Donation Form

 Photo Gallery

 Air Stations


 Special Articles

 Other Sites

 Contact Us




24 JUN 09 


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. 


1446 Waggaman Circle
Mclean, VA 22101


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 questions’. 

Proof of Service/Report of Separation

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 553.

To apply for such documentation, go to the US Government web site  Most persons who are the serviceperson or immediate kin should be able to use the efile capability at


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) ... Noah Shachtman

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 billion project.

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 the ground.

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 thinking.”

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 per day.

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 the ship.

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.

 VP-8 "Fighting Tigers" Return From Deployment To Write New Chapter In Squadron

(NAVY.MIL 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 Middle East.

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.

"On 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."

"In 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 home!"

VP-8 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 Basin.

"Thank 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."

VP-8 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 history.

 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.

The Navy determined major cost overruns in the E-2D exceeded congressional theresholds for defense programs, 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.

News of 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 target.

"This 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.

He said 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."

One of 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.


Navy Declares Nunn-McCurdy Breach For E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Program

(INSIDE DEFENSE 16 JUN 09) ... Dan Taylor

The 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 estimate.

The 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 instability.

The 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.

The 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 FY-10 budget.

“A 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.

“The 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.

Jim 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, FL.”

“We are on track to deliver the first pilot production aircraft in 2010,” Culmo added. 

 Lockheed’s F-35 ‘Program Killer’ Buoys Fighter Lead Over Boeing

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 that market.

“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 said.

“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 market.”

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.

Killer Model

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, Connecticut.

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 estimates.

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.

‘Bright Future’

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.

Price, Performance

“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.

At 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.

Three Versions

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 Plc.

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 allies.

Cost Control

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.

“A 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 to Boeing.

Hornet Exports

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 identifying them.

“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 said.

“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.”

Air Force Training More Drone Operators

(UPI 16 JUN 09)

WASHINGTON, -- More troops will be trained as unmanned airplane operators than as fighter or bomber pilots combined, the U.S. Air Force said.

The 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.

The Air 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.

"The 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 recently.

CNO Announces 10 Flag Moves


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced two-star flag moves Monday.  One is from the Naval Aviation Community:

• Rear 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)


US Navy Today:

Hide Links of Interest Menu 


Rear Admiral Gerald R. Beaman
Deputy Chief of Staff Operations Allied Joint Force Command Naples

Rear Admiral Gerald R. BeamanRear 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 1975. 

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 John F. Kennedy (CV-67), USS Eisenhower (CVN-69), USS America (CV-66) in support of Operation El Dorado Canyon and USS 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 Nimitz (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 Command-Naples, Italy. 

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.

 Boeing IDS On Schedule With P-8 Poseidon Naval Patroller


With 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.

 “The 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.

T2 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.

Final 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 well 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.

Beyond 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.

If 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.

Boeing 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.

In a 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.

An “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 do that.”

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 the target.” 

HASC Says Continue With Increment 1 VH-71s

(AVIATION WEEK 18 JUN 09) ... Bettina H. Chavanne

The 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.

The 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.”

There’s 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 wrote.

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 transport.”

June 18, 2009                                  

U.S. Navy to recover another historic World War II airplane from

Lake Michigan 

WAUKEGAN – 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 H.W. Bush.  

The 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 whom all owe so much.”  

Another Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft was salvaged from Lake Michigan on April 24, 2009.  

The 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 ultimate sacrifice in protecting America’s freedom, being listed as missing in action in the Philippines on December 14, 1944.  LTJG 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 Yorktown (CV-5).  

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.    

Additional contacts:

Capt. Robert Rasmussen, USN (Ret.), Director, National Naval Aviation Museum

(850) 452-3604 ext. 3119.

Capt. Ed Ellis, USN (Ret.), Secretary, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation

(800) 327-5002.

Kenneth H. DeHoff, Jr., Executive Director, Pacific Aviation Museum   808-754-6871

 Flying higher with sims

Navy to ramp up computer training


  Navy 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.

  Naval 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 officer.

  The 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.    

  For 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 computer systems.

  "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 curriculum.

  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.

  "The 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.

  Other 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, officials said.

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 a day.

  Some 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.

  And some of CNATRA's older simulators have analog controls rather than digital controls, which limits their effectiveness.

  As a result, the training squadrons need more simulators with better capabilities before they can further scale back flight hours, officials said.

  "Our problem right now, to be honest with you, is we don't have the capability here," Maglin said.     

  For example, CNATRA does not have enough T-45C simulators, which creates bottlenecks for students.

  Plans 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.

  Years ago, they were "kind of an afterthought," he said. But now the Navy is considering simulators as part of the aircraft itself.

  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.

  "We have to be careful we don't break something that has worked well in the past," Merkel said.  

  And 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.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter


l.  The 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.

2.  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.)

3.  No 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.

4.  The 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.

The Future Of Military Aviation Is Unmanned


The 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

PARIS — 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.

It's 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.

The 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 Somali pirates.

A 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.

"The 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."

Each afternoon this week, an unmanned helicopter has hovered during the Air Show flying display.

And all around the airfield, at almost every stand, dozens of other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of every variety are on view.

"Go through the show. Everyone has a UAV," Pita said.

Some are sleekly shaped like manta rays or whales. Others resemble some early Wright Brothers experiment.

That's 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.

Now the 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 three years.

All the 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.

"This 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."

Boeing has come late to the UAV market.

In 2004 it acquired Irving, Calif.-based Frontier Systems, a small company with an unmanned surveillance, cargo and strike helicopter, the Hummingbird. Last fall, it acquired Insitu.

At an 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.

'Tens of people'

"We were able to build this with tens of people, rather than thousands," Chadwick said. Yet Boeing brings something of its own to the table.

Not 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.

In 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.

Boeing had integrated the Insitu software with its own network, raising the prospect of feeding the video data to anywhere in the military command system.

And 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.

Rather 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 fighter jet.

Catching up

But 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 surveillance aircraft.

Today, Northrop makes unmanned vehicles of all sorts, including undersea and ocean surface vehicles for the Navy and robots used by ground forces.

Gene 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

Fraser 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 Pakistan.

Bidders for that contract are expected to include Northrop, General Atomics, Lockheed and Boeing.

$72.7M for Post-Shakedown Work On USN’s New CVN-77 Carrier


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.

Work 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)

The USS 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…

The 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 overhauls.

Key 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.

The 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.

 Resolutions Demanding 30-Year Shipbuilding, Aviation Plans Approved

(INSIDE THE NAVY 22 JUN 09) ... Rebekah Gordon

The 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.

“For 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.

The Navy has cited the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review and nuclear posture review as reasons for withholding future numbers.

“After 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.

The 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.”

This 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 said.

H.R. 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 States.”

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.”

Both 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.

Forbes 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 it.”

Besides 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 to Congress.

Forbes 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 transparency.”

The 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.  





 6551 Loisdale Court, Suite 222 - Springfield, Virginia 22150
  Phone (703) 960-6806 - Fax (703) 960-6807

  Email with questions or comments about the Association.

  Copyright © ACS Web Services
  Revised: June 25, 2009