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News | Jan. 6, 2017

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

By frcsw

  1. NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool
NAVAIR Blog: What does empowerment look like (link)
  1. Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results
  2. NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award
  3. PHOTO RELEASE: FRCSW, NAS North Island join to support Toys for Tots
  4. The NAVAIR Mentoring Program: Mentoring: Millennial Matters
  5. AIR-6.0 LOGTALK - The Importance of Maintenance Planning with SES Tracy Moran, AIR-6.7 Department Head (link)
  1. Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators' safety
  2. What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness
  3. Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness
  4. China's air force is becoming very powerful
  5. New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones
  6. Big data, software continue to stump defense programs
  7. F-35s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   WERE SOCIAL! Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains, Facebook at and YouTube at   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ LOCAL COVERAGE +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool   NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. NAVAIRs lead business financial manager (BFM) of the year, Denise Mallett, was also recognized by acquisition chief Frank Kendall at the Pentagon Dec. 8 for creating a database that revolutionized the way the command performs acquisition financial management.   After prototyping and proving the concept in the H-1 U.S. Marine Corps Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276), where Mallett served as the lead BFM, she passionately explained her vision to NAVAIR leadership, resulting in the go-ahead to develop a SQL-server based tool that could be used across NAVAIR to manage all appropriated funds. In October, Mallett moved to the Industrial and Logistics Competency as the lead BFM.   Her tooloriginally called the spend plan database, now NAVAIRs Common Spend Plan Tool (CSPT)integrates all program office financial planning information, connects the data with Navy ERP and standardizes financial processes across every program office. Before her tool, financial plans were stove-piped in hundreds of disconnected and standalone spreadsheetsnow her planning tool seamlessly integrates more than $68.1 billion and almost 800 budget accounts, providing unprecedented visibility, insight and speed.   I had just started as the lead BFM in H-1 and was having trouble getting my arms around everything I needed to do because each integrated program team (IPT) had their own different workbook, and each BFM even within each IPT had a separate workbook for their ledger and their documents with the comptroller. I was struggling to get all of that data into one place, Mallett said.   The H-1 program office is co-located with the Presidential Helo program, and it was there that lead BFM Matt Aley introduced Mallett to the Microsoft Access database he used.   She took a two-day Access training course, then spent evenings and weekends programming it herself. Once developed for the H-1 program, other program managers asked if she could show it to them and share it. While Mallett was able to share the database on a disk, any improvements or new functionality could not be passed along easily, she said.   I didnt have a training package, a help desk or reference guide, or any mechanism to distribute changes, so it has been hard to share, but now that we have the common tool centrally managed and supported by the command, it has become a common process tool, Mallett said.   The tool offers several advantages for program managers and BFMs.   BFMs now spend less time on data redundancy, manual re-entry and looking for the data, she said. Now you can just cut to the chase, get the data, do the analysis, make the decision and go. For example, if leadership calls and wants to know how much money your whole program sent to a particular contractor, open the tool, filter your criteria, and you have your answer.   It also saves time for lead BFMs, who now have access to data with consistent field names, making data easier to find and consolidate. Within a minute you can have the answer instead of spending hours gathering it, she said.   "Without Ms. Mallett's vision and persistence, CSPT would not exist in its current state, said Capt. Aaron Traver, director of operations for the Program & Business Analysis Department. We have been able to roll out CSPT to over 1,000 users in 2016, with more users being added daily.   The response has been overwhelmingly positive and this is a testament to the countless hours invested by Ms. Mallett to ensure CSPT would be useful, intuitively simple and flexible enough to accommodate everyone in this very complex and dynamic organization, Traver said.   Mallett was first recognized for her planning tool in October, when she was named NAVAIRs BFM of the Year, starting what Todd Washington, director, Program & Business Analysis Department, envisions as an annual award.   Its most impressive that Denise supported the CSPT development while also continuing her stellar performance as the PMA-276 Lead BFM, Washington said. Her ability to manage both of these significant, dynamic and complex responsibilitieswithout negative impact to eitherwas a testament to her commitment and dedication to the Navy and NAVAIR.   Earning NAVAIRs first BFM of the Year validated Malletts work ethic, she said.   Being selected for the Department of Defense-level award has been exponentially even more flattering. It is definitely a great advertisement for the support that NAVAIR leadership at all levels has for this tool, recognizing that it saves time and adds value to the operation and mission that we are all doing in the DoD. To Mallett, it is more of a team award.   There were many people working alongside me and contributing to its fruition, from the developers, the programmers and especially my BFM team. They embraced the change and dealt with the learning curving when sometimes they felt like the new database was so much harder than their old spreadsheets. They really did hang with it, along with the program managers and the IPT leads who gave it a chance to succeed, she said. Mallett is proud of the role BFMs play.   We do more than data entry, write checks and create funding documents; we are a very supportive team that serves as the financial conscience of NAVAIR and are the subject matter experts helping to facilitate the decisions made by the command.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results   NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.Thomas McClay, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Total Asset Visibility (NAWCAD 6.8.3) competency manager, received the 2016 Daniel L. Nega Excellence in Logistics Leadership Award at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, Dec. 19.   Established in 2014, the award recognizes a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) national civilian or military employee annually for excellence in commitment and dedication to the people, mission and professionalism of AIR-6.0.   