayport Sailors said goodbye to Officer in Charge Cmdr. Claude Taylor June 24.


The detachment supports Navy helicopter squadrons deployed around the globe with rework and maintenance for their aircraft, engines, components and support equipment. The Sailors have made major strides – both professionally and personally – with Taylor at the reins.


“Detachment Mayport is the premier H-60 I-level maintenance facility in the fleet because of you,” Taylor told the Sailors. “There are helicopters operating off ships and in the desert right now thanks to your skills and dedication. You are exceptional.”


Taylor went on to put specific numbers to a few of the group’s accomplishments in the last 24 months, including the repair and rework of 32,000 aircraft components returned to the fleet.


“You introduced new, advanced repair processes and techniques, enhancing our capabilities in electro-optics, avionics, composites, support equipment and engine repair,” he said. “And, for the first time in more than seven years, established shipboard support equipment rework at this facility.


“You reduced work items in process from a high of 385, to an all-time low of 96.”


Along with Detachment Mayport’s accomplishments in its official role of maintaining Navy helicopters, the team has logged 30 months without an alcohol-related incident. In February, officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office visited the detachment to present Taylor and his Sailors with an award for the achievement.


“When I got here, I challenged each of you to leave here better than when you arrived, and you did,” Taylor said, citing the college courses completed by Sailors during his tenure. “Keep it up.”


To Taylor, those are not just words.


Enlisting in the Navy in 1981, he eventually rose to the rank of senior chief before he was commissioned as a warrant officer in 1997. He later transitioned to aviation maintenance duty officer in 2004, earning a Bachelor of Science and master’s degree along the way.


FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart praised Taylor for his leadership and the Sailors for their accomplishments.


“The importance of Detachment Mayport’s success may be underestimated by those not associated with what we do here, but make no mistake – the very lives of American service members and our allies deployed to conflict zones on the other side of the world hang in the balance,” Stuart told the Sailors in attendance. “Without the helicopter squadrons Detachment Mayport keeps in the air, Navy ships and Sailors would be under-supplied, under-armed and partially blind.


“Thank you so much for all that you and your Sailors have done here.”


Taylor is moving on to Patuxent River, Maryland as the components officer for Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.


Lt. Cmdr. Joseph “Derek” Tindell, a familiar face around FRCSE, relieved Taylor as Detachment Mayport officer in charge. Though most recently serving as Patrol Squadron 10’s assistant maintenance officer at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Tindell served in several rolls at FRCSE from 2007 to 2011, including as officer in charge of FRCSE Detachment Key West.




FRCMA Sailor saves lives in act of selflessness

(FLEET READINESS CENTER MID-ATLANTIC, 28 June 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – By being at the right place at the right time, one Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA) Sailor helped save the lives of victims of a fiery May 16 automobile crash. Seaman Loreina Campos was honored May 20 at the Naval Air Station Ocean, Virginia, theater for her actions with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.


According to police and media reports, a Nissan Sentra was traveling westbound on Interstate 264 in Virginia Beach when it broke down. The Nissan was struck by a Chevy Silverado, which caused the car to spin out of control and hit an empty Hampton Roads Transit bus. The impact of the crash caused the Nissan to catch on fire.


A 31-year-old woman, a 28-year-old man and a 2-year-old girl were rescued from the burning car by two Good Samaritans, Campos and another witness who was traveling separately. A 5-month-old girl was also in the car but could not be seen due to the flames and died in the fire, police said. The 2-year-old died in the hospital later that week.


Campos, who was four months pregnant at the time, was driving home from work when she witnessed the accident. She said she immediately pulled her vehicle over and ran up to the car to help.


Campos said she attempted to open the driver’s door to pull the driver out, but the door would not open. She said she then ran over to the passenger door and with another person’s help, was able to get the door opened.


As they were pulling the passenger out of the car, Campos said she noticed a small toddler pinned behind the passenger seat. The vehicle was engulfed in flames, and Campos reached into the burning vehicle to pull the toddler, who was on fire, to safety.  She carried the toddler, who was struggling to breath, to the side of the highway and remained with her until help arrived.


“I was really scared,” Campos said, recalling the events of the day. “Everything was happening so quick, yet so slow at the same time. It was really strange.


“It was like I wasn’t the one making my body do what it was doing. It was doing it on its own without thinking about it,” she said. “After I got the little girl, my main concern was making her feel comfortable so she didn’t feel alone.”


Once the emergency crews arrived on scene, Campos said she was able to give an accurate account of the child’s injuries and was lauded by emergency medical service personnel for her heroic actions before rushing the little girl to the hospital. The toddler ended up living for four more days before succumbing to her injuries.


For her actions that day, Capt. Joseph Rodriquez, FRCMA commanding officer, presented Campos a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal during a Safety Stand-down at the NAS Ocean theater, calling the Sailor who has been in the Navy less than three years a hero.


“What Seaman Campos did was an absolute selfless act,” Rodriguez said. “It is leadership defined and a shining example of bystander intervention at work.”


Campos recalled what was going through her mind at the scene of the accident.


“I remember that I just kept telling myself to keep doing something; everything was on overdrive,” Campos said. “It took several days for me to process what had happened.”




Logistics interns learn first-hand how their work impacts fleet

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 28 June 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Air-6.0 Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP) participants from Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) and Research and Engineering (AIR 4.0) had the opportunity for a pier-side tour of Nimitz-class carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) in Norfolk, Virginia, June 14.


The 44 participants saw up close what Sailors experience every day aboard a ship. From witnessing the testing of the arresting gear to touring the flight deck, hangar bay and the forecastle, they gained a new perspective on how their jobs at NAVAIR impact the fleet.


“In a prior internship rotation with the Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons Program Management Activity (PMA-242), I had been part of a concepts of operations (CONOPS) meeting which covered how-to stow, assemble and load weapon systems onboard carriers,” said Jacqueline Trenholm, logistics management analyst, Logistics Management Integration (AIR 6.6). “I was able to connect much of the shipboard terminology used in that CONOPS meeting to what I saw on this tour.”


Jennifer Dixon, logistics management analyst, Maintenance Planning and Sustainment (AIR 6.7) also was grateful for the new perspective. Being onboard the carrier gave her “much more respect for the men and women on deployment serving our nation,” she said. “Watching videos does not compare to being there in person.”


Tracy Hurtt, logistics management analyst, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis (AIR 6.8) echoed Dixon’s sentiments: “It was great to see the fleet and what we [AIR 6.0] were supporting. I know we support aircraft, but the carrier holds those aircraft. I have never been that close to a ship and I loved it.”






Marines Pull Aircraft From ‘Boneyard,’ Get Used Navy Jets Amid Aviation Crisis

(MARINE TIMES 23 JUN 16) … Jeff Schogol


With most of its F/A-18 strike fighters unable to fly on any given day, the Marine Corps is resurrecting 23 Hornets from the “boneyard” and getting another seven aircraft from the Navy.


The move comes as the Marine Corps and Navy struggle to keep F/A-18s in the skies until the F-35 joint strike fighter can replace the services’ aging aircraft.


“We are very focused on our current readiness, and at the moment, we don’t have enough Hornets for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training,” said Capt. Sarah Burns, a Marine spokeswoman at the Pentagon.


The Hornet is the first U.S. strike fighter, meaning it can shoot down enemy aircraft, kill bad guys on the ground and bomb enemy targets. The Hornet and the newer F/A-18 E-F Super Hornet were supposed to be phased out in the mid-2020s and 2035 respectively, but delays in the F-35 program have forced the Marine Corps and Navy to find ways to keep the aircraft flying much longer than intended.


The 30 F/A-18C Hornets headed back to the fleet are being upgraded to the C+ configuration, Burns said. That means they’ll include updates to the flight-deck displays and a joint helmet mounted cueing system, which gives the pilot more control over the aircraft, according to Boeing.


Each Hornet takes between nine and 18 months to upgrade, depending in the condition of the aircraft. Boeing expects to refurbish 10 Hornets a year starting in 2017.


Most of the Hornets were placed in storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, commonly known as the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.


“We purposely housed the aircraft in the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group … over the course of a decade with intent to store, maintain and upgrade them for today’s use,” Burns said.


So far, one of the upgraded Hornets has been delivered to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, she said. Boeing is making sure a second upgraded Hornet is ready for operational missions while work on five more aircraft is underway.


‘Mothball’ planes


Experts are divided about the efficacy of returning Hornets from the boneyard to service.


It is common practice for the military to “mothball” planes, ships and vehicles since they often end up with more usable equipment than they need, said retired Marine Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.


“When this happens, it makes sense to place the items in long-term storage to avoid both the maintenance costs of keeping the equipment in ready-to-use condition and wasting taxpayer dollars by destroying equipment that still has useful life,” Wood told Marine Corps Times. “Resurrecting older equipment also mitigates the costs in time and money of building new items unless the old item has truly become obsolete relative to threats and missions it was originally designed to handle.”


In February 2015, the B-52H “Ghost Rider” took off from Davis-Monthan for Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, after spending seven years in the boneyard. The Air Force decided to restore the bomber to replace another B-52 damaged in a fire the year prior.


But while the Hornets in the boneyard can be inspected, repaired and returned to full mission-capable status, doing so can be technically risky and expensive, said retired Navy Cmdr. Chris Harmer, senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.


“After sitting in the desert for a decade, nobody really knows what condition they are in until they get to the depot-level maintenance facility and are opened up and inspected” Harmer said.


Marine Corps aviation is “on the verge of systemic failure” because the fleet has been overused since Sept. 11, 2001, Harmer added, and the F-35s that will ultimately replace current aircraft are years behind schedule.


“This is not the fault of the Marine Corps, but the Marines will pay the price for it through excess pilot mortality, and the U.S. will face a significant strategic risk in the near future if deployable Marine tactical aviation suffers a significant decrease in availability, which now seems inevitable,” he said.


The readiness challenges facing the Marine Corps are common to all of the military services, which have to meet a constant or increasing operational tempo with less money, a congressional staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Marine Corps Times. As a result, the Marine Corps is using its aircraft far more than it ever intended to, so the Hornets in the boneyard may have fewer flight hours than F/A-18s being used now.


Readiness for the military overall is “in crisis,” said Rep. Rob Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, which will hold a hearing in July about the extent of aviation gaps and how to fix them.


“The Marine Corps has been unequivocal about the aviation readiness challenges it faces,” said Wittman, a Virginia Republican. “They’ve said that they don’t have the number of Hornets they need for combat, flight instruction and training.


“That means we are scraping aircraft together to fly combat operations today at the expense of future generations of Hornet pilots. This is just one example of how our readiness shortfalls are compromising our national security and, unfortunately, it is not limited to the Hornet or the Marine Corps.”


Skipping a generation


As of late April, only 87 of the Marine Corps’ fleet of 276 Hornets were flyable, Marine Corps officials told Congress. Many planes are grounded due to a lack of spare parts and other maintenance issues.


Hornets require heavy maintenance because of their age and how often they are used, but steep across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration created a backlog of aircraft in depot because there wasn’t enough money to do preventative maintenance or replace artisans who retired or took another job, officials said.


The Marine Corps does not expect to dig itself out of its aviation readiness hole until 2020.


Some have suggested that the Marine Corps should have purchased newer F/A-18E and F Super Hornets as a stopgap measure, but that would have slowed the service’s procurement of F-35s, putting even more stress on its Hornets and AV-8B Harriers, said Jesse Sloman, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington.


“The Corps is in a bind right now because of the service’s decision to skip a generation of fighter aircraft by going directly from the legacy Hornet to the joint strike fighter, Sloman said. “This risky choice has led to some short-term pain due to the brittleness of the F/A-18 and the negative impacts of the 2011 sequestration.”


But the Marine Corps’ aggressive plan to switch to the F-35 should allow the service to phase out its current aircraft quickly rather than spending money to keep less capable planes flying longer, he said.


Meanwhile, the Navy had a shortfall of 104 strike fighters last year – and that number could grow to 134 aircraft by 2020, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert told Congress in March 2015.


That’s why the Navy is upgrading its fleet of F/A-18s, so that the Hornets will continue to make up the majority of carrier aircraft through the end of the 2020s. The Hornets had been designed to fly up to 6,000 hours, but with delays in the F-35 program, Navy officials hope the F/A-18s will be able to fly up to 10,000 hours – or more.


“We might even fly [Super Hornets until] close to 2040,” Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, the Navy’s air warfare director, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower in November.




Navy Budget Squeeze Delays PCS Orders

(MILITARY.COM 23 JUN 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


Navy families are finding themselves waiting longer than usual for orders to their next duty station due to constraints on the service’s manpower budget.


According to information provided to from Navy Personnel Command, some sailors are receiving orders one month ahead of arrival at their next duty station, instead of the typical three.


“Due to budgetary pressures and a perennially decreased top line for Navy’s Manpower Account, we knew PCS funds would be tight toward the end of the fiscal year,” Personnel Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said in a statement. “Consequently, the Navy began to carefully manage the issuance of PCS orders earlier this year, which resulted in shorter lead times for PCS moves.”


It’s not clear how many sailors are affected by these tighter timelines. Christensen said the Navy was prioritizing PCS moves to stay under budget, giving the highest priority to sailors moving to fill “critical gaps” at sea, individual augmentees, overseas billets, and moves for force protection, humanitarian and safety reasons.


