The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense
Smooth Sailing. SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John Warner (R.-Va.) said last week they made a special effort to move the nomination of Adm. Gary Roughead to become the Chief of Naval Operations as quickly as possible. "I felt it imperative that there not be a moment's gap" between Adm. Michael Mullen's departure as CNO to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his replacement by Roughead, Warner said. Other senators, including Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), spoke Sept. 28 in support of the new CNO.
Also Promoted. The Senate approved the nominations of a number of other top military officers, albeit with less fanfare. Those include: Gen. Kevin Chilton, the commander of Air Force Space Command, to lead U.S. Strategic Command; Army Gen. William Ward, the deputy commander of European Command, to lead Africa Command; and Lt. Gen. James Mattis, commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, to lead Joint Forces Command. If confirmed, Mattis will receive a fourth star.
Investigation Due. Gen. Kevin Chilton, the next commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told SASC last week that a report on the transfer of six nuclear weapons from North Dakota to Louisiana is expected by the end of the month. "We have already taken actions both in Air Force Space Command and at Air Combat Command to review our procedures, to meet with those individuals responsible for executing those procedures, to make sure they clearly understand the gravity of what they do, and make sure they are properly trained," Chilton said in response to a question from Sen. John Warner (R-Va.).
LCS Cost Cap. The Senate last week unanimously agreed to add a package of amendments to the defense authorization bill including one that would grant the Navy's request to raise the cost cap on the fifth and sixth Littoral Combat Ships to $460 million. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee, sponsored the amendment along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking member of the committee, who has made strong statements in the past about the need to rein in cost growth on major acquisition programs including LCS. The previous cost cap for the program was $220 million per vessel in last year's authorization bill.
Rumblings of Delay. Lawmakers are considering postponing consideration of the Iraq war supplemental for $189 billion until February. After a defense appropriations bill is passed, the Defense Department could continue to fund the war effort by using money in the base budget along with funding provided in the continuing resolution, sources said last week. On Sept. 27, House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that some were considering the option, but that leadership had not yet adopted that as a strategy.
Looking Back. Former Chief of Naval Operations and now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen tells Defense Daily that thing he remembers the most about his time as CNO are the people and the family support. "[It's] the best people, the best family support I have ever seen. They are our national treasure and we worked hard to make them a priority and to make sure we get it right for them," he says. "Their morale is up, retention is up...they are the best I have ever seen. Of all the things in this job that I treasure the most, it has been the relationship with them and the pride I have in being just one person on this great Navy team of sailors and families."
Maintaining The H-1. The Navy is in the midst of studying how it will handle logistics and maintenance for Bell Helicopter Textron's H-1 helicopters, Col. Keith Birkholz, H-1 program manager, tells Defense Daily. "What we are starting with is the same three levels of maintenance we have always had, but we've only fully vetted the O level...the organizational level...at the actual squadron, and we are still studying what the I...the intermediate...and depot level will look like in the future," he says.
...Keeping Parts Flowing. "Our intent is to try and minimize the I level and look through improvements in availability, reliability and maintainability of components," Birkholz adds. The idea is to have the I level just remove the component and then instead of having it in a repair cycle at the I level for weeks or months, send it back to the original equipment manufacturer...the OEM, or the depot, and they ship a new one immediately, he says. "Then they absorb the down time while the unit is being repaired at the depot level. We are in the initial stages of exploring our PBL strategy and intend to put that on contract by 2009, and that would also modify the traditional three level of organic Navy and Marine Corps maintenance."
A Real Success Story. The Navy last week took delivery of the first production Boeing EA-18G "Growler." The electronic warfare aircraft will replace the Navy's fleet of EA-6B Prowlers. Delores Etter, the Navy's acquisition chief, tells Defense Daily that this is a big deal for the Navy. "The Growler is really important because it is going to be replacing a very old system, the EA-6B, that were around in Vietnam," she says. "But from my perspective, what makes this really important for me, here is a program that was ahead of schedule, on budget and with more performance than initially planned." Etter adds that the Growler program is a win for acquisition. "Here is a program that is really doing very well, and that is because of leadership, the program office, NAVAIR, contractors...so it really is a good story."
...Spiraling Along. With the F-18 the Navy was able to do spiral upgrades, taking smaller pieces of new capability and working them into the existing aircraft, Etter says. With the Growler, the Navy was able to build upon the existing successful F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and turn it into the Growler. "So with a fairly small amount of work...I don't want to minimize that there was a lot of effort to do this...but you had a baseline to build from. It wasn't like starting all over with a new aircraft," she says. "So when we are able to do things in smaller pieces...work with an existing production line...it just helps us do things [that] we'd like to do on all of our systems, but we just don't have the luxury to do that all the time."