During the awards eligibility period, McClay and his team implemented process changes critical to improving NAVAIRs enterprise asset visibility, reutilization and audit readiness. The work included deploying an Item Unique Identification Data (IUID) marking capability at Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) to resolve obsolescence and information technology challenges associated with the legacy system. Mandated by the Defense Department, IUID is a system of marking items with a globally unique item identifier, or UII, to distinguish them from all others.   If implemented properly, McClay said, the IUID marking capability enables the automatic capture of data for inventory and engineering purposes; improves FRCs ability to trace parts; reduces data-entry errors; and is an effective anti-counterfeit management and accurate source for property and equipment valuation and accountability. The IUID marking is used on all new acquisitions on items the government currently owns and on government furnished property that meet specific criteria.   McClay also led the team in the transitioning of NAVAIRs Central Kitting Activity (CKA) located in Orange Park, Florida, from a legacy stovepipe computer system into the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, supporting NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags guidance for asset accountability. In less than a month, the team conducted a wall-to-wall inventory at the CKA Assembly Plantan endeavor involving more than 23,000 unique items/parts with a total inventory count of 14 million piecesand entered 19,661 parts valued at over $473 million into Navy ERP.   This action addressed the risks associated with incomplete or inaccurate inventory records, McClay said. This activity ensured parts are readily available when needed to build kits that directly support readiness, affordability and speed to the fleet by ensuring inventory accuracy, increased asset visibility and reduced costs. Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0), acknowledged McClay for his leadership that drove solutions forward, stating The time and effort you are dedicating to improving our established processes and developing your workforce is impressive and reflected in your divisions support to the warfighter.   McClays focus on advancing the careers of the AIR 6.8 workforce and his drive to personally recruit and mentor five wounded warriors caught the attention of the award board as well. To better facilitate these efforts, he updated the Talent Management Dashboard and Career Guidebook portions associated with the Total Asset Visibility (TAV) divisionwork critical to ensure tools are available to employees seeking to advance their careers.   McClay said he values the approaches that people from different backgrounds, races, ages, military experiences and education levels bring to a team and especially wanted to harness the skills and abilities of veterans. He credits that outlook to his Navy career, from which he retired in 1999 as a data processing chief petty officer. I believe in leadership by example, especially in areas of ethics, diversity and personnel development, he explained. Each and every person is unique and contributes their perspectives and experiences. Wounded warriors especially bring viewpoints and insights that are not ordinarily found.   The awards namesake, Daniel Nega, director of the NAVAIR Cost Estimating and Analysis Department, said McClays commitment and leadership stood out amongst all nominees. He clearly came out on top and exemplifies the leadership the award was created to commend.   McClay said the successes recognized by the award reflect the empowerment of the team members and credited their initiative. I believe that responsibility should be delegated when appropriate and not to micromanage the work, he said. Not every decision or communication is required to come through me. My employees choose solutions and courses of action while I observe. Although my name is on the award, the spotlight is theirs.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award   NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND - Naval Air Systems Commands (NAVAIR) In-Service Support Center (ISSC) North Island, Advanced Aircraft Technologies Team recently earned a 2016 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) Far West Regional Award.   Located at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, the NAVAIR ISSC won the award in the Outstanding Technology Development category for its F/A-18 Hornet Landing Gear Strut Operational Readiness Monitoring (STORM) System.   The FLC is comprised of more than 300 federal laboratories, research facilities and their parent commands. Its goal is to streamline partnership prospects for federal labs, and to promote resulting federal technologies in the marketplace.   STORM acts as a pressure gauge for F/A-18 landing gear, which endures about 150,000 pounds of force when landing, and was created in view of aircraft mishaps attributed to faulty or improperly serviced shock absorbers. As an engineering representative to the Naval Safety Centers Aircraft Mishap Board, NAVAIR aerospace engineer Chrys Starr has analyzed numerous incidents where shock absorbers were suspect catalysts in mishaps.   Starr also serves as the landing gear advisor to a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program targeting airframe and landing gear fatigue damage to multi-mission P-8 Poseidon aircraft.   The SBIR encourages private business participation in federal research and development projects that may have the potential for commercialization. The P-8 SBIR project is held in conjunction with ES3, a small San Diego-based engineering firm.   STORM is a portion of the P-8 SBIR.   Starr realized that STORM could be adapted to other existing military and civilian airframes, and formed a team of other aerospace engineers to develop the system for F/A-18 use.   The team collaborated with the P-8 technical point of contact, NAVAIR SBIR, the F/A-18 Program Office and Science and Technology Lead to establish another SBIR with ES3 to develop STORM for the Hornet airframe. Monitoring landing gear strut oil levels cannot be performed while an aircraft is sitting weight on wheels.   Consequently, aircraft need to be removed from service for an extended period while maintenance is performed. To avoid taking the aircraft out of service, the maintenance plan had been to pump nitrogen into the strut system. An inert gas, nitrogen does not corrode or react with landing gear components. However, its use in place of oil has become a leading cause of landing gear mishaps.   STORM will work much like the oil light in a car, providing a simple means of monitoring the landing gear oil levels of the Hornet. A red-yellow-green lighting system positioned in the wheel well of the aircraft will allow maintenance personnel easy access during routine inspections.   The system will measure temperature and pressure of the shock absorber while the aircraft is in flight, at landing and stationary. Its software is based upon Boyles law, which states that the pressure and volume of gases are inversely proportional under constant temperatures.   The relationship with SBIR and FRCSW began about one year ago; the project is in Phase 2 of its development where the software is being optimized for the F/A-18 application. SBIR is projected to have a proto-type ready for Phase 3, an implementation phase, by early 2018.