As we wrote before, budget time
always brings out extra attention on many accepts of
military life, including Naval Aviation. We have
written previously about a number of those issues – the
P-8 delays and efforts to recoup, the Strike-Fighter
gap, EF-18G electronic warfare capability timing
issues, the apparent E-2D slip …. there are lots more
if one ‘drives down’ enough. It’s been only a few days
since the last BULLHORN but the collection of articles
in the following pages is testimony to the amount of
discussion being held these days.
Now is the time to redouble our
efforts to ensure our general public and our
legislators truly understand the profound importance of
naval Aviation – and the need to be sure it is
adequately provided for in the coming budget.
WINGS OF GOLD
CAPT Zip Rausa, USN (Ret)
2550 Huntington Avenue Suite 202
Alexandria, VA 22303
Federal Benefits for Veterans,
Dependents and Survivors
We have received a number of
requests for information about survivor benefits.
Because ANA does not have the resources to maintain
current information, we strongly suggest folks check
the Department of Veterans Affairs web site for Federal
Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors at
It is a great start toward answering a lot of ‘those
Proof of Service/Report of
We have also received requests
about getting proof of service documentation. One of
the best documents is a Report of Separation. A Report
of Separation is generally issued when a service member
performs active duty or at least 90 consecutive days of
active duty training. It contains information normally
needed to verify military service for benefits,
retirement, employment, and membership in veterans'
organizations. The report of separation form issued in
most recent years is the DD Form 214, Certificate of
Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Before January
1, 1950, several similar forms were used by the
military services, including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55,
WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG
Supercarrier 2015: How To Build
The World's Most Powerful Warship
To design the Navy's new
Ford-class aircraft carrier, architects rely on virtual
reality to shape 54,000 tons of steel into the world's
most powerful warship. Here's how they do it.
(POPULAR MECHANICS JULY 2009) ...
Ship architects in Virginia step
into virtual-reality blueprints to perfect the design
of the U.S. Navy’s first new carrier class in 40 years.
Working in 3D reduces errors and oversights on a $14
The first pieces of the U.S.
Navy’s newest class of aircraft carrier—meant to be the
cornerstone of American military sea power over the
next hundred years—lie in the open air of a shipyard in
Virginia. A misting rain is falling on the jumbled
field of steel bulkheads, stacks of pipe and 200-ton
sections of hull. It’s as if some gargantuan child
broke apart his model ship and scattered the pieces on
But Northrop Grumman’s staff at
the Newport News shipyard know where every part is
located—and the exact order in which each piece must be
connected. Building an aircraft carrier is like putting
together a 3D jigsaw puzzle, for years on end.
Engineers have been designing some of the pieces since
2000; the job won’t be finished until 2015.
And on a complex project of this
scale, there is little margin to correct design
mistakes. If not found and fixed, one small flaw can
have ramifications that cost tens of millions of
dollars, months of hot-metal work or even the life of a
sailor not yet born. “These ships are like entire
planned cities,” says Eric Wertheim, editor of The
Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World.
“It’s like building Disney World.”
For more than six decades,
aircraft carriers have been involved in virtually every
major American military engagement, from World War II
to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But
America’s carrier fleet is getting old. Designs for
today’s Nimitz-class ships began in 1964, and although
upgraded, the carriers’ steam-powered catapults and
cramped quarters belong to another era. So, for the
first time in two generations, the Navy is
commissioning a new carrier, named after President
Ford, who served with distinction on the carrier
Monterey during World War II. Following custom, each
subsequent ship constructed to these specs will be
named after him: the Ford class of carriers.
Building a supercarrier is a
uniquely American enterprise. There are 21 aircraft
carriers in service around the globe; 11 belong to the
United States. A few other nations—Britain, Spain and
India—have plans to build aircraft carriers. But no one
else makes them this large or with such advanced
capabilities. No one else is about to try.
The last time American engineers
designed a carrier from scratch, in the 1960s, they
drew the ship in ink and built full-scale wooden models
to prove their designs. Then, the construction-yard
workers had to figure out how to put the ship together.
Things work a little differently in 2009. Now,
engineers and foremen can wander around a mockup of the
ship without wearing helmets or boots. All they have to
do is slip on chunky black glasses, stare at a screen
and step inside the ship’s CAD plan.
Sam Vreeland, the Ford’s jowly,
red-cheeked construction director, hands me a pair of
the bulky glasses. We’re in a black-walled room inside
a nondescript building at the shipyard. On an
8-foot-tall screen in the center of the room, engineers
from around the country meet—without leaving their
offices—to perfect blueprints in virtual-reality
simulators. In front of me is a virtual 3D model of
every element of the ship’s jet-fuel room, from pumps
and pipes to shims and studs securing bulkheads. In the
lower decks, engineers have assigned a part number and
a supplier to every one of these digital pieces. “We
got this technology because we can walk anybody
through, including the Navy,” Vreeland says. “They can
see it more clearly than with a mockup.”
Penn State University research
associate Vaughn Whisker appears on the screen to my
left. Or at least his unshaven, black-clad avatar does.
It waves from University Park, Pa., 400 miles
northwest, where Whisker is stomping around a
10-foot-square room lined with virtual-reality screens.
In the digital fuel room, the avatar reaches up for a
pipe to make sure it’s in the right place. Then he
moves behind a pump to ensure that maintenance workers
will be able to fit behind it.
With another mouse click, any
designer with access to the CAD file can see the room
from the point of view of future crewmen, ensuring that
pipes and open hatches don’t impede lines of sight to
gauges or alarms, or the hand signals of shipmates at
their stations. “We always had to find the engineering
balance,” says Lin “Yank” Rutherford, a former rear
admiral and the shipyard’s director of platform
integration. “But in the past there was some subjective
I reach out with pixelated hands,
grab the pump and toss it across the room. Then I spin
the lighting fixtures around and tilt the floor. If the
Northrop designers wanted to incorporate my horseplay,
they would dump the data into the CAD system and ship
it 2.5 miles to the fabrication plant at the other end
of the shipyard, where metal is shaped to the exact
specifications called for by the digital blueprint.
Engineers are using other
sophisticated software to synch the ship’s design with
its future operation. On the flight deck, for example,
shipbuilders test the way aircraft are brought to the
deck and readied for launch. The Ford is utilizing a
new, NASCAR-like pitstop approach. On Nimitz-class
carriers, airplanes are dragged all over the flight
deck for fuel refills, weapon reloads and maintenance
checks. On the Ford, workers will handle all those jobs
in a single spot. The Navy hopes these measures will
increase sorties from the ship by 25 percent—up to 270
Everything on the Ford is subject
to simulation testing, from the views of the flight
deck from the bridge to damage control in the engine
rooms. According to manager of engineering David Rockey,
there are even messing models. “That’s where we see how
long it takes crew members to get a hot lunch and come
back [to their stations],” Rockey says. “It’s like
SimCity for carriers.” But this game has a serious
purpose: “Before we cut steel and pay the bill, we want
to see what we’re going to get for our efforts.”