Reaching The Top. Lockheed Martin's Systems Integration facility in Owego, N.Y., achieved CMMI maturity level 5, the company reports last week. The new rating for Owego is the second time the facility has reached level 5, but the first time under the new version 1.2, a more rigorous version, the company reports. "It's another validation of world class processes we use up in Owego to help our customers succeed," Steve Ramsey, executive vice president systems integration, Owego, tells Defense Daily. "It makes a difference to our customer. [It's] not just a certificate you hang on the wall. It is something that improves our performance and reduces risk on our programs and that's why we think it is important." What was good about this rating, Ramsey adds, is that the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute specifically reviewed in detail Owego's largest programs, including VH-71, MH-60R, A-10 and the Lockheed Martin's CSAR proposal activity, as well as one of our major programs for USPS. "[They] took a wide swath of our business and examined that in detail across these particular programs," he says.
...CMMI Benefits. Ramsey notes that the rating reduces risk by putting repeatable processes in place across the entire business. "[It] ensures there are a standard set of processes that are going to be used to address all of the standards issues that would come up, whether small programs or large programs," he says. "[It] enables us to more consistently address those issues in a way that precludes problems from happening. When issues do come up [we] address them in a more consistent manner. That leverages the best assets the company has to solve the issues as they come up. The result is increased productivity and decreased risk of issues coming up. [It] results in less cost for the government and predictability for success for the government...[and] better contract performance."
Clarification. Defense Daily made an "apples-to-oranges" comparison in describing the current cost estimates of the Air Force's C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) and did not provide proper context in the Sept. 28 article, C-5 RERP Breaches Nunn-McCurdy Thresholds, Will Require Recertification. In FY '00 dollars, the Air Force estimates that the costs of RERP development and production, including depot standup and military construction, lie at $13.2 billion. Conversely, Lockheed Martin's estimated costs, also in FY '00 dollars, for RERP development and production, but not including depot standup or military construction, rest around $10.3 billion, the Air Force says. Please see the C-5 story in this issue for a more thorough explanation of the RERP costs.
Schedule Matters. Assuming the Air Force's plans to recapitalize its fleet of more than 500 KC-135 tanker aircraft proceeds on course, the first KC-135R will be retired in 2018 and the last one around 2048, says Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command. But if these plans are derailed by funding perturbations or other factors, such as a protest in the current KC-X tanker contest, the first KC-135R may not be phased out until 2027 and the final one not until 2082, he warns. The Air Force has more than 500 KC- 135s, more than 400 of which are newer R models and the rest older more troublesome KC-135Es. But all KC-135s are more than 40 years old on average and, by the time of their retirement, some of them could end up being in service for the unheard of duration of more than 100 years, based on these projections. Asking pilots to go out and fly such old aircraft is something no Air Force commander wants to do, Lichte says.
Cyber King. Air Force Maj. Gen. William Lord has been reassigned to command Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) at Barksdale, AFB, La. He will oversee Air Force cyber- related activities and work to establish the permanent major command that the service intends to establish for this domain, similar to Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command. Prior to the new assignment, Lord was in charge of cyberspace transformation and strategy in the Secretary of the Air Force's Office of Warfighting Integration.
Raptor Rush. The recently completed second increment of follow-on operational test and evaluation (FOT&E) for the Air Force's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet shows that the new aircraft is "effective, suitable and mission capable," according jet-maker Lockheed Martin and the Air Force. "This second FOT&E was a significant milestone in terms of validating the F-22's combat capability to conduct offensive counterair-destruction of enemy air defenses," says Maj. Gen. Steve Sargeant, commander of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. "We are confident that we have provided Air Combat Command and senior Air Force leaders with an accurate and complete picture of the Raptor's impressive operational capabilities."
Humming Along. Boeing says it completed an eight-hour test flight of its turbine-powered A160T Hummingbird unmanned helicopter Sept. 26 near Victorville, Calif., marking the longest mission of the platform to date. The Hummingbird carried a 1,000-pound payload to simulate a mission to deliver supplies to ground troops and reached 5,000 feet in altitude, Boeing says. "This is a major milestone for Boeing, the A160 program and unmanned rotorcraft," says Jim Martin, Boeing A160T program manager. "The ability to carry a 1,000-pound payload and fly for that duration puts the A160T in a category by itself." Ultimately, Boeing says it plans to fly this version of the A160 for 18 consecutive hours with a 300-pound payload. The company is developing the Hummingbird for DARPA for missions ranging from information-gathering to strike, resupply and even retrieval of stranded pilots.