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators' safety   San Diego Union-Tribune, By Amy Schafer   The collision of two Marine jets off the coast of Southern California in November gave San Diego a front-row seat to the life-or-death consequences of delaying maintenance and denying training hours to Marine Corps aviators. The lack of funding for these core elements of the USMC mission due mostly to Congress self-inflicted wound of sequestration constitutes a breach of faith with the men and women who risk their lives serving our nation.   Sequestrations toll on the core man, train, and equip missions now has a body count, and United States Marine Corps aviation is the canary in the coal mine.   The recent removal of USMC Fighter Attack Squadron 232s commander is the fourth involuntary change in aviation leadership in 2016, a phenomenon underscoring a much broader deterioration in the quality of USMC aviation. Facing untenable budgetary instability and frequent deployments, readiness has plummeted and crashes have increased precipitously. Department of Defense accountability may come via an inspector general report in 2017, but that is too little, too late.   Pilots are not being given enough flight time to safely perform their duties, creating unnecessary and deadly risk for pilots and their crews. After a Sept. 2, 2015 CH-53E Super Stallion crash, USMC aviation deaths were already at a five-year high. Less than five months later, two more Super Stallions collided off the coast of Hawaii, with 12 more Marines lost in the crash. The investigation cited pilot error, based on low aircraft readiness that led to inadequate pilot proficiency. Following these devastating losses, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller testified to Congress, our aviation units are currently unable to meet our training and mission requirements, also noting, when you dont have enough airplanes to fly, then your flying hours go down and it becomes difficult to maintain your currency.   In the wake of these accidents, the Marine Corps Times highlighted the endemic problems facing USMC aviation; the mandatory sequester followed by budget caps has limited flight training hours, the maintenance and upgrading of platforms, and the purchase of new systems, plaguing readiness and corresponding with a marked increase in aviation accidents. In the wake of these accidents, USMC spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns confirmed there are 85 F/A-18s available for training, less than half the 171 required.   The aviation community is hamstrung and struggling to prepare to fight future conflicts, all while facing increasingly dangerous training conditions at home. With a high operational tempo, aging equipment, and a shortage of funding, it is nearly impossible to rectify the deadly cocktail of slashed training hours, equipment that hasnt received on-time maintenance and prioritization of deploying squadrons. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for USMC aviation, has acknowledged that not only is the situation dire, but were in a deep hole and have a ways to go to climb out.   After Gen. Nellers March testimony, the USMC began investigating whether there was a linear correlation between the lack of training hours and increase in aviation accidents. As part of debate over the National Defense Authorization Act in April, Lt. Gen. Davis testified to issues arising with the F/A-18 Hornet, noting the operational tempo and overutilization had led to a low flight time and short training progression for pilots.   Since the beginning of the summer of 2016, there have been seven legacy hornet crashes or incidents involving U.S. forces, three of which have killed their pilots. On Oct. 26, an F/A-18 crashed on a training flight, and two weeks later two F/A-18s collided midair, while in June a Blue Angels pilot was killed in a crash, and on Dec. 17, Naval aviation grounded all F/A-18s in response to yet another problem.   Without change, armed forces aviation will be defined by maintenance failure and deadly training accidents. The USMC stand-down on all nondeployed aviation over the summer played well with critics, and is a first step in re-evaluating the safety with which aviation can function at these low levels of funding, but does not go far enough. The problem is so dire that a single safety review is a drop in the bucket of deferred costs.   Aviation has always been a high-risk endeavor and even in the best of operating environments, accidents do happen. However, the inexcusable degradation of readiness at the hands of an irresponsible Congress is simply unacceptable. This should be a bipartisan issue. Those suffering at the hands of sequestration are our men and women in uniform. It is imperative that Congress remove the danger inherent in allowing aviation to degrade by providing robust funding increases and further safety measures. Its a dangerous business is no longer a sufficient explanation.   Schafer is a research assistant for the Military, Veterans & Society program at the Center for a New American Security.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness   Task & Purpose, Dec. 30 | Carl Forsling   On Dec. 13, when a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey landed in the water just shy of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, it became yet another high-profile incident for an aircraft that has had more than its share. The aircraft is notorious after four high-profile mishaps during its development phase, including one that claimed the lives of 19 Marines in 2000.   After that disaster, the Osprey program was revamped and the aircraft substantially redesigned. It became the mainstay of the Marines' vertical lift and Air Force special operations. As a 20-year Marine aviator, I started my career in the Osprey's predecessor, the CH-46E Sea Knight. I felt safer in the V-22 than I did in the CH-46. Its mishap rate is comparable to any other platform in the inventory, but I worry that my successors are not as safe though - not because of the aircraft, but because the system is not giving them enough time to train.   What most stories about the accident in Okinawa do not pay sufficient attention to is that the aircraft struck an aerial refueling drogue with its proprotors - in other words, it hit part of the refuelling equipment trailing the tanker with its propellers. The underlying reasons that happened will be the subject of a detailed investigation.   Undoubtedly that investigation will describe a laundry list of causal factors ranging from the flight schedule to the unit's operating procedures to how much sleep the pilots had the night before to what they had for breakfast. The story here is almost certainly some form of human error on the part of the aircraft's crew. Those human errors are a lot more likely when pilots don't get enough practice. A well-practiced crew can usually overcome the friction points that happen in military aviation, be that weather, fatigue, or personal stress. One that isn't is a lot more likely to have severe problems when events go astray. What's very unlikely is that the aircraft itself was to blame. That the V-22 Osprey was involved should not be the takeaway from this story.   