A Defense Department official who requested anonymity to speak freely told the budget crunch was tied to a continuing resolution that the Navy and other military services had operated under until last December. The CR limited how the Navy could allocate its funds and set the conditions for the current problem.


To date, the Navy has completed planning for these top-priority moves with estimated detach dates through the end of July, Christensen said, and is now working on orders in August and further out. While the end of the fiscal year in September will mean a new defense budget and a replenished manpower account, it’s not clear how long the Navy will continue issuing PCS orders with minimal lead time.


“That’s something we’re going to have a take a look at,” Christensen said. “We just don’t have an answer to that question.”


For Navy families caught in limbo between orders, the wait can be nerve-wracking and expensive.


One military spouse whose husband was a Navy officer stationed at Camp Pendleton told her family is waiting for orders to the Netherlands so he can begin an exchange tour with the Dutch Navy.


The family remains on the West Coast, with most of their belongings in storage in anticipation of a move they’re expecting to make in August. Because they still don’t have orders, the woman said, her husband hasn’t been able to find a place for the family to live overseas. She estimates that they will have lost between $2,000 and $4,000 in out-of-pocket costs, including lost income from a job she had to quit, because of the uncertainty.


“With this situation, I’ve had to leave work months early,” she said. “If I knew what the timing was, I would have committed longer.”


Another Navy spouse, Nicole Paynter, says her family is waiting on orders from Navy Operations Support Command in Springfield, Oregon, where her husband is a unit commanding officer, to Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee. Paynter said her husband was originally supposed to start at his new post in mid-June, but now they are told the move will happen in the middle of September, with orders coming in mid-August.


The timeline was too tight to schedule military movers, so the family will be moving on their own for the first time in 18 years in the Navy. Paynter said her oldest son continued to attend high school, staying with her parents, when the family moved out to Oregon, and not having a certain return date is an additional stressor.


“The unknowing is the worst part,” she said.


Christensen said he encouraged Navy families to stay in touch with detailers and added that letters of intent will be issued for overseas moves to help dependents accomplish some tasks, such as medical screenings, security clearances, and passport applications.


The Navy is also putting together a working group of officers and enlisted leaders from around the fleet, he said, to examine ways to minimize additional impacts to sailors as the Navy “carefully navigate[s]” PCS orders until the end of the fiscal year. The goal of the working group, he said, is to allow sailors to make planned moves without further reducing lead times for orders.


“We understand that it’s hard on sailors and their families,” Christensen said.


Related –


PCS Orders Lead Times – Three Things You Need to Know

(CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL PUBLIC AFFAIRS, 22 June 16) . Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs


As the peak season for permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves begins, many Sailors are awaiting orders so they and their families can proceed to their next duty stations. However, due to the current fiscal environment and budget constraints, most Sailors will have less time to plan their moves as order release timelines are compressed.


While this timeline isn’t easy on Sailors or their families, it is important for Sailors to understand why that is the case and what we are doing to improve the timeline.


Image of a family moving


What’s going on?


Due to budgetary pressures and a perennially decreased top line for Navy’s Manpower Account, we knew PCS funds would be tight toward the end of the fiscal year. Consequently, the Navy began to carefully manage the issuance of PCS orders earlier this year, which resulted in shorter lead times for PCS moves. Each year, approximately 66,000 Sailors receive operational, rotational and training orders. The Navy also moves approximately 70,000 Sailors as they are accessed, separate, retire or execute organized unit moves (for homeport changes). Traditionally, operational and rotational moves have averaged three months advance notice for the past several years. However, in some cases this summer, those timelines have been shortened to one month due to budgetary pressure.


What we’re doing?


Navy leadership understands the impact of shortened PCS timelines and the stress this causes Sailors.


As such, we have convened a working group with representatives from throughout the Fleet that are looking at a variety of measures to ensure the Navy is able to maintain current readiness, Fleet manning levels and minimize additional impacts to Sailors as we carefully navigate PCS orders for the remainder of the fiscal year.


The Navy expects the results of this working group will allow Sailors to make planned moves for the remainder of the fiscal year without further reducing orders’ lead times.


However, given the current fiscal constraints, the Navy is prioritizing PCS moves in order to remain within budget. Highest priority moves are those to fill critical gaps at sea, billets for individual augmentees, force protection, humanitarian, safety and overseas billets – they will be issued first. All other orders will be released following a sequenced move schedule to ensure the Fleet is manned properly.


We have released priority one moves (individual augmentee, immediate and OFRP deployers, numbered fleet staffs, overseas billets) and must-moves (safety, early return of dependents, humanitarian) with estimated detach dates through the end of July, and are now working on August orders and beyond.


Also, to help alleviate some pressure, Navy Personnel Command will continue to issue letters of intent for overseas moves. That way, while orders may not be in hand, individuals can start the process of doing overseas and medical screenings, dependent entry approval, passport applications and security clearance requests.


The future.


The Navy recognizes that these shortened lead times limit Sailors’ time to prepare for moves, and burdens them and their families.


Leadership is engaged at all levels to develop and implement solutions to minimize the impact to our Sailors. The focus and priority remains on manning the Fleet, and taking care of Sailors and their families.





All Eyes On Farnborough, And F-35

(DEFENSE NEWS 27 JUN 16) … Andrew Chuter


LONDON – Two years after its aborted international debut in the UK, the F-35 Lightning II is set to finally turn up in force for the upcoming Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and the Farnborough Air Show next month.


The U.S. Defense Department and aircraft prime Lockheed Martin are making up for the no-show in 2014, which was caused by engine troubles, with as many as five jets arriving in the UK to display at the back-to-back aviation shows.


The Farnborough show is not just about the F-35 though.


Major British contract announcements involving the purchase of P-8 Orion maritime surveillance jets and Apache AH-64E attack helicopters are possible.


On the new aircraft front, Brazil’s Embraer will internationally debut it’s KC-390 jet airlifter rival to the Hercules C-130, and there may be a first appearance of the 92m long Airlander 10 airship built by Britain’s Hybrid Air Vehicles.


There’s no doubting though the F-35 will grab much of the attention.


Two U.S. Marine Corps and one British F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant (STOVL) aircraft, alongside two U.S. Air Force F-35A versions, will display at the annual RIAT show that takes place at the Royal Air Force airfield at Fairford, southern England July 8-10.


The British currently have no requirement for the F-35A version of the jet, but the country may further down the road if it sticks to the commitment to eventually purchase 138 jets during the lifetime of the program.


The three STOVL aircraft will stay on to perform in the skies above Farnborough for the week-long trade show which gets underway July 11. They won’t be touching down at the show, however, returning instead to their temporary base at Fairford.


The F-35B’s appearance marks the first time the STOVL version of the jet has been seen outside the U.S. Local industry has a big stake in building the Lightning II and the British also have an affinity with STOVL aircraft borne out of a history with the Harrier.


Importantly too is the fact that the F-35, along with the Eurofighter Typhoon, will form the backbone of British strike capabilities for decades to come, including providing the cutting edge for two 65,000 tonne Royal Navy aircraft carriers now nearing completion at the Babock International shipyard in Scotland.


Howard Wheeldon of Wheeldon Strategic Advisory says the F-35 appearance in the UK marks a milestone for the introduction of the combat jet in British service.


“Seeing is believing and the appearance of the F-35 at RIAT and Farnborough is reminder to all those involved in the program of how close the UK is now to having this superb capability in service with the RAF and Royal Navy. It is milestone achieved and one that marks a new era for UK air power,” he said.


Farnborough’s part in a planned increase in British airpower may not just be limited to the demonstration of the F-35.


Subject to the state of post referendum politics, the show is expected to be the venue for announcement of two large Foreign Military Sales deals with the U.S. Government: firming up the purchase of Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol jet for the RAF and an order for the Apache AH-64E attack helicopters for the British Army that will replace the existing fleet of older machines.


Whatever happens on the sales front, Farnborough promises to be a big week for Boeing. The company celebrates its 100th birthday on July 15 and Farnborough is the venue for a major display showcasing Boeing’s achievements of the past and opportunities for the future.


The U.S. aerospace industry, along with British companies, will have the biggest representation at Farnborough. But China also has a large presence planned, with one of 22 international pavilions represented at the show.

China, as well as South Korea and Brazil are among those taking pavilions at the show for the first time.


Farnborough International, the show organizers, didn’t have the final flight display list available as Defense News went to press.


Whoever is on the list, it threatens to be a watered down display, particularly for high energy aircraft like the F-35: new flying restrictions were imposed in the wake of the August, 2015, crash of a vintage jet at a public air show at Shoreham on England’s south coast, which killed 11 people on a road adjacent to the aerodrome.


Farnborough’s airspace for aerobatic flying has been significantly restricted in an effort to improve safety. The changes have led to the RAF banning the Red Arrows from carrying out aerobatic maneuvers at the show and instead will limit themselves to a fly-past. Further, Some roads are being closed to people and vehicles in areas surrounding the airfield through the afternoon, so getting away from the show may be even more painful than usual.




A War Plan Against Military Budget Tricks

(BLOOMBERG VIEW 27 JUN 16) … Editorial


For the second year in a row, President Barack Obama is poised to veto Congress’s annual defense legislation. For the second year in row, he’s justified in doing so.


While the congressional approach has several problems – including a ban on transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay – one of the most egregious is a budgetary gimmick: The spending package approved by the House on June 11 effectively raids the military’s emergency war fund to pay for normal Pentagon operations.


The so-called Overseas Contingency Operations money is supposed to be used for the fighting in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Instead, because the money is not subject to the spending caps set by last year’s bipartisan budget deal, the House has simply reallocated $16 billion of the $60 billion fund. Some of this spending seems more about saving domestic jobs than military readiness.


Not only is the move foolhardy – the fund could run out by May 1 unless the new president makes an emergency request – but it is also unnecessary. Trimming $16 billion from the $600 billion Pentagon budget, without hurting vital military capabilities, shouldn’t be that hard.


This is not hyperbole. A few back-of-the-envelope calculations, based on such publicly available sources as the Congressional Research Service and Bloomberg Government, show how it might be done.


Canceling the House’s plan to purchase additional (and buggy) F-35 jets, as well as unnecessary F/A-18 Hornet fighters and Black Hawk helicopters, would save about $6.9 billion. Disbanding one of the Navy’s carrier-group air wings, which hasn’t deployed since 2011 and as requested by the Pentagon, would save $200 million.


Reducing personnel by about 37,000 – again as requested by the Pentagon, which has said it would allow the services to better train and equip the remaining forces – would save about $3.25 billion. Delaying and possibly canceling the purchase of two new littoral combat ships – one of the worst-managed acquisitions in military history – and slowing down the construction of other craft would save about $3.1 billion. Delaying non-urgent upgrades of Abrams tanks would save about $558 million. And putting off the repair of some dilapidated buildings on military bases – or, better yet, demolishing them – would save $2.4 billion.


That all adds up to $16.4 billion. As the House and Senate meet to reconcile their separate budget plans, they should feel free to make emendations to this list.


Of course, these sorts of short-term savings are paltry compared to long-term plans to spend $35 billion on three new supercarriers, $55 billion on a new long-range bomber, and $350 billion rebuilding the nuclear arsenal. But if Congress could at least show restraint now from dipping into the war-fighting fund, it would set a precedent for smarter decision making to save big money down the road. If lawmakers refuse, Obama should go ahead and wield his veto.





TruClip Takes Off: US Carrier Invention to be Produced on International Space Station

(USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, 20 June 2016) . Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan T. Miller, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Public Affairs


MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) — A 3D printer invention, developed by a team of Sailors assigned to Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman’s (CVN 75) Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, will be sent for production aboard the International Space Station, June 21.


The TruClip design will be transmitted to the ISS as part of the Capitol Hill Maker Faire, celebrating the White House-sponsored National Week of Making, which runs June 17-23.


“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Lt. Casey Staidl, Truman’s IM-4 division officer. “This recognition isn’t something you’d expect when you start searching for a simple solution to a common problem on board. It’s a surprise, but a good one.”


The TruClip was originally designed as a cost-effective replacement part for the ship’s handheld radio system, that could be created with a 3-D printer, and has resulted in the Navy saving more than $42,000 in the few months since its conception.


“The use of a 3-D printer has given us the ability to extend the life of our equipment when supplies are limited,” said Staidl. “We’re able to come up with our own solutions for shipboard issues.”


Additive manufacturing projects, such as the TruClip, represent a new resource for the Navy to produce replacement parts and find creative solutions for challenges faced while at sea. Truman’s 3-D printing lab has also designed pieces for hoses used by the on board anesthesiologist, new oil funnels, deck drains, and switch covers, and provides immediate on board solutions to everyday issues.


Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.


For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit




Space Shot: Navy 3D Printed Part Delivered to International Space Station

(24-7 PRESS RELEASE.COM, 23 June 16)


WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Department of the Navy and members of the Congressional Maker Caucus made history on June 21, sending the digital file for a part designed by three Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to ultimately print on the International Space Station’s 3D printer. This “virtual part delivery” marks the first time a Department of Defense-generated part has been transmitted for printing in space, and the first time a Sailor-designed, 3D printed operational solution has been shared with outside government agencies via digital data transfer.


The part, called the Hydra Clip or “Tru-Clip,” was designed by Aviation Electronics Technician Ashley Figert, Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Jerrod Jenkins, and Lt. Casey Staidl in Dec 2016 and originally printed on an ABS thermoplastic polymer “3D printer” aboard the carrier. The Tru-Clip addresses a design issue with handheld radios, reinforcing the structure of radio antennas that tend to break while underway and saving the ship over $42,000 in radio repair costs.