Eventually, this pixelated world
meets the real one. Vreeland and I walk into the
fabrication plant to see the raw metal, brought in by
the trainload, formed into parts of the hull. It’s a
cavernous, clanging, hissing 34,600-square-foot shop
with dross, sparks and metal scraps all around.
Everyone calls out, “Hey, Sam-may!” as we walk by;
Vreeland, a Virginia native, has been at the yard since
1972, working his way up from apprentice on Los
Angeles–class subs to become the Ford’s head of
construction in 2000.
One worker, dressed in plaid,
looks into a computer screen that displays data from a
CAD file. The software guides a cutting machine’s jet
of plasma gas over a long, low tub. The water below
gurgles and flashes purple before draining to reveal a
steel plate. There’s a big, beveled oval cut in the
center and lots of smaller holes for pipes and wiring.
It’s the virtual carrier, starting to come to life.
We exit the plant and step into a
company van. Vreeland drives along the waterfront,
zipping over worn rails and past low-slung brick
buildings and corrugated factories. On the ground are
two 200-ton pieces of the hull, curved on one side,
flat and toothy on the other. Put them together, and
they become a superlift—a piece of the carrier that is
ready to be fit into the puzzle. The shipyard needs to
assemble 162 superlifts to create the hull.
And just about the only machine on
the planet than can handle these massive parts is the
powder-blue, 23-story gantry crane under which we’re
driving. Riding on rails eight football fields long,
the rectangular crane uses three hooks, each capable of
lifting more than 300 tons, to pick up ship parts. But
even that 900-ton capacity—the largest in the Western
Hemisphere—wasn’t big enough for the Ford. So Northrop
upgraded the crane’s maximum haul to 1050 tons.
The shipyard is obsessed with the
timelines of any big-dollar project, and the Ford is
easily the biggest. The first Ford-class carrier will
cost $14 billion, including $5 billion for research and
development; Navy officials say the price will drop to
around $6 billion per ship with subsequent builds.
Delays—and so far the Ford program has suffered two
years’ worth of them—can mean losing skilled workers
and support from Congress or the Pentagon. As the
largest items in the Pentagon’s shipbuilding budget,
new carriers are tempting targets for cutbacks. Some
defense analysts are already wondering why the U.S.
needs a 100,000-ton monster carrier when our most
prominent current enemies are terrorists, small
guerrilla bands and pirates in skiffs.
Another controversy surrounding
the Ford program is whether this is the right time for
a new design. “Do we know enough about future threats?”
Wertheim asks. “By 2060, are we even going to have
manned fighters? We’re really at a crossroads.”
Although Wertheim thinks the new carrier program could
have waited 10 years to get a better idea of the future
needs of the ship, he notes that the construction is
progressing well. “So far, so good,” he says. “But on
these huge programs, it’s inevitable that they have
hang-ups. When that happens, you can’t see it as a
failure for the whole program.”
When the Ford is completed, it
won’t look much different from carriers built for the
Cold War. However, there will be striking changes
inside. The Ford is the first to greatly reduce
aircraft carriers’ reliance on steam. Nearly everything
done on the Nimitz class—heating cabins, drying
laundry, propelling the ship, making potable water,
launching jets—is done with steam power generated by a
nuclear reactor. All that steam means gangs of sailors
to operate valves, read gauges and fix machines when
they invariably wear down or spring a leak. On the
Ford, many of those systems will be electric.
The most novel use of electricity
occurs on the flight deck. Steam-powered catapults
currently do not provide heavier aircraft with enough
acceleration to take off, so the carrier cranks up the
knots to increase wind speed over the deck. On
Ford-class vessels, four linear motors will create
magnetic waves that propel the catapult, with each jet
getting a customized shove into the sky. Planes will
land as they do now, by hooking onto arresting cables,
but the system that slows their speed will be
electromechanical rather than just hydraulic. These
novel designs come with risks. According to the
Government Accountability Office, developing the launch
system’s generator has led to a 15-month delay.
The Navy hopes these developmental
risks will be rewarded with long-term savings,
especially from the decrease in manpower. On old
carriers, it takes gangs of men to move food, laundry,
spare parts and ordnance. On the Ford, forklifts, not
sailors, will haul supplies. Program managers say the
Ford will require 700 fewer people than a current
carrier, saving as much as $5 billion over the life of
Protecting those sailors is
another concern: The Navy has gone to great lengths to
ensure its carriers can take a hit. For 25 days in
2005, engineers with Naval Sea Systems Command
conducted classified explosions on the USS America, a
Kitty Hawk–class carrier that served in Vietnam and the
Persian Gulf. The ship eventually flooded and sank in
the largest damage-control experiment ever conducted.
The Navy says results of that test have been
incorporated into the design of the Ford.
Later this year the megacrane will
lower the first superlift piece into the dry dock where
the Ford will be assembled. Navy brass, politicians and
company officials will gather around the massive
section of the hull and make speeches; bands will play
martial songs. Then more curved side shells will be
outfitted with pipes, lights and as many fixtures as
possible before being lowered into the dry dock. One
superlift at a time, the USS Ford will slowly take on
the aspect of a ship. When the carrier’s structure is
complete from hull to island, the dry dock will be
flooded with water from the James River. Tugs will tow
the massive, empty vessel to another part of the
shipyard for years of wiring and systems integration,
freeing up the dock for the construction of the next
Ford-class vessel. The process will continue until 2058
or until funding ends.
Every day between now and then, at 12:30 pm, a
shrill whistle at the shipyard will blow twice.
Workers across Newport News—some wearing coveralls
and hard hats, others in virtual-reality goggles
and slacks—know it means their lunch break is over.
They will head back to their respective corners of
the shipyard and get back to work.
"Fighting Tigers" Return From Deployment To Write New
Chapter In Squadron
16 JUN 09) ... Lt.j.g. Donald Lauderdale
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- A new chapter in the 66-year
history of Patrol Squdron (VP) 8 began June 10 when the
squadron's last P-3C aircraft arrived at its new home
base at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville from the
crew included VP-8 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Sean
Liedman. They were welcomed by Commander, Patrol and
Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11 Capt. Kyle Cozad, CPRW 5
Capt. Jim Hoke and NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer
Capt. Jack Scorby Jr. at a special ceremony held at
their new home in Hangar 511.
this last deployment, you set the bar. You made a
difference. You went to some of the world's most
dangerous places and supported our warfighters," said
Hoke. "As we saw with the Maersk Alabama situation,
when there were things that had to be done in theater,
the Tigers were the first to be called. Today is kind
of bittersweet for me because this is the beginning of
the end of CPRW Five and squadrons at NAS Brunswick.