The most important takeaway is that this incident is very similar to others across the Marine Corps recently. There has been an alarming trend in Marine aviation - a high rate of mishaps, many, if not most, involving aircrew error. Four Marine F/A-18s have been involved in Class A mishaps (involving $2 million, loss of aircraft, or death) just since this October, two due to a mid-air collision. This March, 12 Marines died in a midair collision involving two CH-53Es. Another CH-53E recently suffered severe damage after striking a building. The mishap rate in the first three months of this fiscal year is an astonishing 11.26 per 100,000 flight hours. For the last 12 months, it's been 5.0. There are well above historical norms, though the Naval Safety Center optimistically rates fiscal year 2017 thus far as the "36th best year in history at this rate." 36th Time to celebrate! The Corps' message should have been to highlight the readiness and training problems that Marine aviation as a whole is experiencing.   This latest incident should serve as another warning that Marine aviation training has reached a dangerously poor level. These accidents were not the result of enemy action, but occurred during normal operations and training. No Marine aircraft is a deathtrap. Or rather, any aircraft can be a deathtrap if you only get to fly it a few times a month, then have to perform demanding missions in order to pack in required training for an upcoming deployment. Even tasks that are the bread-and-butter of military flight operations, like the aerial refueling that claimed the Osprey in Okinawa, are extraordinarily dangerous by civilian standards. They are only made safe by continuous practice.   The Marines are known for doing the extraordinary so often that it has become routine. When pilots don't get sufficient stick time to be confident in the fundamentals, the extraordinary isn't routine, it's pushing one's luck. According to a Marine Corps source, as of Spring 2016, Osprey pilots were getting an average of 15.3 of 16.2 hours required to maintain proficiency in required skills. CH-53E pilots were getting 10.7 of 15.1. Hornet pilots were getting a truly abysmal 8.8 of 15.7. Fifteen hours a month is the minimal acceptable level to safely fly military aircraft. At least 20 are required to become confident and proficient.   Over the course of my 20-year career, I personally saw my flight time go from an average of 25 per month at the beginning to less than 20 by the time I left in 2015. Now it's sunk even lower, except that today's aviators don't have a foundation of years of consistent flying. Many have known nothing but sporadic training, interrupted by brief periods of frenetic operations while deployed. Even when the average number of flight hours per pilot reaches the minimum of 15, it doesn't mean that the aviation community is safe, because that distribution is heavily skewed.   A current squadron commander I spoke with told me he is forced to triage his pilots. His key instructors and flight leaders who will fill key roles on the next deployment get what they need, but everyone below that gets whatever is left over, and is barely enough to keep the squadron qualified to fly its assigned mission sets. His squadron "hog board" of pilot flight hours showed his top five senior instructors averaging a decent 24 hours a month. His bottom five, mostly lieutenants, all had less than five hours a month. At five hours a month, every flight is just relearning what one forgot since the last time. Those lieutenants are going to have to step up soon.   Ironically, his top five are planning on leaving the Corps in the near future. Their replacements will come from among those getting less than five hours a month of training. This isn't getting better until more aircraft are ready to fly. The budget squeeze brought about by the continuing sequester plus the demands of continuing deployments have brought aircraft readiness dangerously low. The new aircraft, like the MV-22B, the UH-1Y, and the AH-1Z don't have enough parts and maintainers to keep them flying. The old ones, like the F/A-18 and CH-53E, are just worn out.   According to the head of Marine aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Corps is making efforts to bring readiness back to healthy levels, but that depends greatly on the success of acquisitions like the F-35 and CH-53K. President-elect Trump says he has plans to increase the Corps by 8,000 to 12,000 Marines. Hopefully within that plan is one to restore readiness in what the Corps already has first. Otherwise, we're just sending players into varsity games after attending JV practice.   No pilot goes to fly giving anything other than his utmost. The ones who died bet their lives on the fact that the Corps gave them sufficient training to extricate them from almost any situation. That their training was insufficient to do so is not their fault, but ours.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness   (U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 03 JAN 17) ... Col. H. Wayne Whitten, USMC Retired   President-Elect Donald Trump has called for hard-hitting initiatives to be included in a first-100-day thrust to make America strong again. Hoping to be included in that effort are some common-sense, low-cost changes to our land-based expeditionary electronic warfare (EW) force posture that would immediately improve operational readiness and have a positive economic effect to boot.   These changes would delay, if not cancel, the ill-timed phase-out of Marine Corps EW aircraft; retaining the highly-trained aircrews; and a geographic realignment of the Navys expeditionary squadrons. These are proactive force posture changes that would signal a higher priority for warfighting readiness without increasing deployments abroad.   As the combatant commanders know and our adversaries respect this is about the frontline force they call upon to support warfighters engaged in operations across the spectrum of conflict. EW aircraft and their powerful electronic attack systems were initially designed to counter sophisticated air defenses but now support ground and special operations forces engaged in conventional and asymmetric warfare. These versatile assets are fully integrated into the battlespace command and control architecture to provide commanders unparalleled situational awareness and targeting to support battle management decisions. With an ever-evolving array of offensive EW weaponry that now extends to PSYOPS and on to cyber warfare, they are well equipped for sowing chaos in keeping with a strategy espoused by secretary of defense nominee retired-Gen. James Mattis.   Today EW forces may be tasked to counter improvised explosive devices and communication devices used by ISIS and the Taliban, or target frontline Russian-supplied surface-to-air missiles in Syria that they may be tasked to jam later on. In the Pacific, they stand ready to take on the sophisticated Chinese air defense systems protecting made-made islands as part of their anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategy.   Since the retirement of the U.S. Air Force EF-111s in the mid-1990s, the expeditionary EW mission has been entrusted to the Navy and Marine Corps. That meant the Navy began sharing a mission pioneered by the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and performed with distinction in the Persian Gulf and Balkan campaigns. For many years both services employed the EA-6B Prowler, initially designed to counter integrated air defense networks but quickly modified during the Iraq War to provide direct support to U.S. and coalition ground and special operations forces. Those efforts came in time for the Prowlers to support Marines engaged in the bloody fight for Fallujah in 2004.   