Following brief remarks by Vice Adm. Phil Cullom (Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics) congressmen Mark Takano (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), the speakers jointly pressed a large red button labeled, “Make in Space,” which initiated the upload of the file. Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lt. General Michael Dana (Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics), Mr. Donald McCormack (Executive Director, Naval Surface and Undersea Warfare Centers), and Andrew Rush, CEO of Made in Space, Inc., also participated. The file transfer was graphically depicted in real time on a flat screen monitor, which confirmed delivery to the ISS within approximately two minutes. The part printed successfully on the ISS printer later that evening.


“This demonstration illustrates the power of the digital thread, and is the beginning of our future capability to manufacture mission-critical parts at the point of need–whether ashore, afloat, under the sea, or in space,” said Vice Adm. Cullom. “This is one small step for Navy, and one giant leap for all of us.”


“[This effort] demonstrates deckplate innovation and the creative power of our Navy team. We can, and will, rewrite the supply chain.”


The event took place as part of the 2nd annual Capitol Hill Maker Faire, a series of panel discussions and exhibits that help inform Congress and the public about additive manufacturing concepts and technology developed by students, academia, government agencies, and the private sector, with the intent of bringing manufacturing back to America.


Image 1:


ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 27, 2015) Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class A. Figert uses a 3-D printer aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class B. Siens/Released)


Image 2:


WASHINGTON (June 21, 2016) U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Philip Cullom, Deputy CNO for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, and members of congress, press the button that will send a supply part file to be printed in space, during the Capitol Hill Maker Faire in Washington, D.C. The fair showcased robotics, drones, 3D printing and printed art. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cyrus Roson/Released)


Image 3: Attached


IN SPACE (June 22, 2016) A 3D printer creates a supply part, designed by Sailors from the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), onboard the International Space Station. The digital file for the part was transferred to the space station during the Capitol Hill Maker Faire in Washington, D.C.

Credit: NASA


Image 4: Attached


Astronaut Jeff Williams, International Space Station Expedition 48 Commander, works on a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock.

Credit: NASA TV





BAE, Northrop Partner With UK Agency For F-35 Bid

(DEFENSE NEWS 29 JUN 16) … Andrew Chuter


LONDON – Two of the principle companies involved in developing the F-35 Lightning II strike jet have teamed with a British state-owned components repair operation in a bid to secure a significant long-term deal to become the avionics sustainment hub for the aircraft in Europe.


A team involving BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) are expected to submit a proposal to the F-35 Joint Program Office in August to secure one of the region’s key support contracts for the aircraft, said executives familiar with the program.


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the involvement of BAE and Northrop Grumman but declined to say anything about whether DECA would have a role.


“BAE and Northrop Grumman, along with other industry partners, have been assisting the UK MoD in developing a solution for the provision of F-35 maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services. However, at this stage, we cannot discuss the makeup of the bid, as to do so could undermine our position in the down-select process,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement.


DECA’s involvement is, in essence, mandated due to US government insistence that some avionics repairs on the jet here are only undertaken by UK government employees.


“The fact is some repairs will be ring-fenced between industry and government,” according to an executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “That is the basis on which the aircraft has been bought.”


The MoD spokesman did not respond to a question about whether there is a government-eyes-only lock on the repair and overhaul of certain F-35 avionics.


Based at Sealand, northern Wales, DECA supports Tornado strike jets and Chinook helicopters for the British military.


The agency was formed last year when the government opted not to privatize the business as part of the sale of the Defence Support Group to Babcock International.


BAE confirmed it is part of the team working the sustainment center proposal, but Northrop Grumman referred inquiries to the MoD.


Executives here said other teams in Europe were also forming to bid for the work. Italy is likely to be among the country’s putting forward proposals, they said.


Britain’s interest in hosting the European avionics repair center was first revealed by the UK’s defense procurement minister, Philip Dunne, during a visit to the US earlier this year, but the makeup of the industrial team behind the proposal was not released.


News of the makeup of the British team comes ahead of the F-35 jet’s appearance next month at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough air show.


The executive said the value of the avionics repair deal depends on the eventual size of the F-35 fleet in Europe but that revenues could be measured in “hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”


“It’s a significant work package and an important part of the framework of the global support program [being introduced for the F-35],” the executive said.


Britain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy have ordered the jet while nations like Belgium, Finland and Spain could eventually add their names to the customer list.


Italy, Turkey, Norway and the Netherlands have already secured either airframe or engine support contracts as part of the European element of the global support program being implemented by the US.


The Italians also have an F-35 final assembly and checkout line operating at the Cameri Air Base in northern Italy as part of their industrial effort.


Aside from prime contractor Lockheed Martin, BAE and Northrop Grumman are the two largest contractors in the F-35 program.


It’s not clear what avionics are involved in the repair proposal but industry executives here said they would be major, high-value components.


Northrop Grumman supplies a range of key systems including the radar , electro-optical and communications subsystems as well as the communications, navigation and identification avionics and other systems.


BAE’s involvement is likely to center on the company’s logistics management and fleet-support expertise gained from supporting Royal Air Force Typhoon, Tornado and Hawk jets.


Europe’s largest defense player already has a substantial stake in the F-35 program producing the aft fuselage in the UK and key electronic warfare and systems at its US operations.


In April, the company secured a £114 million (US $152 million) deal from Lockheed Martin to build F-35 maintenance, logistics and training facilities at RAF Marham, the base earmarked to be the home of the British Lightning II.


The detailed arrangements relating to who exactly undertakes the maintenance and other work at Marham still has to be hammered out.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of June 20, 2016

Below and attached are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 clips for the week of June 20:



COMFRC celebrates Sohl’s legacy; welcomes new commander

FRCSE establishes capability to repair eye-safe laser rangefinders

PHOTO RELEASE: New center provides resources to veterans

PHOTO RELEASE: Readiness and sustainment the topics at commanding officers and executive officers face-to-face meeting

FRC East participates in eastern N.C. joint STEM initiative

Navy Will 3-D Print Critical Parts For Marine Rotorcraft By 2017



U.S. Navy chief warns of costlier Boeing jets if no foreign sales

Military aircraft accidents costing lives, billions of dollars

Pentagon’s Renewed Vow to Build 2,443 F-35s Depends on Budgets

Marine Corps forced to pull warbirds out of ‘boneyard’ after new fleet delay

U.S. Navy Struggling With Readiness

Defense Rolls Out Phased Retirement For Civilian Employees

US Lawmakers Set to Reconcile Defense Policy Bills




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COMFRC celebrates Sohl’s legacy; welcomes new commander


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – It is not prescribed specifically by U.S. Navy regulations, but it is one of the Navy’s oldest traditions: the Change of Command ceremony.


Nearly 400 guests gathered June 16 in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School hangar to honor and to bid farewell to Rear Adm. Paul “LJ” Sohl, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), as he handed over the helm to Vice Commander Capt. Mike Zarkowski.


Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, served as the presiding official and credited Sohl with maturing the focus and internal structure of COMFRC and the eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs).


Sohl “has made a tremendous, positive impact and will leave a lasting legacy of commitment to his people of the FRC enterprise and to the fleet,” Grosklags said.


Grosklags, who eight years ago led COMFRC, congratulated Zarkowski on assuming command. “I have complete confidence in your leadership and ability to keep this command moving forward.”


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet provided remarks as the guest speaker.


“The FRCs clearly play an absolutely critical role to recover readiness across the force and to improve the way we continue to generate that readiness,” Shoemaker stated. “LJ, thank you for the ongoing work to deliver your FRC Vision 2020, which I am confident will give us a more streamlined, agile and responsive organization in the future.”


Sohl came on board at COMFRC in August 2013 facing the challenges of budget shortfalls, sequestration and a high operating tempo. To combat those challenges and optimize capability and capacity, Vision 2020 — the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation — was implemented. The ultimate achievement of Vision 2020 will be the inception of a global maintenance management system. The system will recognize a failing aircraft as soon as it happens and parts, materials, artisan, equipment, testing can be moved to the aircraft to fix it in real time.


In a message to the FRC workforce, Sohl emphasized the need to keep focused on the mission:


“Your jobs are crucial to naval aviation readiness,” Sohl said. “Without you, nothing happens. We need your skill sets to help continue deploying our assets worldwide and keep our missions growing. Thanks for what you do each and every day. You are making a difference to our fleet.”


In his remarks to the audience, Zarkowski stressed that even though this is a time of transition, the mission of COMFRC remains the same: to provide aircraft ready for tasking.


“We have complex challenges we must continue to address,” Zarkowski said. “We must continue to commit the necessary resources to stay the course with Vision 2020. With this Vision, the naval aviation force of the future will be able to quickly adapt to emergent maintenance requirements and the Fleet Readiness Centers will be faster, more agile, more geographically independent and cost less.”


Notable COMFRC accomplishments under Sohl include:

.               Leadership of 16,000 civilian, military and contractor personnel at eight Fleet Readiness Centers and management of a budget of $4.3 billion in maintenance, repair and overhaul.

.               With a total of 8,483,281 labor force hours and $1.16 billion in cost, his emphasis on process improvement and maintenance integration resulted in the delivery of 1,434 airframes, 4,294 engines and modules, 155,255 components, 2,151 pieces of support equipment and 9,060 airframe in-service repairs, which achieved a 35 percent reduction in backorders from fiscal year 2014 to 2015 and improved weapon system availability for eight Type/Model aircraft.

.               His involvement in the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Aviation Rapid Action Team ensured the development and improvement of more than 100 repair processes, enhanced Fleet Readiness Center capabilities and resulted in $13.1 million in cost avoidance while improving readiness and lowering cost per flight hours.


The Waterloo, Iowa, native earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University. He deployed as part of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom, tallying over 3,200 flight hours in 30 different aircraft.


In August, Sohl is slated to become Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force in Norfolk, Virginia.


The Navy’s eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs), with locations on the U.S. east and west coasts and in Japan, conduct maintenance, repair, and overhaul of U.S. Navy aircraft, engines, components and support equipment. Each year, roughly 6,500 Sailors and Marines, along with more than 9,500 depot artisans at the FRCs overhaul and repair nearly 1,000 aircraft, thousands of engines and several hundred thousand components valued at over $4 billion.



FRCSE establishes capability to repair eye-safe laser rangefinders



Jacksonville, Fla. – Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 17 to officially establish a partnership with L-3 Warrior Systems – ALST to provide depot-level support services for U.S. Navy H-60 helicopter eye-safe laser rangefinders (ELRFs).


ELRFs are electro-optical instruments that combine binocular observation and distant measuring to determine target ranges. They are designed to protect the eye-sight of service members working and training in the field.


The joint collaboration allows FRCSE technicians to repair and test ELRFs for the helicopter’s Multi-Sensor Targeting Systems (MTS) using state-of-the-art test equipment and information technology. These systems or turrets, provide pilots with long-range surveillance, high-altitude targeting, tracking, range-finding and lasers.


“This partnership provides an opportunity for FRCSE and L-3 Warrior Systems – ALST Orlando to have a teaming agreement to assist with getting MTS repair units back to the field as soon as possible,” said L-3 Warrior Systems – ALST Customer Service Team Program Manager Mark Orr. “FRCSE provides a second source to increase and improve the turnaround time of lasers to ensure the end goal of returning the unit to the warfighter.”


The company is also providing continued support services, training and supply chain systems needed to maintain ELRFs in the fleet.


“It’s a continuation of growth with our partnerships in terms of standing up organic capability at the depot,” added FRCSE Integrated Product Team Lead for Avionics Components Sammie Kimble. “The ELRF is one of the newer lasers that’s been developed. It is eye safe friendly and won’t damage the eye-sight of the soldiers on the field.


“This partnership continues to give us the capability to support the MTS turret. And it helps FRCSE advance our continued efforts to be an electro-optics center of excellence for the Navy.”




PHOTO RELEASE: New center provides resources to veterans



Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, then-Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), addresses the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting of the new Three Oaks Center, Lexington Park, Maryland, for veterans. Sohl praised the staff and supporters of the center for their hard work and dedication to helping homeless veterans obtain medical and employment resources locally, instead of traveling to Baltimore or Washington, D.C. The center — which went from concept to ribbon cutting in 15 months, according to board member Patti Brady — will provide resources to help end or prevent homelessness and will guide veterans through the process toward the goal of self-sufficiency.



PHOTO RELEASE: Readiness and sustainment the topics at commanding officers and executive officers face-to-face meeting



FLEET READINESS CENTER AVIATION SUPPORT EQUIPMENT, SOLOMONS, Md. – Rear Adm. Paul Sohl (standing), then-Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), addressed the commanding officers and executive officers of the eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) during the organization’s quarterly Face-to-Face meeting June 14 in Solomons here. Sohl praised the officers for their work to meet the mission of COMFRC: to produce quality airframes, engines, components and support equipment and provide service that meet the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s aircraft ready-for-tasking goals with improved effectiveness and efficiency.


He urged them to continue their work to support Vision 2020 — the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation — under the leadership of Capt. Mike Zarkowski, who assumed the helm of COMFRC on June 16.


In other meeting sessions, the team shared lessons learned and best practices for impacts to production, work force allocations, component repairs and implementation and current status of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM).