This is the fifth time VP-8 has moved during the span
of their history, and each time you have set the
standards, and I have no doubt you will do that here.
Thank you for your service, thanks for what you did
with Wing Five and thanks for what you did for your
country during the past six months."
addition to thanking VP-8, I'd like to thank the folks
who have made this happen," said Cozad. "This is a
historic move and for the past two and a half years, we
have all looked forward to making this move a reality.
I especially want to thank the families for helping
with this move and welcome home the Tigers. You are
deployed in December 2008 from their former homeport at
NAS Brunswick, Maine. During their six-month deployment
to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Camp Lemonier,
Djibouti, the squadron flew in support of Operations
Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and coalition
counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Somali
you for welcoming VP-8 to our new homeport at NAS
Jacksonville," Liedman told the crowd from the podium.
"Today is historic, because as VP-8 closes out 38 years
of service at NAS Brunswick, we open a new chapter at
NAS Jacksonville. I can't think of a better way to put
a bookmark between those two chapters than to do it in
conjunction with returning from our highly successful
deployment to the Middle East and Africa."
generated an impressive 97 percent mission completion
rate during the deployment despite the challenges of
operating from the expeditionary environments of Qatar
and Djibouti. Aircrews from VP-8 were the first
Department of Defense asset to come to the aid of the
motor vessel Maersk Alabama and provided
round-the-clock surveillance until the rescue of the
ship's captain, Richard Phillips.
VP-8 will be followed by VP-10 and VP-26 as they
depart NAS Brunswick on deployment before
relocating to NAS Jacksonville. With the return
from deployment of VP-8's last aircraft, members of
the Fighting Tigers say they look forward to
opening a new chapter in their storied squadron
Northrop Grumman Lands Big Deal For Navy Radar Plane
(ORLANDO SENTINEL 16 JUN 09) ... Richard Burnett
Northrop Grumman Corp. has landed a deal potentially
worth $432 million for its E-2D advanced radar plane
program, which has apparently cleared a critical cost
overrun review by the Navy.
Navy determined major cost overruns in the E-2D
exceeded congressional theresholds for defense
programs, InsideDefense.com and Defense Daily reported
Tuesday. The so-called Nunn-McCurdy breach triggered a
critical review which raised questions about the future
of the E-2D.
Northrop's aircraft plant in St. Augustine is a big
player in the E-2D Hawkeye program. Located about 90
minutes northeast of Orlando, Northrop's East Coast
Manufacturing & Flight Test Center employs about 800 in
component production and flight testing for the E-2D.
the program's cost overruns came a day after Northrop
said it had received a contract potentially worth $432
million to begin low-rate production of the aircraft.
The company's also does E-2D work at plants in
California, Illinois and other states.
Northrop officials insisted the program remains on
contract award confirms that the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
design is stable, and we have the critical
manufacturing processes in place to produce and deliver
a high-quality, reliable weapon system to the
warfighter," said Northrop program vice president Jim
Culmo in a statement.
the first three E-2D aircraft "are moving through the
production process at our manufacturing facility in St.
Augustine ahead of schedule and we are on track to
deliver the first pilot production aircraft in 2010."
the largest defense contractors in Florida, Northrop
Grumman also employs about 1,700 at its Melbourne
aircraft electronics division and nearly 1,000 at its
Apopka laser-weaponry plant in Metro Orlando.
Declares Nunn-McCurdy Breach For E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
DEFENSE 16 JUN 09) ... Dan Taylor
Navy has told Congress the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
surveillance aircraft program has experienced a
"critical Nunn-McCurdy breach," as program costs have
surged more than 25 percent above the baseline 2003
Naval Air Systems Command said the reasons for the cost
increases include troubles with the radar and antenna,
minor changes to capability requirements and funding
Navy notified Congress of the breach on June 11, the
same day Ashton Carter, under secretary of defense for
acquisition, technology and logistics, signed an
acquisition decision memorandum allowing the program to
proceed to low-rate initial production.
program has struggled with funding cuts. Last year,
Congress opted to cut one of three E-2D aircraft from
the fiscal year 2009 budget to fund other priorities,
an action that program manager Capt. Shane Gahagan at
the time warned could delay the initial operational
capability of the aircraft. As a result of a cut to
advanced procurement funding in the FY-09 budget, the
Navy again cut one of three aircraft in the proposed
rigorous review showed that the critical breach could
be mitigated by programming the procurement of E- 2D
aircraft at a more efficient rate,” NAVAIR said in a
statement issued today. “The Navy has taken this
mitigating action and is already implementing cost
reduction initiatives and capitalizing on lessons
learned to improve upon projected cost.”
Coinciding with the breach, the Pentagon approved
low-rate initial production of the aircraft after
completing a milestone C review. LRIP “allows a ramp-up
in manufacturing of a weapon system, allowing the
program to prove confidence in the aircraft's
development before moving into full-rate production,”
according to NAVAIR.
decision comes after the E-2D's completion of an
operational assessment last fall to verify the
aircraft's systems capability, suitability and design
will be fully responsive to the future needs of the
carrier air strike group,” the statement adds.
Culmo, Northrop Grumman's vice-president of airborne
early warning and battle management, command and
control programs, said in a separate statement that the
E-2D “continues to meet or exceed all key performance
parameters and E-2D pilot production continues ahead of
schedule on the first three aircraft at our East Coast
Manufacturing and Flight Test Center in St. Augustine,
“We are on track to deliver the first pilot
production aircraft in 2010,” Culmo added.
F-35 ‘Program Killer’ Buoys Fighter Lead Over Boeing
(BLOOMBERG 17 JUN 09) ...
Edmond Lococo and
Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense
company, is poised to broaden international sales of
its new F-35 fighter jet, potentially squeezing smaller
competitors including Boeing Co. and Saab AB out of
“There may be fewer primes,” Dan Crowley, Lockheed’s
F-35 program manager, said in an interview in Paris
yesterday. “Just as we’ve seen fewer shipyards and
fewer satellite facilities in the U.S. over time, that
is a trend you cannot hold back.”