Helping Hands. The 3rd Battalion of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB) is supporting a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The aid comes in response to escalating internal tensions. As of Sept. 7, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than 295,000 internally displaced people were located in the North Kivu Province of the Congo. In response, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance contacted the 3-405th AFSB, located at Camp Darby, Italy, requesting immediate support for the shipment of humanitarian supplies to the region. The 3/405th AFSB is responsible for the storage, maintenance and shipment of USAID humanitarian supplies under an interagency agreement between the State Department and the Army. The initial shipment of 200 rolls of plastic sheeting, as requested by USAID, was pulled from storage areas within the 3/405th AFSB and prepared for immediate shipment within 48 hours of the initial request. The sheeting will be used to create temporary shelters. Gregory Gottlieb, USAID's acting assistant administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, says: "USAID is sending about 22 cargo planes full of commodities to Goma in a 10-day period to assure that those in need are given assistance as quickly as possible."
Under The Microscope. Army Secretary Pete Geren is looking forward to a report on the role of contractors in support of the war effort, led by Jacques Gansler, former top acquisition official in the Clinton years. Geren says he wants to know things such as how to manage contractor support better, how to properly apportion duties and responsibilities and consider if some duties now performed by contractors should be brought back into the service and done by soldiers. The idea, he tells reporters at a breakfast last week, is how to do contractor support efficiently, legally and supporting soldiers when they need it. Right now some 40 percent of contractors are involved in base operations, and a very small percentage are involved in security work--perhaps 8,000 of overall 130,000-140,000 contractors, he says. However, he says, "I don't see any way we're going to significantly reduce our reliance on contractors."
Poor Effort. New Zealand, Scandianvian, European and other nations abstain on a resolution for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, proposed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna last week. New Zealand Disarmament Minister Phil Goff was disappointed. "It is disappointing that poor consultation and lack of process on this occasion has caused us to abstain," he says. "This resolution would be normally adopted by consensus. We hope that it will be possible to return to consensus next year." The resolution passed with 53 votes in favour, 2 nos and 47 abstentions. New Zealand strongly supports nuclear weapon free zones. It continues to support the IAEA's safeguards work in the Middle East and the development of a nuclear weapon free zone in that region.
See In The Dark. ITT Corp.'s Night Vision division says Sept. 24 it delivered the one millionth Generation (Gen) 3 image intensifier tube, the heart of the company's night vision technology. ITT Night Vision began producing Gen 3 night vision tubes in 1982 at its Roanoke, Va., facility, when it received its first production contract for the AN/AVS-6 aviation goggle. Since then, the Gen 3 tube has undergone much technological advancement to meet increased customer needs. As a result, today's military-grade Gen 3 tube for ground goggles offers an ability to detect available light that is more than 10 times the power of the Gen 1 tube technology of the 1960s. Mike Hayman, president and general manager of ITT Night Vision, says: "We are very proud of this milestone, and look forward to advancing the technology more in the years to come."
Canine Battle Honors. You don't always hear about their work, but Australia will honor its Army Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD), two of which recently died serving in Afghanistan. Razz and Merlin will be honoured in a memorial to be erected at the School of Military Engineering in Sydney. Razz was a casualty of a Taliban IED attack two weeks ago, Merlin was killed in a vehicle accident four weeks ago. "An existing memorial at the home of the EDD, the School of Military Engineering will be expanded to incorporate and pay tribute to the hard work of the EDD. In this case the dogs have paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of Australian soldiers on operations," Maj. Gen. Ash, Commander of Training Command Army, says. The Australian Army has used working dogs since World War One. Since 2005 EDDs have served searching for weapons and IEDS in Afghanistan. It takes 19 weeks of training to qualify an explosive detection dog and 15 weeks of training to qualify a handler at the School of Military Engineering.
Planting The Seed. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Paul Hester says he hopes that his recent trip to China in July will spawn greater exchange between the U.S. and Chinese air forces. His five-day visit was the first trip by an Air Force general to the Asian nation in about 15 years. It was a "one-time date," he says, adding that he would like to see the Chinese reciprocate U.S. transparency by allowing U.S. observers at their military exercises. He also would welcome exchanges between mid-level officers and NCOs as a means of building lasting long-term ties.
...Invite. Hester says he also passed along an invitation from Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley to the Chinese air chief to come to the United States for a visit. Both sides are now working the issue, he says.
...Trip Log. Hester says he was given access to airbases that the United States had not visited before and got to sit in the cockpits of FB-7 and Su-27 fighters and speak to Chinese pilots through interpreters to discuss their level of technical expertise. He says he was impressed by the crews that he met and their willingness to talk He was not shown China's new J-10 fighter, but "I volunteered to go back and fly a J-10," he notes.