COMFRC Face-to-Face meetings are held regularly on a rotating basis at one of the FRCs or their associated detachments.




FRC East participates in eastern N.C. joint STEM initiative

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 20 June 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, NC – June 20, 2016: Fleet Readiness Center East will host four teachers from Carteret and Craven County Schools as part of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education’s Teachers@Work program during July.


Teachers@Work is a joint partnership initiative between NCBCE, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) East and the N.C. Community College System that links education to the business community to help teachers create classroom curriculum relevant to the skill sets needed by local businesses.


According to Sue Breckenridge, NCBCE executive director, Teachers@Work helps to address the skills gap that many of the state’s businesses are currently seeing. “Ultimately, the initiative is about economic development and helping to produce a highly skilled workforce pipeline that benefits communities across the state,” she said.


FRC East is one of 14 businesses participating in the initiative in eastern N.C. As part of the program, participating teachers will spend one week during the summer monitoring a local company. Teachers will be paired with employees and will be exposed to different aspects of the business. At the end of the on-site program, the teacher will create a lesson plan that targets hard and soft skills future employees should have that are specific to their partnering business or industry. As a follow-on effort, partnering teachers’ students will participate in a job shadowing or mentoring program during the upcoming school year.


FRC East will first host Dawn Maynard, STEM teacher, and Aubrey Godette, Science teacher,  from Broad Creek Middle in Carteret County  July 11-15. The following week, July 18-22, the organization will host Michelle Smith, STEM teacher, and Elizabeth Dorsett, Math teacher, from Tucker Creek of Craven County Schools. They will be among 51 middle and high school teachers throughout the state who will be participating in the program.


“This is our first year as a business participant in the Teachers@Work initiative,” said Mark Meno, Research and Engineering Group head. “While we are actively engaged in a number of STEM K-12 outreach activities, this program affords us and the teachers a unique opportunity to incorporate the skills necessary in a STEM-based business environment into classroom curricula. We anticipate great benefits for this collaboration for our facility and the surrounding counties from which we draw our STEM workforce.”


The teacher will be working with engineering professionals to develop curriculum that has a design and development component requiring trade-offs in design, cost and performance, including collaboration in fabrication of the student designs and culminating with a final design review conducted by FRC East Engineering leaders.


Media can contact FRC East Corporate Communications Division for information about the organization’s participation in the program at (252) 464-9111.




Navy Will 3-D Print Critical Parts For Marine Rotorcraft By 2017

(DOD BUZZ 20 JUN 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


Next year, six “safety-critical” parts on a number of the Marine Corps’ most in-demand rotorcraft will be 3-D printed as the Navy demonstrates the value of cutting-edge additive manufacturing technology.


In a Naval Aviation Vision roadmap document released this month, Naval Air Systems Command officials said they planned to 3-D print and field parts for the MV-22B Osprey, the new CH-53K King Stallion, which is still in the early phases of production, and the H-1 Marine Corps Light/Attack Helicopters, including the AH-1Z Viper.

“The safety-critical [additive manufacturing] parts fielded on these platforms will allow NAVAIR to develop the processes and digital data standards needed to extend [additive manufacturing] to other classes of parts and components,” officials said in the document.


Two metal parts will be printed for each of the three aircraft platforms, Marcia Hart, a spokeswoman for Navy Aviation Enterprise, told They are as follows:

.               MV-22 Osprey: Titanium engine nacelle link and stainless steel lever for the fire extinguishing system

.               H-1 helicopters: Upper uni-ball suppressor support and engine mount apex fitting, both stainless steel

.               CH-53K King Stallion: Clevis latch and lug latch, both titanium


In a second set of planned demonstrations, parts will also be printed for the Marines’ workhorse CH-53E Super Stallions and AV-8B Harriers, said Hart. The parts to be manufactured and fielded in that demonstration for the Super Stallion include a titanium engine brace and a ball fitting in stainless steel, she said.


The Navy is partnering with Penn State Applied Research Lab for the additive manufacturing demos, Hart said. The parts for the aircraft were produced there and at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey.


“As we develop our standards and understand how to ensure quality using [additive manufacturing] processes, we want to work with industry to enable them to make these parts,” Hart said. “We need to develop a broad industry base that understands how to make [them] safely.”


Ultimately, the Navy aims to use additive manufacturing processes much more in aviation, allowing maintainers and logisticians more flexibility in the repair and upkeep of aircraft. Already, according to the aviation roadmap, 3-D printing has allowed the Navy to


In June 2014, NAVAIR technicians in Jacksonville, Florida, used 3-D printed tools to fix a Harrier that damaged the frame of its nose cone during a hard landing on the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan. Thanks to this technology, replacement parts were delivered to the aircraft within seven days, according to the roadmap document.


In another example, technicians at the Navy Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst were able to 3-D print a custom wrench that allowed them to change the oil on an H-60 Seahawk helicopter without removing the transmission, an improvement that saved 80 work hours for each oil change.


The new technology, officials said in the document, allows the Navy to “stock the data, not the part,” reducing supply timelines, enabling faster maintenance and repairs and reducing packaging, handling, storage and transportation costs.


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U.S. Navy chief warns of costlier Boeing jets if no foreign sales

(REUTERS, 19 June 16) . Andrea Shalal


BERLIN — The U.S. could see the cost of new Boeing Co F/A-18E/F Super Hornets rise unless the government approves foreign sales of the jets soon, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on Sunday.


Mabus, in Germany for a NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea, told Reuters he was frustrated by delays in approving the sale of the Boeing jets to a close U.S. ally, warning that this could affect the cost of jets the U.S. Navy still wants to buy.


U.S. Navy and other defense officials have said they support the sale of 28 Boeing F/A-18E/F jets to Kuwait for an estimated cost of $3 billion, but this has stalled for nearly a year pending final White House approval.


Mabus said the delays could have an impact on the Navy’s budget plans, since the foreign order was needed to augment U.S. Navy purchases and keep the production line running efficiently.


The U.S. Congress is expected to approve funding for as many as 16 Boeing F/A-18 jets as part of the Navy’s budget request for fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1, but that would give Boeing less than the two jets a month it says needs for economical production. The Kuwaiti order would have filled this gap.


“I’m frustrated. A lot of people are frustrated,” Mabus said. “The process is too long, too onerous in terms of getting weapons systems to our friends and to our allies.”


Mabus said Boeing could likely continue F/A-18 production for some time without the foreign sales, but dropping below optimal production rates could affect future pricing.


The Navy had requested funding for two F/A-18 jets in its fiscal 2017 budget request and 14 more as part of its “unfunded priorities list”. It also said it expected to buy a larger number of Super Hornets in fiscal 2018 to bridge a gap in its fleet until the newer and more advanced Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet enters service in coming years.


Mabus welcomed possible moves by Congress to add jets to the fiscal 2017 budget, but said those orders alone would not keep production at the Boeing facility running at optimal rates.


“The line wouldn’t be operating as well as it should, and the price probably would go up for us because there aren’t as many planes coming through,” he said.


Boeing welcomed the secretary’s remarks.


“Boeing appreciates the continuing engagement of Secretary Mabus, and agrees that a Kuwaiti order is an important element in continuing a production rate of two per month to keep prices optimal,” Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson said.


The company needs to maintain production to remain competitive in bidding for other F/A-18 orders from other countries as it is now spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to buy long-lead materials such as titanium to prepare for new orders from the Navy and Kuwait.


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Military aircraft accidents costing lives, billions of dollars

(CNN, 20 June 16) . Ryan Browne


Washington (CNN) – A rash of recent military crashes has cost the lives of several service members as well as billions of dollars’ worth of damages. The wave of accidents has raised questions about the training of pilots and the maintenance of aircraft, with top brass pointing to slashed budgets and aging fleets strained by prolonged conflict.


Last week, an MH-60S helicopter crashed in the James River in Virginia during a training mission. Earlier this month, two F-16C fighter jets collided in the skies over Georgia.


In the first incident all of the helicopter crew were rescued and in the second the two South Carolina Air National Guard pilots managed to safely eject. But a few days earlier, a Blue Angels pilot was killed when his jet crashed. An Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron jet crashed the same day, but that pilot managed to successfully eject.


During congressional testimony in March, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John Paxton, acknowledged the growing rate of accidents.


“We are concerned about an increasing number of aircraft mishaps and accidents,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


He blamed funding shortfalls for the increase, saying, “If you don’t have the money and you don’t have the parts and you don’t have the maintenance, then you fly less.”


He continued, “If you fly less and maintain slower, there’s a higher likelihood of accidents. So, we’re worried.”


The Navy has suffered the heaviest losses of the three military branches since October 2014.


From that time through April 2016, the Navy has reported accidents that total over $1 billion in damages, according to statistics provided to CNN by the Naval Safety Center. They included a Marine AV-8B Harrier jet that crashed off the East Coast during takeoff in May, costing about $62.8 million, and a Navy F/A-18A crash in Nevada in January that cost $71 million. Both pilots survived.


In joint congressional testimony in April, the senior naval leadership overseeing aviation, Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis and Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, reiterated Paxton’s contention that planes and funds are running short.


“We continue to have lower than acceptable numbers of aircraft available to train and fight,” he said.


Grosklags said that the 2013 budget cuts known as sequestration had caused the Navy to lose about 10% of its maintenance crews for some of its older planes, including the F/A-18, which first entered service in 1983 and whose planned 30-year life-span has been repeatedly extended due to increased combat operations and lack of replacement jets.


The issue is compounded by the fact that the Navy’s replacement plane, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, has been repeatedly delayed and is not scheduled to reach initial operating capability until 2018.


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been beset by spiraling costs, failed testing and schedule delays. The F-35 program had originally promised 1,013 fighters by fiscal year 2016 but has only delivered 179 as of April. The Navy’s version will be the last to reach initial operating capability.


The Marines, however, suffered the deadliest military aviation tragedy in years when two CH-53 helicopters crashed while on training flight in Hawaii in January, killing 12 Marines. The Navy estimates that the crash cost nearly $110 million.


Describing the CH-53s in March, Davis said, “They are getting old and wearing out. We can only keep them going for so long.”


When Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked about the increased rate of accidents in March, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, attributed the increase in “our mishap rate” to a lack of training resources.


“The simple fact is that we don’t have enough airplanes to meet the training requirements for the entire force,” he said.


The Air Force, for its part, has also experienced a significant number of accidents.


Since October 2014, the Air Force has had 27 “Class A mishaps,” accidents that result in a fatality, loss of an aircraft, or property damage of $2 million or more involving fixed-wing aircraft, an Air Force public affairs officer told CNN.


But Air Force Public Affairs Officer Capt. Annmarie Annicelli noted that the rate of accidents has decreased in 2016 compared to fiscal year 2015, saying that at this point last year, the Air Force had 13 Class A mishaps compared to eight this year.


According to an analysis of the statistics provided before the June incidents, the Air Force has lost over $526 million in damaged or destroyed aircraft since October 2014, nearly half of that from downed F-16s, another plane that is due to be replaced in part by the long-delayed F-35A.


During that period, the Air Force lost a B-52 Stratofortress after a crash in Guam in May, a C-130J transport plane after an October accident in Afghanistan and a RC-135 crashed in April 2015. The latter two crashes resulted in $174 million in damage to both the planes and surrounding environment.


Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force vice chief of staff, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that the average age of the Air Force’s aircraft is 27 years old. The F-16s involved in Tuesday’s collision first entered service in 1993.


The Army has also faced issues with its aircraft, primarily helicopters such as the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache.


The Army’s Combat Readiness Center told CNN that the Army had 19 Class A aviation accidents resulting in 6 fatalities from October 2014 to October 2015, including a UH-60 crash near Fort Hood, Texas, which cost the lives of four soldiers.


Appearing at the same Senate Armed Services hearing with Neller, the chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, said the increase in Class A accidents “has our attention,” citing efforts to increase training hours for helicopter pilots.


“Our aircraft accidents have increased and we are very concerned about it,” he said.


Top military leaders have said that while they want to increase training, they have had to prioritize combat operations at the expense of other activities in an era of restricted budgets.


Goldfein told Congress, “25 years of continuous combat coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned top lines have made the Air Force one of the smallest, oldest and least ready in our history.”


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Pentagon’s Renewed Vow to Build 2,443 F-35s Depends on Budgets

(BLOOMBERG, 20 June 16) . Anthony Capaccio


The Pentagon still plans a fleet of 2,443 F-35 jets, but the costliest U.S. weapons program may face cuts under the next president if defense dollars continue to be reduced, according to the Defense Department’s No.2 official.


The Pentagon’s focus “for the foreseeable future is to acquire F-35s at the highest rate affordable” even though the goal for a fleet of 2,443 of the fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp. “was established prior to the last two decades’ force reductions” and before budget caps reduced planned levels of spending through 2021, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work wrote in a letter to congressional defense leaders May 25.


The Pentagon wants to increase the purchase rate of F-35s for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to 92 annually by 2020 from 38 last year. The number jumps to 120 a year when foreign sales are included. For this year, Congress added 11 aircraft to the 57 requested. The Pentagon said in March that the program’s projected cost for development and acquisition dropped by $12.1 billion to $379 billion.


Per-Plane Cost


That will help bring down the per-plane cost, Work wrote in an interim report under a requirement in this year’s defense budget for the Pentagon to reevaluate whether the long-standing requirement of 2,443 jets — including 1,763 for the Air Force — remained valid.