Competition in the fighter jet industry will be
preserved in the suppliers that are common to the prime
manufacturers, Crowley said. More than 70 percent of
work on the F-35 is done by lower level suppliers, many
of which previously supported Boeing, he said. Rival
warplanes already produced will stay in service,
providing their makers with maintenance work for
decades, even if new jets aren’t ordered, and the F-35
will have to be interoperable with those planes, he
“It’s entirely possible that by 2020 there will be only
one surviving western fighter plane,” Richard Aboulafia,
an analyst with aviation consultants Teal Group, said
in an interview. “The F-35 is designed to do what F-16
almost did: drive competing manufacturers out of the
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ pledge in April to
speed domestic F-35 purchases will give confidence to
foreign buyers, both among the eight current
international partners and beyond. Israel and
Singapore, which had F-35 security cooperation pacts
yet weren’t full partners in the program, have begun
talks with the U.S. government that could lead them to
join, Crowley said. Government talks have also begun on
possible F-35 sales with four nations that weren’t in
the original program: Finland, Spain, South Korea and
Japan, he said.
Rivals such as Boeing and Saab may come to view the
F-35 as a “program killer,” said Douglas Royce, a
market analyst at Forecast International in Newtown,
Lockheed has held 31 percent of the global fighter jet
market over two decades with its F-16 Fighting Falcon,
exceeding Boeing’s 24 percent share, according to data
from Fairfax, Virginia-based Teal. By 2015, the F-35
will control half the $17 billion global market, Teal
Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed shipped more than
4,400 F-16s over 35 years, including 2,200 to
international customers. Lockheed aims to emulate that
success with the F-35, which is also known as the
Lightning II or Joint Strike Fighter, Chief Executive
Officer Robert Stevens said in a June 2 interview.
“The F-16 is now in the inventory of 25 air forces,”
Stevens, 57, said in Washington. “I wouldn’t be
surprised to see that happen to the Joint Strike
Fighter, even though we are only talking about eight
partner countries today. We think it will expand over
time.” The original international partners developing
the jet are Australia, Turkey, the U.K., Italy, the
Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Norway.
Boeing, based in Chicago, and Sweden’s Saab aren’t
ready to concede the market. Boeing sees “a very bright
future” for its F/A-18 Super Hornet, Tom Bell, the vice
president for military aircraft business development,
said in an interview. The company “can very easily see
ourselves making Super Hornets for at least a decade or
more,” he said.
Boeing is promoting the F/A-18 and an updated version
of its F-15 called Silent Eagle to international
customers in Paris, Bell said.
Saab’s Gripen would be an “ideal plane” to compete for
orders with F-35, yet lacks a home market large enough
to give it economies of scale because Sweden’s Air
Force is only about 100 jets, Teal’s Aboulafia said.
“From a price-performance perspective I think the
Gripen can compete with the JSF,” Linkoping-based
Saab’s CEO, Aake Svensson, said in an interview
yesterday. “We can compete very tough from a price and
cost perspective and then performance-wise also.”
Still, Norway dealt Saab a blow in November with a
contract for 48 F-35s in a contest analysts predicted
the Gripen would win. The Netherlands selected the U.S.
plane as the best candidate to replace 85 older
aircraft a month later, and Denmark may also opt for
Lockheed later this year.
The U.S. and the eight partner nations plan to buy
3,173 F- 35s. A full-scale model is on display this
week at the Paris Air Show. Tom Burbage, executive vice
president for F-35 integration, will give a program
update at the show today.
an estimated cost of about $298.9 billion for research,
development and the purchase of more than 2,400
aircraft for the U.S., the plane is the Pentagon’s
largest weapons program. The F-35, with common parts
for Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps missions ranging
from air combat and tactical bombing to close air
support, is designed to replace legacy aircraft
including the F-16 and A-10.
The F-35 comes in three variants including a
conventional version, a short takeoff/vertical landing
jet that can hover in place, and a plane optimized for
landing on aircraft carriers.
Lockheed’s principal subcontractors on the F-35 are Los
Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. and London-based
BAE Systems Plc. Two separate, interchangeable F-35
engines are under development: the F135 by United
Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit, and the F136
by a team of General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce Group
The F-35 is one of two “5th Generation Fighters”
designed by Lockheed, along with the F-22 Raptor, that
incorporate stealth technology with the latest avionics
and improved combat performance over older jets.
Because the more advanced F-22, which is also capable
of high-altitude supercruise flight, is banned by U.S.
law from export, only the F-35 is available for sale to
The biggest threat to the F-35’s global dominance is
development risk, said Eric Hugel, a New York-based
analyst with Stephens Inc. Lockheed must keep the jet
on schedule and costs under control.
lot depends on what price-point Lockheed can hit,”
Hugel said. “If you sign up for the F-35, you have to
wait and see what you are actually going to get. The
F/A-18 is flying today. It’s a lower risk solution, so
there are positives and negatives either way.”
Lockheed in February estimated that the F-35’s average
flyaway cost, excluding research and development, would
be “upper-$40 million” for the conventional version
when measured in 2002 dollars and “mid-$60 million” for
the short takeoff and carrier versions.
The flyaway cost for the F-35 model mustn’t rise above
$70 million or competition such as the Super Hornet
“starts to look pretty good,” Aboulafia said. The base
cost for the F/A-18 is about $53.8 million, according
Boeing plans to exploit its cost advantage to expand
sales beyond the nine nations already flying legacy
Hornet jets, Bell said. Another six countries “are
seriously considering” Super Hornets, he said, without
“We have never seen more robust demand for information
about the F-15 Silent Eagle and the F/A-18 Super
Hornet,” Bell said. “International customers are very
interested in the cost and capability mix that those
two products could offer them as they think about how
to recapitalize their tactical aircraft inventory in
these difficult economic times.”
Lockheed shares fell 26 cents to $81.81 in June 16
trading on the New York Stock Exchange and have fallen
20 percent in a year. Boeing declined 69 cents to
$48.83 and has dropped 35 percent in 12 months.
Production volume will give Lockheed an advantage from
economies of scale, Forecast International’s Royce
“The F-35 is the
only fighter looking to be in production for
thousands of aircraft over the next 20-30 years,”
Royce said. “Other fighters have much more narrow
prospects. These other manufacturers know they are
fighting up hill.”
Force Training More Drone Operators
WASHINGTON, -- More troops will be trained as unmanned
airplane operators than as fighter or bomber pilots
combined, the U.S. Air Force said.
increased number of drone operators signals a turning
point for the military branch as it relies increasingly
on unmanned aircraft in concert with piloted aircraft,
USA Today reported Tuesday. The "Unmanned System
Update" report indicated the Air Force plans to develop
drones that would be fighters, bombers and tankers.
Force said it will train 240 pilots to fly Predator and
Reaper drones compared with 214 fighter and bomber
pilots for fiscal year 2009 ending Sept. 30. Officials
said there are 550 drone operators compared with 3,700
fighter and 900 bomber pilots.
capability provided by the unmanned aircraft is
game-changing," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton
Schwartz told USA Today. "We can have eyes 24/7 on our
adversaries. The importance of that is clear in the
feedback from the ground troops -- this is a capability
they don't want to be without."
