By Geoff Fein

Last month’s acknowledgement by the Navy that the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) portion of the Remote Minehunting System (RMS) program suffered a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach should not be interpreted as the effort having technical problems, according to a service official.

In November, the program manager for AN/WLD-1 RMS notified Navy officials of reasonable cause to believe average procurement unit costs for the RMMVs are $12.7 million, approximately 51.8 percent greater (in 2006 baseline dollars) than the original baseline estimate; and that procurement acquisition unit costs are approximately $22.4 million, 85.3 percent greater (in 2006 baseline dollars) than the original baseline estimate (Defense Daily, Dec. 21).

"The cost increases are attributed primarily to the decision to eliminate the RMMV from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Anti-Submarine Warfare Mission Package (ASW MP), reducing the overall inventory objective quantity from 108 to 54," the Navy said at the time of announcing the Nunn-McCurdy breach.

In the case of RMS and RMHV, one of the things that is not very well appreciated are the key performance parameters the system has to meet, Capt. Mike Good, program manager for the LCS Mission Module Program Office, said yesterday at the Surface Navy Association annual symposium in Arlington, Va.

"There were nine and eight of them were well met. It performs the mission," he said. "One area that needs some work is reliability."

Lockheed Martin [LMT] builds the RMMV.

The key component of the Navy’s RMS is the RMMV, a robust unmanned, semi-submersible, semi-autonomous vehicle that can be adapted to a broad spectrum of applications and missions, including towing variable-depth sensors to detect, localize, classify and identify undersea threats at a safe distance from friendly ships, Lockheed Martin said. The RMMV provides all-weather, low-observable operations, high endurance, interchangeable mission system electronics, and real-time data transfer capability beyond line of sight (Defense Daily, Jan. 23, 2008).

Capt. Paul Siegrist, program manager unmanned maritime vehicle systems (PMS-403), and his team, as well as personnel from Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, Fla., and Lockheed Martin, are all working on the reliability issues, Good added.

"We have 10 of those vehicles. I am going to continue to use those vehicles just like we did in the end-to-end that we did in Panama City. The vehicle worked just great," he said.

Any system needs to be reliable, Good said.

"Because for our sailors and our crewing that we have of…15 sailors…we need to provide them the most robust capability because they need to focus on mission rather than continuing to worry about maintenance or reliability," he said.

Each Littoral Combat Ship mission package has a crew detachment of approximately 15 sailors.

RMS is one example of systems and technologies Good said he has reviewed. "We do reviews with every one of the other programs and one of the particular things we look at is what is their performance?"

"RM&A (reliability, maintainability, and availability) is one of the unsung things. It’s not as attractive, but it is critical," he said. "Clearly [reliability] is one of the things we see here."

Good added that there are no other systems or technologies in any of the three planned mission packages (mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare) that jump out as areas of concern.

"The biggest thing with any of the systems is continuing to progress through their testing and then get them fielded as part of the package," he said.