With U.S. defense policy putting increasing emphasis on countering a resurgent Russia in Europe and a more assertive Chinese military, Work said it’s “conceivable that we may need more F-35s than the current program” calls for.


Work’s letter comes as the often-criticized F-35 is enjoying some successes. Three of the four congressional defense committee added aircraft to the fiscal year request of 63. Air Force officials say there are no known technical obstacles to declaring as soon as August that as many as 24 jets have initial combat capability. The Marine Corp version is set to fly next month to the Farnsborough Air Show in the U.K.


Still, Pentagon officials acknowledged last month that the operational combat testing intended to evaluate whether the aircraft is combat-effective and can be maintained in the field won’t begin until 2018 — about a year later than planned.


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Marine Corps forced to pull warbirds out of ‘boneyard’ after new fleet delay

(FOXNEWS.COM, 22 JUNE 16) . Perry Chiaramonte


The Marines are looking for a few good planes, and their search has taken them to an Arizona boneyard where the Corps’ old F/A Hornets have been gathering dust and rust for years.


The jets are being reclaimed and refurbished by Boeing after the service branch was caught short on planes because of long delays in the rollout of the much-awaited F-35.


The Marines could have done as the Navy did and adopted second generation F/A- 18E/F Super Hornets until the new planes were ready, but opted not to.


“In hindsight, it was a misstep for the USMC to not have purchased the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, but only because the F-35 has seen such extensive delays and complications in production,” Omar Lamrani, senior military analyst for global intelligence firm Stratfor told “If the F-35 had entered production as originally scheduled and at the expected price, then the USMC would have been able to successfully transition straight from the F/A-18 Hornets to the F-35.”


Boeing has refurbished two of a planned 30 F/A Hornets stored at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson – known as “the boneyard” – and will soon finish more, according to The planes will be modified to a current “C+” standard under a contract with Boeing and the USMC signed in 2014.


It’s not the first time the military has brought back decommissioned planes from the graveyard. The Marines pulled and restored several retired heavy-lift helicopters during the height of the Iraq War to help with a shortfall in the fleet as a result of heavy usage and crashes.


The F-35 was supposed to be ready for front-line service in 2006. The Marine Corps reasoned that the Super Hornets were too pricey to serve as a bridge to the new planes, and chose to continue to operate their current fleets.


As the F/A Hornets dwindled through attrition, and quality-control issues delayed the F-35 from coming off the assembly, the Corps was caught short.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the USMC deputy commandant for aviation, told Senate lawmakers that just 32 percent of the Corps’ Hornet fighters were operational. The branch needs at least 58 percent of the F/A-18s to be flight ready so that there are enough planes for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training.


Officials for the USMC did not immediately return requests for comment but in their most recent annual report on aviation capabilities, Davis said, “I am concerned with our current readiness rates, both in equipment and personnel.”


Some experts say bringing back the F/A-18 jets may not be much of an issue.


“I consider it a pretty smart move on the U.S. Marine Corps side,” David Cenciotti, of the influential blog The Aviationist, told “The F/A-18C and D are very reliable airframes that are quite easy to maintain and operate. Once upgraded to the C+ standard, these ‘gap fillers’ are more than enough to conduct combat operations in low-lethality scenarios like those that see the USMC at work these days.”


Once the upgraded ‘legacy’ Hornets are delivered, Cenciotti added, older planes can rotate to daily training activities required by the Marine Corps pilots to maintain preparedness.


Lamrani says the only real danger is if maintenance is not kept up on the refurbished planes, but that their usage leads to other issues.


“Refurbishing mothballed aircraft is not inexpensive, and hardly cost effective,” he told “All this is again linked to the F-35 failing to arrive on time.”


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U.S. Navy Struggling With Readiness



The U.S. Navy is facing a readiness issue, with its older-model F/A-18 fighter jets tied up in maintenance, leading to reduced flight-training hours.


Navy flight hours have decreased to about 853,389 in 2015, from about 1.2 million in 2002, according to the Naval Safety Center. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps leaders bemoan the lack of flight training time – as well as the maintenance backlog, especially for F/A-18s.


The service, explains Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, has tiered readiness standards for pilot training. The earliest phases are the workups before deployments; the levels become increasingly involved as a deployment approaches.


“Where we are taking the readiness hits is in the lower phase,” he says, affecting the Navy’s ability to surge flight operations.


Marine pilots also cannot get enough flight-training time, says Marine Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for Aviation. “We don’t have enough parts,” he has testified to Congress. “We don’t have enough planes.” The service only sends aloft about one-third of its Hornets at any given time.


The delay in producing F-35Bs and Cs has put more strain on the legacy Hornets, many of which are in depots awaiting work to keep them operational longer. As a result, the Navy has had to go to sea sooner and more often with Super Hornets, which are now also reaching their planned service lives much more quickly than expected.


“Extension of legacy Hornet life requires additional inspections and deep maintenance that were not originally envisioned for the aircraft,” the Navy says in budget documents. “Average repair time has significantly increased because of required engineering of unanticipated repairs, material lead times and increased corrosion of airframes.”


Capt. Randy Stearns, commodore for the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, says, “It is a capacity problem.”


Only a quarter of the aircraft are fully capable and ready for combat, he says. Those are already in deployed squadrons. But because of the depot backlogs, parts problems and scarcity of aircraft, it could take six months to a year to get the other three-quarters of the force ready to fly.


Federal budget sequestration cuts have also slashed away at availability. Fewer aircraft translates to less flight time for training, which increases the risk of accidents.


A recent rash of mishaps comes at a time when Boeing is trying not only to unknot the backup of work on older-model Hornets, but also prepare for Super Hornet life-extension work.


Boeing has started preliminary assessments of what is needed to overhaul the aircraft, increase its combat life and keep it relevant much later into the century, says Dan Gillian, Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18G Growler programs vice president.


Initial indications show the scale of a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that would boost a fighter’s life to 9,000 hr. from its current 6,000, will be a challenge. Boeing started to extend the life of 150 classic Hornets in 2013, a job scheduled to conclude in the early 2020s. The latest SLEP would involve 568 Super Hornets.


Boeing will be bringing in two of the earliest, most-used Super Hornets in the coming months, Gillian says. These “learning aircraft” will be used to discern some of the likely mechanical issues.


When the first aircraft hit 6,000 hr. within the next year, the company’s engineers and mechanics will get a firsthand look. “We will tear them apart to see with our eyes what is really happening,” he says.


Early analysis suggests work on the Super Hornets may at least start off easier than it did with the classic Hornets, Gillian says. “What we are seeing now is that the Super Hornet is at a better starting point than the classic Hornet was,” he says. “That was by intent. The Super Hornet is the newest airplane in the Navy’s inventory.”


That said, “there are some hot spots that need to be addressed,” he acknowledges. “Flight control surfaces have to be replaced or repaired.”


One of the major concerns is corrosion, and the SLEP aircraft will show engineers the extent of the problem. “These aircraft have been flown in conflict for … a long time on the carrier in a very corrosive environment,” Gillian says.


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Defense Rolls Out Phased Retirement For Civilian Employees

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 21 JUN 16) … Kellie Lunney


The Defense Department on Tuesday announced it will now allow eligible civilian employees to partially retire while remaining on the job part-time to help better manage its workforce needs.


The decision by the government’s largest department to implement phased retirement – nearly four years after Congress passed a law allowing the practice – could spur other agencies to roll out their own programs to take advantage of the flexibility. As of mid-January, less than 50 people across government had applied for the benefit, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That’s because many agencies either haven’t finalized phased retirement plans yet that meet the needs of their missions as well as collective bargaining agreements, or aren’t offering the benefit to eligible employees. It’s also possible some federal employees don’t know what their options are, or just aren’t interested/eligible.


“Participation in the Phased Retirement Program is voluntary and requires the mutual consent of both the employee and an authorized DoD component official,” said the June 21 memorandum from Peter Levine, acting undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness. “DoD components may limit the number of employees included in the Phased Retirement Program, as appropriate.”


It’s the latest personnel-related change that the Pentagon has unveiled in recent months, as part of the department’s broader effort to recruit and retain civilian employees and service members.


Agencies have broad discretion in deciding how to implement phased retirement, including deciding which jobs are eligible for it, determining mentoring activities and deciding how long an employee can remain partially retired. When eligible employees can apply for the opportunity will depend on how quickly their individual agencies can figure out a framework for offering the program.


According to the DoD memo, “retirement-eligible employees must have been employed on a full-time basis for at least a consecutive three-year period ending on the effective date of entry into phased retirement status.”


Specifically, phased retirement allows eligible feds to work 20 hours per week, receiving half their pay as well as half their retirement annuity. Those employees who enter phased retirement must devote at least 20 percent of their work time, or about 8 hours a pay period, to mentoring other employees, ideally for those who take over for them when they fully retire. The idea is to keep talented employees with valuable institutional knowledge on the job a little longer so they can train other workers, while they also enjoy a partial retirement.


Richard Thissen, national president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, praised Defense for implementing phased retirement for civilian workers, nothing that since the tool became law four years ago, “NARFE’s phones have rung off the hook with calls from federal employees wondering when phased retirement will be available at their agencies.” Thissen added that “for many, many other federal employees, however, this news will add to their frustration because the future of phased retirement at many agencies is still uncertain.”


The Commerce Department reportedly announced recently its plans to implement phased retirement. Other agencies currently offering the benefit to employees include the departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development.


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US Lawmakers Set to Reconcile Defense Policy Bills

(DEFENSE NEWS, 21 June 16) . Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – Lead staff for the Senate and House armed services committees are readying for what is likely a summer-long conference process to reconcile differing defense policy bills, where the toughest issues are said to be funding, military healthcare reform and acquisition reforms.


Facing White House threats to veto both bills, Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s charge the bills represent “micromanagement,” and ahead of closed-door negotiations with each other, the staff directors for the HASC and SASC offered defenses of their committee’s approach to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.


At an event hosted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute Tuesday, SASC Staff Director Chris Brose and HASC Staff Director Bob Simmons said both bills are seeking to help the military be more agile, innovative and robust.


“The objectives are the same, the intent is the same,” Brose said.


Carter and the White House have found numerous faults with the policy bills, including the Senate’s plan to eliminate the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L), the House’s funding approach and the refusal to allow the Pentagon to shut down installations round the country.


Simmons defended the House-approved NDAA’s plan to stick to the bipartisan budget deal but use $18 billion from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund to pay for base budget items, expecting the incoming president will ask Congress for a supplemental defense spending package.


Simmons said the president’s veto threat over the bill was “ironic,” noting a Democratic Congress acted similarly in 2008, just before the Obama administration began.


“It’s not like we haven’t done this before, and in fact it was the Democrats who did it last time,” Simmons said. “Then the candidate who ends up being the president can make their own assessment of what the foreign policy is, and the direction they want to take the country, then ask us for the funding appropriate for that effort.”


Opponents have said the House NDAA takes funding from troops, but that is “wholly incorrect,” Simmons said. The bill, he said, adds money to ready troops who are next to deploy.


“We’re doing all these things to help the Department of Defense,” Simmons said. “If [the president is] going to veto it, he’s operating under false pretenses. We are taking care of the warfighter. We want to make sure those kids go into harm’s way with what they need.”


The Senate took a different tack on funding, meaning House and Senate conferees will have to work it out. Asked how the Senate might approach these talks, Brose said it was too soon to say as SASC Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and HASC Chair Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, had yet to meet on the matter. Both chairmen have sought more troops and hardware left out of the president’s 2017 budget request, he noted.


“We have no disagreement over the need for this, and the challenge is how you deliver it with a top-line both sides agree is inadequate,” Brose said.


The Senate’s NDAA blows up the position of AT&L undersecretary – currently held by Frank Kendall – and hands its duties to a new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, or USD(R&E), and the renamed undersecretary of management and support, or USD(M&S). The USD(R&E)’s job would be to champion innovation for DoD.


The SASC’s far-reaching reforms are aimed at untangling an acquisitions system that too rarely succeeds when “innovation is the sidecar” and “feels like a series of small scale insurgencies,” Brose said. It also continues last year’s approach, which placed more acquisition authority in the hands of the services.


The House’s NDAA’s acquisition reform focus is to steer DoD away from lengthy, ambitious programs and toward on incremental, rapidly-fielded breakthrough technologies. It also aims to shake up the Pentagon’s risk-averse culture, Simmons said.


“You don’t have to solve the whole problem,” Simmons said. “It’s a question: If I give you 30 percent of the capability, and you can field it today, or would you rather wait 15 years to get a 100-percent solution? Well if 30 percent today gives you a better position on the battlefield, you want that today.”



FRCSW / COMFRC News Clips – Week of June 13

Below are the FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips for the week of June 13:



COMFRC celebrates Sohl’s legacy; welcomes new commander

Celebrating teamwork at annual NAVAIR Commander’s Awards ceremony

Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

RADM Sohl Farewell to Fleet Readiness Centers

COMFRC holds mentoring sessions to discuss CCPM



Danish parliament approves F-35 selection

Canadian Fighter-Jet Debate Turns Testy

Arresting gear on Ford-class carriers under scrutiny

Navy In Dayton: A Top Admiral Says Drones Are Future Of Aviation

Naval Aviation Vision: Legacy Navy Hornets Gone by 2026




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COMFRC celebrates Sohl’s legacy; welcomes new commander

(COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS CENTERS, 16 June 16) . Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – It is not prescribed specifically by U.S. Navy regulations, but it is one of the Navy’s oldest traditions: the Change of Command ceremony.