The Navy has now retired its EA-6Bs and is transitioning both its carrier-based and expeditionary squadrons to the EA-18G Growler, a hybrid variant of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Standup of the Navys expeditionary squadrons is not complete, with about 40 new production EA-18Gs yet to be delivered. The expeditionary and carrier-based squadrons are all to be homeported at NAS Whidbey Island, WA.   In a departure from the Navys aircraft modernization strategy, the Marine Corps some years ago chose to pass on the Super Hornet and Growler in favor of awaiting development of the F-35B, the V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. Unlike the Navy, the Marines saw the promise of the stealthy fifth-generation F-35B with its integrated EW systems as obviating the need for external support in high-threat environments. That premise resulted in the decision not to replace their aging EA-6Bs with new production EA-18Gs. Instead, their VMAQ squadrons are to be phased out in favor of a system-of-systems concept designed around non-dedicated platforms including UAVs to support the ground combat element. The first of four squadrons has already stood down and the second is scheduled to sunset in June 2017. Overall this plan stands down 50 percent of the joint expeditionary EW force and drops a Marine aviation capability that dates back to the Korean War.   These changes are still taking place as scheduled despite major delays in fielding the F-35B and its as-yet unproven capabilities to penetrate emerging air defense radar networks. It will be well over five years before half of the Marines F/A-18 Hornet aircraft that heavily depend on EA-6B support are replaced, and at least three years before the system-of-system concept bears fruit.   There is no planned back-up reserve capability.   The resulting three- to five-year gap in expeditionary EW capability impacts Marine Corps and joint force readiness and must be dealt with quickly by the new administration. Suspending the retirement of the VMAQs and retaining their highly trained and career-oriented EW officers is an obvious first step. They remain a vital component of the force that must be able to fight tonight and contribute to joint warfighting requirements. Given the circumstances, this should garner Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Nellers support, as it is in keeping with his recently stated priorities to beef up the Marine Corps cyber/EW capabilities.   Luckily the former chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, an avowed EW advocate, committed the Navy to taking additional EA-18Gs funded by a far-sighted Congress to support both carrier-based and expeditionary requirements. This will help bridge the capability gap but raises operational readiness issues given that all the EA-18Gs are destined to be homeported at NAS Whidbey Island. Its noble in intent but highly questionable from a roles and mission standpoint that all land-based EW aircraft will be owned by the Navy, the service with the least natural ties and expertise in ground combat operations.   To compound that issue is the imbalance in cross-training afforded joint forces if the entire expeditionary EW force is based on the Northwest coast. The inherent logistical advantages of single-site basing must be secondary to restoring joint force operational readiness and improving joint force warfighting capabilities, two key stated objectives of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. It is also counter to warfighting doctrine which calls for synergistic training of all combatants under train-as-you-will- fight scenarios. Bear in mind over half of the Army, Marine Corps, SOF and tactical Air Force units are in the eastern U.S. Additionally, DoD has a sizable investment in East Coast ranges that continue to be under-utilized for EW training.   Given the increasingly unsettled Middle East and NATO commitments, a realignment of expeditionary forces would send a message to Russia, its Syrian cronies and Iran that the pivot to the Pacific is not an open door for adventurism elsewhere in the world. Achieving a geographic balance by establishing an East Coast homeport for the EA-18Gs is consistent with long-held Navy policy. Eventual re-commissioning of a reserve squadron on the East Coast should also be considered, as there was an EA-6B squadron based at Joint Base Andrews before the transition from Prowlers to Growlers began. Again, the timing is right, as new production deliveries will support standup of EA-18G squadrons on the East Coast.   Finally, the regional economic benefits must not be ignored. Ironically, the increase in aircraft loading at NAS Whidbey Island has created an environmental impact even as the draw down in EA-6Bs at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, and delays in the F-35B deliveries are causing serious economic concerns. One would think North Carolina officials would see now is the time to put aside fears that questioning the EA-6B drawdown would somehow be viewed as threatening the F-35B. In fact, they should be making the case to homeport the Navy expeditionary EA-18Gs at MCAS Cherry Point.   For the first time since the Reagan years the Pentagons table of change is set and invitations sent from the new commander-in-chief. For the Marine Corps, this may mean more Title 10 missions such as the President may direct. No regrets please, the joint warfighters now more than ever need you to bring your proven EW assets to the table.   Col. Whitten flew nearly 200 combat missions over North Vietnam before going on to a career that spanned operations, requirements, acquisition and testing of EW aircraft and systems. While on the HQMC staff, he worked closely with President- elect Reagans DoN transition team, and later served in the Navy Secretariat as Special Assistant for Marine Corps Programs.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   China's air force is becoming very powerful But Suffers from One Super Fatal Flaw   (THE NATIONAL INTEREST 03 JAN 17) ... Dave Majumdar   Will the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E be the last jet fighter that China imports The Chinese governments official media certainly seems to believe so. With the commissioning of the J-20, the Su-35 will soon lose its value in the Chinese market, the Peoples Daily states.   It is certainly possible that the advanced Russian-made jet will be the last fighter aircraft that Beijing imports, however, China will likely be dependent on Russia for subsystems such as engines for some time to come. Beijing has made tremendous progress with developing its own combat aircraft and the avionics needed to equip those machines, but China continues to be hampered by its inability to develop and produce reliable jet engines.   Indeed, China has demonstrated progress with developing not only stealthy new airframes such as the J-20 and the FC-31, but also seemingly with the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, electro-optical/infrared sensors and electronic warfare systems, data-links and even the cockpit displays that are typical of fifth-generation fighters.   