Lexington Institute military analyst Loren Thompson
told USA Today intelligence-gathering has been the
Pentagon's weak spot for years but has improved
Announces 10 Flag Moves
TIMES 16 JUN 09)
of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced
two-star flag moves Monday. One is from the Naval
Adm. Gerald R. Beaman will be assigned as deputy chief
of staff for global force management and joint
operations, N3/N5, Fleet Forces Command. Beaman is
serving as deputy chief of staff for operations, Allied
Joint Forces Headquarters, Naples, Italy.(NFO)
Rear Admiral Gerald R. Beaman
Deputy Chief of Staff Operations Allied Joint Force
Admiral Gerald R. Beaman, a native of Hammond,
Ind., graduated from Marquette University with a
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and
was commissioned through the NROTC Program in 1974.
He was designated a Naval Flight Officer in April
Beaman flew in the F-4J Phantom with Fighter
Squadron (VF) 121 before transitioning to the F-14A
“Tomcat” in 1976. His sea assignments include VF-32
(1976-79), and VF-33 (1986-88), embarked aboard USS
(CV-67), USS Eisenhower
(CVN-69), USS America
(CV-66) in support of Operation El Dorado Canyon
Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). During
Operation Desert Storm, he served as Officer in
Charge of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN)
Detachment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and flew combat
missions from the Persian Gulf. He commanded the
VF-211 “Fighting Checkmates” (1995-96) aboard USS
(CVN-68). He was the assistant chief of staff for
operations for Commander, Carrier Group 7
(1998-99), and he assumed command of Carrier Air
Wing 2 (2000-01) aboard USS Constellation
(CV-64) in support of Operation Southern Watch.
Beaman’s shore tours include flag lieutenant and
aide to Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation
Force (1979-81), VF-101 program manager for the
Squadron Augmentation Unit (1984-86), Navy Fighter
Weapons School (TOPGUN) where he served as
maintenance officer, operations officer and
executive officer (1988-92), U.S. Space Command, as
chief, Global Engagement Division and as commander,
Space Control Center, Cheyenne Mountain Operations
Center (1996-98). Beaman was selected as a CNO
Strategic Studies Group (SSG) Fellow for SSG XXI
(2001-02) and was chief of staff to Commander,
Naval Air Forces (2002-04). He holds a Master’s
Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies
from the Naval War College at Newport, R.I.
(1992-93). Beaman served as a special agent with
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1981-84).
Selected for flag rank in 2004, Beaman’s first flag
assignment was Commander, Naval Network and Space
Operations Command in Dahlgren, Va., and was then
subsequently appointed as the director of
operations, Naval Network Warfare Command
(2005-06). He assumed command of Strike Force
Training Pacific in June, 2006 (2006-08). On Jan.
31, 2008, he began his latest assignment as deputy
chief of staff-operations, Allied Joint Forces
Beaman has accumulated over 3,500 flight hours and
1,067 carrier landings. He wears the Legion of
Merit (4), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the
Meritorious Service Medal, the Strike/Flight Air
Medal (2), the Navy Commendation Medal (3), the
Navy Achievement Medal, and various unit, campaign
and service awards.
IDS On Schedule With P-8 Poseidon Naval Patroller
(AVIATION INTERNATIONAL NEWS 18 JUN 09) ... David
the recent handover flights from the commercial factory
to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) in Seattle,
the P-8A Poseidon next-generation maritime patroller
for the U.S. Navy remains “firmly on track,” according
to Tony Parasida, vice president and general manager of
Boeing IDS’s ASW & ISR Systems division.
fact that we are on track is a great credit not only to
Boeing, but also to the Navy and the way they are
running this program,” he added.
Currently the P-8 is in the system development and
demonstration (SDD) phase, for which Boeing is building
five airframes. After completing load-calibration
testing two weeks ahead of time, the first flying
aircraft (T1) left the commercial 737 production line
at Renton on April 25 for a delivery flight to the P-8
facility at Boeing Field. After installation of more
systems, T1 will return to the air in August to begin
airworthiness tests. This formal “first flight” marks
the start of the dedicated P-8 air-test process.
followed T1 into the air on June 5, including a low
flyby at the Navy’s Whidbey Island base during its
first flight. Both first flights were exceptionally
“clean” and followed a similar format to a commercial
aircraft acceptance test flight. T2 is now in the
process of having mission equipment installed, and will
return to the air in 2010 to begin system trials.
assembly of the third SDD “flyer,” T3, began last month
and that aircraft is scheduled to fly later next year.
It will also have a mission system installed, and its
main role will be weapons separation trials.
as the flying aircraft, there are two static test
airframes. S1 began static tests last month and will
support envelope expansion before flight testing. S2
will be completed at the factory by year-end, allowing
it to start a double-lifetime fatigue testing campaign.
the SDD machines, Boeing is to build three (T4, T5 and
T6) production-representative aircraft for IOT&E work.
The SDD phase ends in 2011, and Boeing expects a
low-rate initial production contract next year, in line
with the U.S. Navy’s plans to achieve initial operating
capability in 2013.
budgets permit, the Navy wants 117 P-8s, and Boeing
hopes to hit its peak production rate of 13 per year
around 2014. Parasida noted, “It’s nice being part of a
big commercial production program.” In 2015 an
Increment 2 aircraft is due to enter fleet service with
many improvements, including widebeam satcoms, to be
followed by an Increment 3 standard in 2018.
envisions a market for around 100 aircraft. India
became the first export customer with an order placed
in January for eight, while Australia has an MoU with
the U.S. Navy to collaborate on Increment 2.
Raytheon Radar Ready for Poseidon
Raytheon is providing the APY-10 radar at the heart of
the P-8A’s surveillance suite. The company has already
delivered to Boeing the four radars required for the
SDD phase, and is building another five for the initial
operational test and evaluation phase. The first
aircraft equipped with the radar (T2) is due to fly
with it next year.
world of AESA radars, APY-10 retains a mechanically
scanned antenna. The key driver behind this decision
was to keep development risks as low as possible as the
Navy seeks to replace the P-3 Orion with some urgency.
The capabilities of the Orion’s APS-137 are retained,
with some new ones added. Technology development has
also allowed Raytheon to improve reliability and reduce
mean time between failures by a factor of six.
“m-scan” radar can also offer enormous benefits in the
antisubmarine role, which principally manifest
themselves when it comes to surface search for small
targets, such as submarine periscopes. “We can get a
lot of power down on the ocean surface, right out to 20
nautical miles or more across a wide sector,” explained
Brad Hopper, senior business development manager for
Raytheon’s ISRS business.
