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here are Five big questions for Jim Mattis on Capitol Hill this week
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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis heads to Capitol Hill on Thursday for a review of the Pentagon’s fiscal 2019 budget request.

But he is likely to receive questions on hot-button national security policy issues that have dominated headlines in recent days—some partisan and politically sensitive.

Here’s are five key questions that could impact the nascent 2019 defense policy bill, on which debate will start next month.

Mattis will appear with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford.

1. Readiness. In the wake of press reports during the 2017 budget season about ground units that could not deploy, aircraft that could not fly and ships that were wearing out, Mattis cautioned military leaders against publicly telegraphing readiness shortfalls. That has prompted
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to say Pentagon brass must be more transparent about military readiness problems.

The Pentagon owes its record budget increase in part to the argument that depressed funding created a crisis in military readiness. Yet following the deadly
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of an Air Force F-16 outside of Las Vegas on Wednesday—the third U.S. military aircraft
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in two days—Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the Joint Staff director, said, “I would reject this as a wave or crisis. Each one is concerning, but mishaps happen in military aviation.”

How ready are the armed services and how honest should DoD be about its flaws?

2. Border deployments. After President Donald Trump failed to convince Mexico or Congress to fund his border wall, he floated the idea of it coming from the military’s hard-won $700 billion fiscal 2018 budget. Instead, Trump announced last week he was sending National Guard troops to the southern border to combat illegal crossings.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said ahead of the announced deployments he does not want to “rob the military,” to beef up border security. “We cannot view the military as a cash cow to meet any national need that comes up because we have real military needs,” Thornberry, R-Texas,
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The problem, James Stavridis, a retired four-star admiral who commanded American forces in Europe and Latin America, told
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last week: “There is a significant opportunity cost” because troops sent to the border would “miss important training opportunities for their real primary mission — combat.”

So, what exactly are the trade-offs of these border deployments in dollars and readiness?

3. Syria. Trump on Tuesday
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television cameras he wanted to “get out,” of Syria just as the U.S. special envoy for fighting the Islamic State insisted “our mission isn’t over.”

Trump’s idea, to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria, raised concerns it would leave a power vacuum for Iran and Russia to fill. Since, Trump has bowed to commanders who told him they needed more time to mop up the remaining Islamic State fighters.

Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined a new Syria strategy in January — a renewed focus on United Nations-led diplomacy; an emphasis on stabilization in ISIS-liberated areas; and a continued U.S. military presence to prevent the Islamic State from returning — but he’s since been fired.

What are the objectives of U.S. forces in Syria, what’s the plan to accomplish those objectives and what is the timeline for any troop withdrawal?

4. Space force. Trump
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the creation of a separate military ‘space force’ in public remarks that may have been off the cuff. Still, it appeared to contradict the White House, Mattis and Air Force leaders who last year lobbied against carving a Space Corps out of the Air Force when it was proposed in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

“He is bound to get asked about the Department’s position on creating a ‘Space Force’ as Trump has said he wants to do,” said Todd Harrison, a space and budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “He better have an answer ready for that other than ‘we’re looking into it.’”

Do you support a new space force?

5. Transgender ban. When Trump announced a new ban on certain transgendered people serving in the military earlier this month, it put the
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. Advocates regard it as a reversal on his part, pointing to Mattis’ confirmation hearing in 2017, where he suggested he would not roll back Obama-era rules allowing LGBT service members to serve openly.

They also point to reports that Vice President Mike Pence and a group of anti-gay activists played a leading role in drafting the final plan from Mattis on the transgender military ban. (
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over the ban are ongoing.)

“Are these reports true? Did Pence overrule what Mattis wanted to recommend?” said Stephen Peters, of the American Military Partner Association. “And if the final plan is actually what Mattis wanted, what changed since his confirmation hearing where he promised not to reverse the previous administration’s policies allowing qualified LGBT Americans to serve in the military?”
now Flush with cash, the Navy bores in on aviation readiness amid a crisis
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The vice chief of naval operations had to see the issues for himself.

Years of flying the jets in combat missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have put an enormous strain on the Navy’s tactical aircraft, the fleet’s main battle axe in the war on terror.
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shortages in spare parts, shortages in personnel, shortages in flight training hours for pilots when they return from deployment.