Nearly 400 guests gathered June 16 in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School hangar to honor and to bid farewell to Rear Adm. Paul “LJ” Sohl, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), as he handed over the helm to Vice Commander Capt. Mike Zarkowski.


Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, served as the presiding official and credited Sohl with maturing the focus and internal structure of COMFRC and the eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs).


Sohl “has made a tremendous, positive impact and will leave a lasting legacy of commitment to his people of the FRC enterprise and to the fleet,” Grosklags said.


Grosklags, who eight years ago led COMFRC, congratulated Zarkowski on assuming command. “I have complete confidence in your leadership and ability to keep this command moving forward.”


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet provided remarks as the guest speaker.


“The FRCs clearly play an absolutely critical role to recover readiness across the force and to improve the way we continue to generate that readiness,” Shoemaker stated. “LJ, thank you for the ongoing work to deliver your FRC Vision 2020, which I am confident will give us a more streamlined, agile and responsive organization in the future.”


Sohl came on board at COMFRC in August 2013 facing the challenges of budget shortfalls, sequestration and a high operating tempo. To combat those challenges and optimize capability and capacity, Vision 2020 — the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation — was implemented. The ultimate achievement of Vision 2020 will be the inception of a global maintenance management system. The system will recognize a failing aircraft as soon as it happens and parts, materials, artisan, equipment, testing can be moved to the aircraft to fix it in real time.


In a message to the FRC workforce, Sohl emphasized the need to keep focused on the mission:


“Your jobs are crucial to naval aviation readiness,” Sohl said. “Without you, nothing happens. We need your skill sets to help continue deploying our assets worldwide and keep our missions growing. Thanks for what you do each and every day. You are making a difference to our fleet.”


In his remarks to the audience, Zarkowski stressed that even though this is a time of transition, the mission of COMFRC remains the same: to provide aircraft ready for tasking.


“We have complex challenges we must continue to address,” Zarkowski said. “We must continue to commit the necessary resources to stay the course with Vision 2020. With this Vision, the naval aviation force of the future will be able to quickly adapt to emergent maintenance requirements and the Fleet Readiness Centers will be faster, more agile, more geographically independent and cost less.”


Notable COMFRC accomplishments under Sohl include:

.Leadership of 16,000 civilian, military and contractor personnel at eight Fleet Readiness Centers and management of a budget of $4.3 billion in maintenance, repair and overhaul.

.With a total of 8,483,281 labor force hours and $1.16 billion in cost, his emphasis on process improvement and maintenance integration resulted in the delivery of 1,434 airframes, 4,294 engines and modules, 155,255 components, 2,151 pieces of support equipment and 9,060 airframe in-service repairs, which achieved a 35 percent reduction in backorders from fiscal year 2014 to 2015 and improved weapon system availability for eight Type/Model aircraft.

.His involvement in the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Aviation Rapid Action Team ensured the development and improvement of more than 100 repair processes, enhanced Fleet Readiness Center capabilities and resulted in $13.1 million in cost avoidance while improving readiness and lowering cost per flight hours.


The Waterloo, Iowa, native earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University. He deployed as part of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom, tallying over 3,200 flight hours in 30 different aircraft.


In August, Sohl is slated to become Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force in Norfolk, Virginia.


The Navy’s eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs), with locations on the U.S. east and west coasts and in Japan, conduct maintenance, repair, and overhaul of U.S. Navy aircraft, engines, components and support equipment. Each year, roughly 6,500 Sailors and Marines, along with more than 9,500 depot artisans at the FRCs overhaul and repair nearly 1,000 aircraft, thousands of engines and several hundred thousand components valued at over $4 billion.


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Celebrating teamwork at annual NAVAIR Commander’s Awards ceremony

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 13 June 16) . NAVAIR Public Affairs


HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The 16th annual NAVAIR Commander’s Awards ceremony, held here June 8, celebrated technical, business and leadership excellence in support of increasing speed to the fleet, delivering integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities, and improving affordability.


This year, there were 50 nominations, representing a broad spectrum of programs and exemplifying the dedication, innovative spirit and drive for results that enable NAVAIR to accomplish its mission effectively on behalf of the warfighters, said Master Chief Michael Sekeet.


“To all of the winners and to everyone here today, thanks for all you do every day for naval aviation,” said NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags. “It is both humbling and gratifying to know that you are passionate about solving real, existing everyday problems that our Sailors and Marines face. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here. There is no organization more dedicated to finding a solution than you.”


The winners are, by category:


Business Operations:


PMA-207 Commercial Derivative Fixed Wing Airlift/Operational Support Aircraft Team, led by Cmdr. Warren Crouch and James Thompson, Patuxent River


This team provides procurement and life-cycle support services for C-9, C-12, C-20, C-26, UC-35, C-37, C-38 and C-40 aircraft. Working collaboratively and creatively, this team harnesses the best of industry’s public and private aircraft acquisition and sustainment practices to support the principles of acquisition reform and develop effective, efficient solutions to meet the warfighters’ requirements.




NAVAIR Energy Team, Facilities and Infrastructure Pillar, led by Franz Kury, Patuxent River


The Facilities and Infrastructure Pillar (FAIP) of NAVAIR’s Energy Team works as a cross-competency, interdisciplinary, multi-site team to support the Navy’s energy goals and enhance the capability of naval aviation systems through efficient, effective energy use. In the past year, the FAIP devised and updated its energy strategy, enhanced its measures and metrics, broadened and extended its energy project portfolio, improved means to promote awareness and cultural change, and partnered at the Navy level to improve toolsets and collaboration that will assist NAVAIR and the Navy. The FAIP worked with command, command investment leads and other competencies, along with Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Commander, Navy Installations Command and private industry, to build a broad-based project portfolio of energy-related direct investments. In the past year, the Naval Air Warfare Centers and Maintenance Level III Fleet Readiness Centers invested in more than 100 system upgrades in key focus areas to improve infrastructure energy efficiency. The FAIP’s efforts and activities in the command resulted in an overall $3.8 million reduction in fiscal year 2015 Navy working capital fund and major range test facility base overhead costs.


Logistics and Industrial Operations:


Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRCWP), led by Cmdr. Matthew Edwards


Headquartered at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, with detachment sites in Iwakuni and Okinawa, Japan; Guam; Korea and Malaysia, FRCWP provides responsive, affordable readiness for Navy and Marine Corps forces deployed worldwide, ashore and afloat. FRCWP delivers readiness through aircraft and support equipment depot maintenance. In 2015, FRCWP:

.Completed 29 aircraft planned depot events for 13 different squadrons

.Completed 573 urgent unscheduled aircraft repairs worldwide, supporting 77 squadrons, including 180 repairs on board deployed ships

.Performed nearly 700 engineering dispositions

.Overhauled or repaired 134 pieces of support equipment


Program Management:


P-8A Production Team, led Robert Holmes, PMA-290, Patuxent River


This team’s program management and acquisition skills helped the P-8A Poseidon Production Program deliver 13 P-8A aircraft to the fleet in 2015 – one more than planned – and with all deliveries ahead of schedule by 30 days on average, with some aircraft delivered 60 days ahead of schedule. The team’s work gave new warfighting capabilities to the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Fleet and met their P-3 to P-8 transition schedule by providing more than two squadrons of P-8A aircraft for squadron deployment requirements in 2015. Implementing a detailed, comprehensive “should cost” program plan, the P-8A Production Team’s drive to lower cost and increase affordability resulted in $311 million in savings, which enabled the procurement of two additional P-8A aircraft in January 2016.


Quality of Service/Customer Service:


Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) Urgent Operational Need (UON) 360 Team, led by Cmdr. Molly J. Boron, PMA-290M, Patuxent River


In response to a classified UON from the commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in April 2015, the MPRA UON 360 Team developed, integrated, installed, tested and delivered a new, unique airborne sensor capability, which provides a 360-degree video surveillance and recording capability around U.S. Navy patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. The team achieved key milestones in a short timeline, demonstrating a drive to deliver and deploy enhanced capability on MPRA with a rapid “speed to the fleet” focus. The team delivered an affordable product to the operational commander within six months of program start, resulting in improved situational awareness and safety of aircrews deployed in the western Pacific Ocean operating areas and serving as a deterrent in an increasingly contested theater of operations.


Research, Development, Test and Evaluation:


Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Team, led by Adam Ferreira, PMA-234, Patuxent River


Responsible for the design, development and procurement of the NGJ capability, the Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) Systems and EA-6B (PMA-234) Program Office’s NGJ Team has exceeded expectations. From their innovative approach to the evolution of AEA to their acceptance as the pilot program in the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Better Buying Power Skunk Works initiative, the team will equip future warfighters with a state-of-the art technology to address emerging electronic warfare gaps and ensure kill chain wholeness against growing threat capabilities and capacity. The team’s focus on speed to the fleet, improved affordability and platform integration proved relevant as the increased jamming capability is critical to sustaining the future missions of the Navy, other services and international partners.


Science and Technology:


NAVAIR Innovation Challenge Team, led by Antonella Thompson, Patuxent River


NAVAIR’s Innovation Challenge Program is a new and creative construct that provides a unique professional development opportunity for the junior workforce to address mission-related technical issues in a vibrant, nurturing and enabling environment. The projects undertaken in the first cycle ranged from harvesting and storing sound energy from jet engines successfully to demonstrating that it is possible to obtain reliable, accurate data for structural health monitoring of metallic 3-D printed parts. One project examined technologies and innovative materials that could potentially allow future gearboxes to run without oil lubrication. The technical efforts resulted in multiple patent applications, technical reports and presentations to acquisition workforce stakeholders. The Innovation Challenge is evolving from an “experiment” to a Navy best practice.


Edward H. Heinemann Award for Outstanding Achievement:


TH-57 Avionics Upgrade Team, led by Robert Moran, Patuxent River


This award is presented annually to the group within NAVAIR who achieved or helped achieve significant improvement in the design or modification of an aircraft or aircraft system. This team, with the support of the Chief of Naval Aviation Training (CNATRA) Fleet Support Team, implemented an integrated solution to replace the obsolete very high frequency (VHF) radio and transponder, to provide a common communications and navigation suite in the TH-57B and TH-57C. This solution also meets the January 2020 Federal Aviation Administration mandate for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast capability, providing modern VHF communications, navigation and GPS navigation capabilities to the rotary wing training fleet for CNATRA. From concept to engineering change proposal approval, this effort took only 10 months, and the estimated cost to implement the proposal was 20 percent less than the original budget estimate, allowing the team to use existing funds to resolve other TH-57 obsolescence issues.


T. Michael Fish Quality of Worklife Award:


Janna Roberts, Patuxent River


This award is named for the former head of NAVAIR’s Research and Engineering Staff Office and Deputy Assistant Commander for Shore Station Management, recognizing a leader who improves productivity, retention, morale and innovation significantly. Roberts’ volunteerism, fundraising and aggressive recruitment, transition assistance, career placement and resilient advocacy, has inspired the recovery and physical fitness of more than 5,000 wounded warriors and helped more than 924 hires of wounded, ill and/or injured service members to NAVAIR. Read more about her efforts.


Small Business Advocacy Awards:

.Individual: Holli W. Galletti, Patuxent River


Throughout fiscal year 2015, Galletti served as the principal deputy program manager for the H-60 Program Office (PMA-299). In this role, she became the lead for the program’s small business initiatives and has become a steadfast advocate for small business in both the H-60 Program and across the Program Executive Office for Air Antisubmarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission portfolio. Galletti began her efforts well before the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition’s January 2015 “Tapping into Small Business in a Big Way” memorandum that formally assigned principal deputy program managers as the small business advocates responsible for identifying opportunities within their programs. In preparation for the MH-60’s shift from production to sustainment, she led a deep dive into potential small business opportunities and shared the findings with the Office of Small Business Programs.

.Team: Airborne Threat Simulation Organization (ATSO) Integrated Product Team, led by Eric Finn, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu


Through early inclusion with NAWCWD’s Office of Small Business Programs, market research and procurement planning, the ATSO Team identified capable small businesses for numerous contracts that were solicited or set aside to small businesses in fiscal year 2015. Instead of having one large prime contractor deliver turnkey airborne electronic attack systems, ATSO, as lead system integrator, manages more than 13 large hardware contracts to procure and integrate the required subassemblies. This approach established unique focus areas of hardware technology and maximized opportunities for small business participation as prime and subcontractors in NAVAIR contracts.


Grosklags also made special mention of two teams that exemplify good risk management: the Risk Management Framework and Cyber Warfare Detachment teams.


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Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

(COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS CENTERS 16 June 16) . Gary Younger, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Covering an area larger than that of the Continental United States, it’s a challenge to provide readiness to Naval aviation when and where needed. Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRCWP), however, consistently does that and was recognized with a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander’s Award for Logistics and Industrial Operations during a ceremony held here June 8.


“This award represents FRC West Pac’s commitment to sustaining forward deployed squadrons,” said Cmdr. Matthew Edwards, FRCWP commanding officer, accepting the bright silver Commander’s Award during a ceremony at the Rear Adm. William A. Moffett Building at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The ceremony was also broadcast via video teleconference to NAVAIR sites around the country.