At the Zhuhai airshow last November, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation exhibited a video of the FC-31 showing off capabilities such as a distributed aperture system (DAS) and an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) similar to those mounted on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aircraft is also reputed to feature a KLJ-7A AESA radar that is being developed by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology.   However, it remains to be seen if China has come close to mastering sensor fusion which is to tie all of those myriad sensor and data feeds into a single coherent picture. Thats a capability found onboard the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35, but it has taken years of effort and billions of dollars to master (and in the case of the F-35, its still a work in progress). Beijing will eventually get there in time, but its hard to say how long that will take.   Engines, however, continue to remain a weak spot for Chinese industry. But jet engines are inherently difficult to develop and produce. Indeed, only a handful of advanced industrial nations have the technological capacity to independently develop and build their own working and producible jet engines the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. Almost every other power is dependent on others to develop propulsion technology.   China is determined to close that gap, but it has not yet succeeded in doing so. Last year, Beijing setup the Aero Engine Corp. of China (AECC) as part of its efforts to solve the problem. The firm has $7.5 billion in capital and 96,000 employees. According to a CNN report, Beijing's most recent five-year development plan states that developing and producing indigenous engines is one of Chinas most important goals.   China has the money and the willpower to develop its own aerospace engine industry. Its just a matter of time before Beijing masters jet engine technology and starts developing and mass-producing its own propulsion systems. When that day comes, China will be independent of Russian engine technology and might indeed become a major aerospace industrial power in its own right.   Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones   (NAVY TIMES 02 JAN 17) ... Emily Cole   As Naval aviation continues to transition to its future force, 2017 milestones and transitions may bring a new supercarrier, the first unmanned patrol squadron and improved aircraft including the stand-up of the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron.   The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be commissioned in 2017, improving upon the Advanced Arresting Gear and engineering efficiencies. "A new nuclear propulsion and electric plant on the Ford class will generate almost three times the electrical power over the Nimitz class," Naval Air Forces spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld said.   Two squadrons will debut in the coming year, the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-125, and the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19. F-35C Lightning II will stand up at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California as a critical addition to carrier strike groups. The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft squadron held a commissioning ceremony on Oct. 28 and will begin training in mid-2017 with the intention of achieving safe-for-flight status in 2018.   The transition process to the P-8A Poseidon from the P-3C is also scheduled to complete in 2017. To date, six of the 12 fleet squadrons have transitioned, and two more squadrons (VP-4 and VP-47) are scheduled to complete their transition in the next calendar year. The permanent duty station will change from NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.   The Navy will increase its inventory of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye squadrons to three, including VAW-126 which recently completed their transition, and VAW-124 in late 2017, Groeneveld said.   On the technology side, Naval Air Forces completed delivery in 2016 of the landing software Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, thankfully shortened to Magic Carpet. The final version of the software is targeted to begin installation in late 2017.   "The Magic Carpet capability significantly reduces pilot workload both by causing the aircraft to default to a stable glideslope on approach to landing, requiring only minor inputs to adjust glide path, and by accounting for the motion of the carrier in the display, allowing the pilot to much more easily judge the expected point of touchdown," Groeneveld said.   In 2017, Naval aviation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Naval Air Station North Island, also known as the birthplace of Naval Aviation. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway will also be commemorated. The battle marked not only a turning point in the Pacific during World War II but an important moment in naval aviation history.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   Big data, software continue to stump defense programs   (NATIONAL DEFENSE 20 DEC 16) ... Sandra I. Erwin   A struggling effort to upgrade Air Force combat operations centers speaks to larger problems that continue to dog information-technology programs across the Defense Department.   Buzzwords like data fusion and open systems are part of the lexicon in most big-ticket acquisitions of defense technology, but bringing that vision to life has been difficult at best.   The latest illustration of this challenge is an Air Force project to modernize command centers that are deployed in strategic parts of the world to plan and execute air warfare operations. The three-year-old program suffered a major setback last month as it became clear that the upgrades are going to take much longer and cost far more than expected.   The project, known as air operations center, or AOC 10.2 is a complex system-of-systems made up of least 45 different third-party software applications. The improvements are intended to give commanders modern decision-making tools, including real-time intelligence and data to make targeting faster and more accurate. That requires considerable software integration and machine-to-machine data transfer to produce more timely data and reduce human error. Making this effort even tougher are stringent cybersecurity requirements to protect highly sensitive information.   AOC 10.2 appeared to be sailing smoothly after the Pentagon signed off on a preliminary design review in 2013. After that Milestone B decision, prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded a new contract option to continue the development.   But after discovering significant problems over the past year, the Air Force in November submitted a critical change report to Congress concerning AOC 10.2. It indicated that the program considered a major automated information system would need more time and money to reach its goals, doubling development cost from the original estimate.   The critical change report was required due to a schedule delay of Milestone C production and deployment phase of more than one year from the original plan, said Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog.   Air Force leaders had conducted an in-depth evaluation of the AOC 10.2 program, which led to the revised plan, Hertzog said in a statement. The AOC 10.2 needs to fix point-to-point integration and cybersecurity shortfalls of the currently fielded version, AOC 10.1.   