The result: Today only one in three of the
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are fully mission capable and ready to fly in combat. Naval aviation is either at or close to its readiness nadir.

What the sailors here told Adm. Bill Moran during a February visit would sound familiar to those who have followed the issue: long waits for spare parts, contracting delays, and the increasingly complex problems associated with maintaining aircraft that have well exceeded their planned flying hours.

The maintainers have been putting processes into place that have been translating into faster turnaround times, but the essential facts have remained static. The Navy will have a hard time making significant headway on readiness until the money from
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in 2017, 2018 and a budget deal in 2019 and 2020 start translating into more parts and more up jets.

“We kind of lost our way a few years back when we were all doing everything we could to get airplanes and ships forward into the fight,” Moran told Defense News during the trip. “Then it went on and on and on, and I think that’s where the stress of not only the people and the equipment but also the processes started to break down.”

It’s a familiar story.

In 2017, the crisis in readiness that began spinning out of control in the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet was laid bare after three collisions and a grounding killed 17 sailors and sidelined three of the fleet’s 11 cruisers and destroyers, including two of the seven ships designated as ballistic missile defense ships. A subsequent pair of reviews found a culture where getting ships forward to meet ever-increasing demands caused leaders to cut corners on training and readiness that by the summer of 2017 had reached critical lows.

But while the surface fleet’s problems became national and international news, aviation was instead in a kind of quiet crisis — still able to put working jets and trained pilots on carriers all over the world but eroding badly everywhere else. Now, flush with money from budget increases, the Navy is going after its degraded aviation enterprise full bore.

“I think for all of us it’s more up jets,” Moran said in a later interview. “We’ve got to have more up jets. One, two, 10, 100. That has to be the call to arms. That’s everything from how we resource, how we train, how we man. But perhaps more important, or at least equally important, is the attitude and motivation of our teams out in the fleet. We need to get after this and I have every confidence in [Air Boss Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III] to do that.”

The bad news

Then-air boss Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker painted a bleak portrait of the state of naval aviation readiness in a November hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee.

In brief but stunning testimony, Shoemaker offered a clear view of the readiness ditch that naval aviation had been driven into by incessant demand, budget cuts and backlogs at the aircraft repair depots.

“We are meeting the combatant commanders’ requirements for ready, lethal carriers and air wings forward, but at a tremendous cost to the readiness of our forces at home,” Shoemaker told the committee.

“For example, to get Carl Vinson, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt ready to deploy in January, June and October of this year, and equip their embarked air wings with the required number of mission capable jets, 94 strike fighters had to be transferred to and from the maintenance depots or between F-18 squadrons on both coasts.”

Shoemaker went on to say that, to get the fighters out the door, he had to poach 300 sailors from other squadrons to fill out critical billets in the air wings and cannibalize hundreds of parts from other jets, which further reduced the number of jets the home squadrons had to fly and train on. It’s a shell game, Shoemaker said, and it was degrading the naval aviation’s overall readiness.

The numbers told much of the story. Of the Navy’s 542 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, only 170 were deemed mission capable, or able to be deployed. That number has remained largely static since Shoemaker’s testimony, said Lt. Lauren Chatmas, a Navy spokeswoman.

Worse still, the service is beginning to see the outlines of a retention problem among its pilots, something it has been signaling could be on the horizon for years. In March, the chief of naval operations’ director of air warfare testified that the Navy was missing its goals for retaining department heads – the tour that directly follows the first 10-year commitment. In other words, pilots aren’t staying in the Navy after their first tour.

The way forward

Getting naval aviation out of the ditch and back on the road will be a long process, but the Navy has taken some concrete steps to try and alleviate both the short term and long-term symptoms of the readiness crisis. In March, for example, the service was sweetening the pot for department heads and for senior aviators, hoping to lure pilots away from the well-paying commercial airlines with bonuses in exchange for multi-year commitments.

But keeping pilots in the Navy is only worth so much if the Navy doesn’t have jets to fly. And to get more jets, the Navy has to get more spare parts.

The budget plus-ups of the Trump era have pushed needed money into the parts accounts, but it’s going to take some time for money to translate into large quantities of spares in the fleet.

“I know it’s probably unsatisfying to the aviation community out there, but we have put a significant amount” of money towards the major shortages, Moran said.