One of seven categories, the Logistics and Industrial Operations award gauges logistics support of fleet operations and maintenance throughout the full life cycle of aviation weapon systems and related equipment as well as technical support to aviation acquisition, life cycle logistics and maintenance planning processes, procurement and supply.


Headquartered at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, FRCWP has detachments in Iwakuni and Okinawa, Japan, Guam, Korea, and Malaysia staffed by a diverse team of dedicated military, U.S. government civilians, and Japanese nationals and commercial contract personnel providing responsive, affordable readiness for Navy and Marine Corps forces deployed worldwide, ashore and afloat. FRCWP supports the fleet outside of the continental United States, including U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command.


“Being aligned for fast response, FRCWP improves NAVAIR’s affordability and rapid response to urgent warfighter depot maintenance needs by maintaining in-theatre scheduled aircraft and support equipment maintenance, Carrier Strike Group In-Service Repair (ISR) teams onboard deployed carriers, and field repair teams available worldwide in 48 hours or less,” wrote Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Tuschinski, FRCWP production officer, in the award nomination packet.


In 2015, FRCWP completed 29 aircraft planned depot events for 13 different squadrons; completed 573 urgent unscheduled aircraft repairs worldwide supporting 77 squadrons, including 180 repairs on board deployed ships; expeditiously performed nearly 700 engineering dispositions; and overhauled or repaired 134 pieces of support equipment.


“We rely on our contractors in Japan, Korea and Malaysia for scheduled depot maintenance,” said Edwards. “We leverage their vast experience and technical expertise in manufacturing and aircraft maintenance to complete planned maintenance.”


Sometimes serving the fleet means going to where the fleet is, and FRC WESTPAC completed more than 1,700 aircraft ISRs onboard 35 deployed ships and at 20 shore-based locations.


“We have a dedicated team of technicians who can deploy on a moment’s notice to meet a customer’s need,” said Edwards. “We have guys who come in at eight in the morning, get told they have to deploy, and are on a plane that afternoon.”


The Support Equipment Rework Facility, or SERF for short, overhauled and repaired more than 350 pieces of Support Equipment. SERF’s Japanese employees contributed 28,000 man-hours without a single Quality Deficiency Report. SERF also provided field team support and returned six different support equipment items that were unavailable for use for three to six months to a ready-for-issue status in eight days. The on-site repairs saved more than 60 days shipping time and $30,000 in shipping costs.


FRCWP also awarded five aircraft depot maintenance contracts in the Western Pacific totaling $62.3 million in the sustainment of forward deployed naval forces in support of F/A-18A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E-F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Iroquois, H-53E Super Stallion and KC-130 Hercules. FRCWP also awarded a contract for the first overseas V-22 Osprey depot capability.


Other NAVAIR Commander’s Award categories include Business Operations; Program Management; Quality of Service/Customer Service; Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E); Science and Technology; and Energy.


COMFRC shares in Commander’s Award for Energy


Industrial operations are typically energy intensive and can use or produce by-products that are hazardous to the environment. Danny Miller, COMFRC Environmental and Energy Lead, said the FRCs have worked hard to reduce their energy footprint and environmental impact over the past few years.


For its efforts, COMFRC – a part of the NAVAIR Energy team, Facilities and Infrastructure Pillar (FAIP), – shared in the Commander’s Award in the Energy category. In the past year, FRC East, Southeast and Southwest – as well as the Naval Air Warfare Centers – have invested in more than 100 system upgrades to improve infrastructure energy efficiency.


In 2015, FRC East upgraded lighting throughout its production area without impacting delivery of aircraft to the fleet. FRC Southwest earned the 2015 Chief of Naval Operations’ Environmental Award (Sustainability-Industrial Activity) for its efforts to prevent or eliminate pollution at the source, including practices that increase efficiency and sustainability in the use of raw materials, energy, water or other resources. FRC Southeast picked up the SECNAV Environmental Award (Sustainability-Industrial Activity) for reducing energy by implementing steam reduction and adding high-efficiency lighting, diverting 250 tons of waste from landfills and recycled more than 160 tons of used oil for energy recovery and reduction.


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RADM Sohl Farewell to Fleet Readiness Centers


After almost three years at the helm as Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC) Rear Admiral Sohl will be leaving COMFRC and continuing to his next assignment as Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force in Norfolk, Virginia. Before heading out, he passes along his thanks and admiration to his Fleet Readiness Center shipmates for their determination and dedication to the warfighter.


View the video message at


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COMFRC holds mentoring sessions to discuss CCPM

(COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS COMMAND, 16 June 16) .Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland — Increasing the speed of service to the fleet is a never-ending quest for Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC). This includes exploring and implementing state-of-the-art business practices to improve production efficiency of much-needed aircraft, components and equipment.


To help with the understanding of the concepts and processes of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) COMFRC’s Carlos Carcamo, N42’s Production Performance Improvement CCPM Lead and Senior Chief Petty Officer Nana Boakye, N42’s Performance Improvement Military Lead held mentoring sessions on CCPM theory, management techniques and Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) implementation on May 4 and May 11 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Also at the May 4 session, John Gatt, COMFRC Optimized Production System Team Lead, provided technical insight and lessons learned regarding CCPM and implementation of Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR) in Components, Engines and back shops.


“Feedback from the attendees was very positive,” said Yvette Bose, COMFRC AIR-6.0 Logistics and Industrial Operations Group lead.  “Everyone appreciated how the mentors shared a wide-range of scenarios from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)/COMFRC, external agencies and commercial entities and made CCPM theory and technical terminology easier to understand.”


COMFRC is implementing CCPM and DBR across its eight Fleet Readiness Centers in order to speed production and return much-needed aircraft and components to the fleet. CCPM is a method of planning and managing projects that emphasizes the resources (people, equipment, physical space) required to execute project tasks. DBR details a work schedule for the constraint (Drum), buffering the constraint so that it is never starved (Buffer), and setting a release mechanism to ensure that work gets released into the system at the right time (Rope). This systematic approach protects the weakest link in the production system against process variation and dependency, which maximizes the system’s overall effectiveness.


More than 50 logistics, production, quality assurance and financial professionals attended the presentations and actively engaged in questions and answers and sharing of their personal military and civilian experiences with CCPM and DBR.


COMFRC 6.0 is working with the College of Logistics and Industrial Operations (CLIO) to establish these CCPM/DBR sessions as course offerings for Programs and Teams with additional information to be announced on the CLIO and NAVAIR University sites.


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Danish parliament approves F-35 selection

(FLIGHT GLOBAL, 14 June 16) . Craig Hoyle


Denmark’s parliament has approved a government recommendation to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35, with the decision edging Copenhagen closer to an order for 27 examples of the fifth-generation fighter.


To be operated from Skrydstrup air base, the conventional take-off and landing F-35As will be delivered between 2021 and 2026, the nation’s defence ministry says. The new type will replace the Royal Danish Air Force’s current Lockheed F-16s, the last of which will leave use in late 2024.


Approved on 9 June, the step follows a mid-May recommendation by the Danish government and defence ministry after an evaluation process by the latter’s New Fighter Programme Office. Boeing’s F/A-18F Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon had also been considered as candidates, but the F-35 was ranked first in all four assessment criteria.


“Based on the current level of ambition for the assignment of combat aircraft, the parties agree to purchase 27 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters,” the defence ministry says. It values the aircraft purchase at around DKr20 billion ($3 billion), but adds: “the determination of the acquisition cost will only happen after contracting with the supplier.”


With the F-35 still in its development phase and the F-35A yet to achieve initial operational capability with the US Air Force, the defence ministry notes that “there is and will remain a number of risks” to fielding the new type. “The [Danish] parties want to follow the development of the F-35 programme closely, and will be regularly informed of progress and risks,” it adds.


During the transition period from the F-16, Denmark will not be able to support international operations between 2022 and 2024, with “a limited number” of F-35s to be available for such activities from the following year.


“From 2027 it is expected that the Joint Strike Fighter can solve the all tasks, both nationally and internationally,” says the defence ministry.


Copenhagen plans to participate in a proposed multi-year purchase agreement for the F-35, along with several other customers, and says its final number of aircraft could increase if economic conditions allow. However, “prior to contracting for the last six aircraft a status [evaluation] will be made by the parties,” the ministry says. “At this point the parties can decide to purchase fewer aircraft if the first aircraft are not delivered on time and to the expected price.”


Welcoming confirmation of the selection, Jens Maaløe, chief executive of Danish company Terma, says: “We look forward to explore new areas of co-operation and bring “best value” to the F-35 programme.” A supplier on the programme since 2005, it currently produces composite aerostructures and radar electronics.


Lockheed says it will “continue to work with Danish industry on F-35 production and sustainment”.


Denmark will follow Australia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the USA in signing a production order for the F-35.


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Canadian Fighter-Jet Debate Turns Testy

(DEFENSE NEWS, 8 JUNE 16) . David Pugliese


VICTORIA, British Columbia – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has slammed the F-35, labeling the aircraft as a fighter that “does not work,” as his government considers the purchase of Boeing Super Hornets instead.


The Liberal Party government’s consideration of a purchase of an undisclosed number of Super Hornets as an “interim” aircraft to deal with a fighter capability gap touched off a storm of controversy in the House of Commons.


Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose accused Trudeau of selecting a fighter jet without the proper knowledge of what the Royal Canadian Air Force needs.


But Trudeau said the previous Conservative government botched the procurement of a new jet. “They left us a mess we are going to fix,” he said June 7 in the House of Commons.


“Canadians know full well that for 10 years, the Conservatives completely missed the boat when it came to delivering to Canadians and their armed forces the equipment they needed,” Trudeau added. “They clung to an aircraft (the F-35) that does not work and is far from working.”


The Conservative government had committed to purchasing 65 F-35s. The plan was put on hold, however, as technical issues with the aircraft continued to make headlines. The Conservatives and the Canadian military were also accused by critics of trying to hide the full cost of the F-35 procurement.


During last year’s election campaign Trudeau said if his government was elected it would not buy the F-35. He said the aircraft didn’t fit Canada’s needs and was too expensive.


Earlier in the week, industry and defense sources said the Liberals were examining the purchase of the Super Hornets.


The Liberal government has not denied those deliberations, with officials arguing that time is of the essence in acquiring a new jet to ensure Canada’s security.


“There is a developing capability gap which needs to be managed,” Parliamentary Defence Secretary John McKay said. “We have obligations to NATO. We have obligations to NORAD. We have obligations to our own defence and to expeditionary matters.”


The government said no decision on the Super Hornets has yet been made.


Some industry officials argue Trudeau has backed himself into a corner on the fighter jet procurement. The prime minister has vowed his government would hold an open and fair competition to replace the CF-18 fighter jet, prompting critics to question how that could be if one specific jet was already ruled out.


Alan Williams, the former assistant deputy minister for materiel at Canada’s Department of National Defence, said Trudeau would not have been able to exclude the F-35 from an open competition.


If that indeed happened, Lockheed Martin could file a complaint with the federal court or a federal trade tribunal that it had been unfairly excluded from a bid, other procurement specialists noted.


But a Canadian provision that allows for the quick purchase of interim equipment without competition for reasons of national security could give the Liberal government the out they desire. They could argue that the Super Hornets are needed on an interim basis to meet Canada’s immediate needs, industry representatives say.


The proposed deal to buy Super Hornets on an interim basis would also push off any fighter competition well into the late 2020s, allowing Trudeau to keep his election promise, while dealing with the issue of replacing the country’s aging fleet of CF-18 jets.


Boeing did not respond to a request for comment.


Cindy Tessier, spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin Canada released a statement noting that, “Lockheed Martin has not been contacted by the Government of Canada on a requirement for an interim fighter solution.”


“We are confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price,” she added.


Besides Super Hornet and the F-35, the potential contenders to replace Canada’s CF-18s include the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and Saab’s Gripen.


In their defense platform, the Liberal Party stated that the primary role of a new Canadian fighter jet would be to contribute to the defense of North America and not to act as a “stealth first-strike platform.”


The Royal Canadian Air Force is in the midst of planning for a (CAN) $400 million ($300 million) modernization of the CF-18 fighter jets so they can continue operating until 2025. No contracts have yet been awarded on that modernization and it is unclear whether that project will now proceed.


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Arresting gear on Ford-class carriers under scrutiny

(DAILY PRESS, 13 JUNE 16) . Hugh Lessig


Citing cost and performance concerns, a Senate panel wants a full review of the new system designed to safely land planes on the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers.


The Advanced Arresting Gear, or AAG, uses a combination of energy-absorbing water turbines and an induction motor to bring aircraft to a controlled stop. Built by General Atomics, it is meant to be highly adjustable, suitable for a fighter jet, a larger aircraft or an unmanned drone. Its flexibility should reduce aircraft stress and maintenance costs.


However, the Senate Armed Services Committee revealed that the Navy is studying whether to continue with AAG in the Ford-class program or revert to a version of the system now used on current Nimitz-class carriers.


Newport News Shipbuilding preformed a turn shift for the Gerald R. Ford “CVN 78” rotating the aircraft carrier 180 degrees and docking it back to the pier on Saturday, June 11, 2016.


Newport News Shipbuilding builds aircraft carriers for the Navy. While the shipyard bears no responsibility for AAG’s testing and performance, problems with such a critical system can affect schedules and operations at the yard.


