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07 May 20. US Air Force bails on Mattis-era fighter jet readiness goal. The U.S. Air Force has officially abandoned a directive to get its F-35, F-22 and F-16 jets up to an 80 percent mission-capable rate after failing to meet that goal in fiscal 2019, the service’s presumptive chief of staff indicated Thursday.
According to written responses by Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown ahead of his May 7 confirmation hearing, “the F-16 mission capable rate reached a high of 75% in June 2019, the F-22 mission capable rate achieved a high of 68% in April 2019 and the F-35 mission capability rate climbed to a high of 74% in September 2019.”
However, data obtained exclusively by Air Force Times and Defense News revealed the mission-capable rates for those three aircraft over the whole of FY19 — while, in some cases, an improvement over the previous year — fell well short of the 80 percent goal mandated by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in October 2018.
And the overall rates for the year were lower — in some cases, much lower — than the high-water marks cited by Brown.
The Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing model, showed the most improvement, increasing from a mission-capable rate of about 50 percent in FY18 to 62 percent in FY19.
The F-16 mission-capable rate grew modestly, with the F-16C increasing from 70 percent in FY18 to 73 percent in FY19. The F-16D’s mission-capable rate rose from 66 percent to 70 percent over that time period.
However, the F-22’s mission-capable rate actually decreased from 52 percent in FY18 to 51 percent in FY19. This is likely due to the continued maintenance challenges after 17 Raptors were left behind at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, during Hurricane Michael in 2018, damaging a portion of the fleet. Ultimately, Pentagon leadership decided not to renew the effort in FY20, Brown told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“The Office of the Secretary of Defense determined the FY19 80-percent Mission Capable (MC) Rate initiative is not an FY20 requirement,” wrote Brown, who is currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces.
Instead, the Air Force has returned to its usual practice of letting commanders set their own readiness objectives, with no definitive requirements for mission-capable rates, he said.
“We continue to balance near term readiness recovery with investment long-term combat capability,” Brown said. “While maintaining all of our aging fleets are difficult and expensive, we continuously examine emerging technologies, commercial best practices, and other methods to reduce the sustainment costs for our Air Force.”
Although the services tried to meet Mattis’ 80 percent mandate, even after he resigned in December 2018, the goal was never popular among Air Force leadership.
If confirmed by the Senate as the uniformed head of the Air Force, Brown will replace Gen. Dave Goldfein, who argued that the readiness of the service’s aircraft inventory could better be measured by other metrics.
In an interview with Air Force Times in August, Goldfein said readiness can truly be measured by how well the Air Force can carry out its missions, which requires more than mission-capable aircraft. It also requires trained and ready air crew, maintainers and other airmen as well as enough spare parts and resources, he said. Goldfein also cited increases in flying hours and pilot training as other indicators of progress.
Instead of driving toward an 80 percent mission-capable rate, the Air Force is implementing a new “strategic sustainment framework” that will aim to increase readiness by improving the service’s repair network and expanding the use of conditions-based maintenance, Brown wrote in his response to the SASC.
The service’s inspector general is also conducting a comprehensive classified review of readiness assessments across the Air Force, he said.
In his hearing, Brown reiterated the Air Force’s need to grow to 386 squadrons over the long term. When asked by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., whether the Air Force is now large enough to carry out the National Defense Strategy, Brown said: “To an extent.”
“In the immediate term, I think we are, but we’ve still got to be able to grow to the 386” squadrons, Brown said. “Anything less than 386 incurs risk.”
However, he acknowledged the Air Force may come close but might not completely meet that goal, which was first laid out by previous Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. But the Air Force’s improved capabilities, including making better use of unmanned platforms, will help make up some of that difference, he said.
“We may be a little bit smaller than 386, but we’ll be more capable,” Brown said. “It’s not just the manned platforms; it’s also how we do manned-unmanned teaming. The XQ-58 Valkyrie [combat drone] is one of those systems that we can team up with, particularly some of our fifth-gen capability to increase our range, increase our awareness, to increase our strike capability.” (Source: Defense News)
06 May 20. Kyiv Armoured Plant delivers repaired BTR-80 to AFU. Kyiv Armoured Plant, a subsidiary of state-owned Ukroboronprom, has delivered nine BTR-80 APCs to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) following repairs.