One of the major hang-ups in getting spares into the fleet has been difficulty with suppliers who during the era of budget cuts either went out of business or decided to leave the defense industry. In December, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a study that estimated that about 17,000 suppliers may have left the Defense business, or 20 percent of the total, between 2011 and 2015. Those supplier issues are right now hampering the Navy’s ability to execute on contracts quickly, Moran said, adding that a return to stable funding should ameliorate issues by reassuring suppliers.

“Stable funding is critical to an industry that needs stability in programming and budgeting so that they’re actively working to make sure they have the capacity to fill the resourcing of parts, spares, consumables and all the things that go with that,” he said. “If you are going to do ‘a couple of these here, a couple of those there,’ the vendor base here in the U.S. is not going to want to participate in that.

“So when we have down years in funding it makes it really difficult to contract on a timeline that satisfies the fleet’s needs. … That stability is now in the budget. What we now have to see is performance against that stability by our vendor base, by our primes and by our own teams in the fleet.

“We no longer have an excuse that we don’t have enough money, now we’ve actually got to go after this full-bore.”

The Navy has also made the decision to strike nearly 140 of the legacy one-seater Hornets that have been creating backlogs in the maintenance depots. The aircraft will be harvested for parts and the best of the aircraft will be transferred to the Marine Corps, which has been suffering from readiness problems in its legacy aircraft as it transitions to the F-35B.

The cut aircraft will be offset by an influx of new F/A-18s the Navy has purchased over the last few years, including 24 new Super Hornets funded in the 2018 Ominibus spending bill: double what the service requested. The move is combined with the acceleration of the transition of the last two squadrons flying legacy Hornets to the Super Hornets. Those two squadrons will transition by the end of 2019.

“We’ve made the investments,” Moran told a group of young pilots at a round table discussion in Oceana. “The parts bins are going to be filling up and we’re going to see more up jets. We just need you to stick around to see it.”
Friday at 7:57 PM
Today at 6:09 AM
related articles are:
Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet production line busy until 2025
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Boeing receives first Super Hornet for service life modification
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also related is
How stealthy is Boeing’s new Super Hornet?
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is getting a marginal increase in stealth capability, but if you’re expecting the invisible aircraft of President Donald Trump’s dreams, think again.

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has been one of
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since he was elected to the presidency. During a March trip to Boeing’s plant in St. Louis, he claimed the
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with “the latest and the greatest stealth and a lot of things on that plane that people don’t even know about.”

Trump was referring to one of the Super Hornet’s Block III upgrades slated to be incorporated on jets rolling off the production line in 2020: the application of radar absorbent materials or RAM, also known as stealth coating.

But far from being “the latest and greatest,” the company has already used the exact same materials on the on the Block II Super Hornet to help decrease the chances of radar detection, said Dan Gillian, who manages Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler programs.

Block III jets will get “a little more” of that coating applied to them, “and in a few different areas to buy a little bit more performance,” Gillian told Defense News in a March interview.

All in all, those improvements will reduce the aircraft’s radar cross section by about 10 percent, and with very low risk, he said.

Although the general public tends to think of stealth like the invisibility cloak from Harry Potter or Wonder Woman’s invisible plane,
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that is enabled and affected by many factors, experts told Defense News.

“It’s not a Romulan cloaking device,” said Richard Aboulafia, a Teal Group aviation analyst, referencing a technology from Star Trek that allowed spaceships to be invisible to the naked eye and electro-optical sensors.

“It’s about reducing the likelihood that an adversary will see you first. And seconds count, so if it buys a little extra time, then it helps.”

The most important contributors to low observability are the aircraft’s shape and the use of
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, with airframe shape commonly seen as twice as important as the coatings, he said.

Stealth fighters from the oddly angled F-117 to the
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and F-35, with their rounded edges, were all designed to bounce radar waves away from an aircraft, sometimes at the expense of aerodynamic performance or other attributes, said Brian Laslie, an Air Force historian and author.

That being said, the Super Hornet, with it’s external stores and pylons, is not going to replicate the low observability of the joint strike fighter, which was designed from the beginning with stealth in mind.

“But just because it’s not a pure LO aircraft doesn’t mean that the designers weren’t concerned with the radar return,” said Laslie, who added that it’s “reasonable” to expect a 10 percent decrease to the aircraft’s signature by augmenting Block III jets with additional RAM coating.