AAG already is installed on the first-in-class Gerald R. Ford, its construction essentially complete and scheduled to be delivered to the Navy later this year.


But the Navy is now reviewing what will happen with the second and third Ford-class ships, the John F. Kennedy and Enterprise, respectively, according to the committee. The Navy has already ordered AAG for Kennedy, making it less likely that a change will happen on that ship.


The concerns are outlined in the Armed Services Committee’s report on the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which serves as a blueprint for military spending and priorities. The NDAA comes up for a vote next week.


“The committee believes the Navy must pause and reconsider the way ahead, including the best business case, for the arresting gear on CVN-79 (Kennedy) and CVN-80 (Enterprise) and notes the Navy has already begun such a review,” the report states.


General Atomics referred questions about AAG to the Navy.


Capt. Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman, said she could not comment on specifics in the Senate report. In a statement emailed to the Daily Press, she said, “The Navy continues to work diligently to deliver the arresting gear system to the CVN-78 (Ford) class in accordance with program requirements. There is no decision to change that direction at this time.”


A key financial measure of the AAG is the procurement acquisition unit cost, which considers money spent on research and development, plus the scope of the planned purchase. As of February, it has risen 186 percent from the original baseline estimate in 2009, and 43 percent above the current basement estimate of 2013.


Besides cost, performance is also an issue. The committee notes “persistent delays in software development” that prompted the Navy to lower requirements for the AAG and eliminate a measure that it be back-fitted onto Nimitz-class ships.


In early 2015, the Navy considered using the current Nimitz-class system, called the Mark 7, on the upcoming Kennedy. It backed off.


The Navy “decided to continue with AAG, in part because the installation of the Mark 7 was estimated to cost $87 million more than AAG,” the report states. “This appears to be a shortsighted decision given the extraordinary and continuing development delays and cost growth, including more than $500 million since this decision was made in February 2015.”


The committee’s report is the latest in a series of publicly stated concerns about AAG.


In November 2014, the Government Accountability Office report noted failures in land-based testing and the potential for delays if the system already installed on the Gerald R. Ford had to be modified.


In March 2015, then-Rear Adm. Thomas Moore said the system was about two years behind schedule due to problems discovered in testing that led to further work and redesign. At the time, Moore was the Navy’s program executive officer for carriers. Now Vice Adm. Moore is the head of Naval Sea Systems Command, a post he formally assumed Friday.


In October, a Pentagon official told Congress that testing on AAG had not yet accumulated meaningful data, yet it was already installed on Ford.


Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., a member of the Armed Services panel, said a big challenge with the Ford-class program stems from introducing many new components all at once, instead of phasing in new systems over a series of ships. That decision was made some years ago.


As for AAG, he said there is no margin for error.



“I’m very aware of it,” he said, “and I’ve had discussions with people at the shipyard about it.”


He said the redesigned AAG “can’t work 95 percent of the time. That’s got to work 100 or 1,000 percent of the time. That is an area of real concern for the Navy. It’s a concern for the shipyard and it’s a concern for the committee.”


Referring to committee’s call for a full review, Kaine said, “We want the Secretary of Defense to basically give us a candid assessment of this, because we’ve got other ships under contract that are being designed. We want to make sure we are not putting our aviators at risk.”


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Navy In Dayton: A Top Admiral Says Drones Are Future Of Aviation

(DAYTON DAILY NEWS 15 JUN 16) … Barrie Barber


DAYTON – A top Navy leader says unmanned aerial vehicles are an “imperative” for the future of naval aviation.

Rear Adm. John R. Haley, a two-star admiral and commander of the Naval Air Force Atlantic fleet in Norfolk, Va., said he not only sees a future for UAVs on aircraft carriers, “I see an imperative for it in the future.”


Haley is the highest-ranking naval leader in Dayton this week for the first-ever “Navy Week” in the Gem City from June 13-19.


In an interview, he talked about issues facing the sea-going naval aviation fleet, training future sailors, and the tragic death of a Blue Angels pilot, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, in a June 2 plane crash in Tennessee. The flight team canceled an appearance at this weekend’s air show at Dayton International Airport.


The Blue Angels are “hurting,” Haley said. “It’s a tight team, as you would expect,” he said.


“We’re looking at all the evidence and doing our investigation and then as soon as we can complete that investigation we’ll get the Blue Angels flying again,” he said.


Carrier Drone


Flight test demonstrations of the Northrop Grumman X-47B in recent years showed a UAV could autonomously take-off and land on an aircraft carrier, something the admiral described as a “force multiplier.”


“If you ask a naval aviator about unmanned drones a lot of them will say, ‘Oh, that’s a threat, they’re going to put us out of business,’ or something like that. And I think folks that think that way are pretty myopic,” he said.


“…It’s a force multiplier and it’s doing so without putting another guy in harm’s way and also allowing you to link (sensor) systems together.”


The Navy could use a UAV as an aerial refueling tanker at sea and to hoist surveillance sensors into the skies, among future uses, he said.


While Dayton is an Air Force town as home of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, it has a small contingent of Navy sailors and scientists.


The Naval Medical Research Unit at Wright-Patterson has collaborated with the Air Force to solve oxygen generation problems on both the Air Force’s F-22 and the Navy’s F/A-18 fighter jets, Haley said.


The Navy is in the midst of fixing those problems on F-18s, a process that could take about a year to a year and a half to complete, he estimated. Oxygen loss-related incidents in the cockpit have been cut in half in the past year, he said.


The naval research unit relocated to Wright-Patterson from Pensacola, Fla., as part of the base realignment and closure process a decade ago. The move, Haley said, has “reaped huge benefits.”


“We’re getting a lot of benefit, both Air Force and Navy, from the research that’s being done from the units out there,” he said.


Next Generation Fighter


Like the Air Force and the Marine Corps, the Navy has waited years longer than initially scheduled for a carrier-based version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy has extended the life of and bought additional F-18 fighters to fill a fighter gap. The F-35’s development has exceeded expectations and cost estimates for the services, but Haley was confident naval aviation will glean lessons from the Marine Corps and the Air Force, both of which will fly the jet in operations before the Navy will.


The Marines fly the F-35B today to replace the aging AV-8B Harrier jump jet, and the Air Force expects to start to fly the land-based F-35A in operations late this year to replace the F-16 fighter and A-10 ground attack plane. The Navy will fly the F-35C starting in 2019.


“I would tell you that naval aviation is actually in a pretty good spot with the F-35,” Haley said. “…We’re going to be able to take those lessons and incorporate them in the airplane. Is the airplane perfect? No, it’s not perfect, but it’s going to be a great benefit.”


For all the hardware and equipment issues, Haley said training sailors is a key focus, too.


“…Sailors have to be better trained in a shorter period of time,” he said. “It has to be relevant to what we’re doing and they have to be ready for combat when we get there.”


The Naval Academy graduate, once an exchange student at the Air Force Academy, said Ohio’s educational system makes fertile territory to draw future sailors, even in an Air Force town like Dayton.


“I think that this area is very cognizant of the Navy more so than most landlocked Air Force-centric areas and so I have no problem coming into the land of Air Force and trying to recruit some great Americans to come into the Navy,” he said.


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Naval Aviation Vision: Legacy Navy Hornets Gone by 2026

(SEAPOWER MAGAZINE, 13 June 16) . Richard R. Burgess, Managing Editor


ARLINGTON, Va. – The Navy plans to retire its legacy F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters by 2026, according to its latest naval aviation vision statement.


“The last F/A-18A/B/C/D aircraft used by operational Navy squadrons will retire in 2026,” the Navy said in its publication “U.S. Naval Aviation Vision 2016-2025.”


The legacy Hornets are being replaced by the newer and larger F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to a greater extent than originally envisioned because of delays in the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter program. The F-35C carrier-based version is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2018 and from that time forward will replace the remaining Hornets.


The planned replacement for the F/A-18E/F and the EA-18G electronic attack aircraft is the F/A-XX.


“The aircraft designation F/A-XX is in the concept development phase with the goal to replace the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G when they retire,” the document said. “The future air wing will be an integrated family of systems that combine for greater effectiveness than the sum of its parts. F/A-XX will complement the air wing’s Lightning II, Advanced Hawkeye and rotary-wing aircraft. The ultimate concept must reliably and affordably incorporate future key technologies, including propulsion, sensors, networks and automation.”


The document is not clear on the retirement time frame for the Marine Corps’ legacy Hornets, stating only that they will be “sustaining into the future.” The short-takeoff/vertical-landing F-35B and the F-35C are replacing the legacy Hornets in the Corps.







FRCSW Saves US Taxpayers $2.1 Million!

FRCSW Saves $2.1 Million!

By AECS Hooks-Kramer

FRCSW spans the globe with sites covering the entire west coast of the United States and extending out to Hawaii and Japan. Additionally, the commands voyage rescue team works on aircraft carriers around the globe. FRCSW goes wherever the Navy and Marine Corps need maintenance personnel.

In September 2015 FRCSW sailors received an opportunity to step up and save US taxpayers a bundle of cash by quickly and efficiently reacting to a crisis situation.

At the command site in Kaneohe Bay, HI an issue arose when a fire suppression sprinkler system inadvertently discharged inside a planned maintenance interval (PMI) hanger on Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay. Inside the hangar were aircraft from HSM-37 that had come to the depot for rework. When the suppression system inadvertently deployed it created a situation where the intricate components of these aircraft were put into danger of being unrepairable and needing of replacement.

FRCSW sailors were called upon to assist in the reclamation of the aircraft avionics components. This resulted in 28 repairable assets being shipped to the commands main facility in San Diego, CA. for inspection, corrosion treatment, repair, cleaning and test & check. Technical experts, led by AT1 Zackary Scott, were able to return 17 of these assets to a Ready for Issue status meaning they could be re-deployed back onto the aircraft. The team’s ability to return these items in minimal time resulted in a savings of $2.1 million in replacement costs.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) sailors and artisans continue to step up and provide enormous value for US Taxpayers.


NAVAIR 6.0 taps FRCSW as quarter’s top employee

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. — Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Capital Investment Program (CIP) project manager Martha Hoffman was honored Nov. 6 as the Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations Competency (AIR 6.0) Employee of the Quarter, for the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.

Hoffman, who is assigned to the FRCSW Industrial Operations Management Department, plays a crucial role in providing big-ticket support equipment essential to the command’s mission of generating readiness through timely and responsive production.

Hoffman arrived at FRCSW in 2008 as a contractor in facilities. She later worked in compliance at Naval Air Technical Data and Engineering Service Command (NATEC), and in her current position, supports most of the command’s major competencies.

In a joint venture with Boeing, NAVAIR, Teradyne and the Common Aviation Support Equipment Office (PMA-260), Hoffman purchased FRCSW’s Reconfigurable Transportable Consolidated Automated Support System (RTCASS-D) which became operational in February. RTCASS-D is an advanced avionics tester used to pinpoint and resolve avionics component problems, which is used for aircraft including the V-22 Osprey, F/A-18 Hornet and UH-1 and AH-1 helicopters.

When the cables and connectors for the automated wiring analyzer (AWA) that tests the avionics and electrical systems to the E2-C Hawkeye began to fail, Hoffman worked to help replace it with a new custom-made unit.

“The new AWA is specifically designed to test the E2-C and all of its avionics program tests in the aircraft and is compatible with the previous test programs we had before,” she noted.

Activated in June, the AWA will eventually be modified with new modules to accommodate the electronic requirements of the E-2D model.

To expand the command’s physical security, Hoffman purchased smart card readers that will replace certain facility numbered entry locks. The card readers are currently scheduled for installation in eight FRCSW buildings.

Perhaps her largest purchase is the 55-foot long and approximately 28-foot wide Super Hornet alignment fixture that is also applicable for EA-18G Growler airframe repairs. The fixture will be used in the upcoming historic repair to an F/A-18E Super Hornet by splicing an existing section of the aircraft’s fuselage from that of a donor F/A-18F Super Hornet.

“We finished that F/A-18 fixture and seeing the faces of the artisans when they were ready to use that product — that was the greatest satisfaction,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman’s current projects include a vacuum chamber for chromium plating and a retrofit to the Campbell grinder in the components machine shop in Building 472 here.

Both projects should be awarded early next year.



FRCSW Sailor Tops New Zealand Ironman Field

Bike IMNZ 2015 Bike2 IMNZ 2015 Run IMNZ 2015

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSWs) LCDR Jeff Tomaszewski (MMCO)  recently competed in the 2015 Iron Man New Zealand event and with a time of 10:43:35 he finished FIRST amongst American males aged 40-44.

Jeff has been training for the better part of the last 19 years and has  competed in 10 other Iron Man competitions including the famous Kona, HI race 3 times!

Why New Zealand this time?

“Well, March I celebrated my 40th birthday, I wanted to travel internationally, I’ve heard a lot of great things about New Zealand and there just so happen to be an Ironman (IM) during the month of March. I guess you could say everything aligned!”


Congrats Jeff and keep up the good work!

FRCSW Mentors High School to Robotic Championship!




Fleet Readiness Center Southwest engineers have been working with various local high school in the San Diego region for more than 20 years. Cultivating a love of engineering and showing the kids that the government is involved in a number of cutting edge technologies.

FRCSW engineers and Otay Mesa High School student recently teamed up to win the state robotics championship and has qualified to compete in the world championship in Louisville, KY next month.

Congrats to the students and mentors that made this happen!