“There’s no AESA of a similar size out there that can
The APY-10’s antenna can scan at 300 rpm.
“Periscopes are fleeting targets,” explained
Hopper, “but the APY-10 is visiting the area five
times per second. The processing can remove all the
clutter caused by rough sea states, and out pops
Says Continue With Increment 1 VH-71s
(AVIATION WEEK 18 JUN 09) ... Bettina H. Chavanne
House Armed Services Committee (HASC) expressed its
disappointment in the Navy’s management of the VH-71
presidential helicopter program and recommended DOD
continue with procurement of Increment 1 helicopters.
HASC is in the midst of marking up the defense budget
request for Fiscal 2010. Lawmakers noted the $85.2
million included in the budget for a presidential
helicopter recapitalization program as well as recent
cancellation of the program. The committee also noted
its disappointment, both with the $3.3 billion already
invested in the program and that “the Navy’s
acquisition system was not provided adequate support,
resources and authority by the Office of the Secretary
of Defense and the White House Military Office to
execute a successful acquisition program.”
plenty of blame to go around, but the language in the
mark-up takes some of the heat off the Navy, pointing
to unreasonable demands from the White House and DOD
instead. “Navy acquisition officials were directed by
[DOD and the White House] to execute a schedule-driven
program and were unable to adequately synchronize and
adhere to prudent acquisition practices,” lawmakers
The committee supports a new acquisition plan that
could include two helicopters. But with costs
potentially spiraling to $17 billion for that
option, according to a recent Congressional
Research Service report, the committee “strongly
suggests” DOD continues with procurement of the
current Increment 1 helicopters for use as “normal
U.S. Navy to recover another historic World War II
– A World War II bomber that has been sitting at the
bottom of Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline for
more than 60 years will be brought to the surface this
week, the second such retrieval this year authorized by
the United States Navy and the Illinois Historic
Preservation Agency (IHPA). The pilot of the aircraft
to be raised from Lake Michigan, who was later listed
as missing in action in the Pacific, served on board
the same aircraft carrier as future President George
Pacific Aviation Museum, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii has
sponsored the location, recovery, restoration, and
eventual display a World War II Douglas SBD Dauntless
dive bomber from the depths of Lake Michigan.
The National Naval Aviation Museum, in coordination
with the Naval History and Heritage Command,
the IHPA and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, will
complete the recovery portion of the effort this week
using a crew from A&T Recovery. This recovery has
been made possible through a generous donation from
Fred L. Turner of Deerfield, Illinois, the former CEO
of McDonald’s Corp.
“It is my honor and
privilege to support this effort to present, to the
American public, this portion of the history of the
‘Greatest Generation,’ whose courage and love of our
country preserved America’s and the world’s freedom,”
said Turner, “It was their sacrifices which allowed
America to become such a great country and provided
people such as myself the opportunities to prosper.
This is a small thing I have done for the people we to
whomall owe so much.”
Another Douglas SBD
Dauntless aircraft was salvaged from Lake Michigan on
April 24, 2009.
airplane was lost in Lake Michigan on February 18,
1944. The pilot was Lieutenant Junior Grade John Lendo
of Massachusetts. LTJG Lendo later went on to serve in
the Pacific Theatre of Operations where he made the
in protecting America’s freedom, being listed as
missing in action in the Philippines on December 14,
Lendo was serving on the light aircraft carrier U.S.S.
San Jacinto at the time, and another pilot who had just
served on board that ship was future President George
H.W. Bush. LTJG Bush had been shot
down earlier that year while flying a combat mission
from the U.S.S. San Jacinto.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless
was credited with winning the Battle of Midway and
turning the tide of the Pacific war in America’s
favor. This airplane crashed in Lake Michigan during
aircraft carrier qualification training, which was
conducted on Lake Michigan during the early to mid
1940s. More than 17,000 pilots completed the training
including LTJG George H. Bush, later to become U.S.
President. The aircraft carriers used for training
docked at Navy Pier in Chicago and the airplanes and
pilots flew from Glenview Naval Air Station in
Glenview, Illinois. Prior to the
activities on Lake Michigan this SBD-2 Dauntless
(serial number 2173) served aboard the U.S. Navy
Aircraft Carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and the USS
The Illinois Historic
Preservation Agency, the state government agency that
administers all state and federal historic preservation
programs in the state, approved the salvage operation.
The Agency has jurisdiction over historic resources in
Illinois, including those located beneath Illinois
territorial waters such as Lake Michigan.
Robert Rasmussen, USN (Ret.), Director, National Naval
452-3604 ext. 3119.
Ed Ellis, USN (Ret.), Secretary, Naval Aviation Museum
Kenneth H. DeHoff, Jr.,
Executive Director, Pacific Aviation Museum
higher with sims
ramp up computer training
TIMES 29 JUN 09)
flight students will soon begin spending more time in a
simulator, with the goal of simulation taking up 50
percent of their training pipeline within a few years.
That would nearly double the time spent behind a
computer screen under today's curriculum.
Air Training Command is reviewing its coursework to
identify skills that students have traditionally
learned in a plane but may be honed just as well using
ground-based computer simulation.
"As a general rule,
we have 25 to 27 percent of the syllabus" in simulators
and "our direction is to go into the 50 percent range,"
said Wilfred Merkel, CNATRA's simulator requirements
increase in simulation time will take place over the
next sever-al years and the precise amount of simulator
time in each curriculum will vary among the platforms
across the training command.
example, one phase well-suited for expanding the role
of simulators is early on, when students are getting
familiar with the aircraft's digital controls, a skill
set that primarily involves learning the cockpit's
"Where is the best place to learn all that
button-smashing? Is it in the aircraft? Or is it in the
simulator? We could move a lot of what we do in the
aircraft into the simulator," said Cmdr. Mark Maglin,
the aviation training officer who oversees CNATRA’s
Increased use of simulators is a theme across the Navy.
It's driven by several factors, including budgetary
concerns about flight-hour costs, vast improvements in
computer simulation technology and a belief that
today's young flight students are more accustomed to
digital learning than ever before.
18- to 25-year olds who are joining the Navy grew up
with computers, computer gaming ... and because of
that, they learn differently than generations past,"
said Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, chief of CNATRA.
places CNATRA could increase simulator use — and scale
back on flight hours — includes the multi-engine
aircraft program. In that program, students conduct
crew-coordination drills, officials said.