Shining a spotlight on the Super Hornet’s low observable attributes may have helped sell Trump on future orders, Aboulafia speculated.

“It might be useful in the real world too, but in a much more marginal way,” he said.

One of those benefits, according to Laslie, is that the LO performance upgrade could also enable the Navy to be more flexible in its mission planning. An aircraft can be more or less easily detected by radar depending on how it is positioned or the route used by the plane, so having more radar-absorbing materials on the Super Hornet could give the pilot more options.

“I think what the Navy is doing is trying to maybe reduce enough of the cross section of the F-18 in high intensity combat scenarios,” Laslie said.

“I don’t think they’re trying to make the F/A-18 a stealth aircraft,” he continued. “But if they can reduce the radar cross section enough that in certain scenarios it is more difficult to pick the Super Hornet up, that would be of benefit to the Navy.”

While the president has done much to focus public attention on the Super Hornet’s upcoming LO upgrade, the Block III actually offers a relatively modest increase in stealth compared to earlier concepts floated by Boeing.

In 2013, when the company began evaluating how to attract future sales from the Navy as production slowed, it started promoting an “Advanced Super Hornet” configuration that would have improved the aircraft’s signature by 50 percent. That version of the jet included structural enhancements and an enclosed weapons pod, but Boeing ultimately stepped away from that concept.

“Those big compromises you have to make to get the higher levels of stealth like putting your weapons in a bay, we don’t think that’s a necessary part of the Block III story for the Super Hornet,” Gillian said.

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Tyrant King
Weaponization of unmanned Fire Scout helicopter ‘on hiatus’ until 2023
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  1 hour ago
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with weapons remains effectively on hold as the Navy determines what munitions the littoral combat ship will carry in its armory going forward, the service’s program manager said Monday.

The Navy has a longstanding requirement to integrate the MQ-8C — an unmanned Bell 407 designed to operate from the Freedom and Independence class LCS and collect surveillance — with the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS), a BAE Systems product that transforms unguided 2.75-inch rockets into a precision-guided round.

However, the service will not be able to move forward with that effort until at least 2023, said Capt. Jeff Dodge, head of PMA-266.

“That development is in hiatus right now as we deal with ship integration issues and the limited magazine space that we have in trying to find out what the weapons mix should be” onboard a littoral combat ship, he told reporters at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference.

The Navy previously conducted land-based tests of the APKWS on an MQ-8B, an earlier version of the Fire Scout derived from the Schweizer 333. But although the tests “went great, from an airframe standpoint,” according to Dodge, future shipboard integration presents a challenge.

“One of the issues with advanced precision kill weapon system is — because its based on an unguided rocket— it’s designed to be built up in an armory, and the LCS armory doesn’t have the space to do the build up,” he said.

One potential solution is to ship each round already assembled, which would allow the weapon to fit in the LCS armory, Dodge said.

But another limiting factor is the future configuration of the LCS itself. As the Navy studies how to balance LCS survivability with the ship’s other capabilities and mission sets, service leaders are rethinking which weapons the ship should store for both itself and its onboard aircraft.

“That hasn’t resolved to give us a clear way forward that would make it a worthwhile investment at this point to continue the testing,” Dodge said.

If the Navy moves forward with weaponizing the MQ-8C, Dodge said the service will first do a quick assessment of whether APKWS is still the right fit for the Fire Scout. If so, the service will then evaluate how many rockets the drone will be able to carry.

“We had to go with three tube launchers for the MQ-8B because of its limited payload,” he said. “We think we can carry up to seven tube launcher which is more standard across DoD [with the MQ-8C].”

The MQ-8C is slated to enter service by the end of the calendar year.
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Marine Corps nearing contract award for new amphibious combat vehicle
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  3 hours ago
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will build its new
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having just wrapped up operational tests of prototypes a week ago.

The Marine Corps is still on track to make an award for low-rate initial production to one of the companies in the June time frame.

All government testing of the prototypes concluded the first week of December and the Marine Corps issued its request for proposals the first week in January. Operational tests also began concurrently, John Swift, BAE Systems’ ACV program manager, told Defense News in an interview just ahead of Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference.

Government testing included land reliability testing, survivability and blast testing and water testing — both ship launch and recovery as well as surf transit.