Many of the troubles involved converting the legacy AOC environment into a modular open systems architecture, which the Pentagon now requires of all its information systems. A modular, open architecture is the Holy Grail in defense systems because it allows the Pentagon to insert new software and keep technologies up to date more easily.   It improves the Air Forces ability to integrate similarly modular and modernized application updates or new applications as they become available, explained Hertzog. That also applies to cybersecurity, as the Air Force seeks to improve system security more easily as threats continue to evolve.   The new target for Milestone C is January 2019.   The Pentagons top weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore reported that major cybersecurity problems in AOC 10.2 were identified in August and September 2015. The severity and quantity of the functional and cybersecurity deficiencies identified during the test resulted in the Air Force issuing a cure notice to the prime contractor.   Northrop Grumman spokesman Brandon "Randy" Belote referred specific questions to the Air Force. In a statement he said the company is working to ensure that the AOC 10.2 successfully provides for the security of the system including against future threats it will face. While there have been some challenges on the AOC 10.2 program, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force have forged a strong partnership that is working together to address the issues.   The critical change report submitted to Congress projects the development of AOC 10.2 will cost $745 million, compared to the original $374 million estimate, Bloomberg News reported. The report said the Air Force had underestimated the complexity of integrating numerous third-party software applications and ensuring the networks were sufficiently protected from future cyber intrusions.   The Air Force Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, first issued a request for proposals in December 2010 for the AOC upgrade, estimating the value of the program at more than $800 million over the next eight years.   The modernization of air operations centers has been a long-term pursuit by the Air Force, noted retired Gen. Charles F. (Chuck) Wald, a former air war commander and now vice chairman of Deloitte Services.   The integration and interoperability of equipment at the AOC has always been an issue, Wald told National Defense. How do you make sure you have feeds from the various intelligence sources and monitoring sources, and how do you apply that capability to an air tasking order he said. Open architectures and data fusion, if executed properly, are game changers.   During an industry conference more than a year ago, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering Stephen P. Welby spoke about the difficulties in developing modular open systems. One of the obstacles is a lack of technical insight by government program officials. These designs will increase demand on DoD engineering competence, capability and capacity.   Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva recently called out contractors for not being forthcoming about the challenges of building open systems. For those of you in industry that are in this room, I can't tell you how many times I've asked the following question, Will your widget subscribe to an open architecture Answer is always, Oh sir, of course, Selva said in October at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In reality, though, its an open architecture but only inside of our company or only inside of our proprietary IT that's in the system, he said. We really have to find a resilient open architecture to which all of our systems can subscribe and we've only scratched the surface on that.   The Defense Departments top weapons buyer Frank Kendall said the idea of modular designs and open systems goes back decades. It's been part of my initiation since day one, he said. How do you basically keep those systems modern Well, you do it through modular designs. Modular design gets you the ability to take something out, put something else in, Kendall said. Industry always tells us that they like open systems, but they give us a lot of designs that aren't open. There's no secret about this. You basically want to retain market share and one way you do that is you have proprietary intellectual property that allows you to do that. It makes hard for people to come in and displace you.   The Pentagon has to work hard at this and the devil is in the details, Kendall added. That's the only way we're going to have technology refresh on reasonable cycles relative to the pace at which technology is moving.   (return to top)   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   F-35s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights   (DOD BUZZ 20 DEC 16) ... Hope Hodge Seck   A software fix designed to make the F-35 Joint Strike fighters state-of-the-art helmet easier to use for Navy and Marine Corps pilots landing on ships at night is still falling short of the mark, the program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office said Monday.   One discovery made as the F-35C Navy carrier variant and F-35B Marine Corps jump jet variant wrapped up ship testing this year was that the symbology on the pricey helmet was still too bright and distracting for pilots landing on carriers or amphibious ships in the lowest light conditions, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters.   During the final developmental test phase for the F-35C aboard the carrier George Washington in August, officials told they were testing a new software load specifically designed to address this green glow problem, which can make it difficult for pilots to detect outside light sources and the cues they need to land their aircraft safely.   While testers were hopeful at the time the problem was solved, Bogdan said officials are not yet satisfied. The symbology on the helmet, even when turned down as low as it can, is still a little too bright, he said. We want to turn down that symbology so that its not so bright that they cant see through it to see the lights, but if you turn it down too much, then you start not being able to see the stuff you do want to see. We have an issue there, theres no doubt.   Bogdan said the military plans on pursuing a hardware fix for the helmet, which is designed to stream real-time information onto the visor and allow the pilots to see through the plane by projecting images from cameras mounted around the aircraft. But before that fix is finalized, he said, pilots of the F-35 B and C variants will make operational changes to mitigate the glare from the helmet. These may including adjusting the light scheme on the aircraft, altering how pilots communicate during night flights, and perhaps changing the way they use the helmet during these flights, he said.   Were thinking in the short term we need to make some operational changes, and in the long term well look for some hardware changes, Bogdan said.   The window for making such adjustments is rapidly closing. The first F-35B squadron is expected to move forward to its new permanent base in Japan in January ahead of a 2018 shipboard deployment in the Pacific. The F-35C is also expected to deploy aboard a carrier for the first time in 2018.