Engine-failure drills are more safely done in a
simulator than in the air, CNATRA officials added. And
some training cannot be done in an aircraft, such as
preparing a helicopter pilot for the "brown-out"
conditions that are common in the deserts of Iraq,
Upgrading the sims
CNATRA plans to step up the use of simulators over the
next several years as the training squadrons receive
more of them. Squadrons today are maximizing their
current simulators, operating them as much as 16 hours
of the older simulators have no computer screens for
visual simulation, offering instead only a dark box
with controls and navigation devices that attempt to
replicate the flying experience.
some of CNATRA's older simulators have analog controls
rather than digital controls, which limits their
result, the training squadrons need more simulators
with better capabilities before they can further scale
back flight hours, officials said.
problem right now, to be honest with you, is we don't
have the capability here," Maglin said.
example, CNATRA does not have enough T-45C simulators,
which creates bottlenecks for students.
to expand simulator use are not new. More than 10 years
ago, the Navy unveiled the Fleet Aircrew Simulation
Training Plan, or FAST, which promised to increase
simulator use. Guadagnini said the way the Navy thinks
about simulators is changing.
ago, they were "kind of an afterthought," he said. But
now the Navy is considering simulators as part of the
upfront costs of the simulators will save the Navy a
lot of money down the road, Guadagnini said.
Guadagnini said CNATRA plans to add simulators and
upgrade existing ones as budgets allow over the next
several years. It will be an ongoing process affecting
all of the training squadrons. He said he is not
seeking a specific number of simulators nor seeking to
reduce flight hours by a specific number.
Meanwhile, CNATRA officials are considering in detail
what the future training programs will look like.
have to be careful we don't break something that has
worked well in the past," Merkel said.
no matter how sophisticated the simulators become,
their effectiveness is inherently limited.
`The bottom line is you always have to do a lot
of training in an airplane," Guadagnini said.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
TIMES 29 JUN 09)
timeline. The Navy expects to take delivery of its
first F-35C later this year. The first carrier landing
is scheduled for spring 2012, and the Navy expects the
fighter jet to be operational in 2015. Big challenges
remain: Landing a stealthy aircraft on a carrier will
be an engineering feat because the tail design that
makes the plane tougher for the enemy to see could make
it less stable on approach for arrested landings.
Easier maintenance. For sailors who fix fighter jets,
the JSFs bring good news. The plane digitally monitors
its own mechanical functions and transmits status
updates and potential problems to flight deck computers
before the plane lands. A single supply chain may
reduce headaches. (But don't be surprised if the Navy
scales back on manning so sailors remain just as busy.)
need for NFOs. All of the JSFs are single-seat planes,
meaning that the job prospects for back-seaters will
dwindle as the F-35 comes online. Today's younger
tail-hook naval flight officers may be affected because
the last of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets may
retire in about 15 years. By then, unmanned fighters
may be around the corner.
end of TacAir integration? The Corps may no longer need
to put on Navy fighter squadrons on Navy carriers once
JSF is in the fleet. It's still unclear whether the
Corps' STOVL version will operate from carriers or fly
solely from amphibious assault ships, like the AV-8B
Harrier II. But with more Super Hornets coming on line
(which Marines don't fly) and the advent of STOVL JSFs,
Marine aviators will no longer have an aircraft
dedicated to flying from carriers.
5. You're not alone. Eight other countries will be
flying an almost identical aircraft. All of those
foreign militaries will be getting the same
airframe, sensors, avionics and software.
Future Of Military Aviation Is Unmanned
SEATTLE TIMES 21 JUN 09)
ScanEagle — Boeing's low-cost, long-endurance UAV at 4
feet long with a 10-foot wingspan — is being used by
the Navy and the Marine Corps.
Unmanned aircraft started as tuna finder
On the edge of the airfield at Le Bourget, a Boeing
F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighter looms with imposing
menace. In front of it sits a dinky Boeing ScanEagle —
just 4 feet long with a 10-foot wingspan — with
model-airplane looks, a little rotor turned by a
two-stroke engine, and a flimsy plastic airframe.
the little unmanned surveillance craft, not the
high-performance fighter, that is part of the new wave
in military aviation at this year's Paris Air Show.
ScanEagle — designed and built by Boeing-owned Insitu,
of the Columbia River Gorge town of Bingen, Klickitat
County — has been battle-tested in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and played a key role in the April rescue
of U.S. containership captain Richard Phillips from
little Sony camera fitted in the nose can swivel and
stream video images to an operator station, giving the
military a mobile, close-in eye in the sky that's
virtually undetectable from the ground.
Super Hornet is a beautiful machine," said Alejandro
Pita, Insitu's director of business development,
gesturing to the big jet behind him. "But honestly,
after the JSF (Lockheed Martin's joint strike fighter
jet), I don't know if the next fighter will be manned."
afternoon this week, an unmanned helicopter has hovered
during the Air Show flying display.
around the airfield, at almost every stand, dozens of
other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of every variety
are on view.
through the show. Everyone has a UAV," Pita said.
are sleekly shaped like manta rays or whales. Others
resemble some early Wright Brothers experiment.
because this rapidly proliferating field was born not
in the labs of the big defense contractors, but in
small shops run by teams of starry-eyed inventors.
defense giants want in on the action. Boeing announced
at the Air Show a new Seattle-based unmanned systems
division, with current revenues at about a half-billion
dollars and growing at a pace to hit $1 billion within
big guys want to tap into the sector's entrepreneurial
drive for innovation because, at least in the military,
the future of aerospace looks unmanned.
is like the times of early aviation that brought us, in
100 years, to Boeing and Airbus and these airplanes you
see all around you," Pita said. "We are following a
similar type of pattern, but obviously at warp speed."
has come late to the UAV market.
it acquired Irving, Calif.-based Frontier Systems, a
small company with an unmanned surveillance, cargo and
strike helicopter, the Hummingbird. Last fall, it
Air Show briefing on the new unmanned systems division,
Boeing Vice President Chris Chadwick said the
acquisitions allowed Boeing to enter the marketplace
quickly. Part of the appeal of UAVs for both the
military and the defense companies is that they are
relatively cheap compared to regular manned military
hardware, both to buy and to develop.
were able to build this with tens of people, rather
than thousands," Chadwick said. Yet Boeing brings
something of its own to the table.
only has it provided Insitu the customer contacts and
knowledge that have grown its business, it has also
begun to integrate the ScanEagle technology with its
own vast array of military products.
April, Boeing flew one of its Wedgetail 737 Airborne
Early Warning and Control aircraft over Washington
state and used it to control three ScanEagles at once
from an operator station inside the plane.
had integrated the Insitu software with its own
network, raising the prospect of feeding the video data
to anywhere in the military command system.