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Operational evaluations included seven prototypes each from both SAIC and BAE Systems, six participated and one spare was kept for backup.

The first month of operational testing took place at Twentynine Palms Base in California, where Marines ran through a variety of tactical missions with the vehicles. And the following month, the vehicles went to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, where it performed littoral penetrations, surf operations and a portion on land, according to Swift.

Over the course of the two-month time period — or roughly 10 weeks — the vehicles accrued almost 4,000 miles and over 1,500 mission hours, “which is unbelievable,” Swift said.

The operational tests validated “the robustness of our design,” Swift said, pointing back to the mileage and hours logged, adding, “that is phenomenal.”

BAE Systems’ partnered with Italian company Iveco Defense Vehicles to build its ACV offering.

The Marine Corps awarded both BAE and SAIC roughly $100 million each in December 2015 to build 16 prototypes for the service to test.

The Marines plan to field 204 of the vehicles by 2020. The total value of the contract with all options exercised is expected to amount to about $1.2 billion.

Some of the features BAE believes are particularly attractive for a new ACV is that it has space for 13 embarked Marines and a crew of three, which keeps the rifle squad together. The engine’s strength is 690 horsepower over the old engine’s 560 horsepower, and it runs extremely quietly. The vehicle has a V-shaped hull to protect against underbody blasts, and the seat structure is completely suspended.

SAIC’s vehicle, which is being built in Charleston, South Carolina, offers improved traction through a central tire-inflation system to automatically increase or decrease tire pressure. It also has a V-hull certified during tests at the Nevada Automotive Test Center — where all prototypes will be tested by the Marine Corps — and has blast-mitigating seats to protect occupants.

SAIC declined request for comment on the ACV competition.
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19 minutes ago
I now skimmed over
Weaponization of unmanned Fire Scout helicopter ‘on hiatus’ until 2023
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sounds like they're unable to proceed with game changing transformational revolutionizing naval warfare concurrent BUNK which is LCSs famous of their Star Trek look and tremendous speed at moments when they sail on their own power

two and a half years ago
Oct 9, 2015
  1. possibly OHP hull (or enlarged, but 4500 max.)
  2. possibly COGLAG propulsion (relatively quiet; but 35 knots max.)
  3. AEGIS Lite, one illuminator
  4. 16-cells VLS: 8 AAMs, 8 ASROCs (so that during a ASW mission the ship wouldn't rely on a helo to kill a sub, heck)
  5. organic helicopter, hangar; the outer, inner spaces arranged for:
  6. Harpoon launchers optionally from one dual to two quads,
  7. torpedo tubes optionally from one single up to two triple,
  8. assault boats (optionally small or big?)
  9. enough anti-FAC protection
so by now such a frigate would've hit the water (in an alternative universe hahaha)
The Navy, once again, soft-pedals its own 355 ship-count assessment
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Just in case there was ever any doubt, the Navy really doesn’t want you to hold them to the 355 ship number it said it needed at the end of 2016.

Senior Navy leadership has made a cottage industry of down-playing its December 2016 assessment that attempted to match combatant commander demand with the kind of fleet size it might reasonably expect to build.

Since Jim Mattis took over as Defense Secretary in January, equivocation has been the order of the day when it comes to what size fleet the Navy is building towards in the era of President Trump.

And that continued Monday morning at Navy League’s annual maritime bonanza, Sea-Air-Space. In response to a question about priorities, the Navy top requirements officer told the crowd to focus less on the 355-ship number. When it comes to fleet lethality, its what’s on the inside that counts, Vice Adm. William Merz told the crowd.

“Capability is where we would really like to put most of our energy,” Merz, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, said. “That’s where we can return capability and make our fleet more lethal much more quickly than just building capacity. There is the capacity piece, the 355-ship Navy, that I’m sure you’re very familiar with.

“We caution everybody that 355 is a target,” he continued. “It’s much more important to focus on the sum of the parts to derive from it.” He said that fitting the right capabilities to operational plans and need areas was more important than actually hitting the target number of ships.

Merz is the latest in a long line of 355-ship soft-pedlars, a trend that has continued despite Congress making achieving a 355-ship Navy a matter of national policy as part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Merz told House lawmakers in March that the Navy was gearing up for a new force structure assessment that would inevitably revise the 355-ship number.