Nov. 21, 2023

FRCSW at Fleet Week San Diego

On November 8 2023, Fleet Week in San Diego unfolded as a grand spectacle of innovation and technology, transforming the Port Pavilion Building into a vibrant hub of the future.

Nov. 10, 2023

Honor Flight San Diego’s Tribute to American Veterans

Veterans Day not only offers a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of service members, but also serves as a poignant reminder of the price of liberty and the importance of acknowledging those who have borne its cost. This day reinforces the timeless truth: freedom is never free, and gratitude towards its guardians is eternally owed. Building on this spirit of reverence, organizations like Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) work tirelessly to show tangible appreciation to these heroes.

Sept. 5, 2023

FRCSW STEM in Action

When Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) STEM ambassadors visit local communities, their goal is to utilize the STEM outreach program to inspire and create valuable opportunities to learn for both students and educators. The program also tries to empower both the students and FRCSW employees by fostering meaningful connections between Naval STEM efforts and the upcoming generation.

July 20, 2023

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

May 15, 2023

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

April 27, 2023

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

April 18, 2023

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

April 6, 2023

FRCSW Ally Support Strengthens Royal Australian Air Force

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) successfully completed a first of its kind reconfiguration of a U.S. Navy EA-6B Growler for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

March 31, 2023

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest - Eliminating Waste and Improving Efficiency

For over 100 years, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has provided the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps with the highest quality products and services in the most efficient manner possible. One of the state of the art management systems that makes this possible is the “Lean” process which focuses its attention on eliminating waste and error. FRCSW began the command’s most recent “Lean” process by integrating pre-expendable bins (PEB). Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Legg, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Industrial Supply Officer, in collaboration with the other PEB managers, played a pivotal role in the improvement of PEB inventory.

Sept. 26, 2022

FRCSW Navy’s Sole Maintainer of Rotodome Radar

A primary tool of the Hawkeye’s defensive posture is the rotodome radar system, maintained by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).