Boeing hopes a future UAV star may be an aircraft from
within its Phantom Works research division, the X-45
unmanned combat vehicle that lost out in a Navy
competition to Northrop Grumman in 2006.
than being shelved, the X-45 has been renamed Phantom
Ray and will be used as a prototype for a large
unmanned combat machine, Boeing announced last month.
It's essentially the company's shot at developing an
unmanned aircraft that might replace that Super Hornet
Boeing has some catching up to do.
Northrop is widely seen as a leader in the field of
unmanned systems. It followed a similar path to Boeing,
though earlier, when in 1999 it acquired San
Diego-based Ryan Aeronautical, maker of the Global Hawk
Northrop makes unmanned vehicles of all sorts,
including undersea and ocean surface vehicles for the
Navy and robots used by ground forces.
Fraser, Northrop's vice president of Strike and
Surveillance Systems, said in an interview in Paris
that the company is completing sea trials with the Navy
for its unmanned Fire Scout helicopter.
Replacing the Predator
said the next big defense procurement competition will
be to replace the Predator, the now-famous unmanned
missile-launching strike vehicle, built by San Diego,
Calif.-based General Atomics, that is making headlines
almost daily with missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and
Bidders for that contract are expected to include
Northrop, General Atomics, Lockheed and Boeing.
for Post-Shakedown Work On USN’s New CVN-77 Carrier
(DEFENSE INDUSTRY DAILY 19 JUN 09)
Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va., is
being awarded a $72.7 million contract modification to
cover the USS George H. W. Bush’s (CVN 77) Post
Shakedown Availability/Selected Restricted
Availability, following that nuclear aircraft carrier’s
recent acceptance into the fleet.
will be performed in Newport News, VA and is expected
to be complete by January 2010. Contract funds in the
amount of $1.9 million will expire at the end of the
current fiscal year. The Supervisor of Shipbuilding,
Conversion and Repair in Newport News, VA will manage
this contract (N62793-03-G-0001)
George Herbert Walker Bush is named after the 41st
President of the United States, who earned the
Distinguished Flying Cross as a naval aviator during
World War 2. In some ways, it’s a transitional ship
between the CVN-68 Nimitz class aircraft carriers, and
the new “CVN-21” Gerald R. Ford class…
George H.W. Bush aimed at a 15% reduction in Operation
and Support Costs, and is intended as a testbed for
technologies that might be refit into other 9 Nimitz
class carriers during their major maintenance
design enhancements include a new semi-automated system
for jet fueling, a redesigned aircraft hangar, a better
shipboard electrical network, a mast made of composites
instead of steel, improved ship coatings, a better
sewage system that learns from commercial advances,
some propulsion plant improvements that include a new
propeller, and the bulbous bow introduced on USS Ronald
Reagan (CVN-76) to improve its hydrodynamics. Other key
improvements involve changes to the ship’s radar
signature via a smaller “island” and the use of curved
surfaced, and of course more up-to-date electronics.
carrier was originally scheduled to be finish
construction in April 2008, but delays have pushed the
timeline back to about March 2009, and increased costs
from $5.9 billion to $6.2 billion in appropriation-year
dollars. CVN 77 was formally commissioned on Jan 10/09
at NAS Norfolk, despite being approximately 3-4 months
away from the point at which it would normally be
considered ready. The ship was towed into place for the
ceremony, whose date was set in order to commission the
ship while its namesake’s son was still President.
In practice, however, this meant that the Navy
accepted the ship even though it had never tested
its major operating systems or nuclear reactors at
sea. The ship went on to pass its builder’s sea
trials in February 2009, and was formally delivered
to the US Navy on May 11/09.
Defense Department could have until September 15 to
produce 30-year shipbuilding and aviation plans for
fiscal year 2010 -- which the Navy has thus far
withheld from Congress -- if resolutions approved by
the House Armed Services Committee last week get the
full chamber’s nod.
Introduced to the committee on June 16 by Rep. Randy
Forbes (R-VA) and eight other Republican committee
members, House Resolution 477 and House Resolution 478
compel the Navy to provide Congress with 30-year plans
for shipbuilding and aviation, respectively. Earlier
this year, DOD opted not to submit the two plans with
its fiscal year 2010 budget request as required by law.
the secretary of defense to simply look to us and say,
under two statutory requirements, ‘I’m just not going
to do it,’ is unacceptable,” Forbes told the committee.
Navy has cited the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review
and nuclear posture review as reasons for withholding
the QDR, we will be able to provide a plan that has
merit,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead
told the Senate Armed Services Committee June 4.
resolutions compel Defense Secretary Robert Gates to
not only submit the plans, but also “all documents,
including telephone and electronic mail records, logs
and calendars, and records of internal discussions”
related to them that involve his office, the navy
secretary and the director of the White House Office of
Management and Budget.
Additionally, H.R. 477 requires the secretary to
certify that “both the budget for this fiscal year and
the future years defense program relating to the
construction of naval vessels are at a level that is
sufficient for the procurement as described in the
30-year shipbuilding plan.”
resolution is “to simply say that the secretary of
defense is going to do what the law requires him to do
with the budget, and that is to simply provide a
shipbuilding plan for us and his certification that the
budget complies with that shipbuilding plan, or list
the risk that the country faces if it does not,” Forbes
478 also requires an assessment by the secretary
regarding the extent to which combined aircraft forces
of the Navy and Air Force outlined in the aviation plan
“meet the national security requirements of the United
Further, if the Navy’s aircraft procurement budget is
insufficient to meet the plan requirements, H.R. 478
also mandates a “required assessment that describes and
discusses the risks associated with the reduced force
structure of aircraft.”
resolutions called for submission of the plans and
associated documentation within 14 days of the adoption
of the resolution, but amendments offered up by
committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) delayed the
deadline to September 15.
lamented during the hearing that he and other committee
members have both privately and formally requested the
above reports of Gates, “and he has continued not to do
withholding the shipbuilding and aviation plans, Forbes
decried a broader lack of transparency from DOD. He
cited the non-disclosure agreements senior defense
officials were asked to sign during budget
deliberations, the classification of Navy Board of
Inspection and Survey reports following the failure of
six ships to pass material inspections last year, and
Gates’ April 30 memo to the service chiefs and
combatant commanders stating that he would review any
unfunded requirements lists before they were submitted
also noted that the Navy’s FY-10 budget request does
not include any out-year figures, which typically
accompany budget requests.
“Accountability depends on Congress and the American
people being able to hold the administration
accountable,” Forbes said. “And to do that, we need
resolutions and amendments were passed unanimously by
the committee during its mark-up of the National
Defense Authorization Act for FY-10. They will be
submitted to House leadership to be scheduled for vote
on the House floor; only House approval is required for
the resolutions to become effective.