When Mattis was pressed last June about growing the fleet to 355 ships, he said the nation needed a larger fleet but that it was unlikely without three-to-five percent real growth in the defense budget annually. Mattis has made clear that restoring readiness in the force is his number one priority.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said in September that the Navy needs to grow, but that the service needed to take a hard look at what capabilities the fleet would need in 15 years. The Navy’s own 30-year shipbuilding plan released in February didn’t get to 355 ships at all, capping out at 342 ships in 2039.

The Navy’s public squirreliness on its own assessment of its needs have started to irk even its staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill.

In a hearing in March, Rep. Rob Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower subcommittee, said the Navy was missing the mark on its shipbuilding plans.

“Critical shortfalls in aircraft carriers, large-deck [amphibious ships] and attack submarines are debilitating to our national security and only serve to embolden potential adversaries,” Wittman said. “The Navy sometimes misses the strategic imperative and national urgency associated with the message our nation needs to sends to the world when an inadequate shipbuilding budget is proposed.”

What this all boils down to is that 355-ships is not a priority for the current administration, said Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and consultant with The FerryBridge Group.

“I continue to believe that a lot of people (myself included) suffered from irrational exuberance when the president’s 350 campaign promise morphed into a 355 ship force structure assessment in late 2016. When people downplay numbers, it is almost always a way to reconcile tight resources. The bottom line is that if 355 were a Secretary Mattis priority, we’d know it. It isn’t, and so it is likely we will continue to see Navy downplay the number.
Sep 1, 2017
Jun 21, 2017

NAVAIR Awards Sikorsky $304M For First 2 CH-53K Heavy-Lift Helos
source is USNI News
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now Sikorsky Eyes International Customers for CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Lift Helo
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With the CH-53K King Stallion on track to be declared ready for U.S> Marine Corps operations in 2019, builder Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is now eyeing future international customers.

A key demonstration of the heavy lift helicopter’s capabilities is scheduled for later this month in Berlin, with military officials from Germany and Israel expected to be chief among the Lockheed Martin company’s list of guests to impress, according to the Marine Corps. CH-53K program officials plan to showcase the CH-53K’s lifting ability, upgraded controls, and long-term availability for international customers.

“Israel and Germany on the same time line. They’re looking for aircraft in the early ‘20s, ‘24 or ’25. They both expressed interest in the 53-K. We’ve had multiple engagements with the Israeli’s and Germans,” said Col. Hank Vanderborght, the Marine Corps. CH-53K program manager said on Monday at the Navy’ League’s Sea Air Space 2018 exposition.

Officials from both countries are interested in the program status, what the King Stallion can do, and how much it costs. Right now, the flyaway cost per airframe is about $87 million, Vanderborght said. The program is on schedule, with an initial operational capability expected in December 2019, and a first deployment to occur in late 2023 or early 2024.

Attendees at the Berlin air show are expected to see how the CH-53K can lift large payloads, including those loaded on standard transport plane pallets, and see how the aircraft can hover and fly backward with minimal hands-on control from the pilot, said Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s vice president of Marine Corps systems.

The showcase is important for Sikorsky because both nations are reportedly also considering purchasing the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Torok said. Israel is also considering purchasing the Bell Boeing made V-22 Osprey.

Sikorsky is also promoting its integrated health management system, embedded into the CH-53K, Torok said. This system can monitor parts on the aircraft, allowing Sikorsky and military technicians know when servicing is required. Doing so, Torok said, will help control the cost of operating the aircraft during an anticipated 30 to 40-year lifetime.

“Historically, we’d give a helicopter to the user and we’d have no idea what they would do with the aircraft,” Torok said.
“We no longer just make money by delivering spare parts, now we actually make money by delivering availability and capability.”
Mar 29, 2018
I've been following here what I called 'CSG Lite' Mar 4, 2018; the latest is
USS Wasp Expected to Join Foal Eagle Exercise
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Photo: Wasp ESG sails with JS Shimokita in East China Sea
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US Navy ships from the Wasp expeditionary strike group met up with Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) amphibious transport dock JS Shimokita (LST 4002) in the East China Sea on April 9 for bilateral maneuvers.

The US Navy has shared photos of the navigational maneuvers which were held to “demonstrate commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance and security of the region”.

“Our two navies sailing side-by-side like this signifies the strong relationship we have with the Kaijo Jieitai as allies,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “We work together on a continuum of activities and are committed to expanding combined amphibious capability.”

As an example of the continued commitment to working together, LCACs from Naval Beach Unit 7 had embarked on JS Ōsumi (LST 4001) in September 2017 to participate in the annual emergency drill Big Rescue.

This was the first time that Wasp had operated with the Japan Self Defense Force since arriving to Sasebo, Japan in January to replace USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as the flagship for Amphibious Force 7th Fleet.

“For the JMSDF, this is the first time to conduct exercise with Wasp ESG and 31st MEU. I am sure this exercise is a valuable experience for JMSDF,” said Rear Adm. Tsutomu Shirane, commander, Mine Warfare Force. “We welcome the deployment of USS Wasp in this region, and I hope we continue to work together with Wasp.”

The Wasp ESG is deployed in the region in order to provide rapid-response capability and advance the Up-Gunned ESG concept which combines a three-ship amphibious ready group (ARG) with a three ship guided-missile destroyer surface action group (SAG).

This ESG is envisioned as a bridge between the 10 carrier strike groups the US Navy currently has and the 15 it would like/need to operate.


Tyrant King
Boeing’s new head of Phantom Works division sets sights on MQ-25 tanker drone, MUX unmanned rotorcraft
By: Valerie Insinna   1 hour ago

Boeing's booth at the 2018 Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference in Qatar. (Chirine Mouchantaf/Staff)
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Boeing’s entrant for the Navy’s MQ-25 tanker drone competition will incorporate technologies from its recently acquired subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, the company’s head of its Phantom Works advanced tech and prototyping division confirmed Monday.

But Mark Cherry, who was named the vice president Phantom Works in October, isn’t giving up any information about Aurora’s contribution to the program until the Navy awards a contract this summer.

“We’re in a competitive situation so we wouldn’t want to tip off our competitors,” he told Defense News in his first interview in his new role. “The ability to leverage Aurora, we do it in ways that make sense in terms of putting us in a good competitive position.”

While Cherry gave no hints as to which Aurora technologies could be adopted in MQ-25, the company specializes in a couple key areas. It’s well known as a pioneer of unmanned aircraft like the ultra-long endurance Orion drone, as well as autonomous tech such as robotic copilots. It also manufactures advanced materials and aerostructures and has developed experimental aircraft concepts.

As the former president and chief operating officer of Aurora, Cherry is intimately familiar with the company’s product line and capabilities. But as Phantom Works’ head, he will have to expand his aperture to a wider product range that includes satellites and space platforms, fighter aircraft and munitions — a task he says is “really exciting.”

“One of the things that Leanne [Caret, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security] challenged me on when I came in was to ensure that Phantom Works was the Phantom Works for all of Boeing Defense. So one of the things we did was make sure we had touchpoints with all of the different organizations within Boeing Defense as opposed to focusing on one particular sector.”

The Marine Corps’ program — which goes by the unwieldy name of Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary or MUX — could be a key test of Boeing’s ability to break down those silos.

The service in March released a request for information for MUX, seeking out insight from industry on long-range, ship-based unmanned rotorcraft that could be used for surveillance, as a communications relay and as armed support for manned aircraft.

That kind of a platform could be helmed by several of Boeing’s divisions, but rather than passing over MUX to the company’s rotorcraft or autonomous systems business, the intent is to work collaboratively as requirements evolve, Cherry said.

“The touch points we’ve established will help us streamline what’s the right answer for the Marine Corps for that need,” he said. “We’re doing that as an integrated approach.”

Cherry also said he wants to reevaluate how Phantom Works functions, and make changes where it makes sense to keep the organization agile.

After he assumed leadership of Phantom Works, “we did a lot of things in terms of moving out quickly and looking at process as very added. And that’s one of the things that we’re taking a hard look at is where process is actually adding value and where process we might need to look at doing some things — it might be — a bit differently,” he said.

That’s not to say that Phantom Works’ structure or processes are currently unwieldy or overly bureaucratic, but “whenever you’re in a large organization, you have to challenge paradigms,” he said. “You have to take a look at and see what does make sense and what doesn’t make sense.”
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New Navy EW program set for major milestone this summer
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  3 hours ago

The Navy is planning a critical design review for the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare program for the summer. (Lockheed Martin/PRNewsfoto)

One of the Navy’s newest electronic warfare programs is slated for what’s known as a “critical design review” — a technical audit to ensure any systems produced under the program can meet performance, cost, schedule and risk baselines.

The Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) design is a self-contained sensor pod that will be outfitted to MH-60 Sierra and Romeo helicopters to extend a ship’s line-of-sight limitations in the electromagnetic spectrum. Executives at Lockheed Martin, the payload’s designer, said they’re on track for the CDR and testing in late June or early July.

“It is a very fast program,” Joseph Ottaviano, director of electronic warfare systems at Lockheed Martin, told C4ISRNET during an interview April 9 at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference, adding it’s only been a little over a year since the award to CDR.

Part of the speed has to do with understanding the electronic warfare infrastructure the Navy wants, Ottaviano said. Citing a quote from a flag officer, he noted the Navy’s EW approach is now one of enterprise protection.

In the past EW was taken as more of an anti-ship missile defense approach to an individual ship, but things are changing.

“You’re defending not just yourself, but the battle group,” Ottaviano said.

While not divulging much detail, Ottaviano also added that AOEW — and even the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program, for which Lockheed is working on Block 2 — can share its data with other assets.

This creates a more holistic situational understanding of what signals exist within a certain area — informing not just the Navy, but the joint force.
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New undersea drones are smaller, cheaper and can be refueled deep under water
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  19 minutes ago
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and a subsea drone refueling station by
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Hydroid’s Remus M3V is substantially smaller than previous models. With a compact, A-size (36-inch long, 4.875-inch diameter) envelope and no fins or appendages, the vehicle can achieve speeds of more than 10 knots and dive up to 300 meters. It can be used in search and survey; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and multivehicle missions.

With its variable center of gravity, the Remus M3V can also operate in buoy mode. Its key marketing points are its small size, low cost and compatibility with existing AUV operating systems.

Hydroid’s Remus M3V can dive up to 300 meters. (Hydroid)
“The Navy always wants more with less,” said Justin S. Reid, business development manager at Hydroid. “They want a smaller vehicle that can do the same things as a larger vehicle, and also the price point to match it.”

Teledyne Energy featured its untethered subsea power station at the exposition, along with its Gavia AUV. The Gavia can perform side-scan sonar operations to capture images of the sea floor. It is intended to travel ahead of Navy fleets and transmit oceanographic data back to the vessels.

Teledyne’s subsea power station can remotely refuel the Gavia and other underwater vehicles. Deployable via ship or helicopter, the fuel cell system has an energy storage of 200 kilowatt-hours and an operating depth of 3,000 meters.

Teledyne will demonstrate the subsea power station at the Navy’s Advanced Naval Technology Exercise in August.

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Feb 11, 2018
in case you didn't know Trump to nominate Adm. Harry Harris for Australian ambassadorship
source is DefenseNews
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and Navy Fleet Forces commander nominated for top military post in the Pacific
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The Navy’s four-star fleet boss, Adm. Phil Davidson,
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by Defense Secretary James Mattis to become the top military officer in the Pacific, a move that keeps U.S. Pacific Command under Navy leadership, according to a Defense Department announcement Tuesday.

Davidson’s top competition for the PACOM job,
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, has been nominated to lead U.S. Northern Command, relieving Gen. Lori Robinson.

Currently the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, the 1982 Naval Academy graduate, will inherit a nuclear standoff with North Korea and a slow-motion conflict with China over its expansive claims of maritime rights in the South China Sea.

Adm. Harry Harris, the outgoing PACOM, developed a reputation for being aggressive with U.S. forces deployed in the region, which included a major show of force in November in which three aircraft carriers conducted a simultaneous patrol in the waters near the Korean peninsula.

Davidson has spent most of his career on the East Coast but spent recent months leading the Navy’s Comprehensive Review
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Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet in the wake of last summer’s deadly collisions that killed 17 sailors.

Defense News reported in February that Davidson was likely to be the next PACOM commander.

Davidson has previously commanded the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, the cruiser Gettysburg and the frigate Taylor.

Prior to being Fleet Forces commander, he commanded U.S. 6th Fleet in Europe.

He gained experience earlier in his career at a staff job at PACFLT, according to his official biography.