The repairs also included upgrades to their communication and navigation systems as well as new 29-inch (74cm) tyres.
Igor Fomenko, deputy director general for production at Ukroboronprom, said: ‘The company was supposed to finish the contract last fall , but due to delays in financing state guarantees and additional work that was revealed [to show the] deep defect, the work was delayed.’
The BTR-80 is an 8×8 amphibious APC which was developed in the Soviet era, although first deliveries were not made until 1995. The vehicle included new side doors which made it easier for infantry troops to embark and disembark quickly. The side doors had not been included in the earlier BTR-60 and BTR-70 models. (Source: Shephard)
06 May 20. Leonardo DRS Awarded Contract to Build Advanced Heavy Duty Tank Trailers. Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that it was awarded a firm-fixed-price undefinitized contract with an initial value of $12.2m to build tactical transport trailers for armored vehicles to improve combat logistics. Under the contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command, the Leonardo DRS Land Systems business unit will build 60 Heavy Duty Tank Trailers (HDTTs) to haul Main Battle Tanks and other heavy vehicles. The advanced HDTT systems are designed to carry in excess of seventy tons of payload across varied terrain, improving the ability of units to rapidly relocate their military capability.
“We are proud to have been chosen by the U.S. Army Contracting Command for this important program that will help extend mission capability, said John Fitzpatrick Vice President of Business Development at Leonardo DRS Land Systems. “The Leonardo DRS Land Systems business possesses advanced manufacturing capabilities, and a long history of providing customers with successful, high-quality military and civilian systems including the Joint Assault Bridge, aircraft cargo loaders, advanced fluid/fuel distribution systems and heavy-duty trailers,” Fitzpatrick said.
Work on the trailers will be conducted at the Leonardo DRS Land Systems facility in West Plains
04 May 20. Rebuilding the Super Hornet Fleet; Naval Aviation Maintenance Center for Excellence Helps Improve Readiness. After more than eight years of dormancy on the flight line, F/A-18F Super Hornet Bureau Number (BuNo) 166464 returned to operational fleet service 19 April with a functional check flight.
Due largely in part to constrained Navy budgets, BuNo 166464, which had contributed some of its parts so that others could fly and deploy, sat idly on the Lemoore flightline for nearly two presidential terms. Some wondered if it would ever fly again. Now the strike-fighter is back doing the job for which it was built, roaring through the California skies and helping train replacement aircrew as a member of the VFA-122 Flying Eagles. The jet is not alone; several other “long-term downs” have also been returned into service as NAS Lemoore (NASL) is enjoying a readiness renaissance—more Super Hornets are flying now than seen in more than a decade.
A key player in this readiness recovery is a new maintenance center for excellence specifically designed to eliminate the long-term down aircraft. In a small corner of NASL’s flight line sits a 73,800-square foot tension fabric structure. Inside that air-conditioned makeshift hangar, maintainers expertly rebuild long-term down Super Hornets and ready them to be returned to fleet squadrons for operational use. Six fully-equipped maintenance stations enable this massive undertaking, which has proved vital to maintaining operational readiness in today’s high op-tempo environment.
Less than two years ago, Naval Aviation, and specifically the Strike Fighter (VFA) community faced a seemingly insurmountable problem. Due to many years of heavy operational requirements, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets were breaking quicker than expected. The supply system was stressed to the limits, and squadrons were forced to deal with long-term down aircraft that were consuming hangar space and man-hours. In June of 2018, more than five fighter squadron’s worth of aircraft sat on the flight line at NAS Lemoore unable to fly, severely limiting aviation readiness and creating an increased burden on operational maintainers.
Enter the Naval Aviation Maintenance Center for Excellence (NAMCE), Lemoore. This Naval Aviation Enterprise initiative was established in July of 2018 as a detachment under Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Its goal is simple: to take long-term down aircraft, reconstitute them into flyable assets, and return them to the fleet.
Transferring long-term down aircraft to NAMCE relieves operational squadrons of the burden of maintaining them, allowing those squadrons to focus on accomplishing their mission. Meanwhile, the highly-trained maintainers at NAMCE are ideal for the task of restoring those aircraft to mission capable (MC) status. At its inception in the summer of 2018, NAMCE inducted 66 long-term down aircraft from the Lemoore flight line and set to work.
The process of rebuilding an aircraft that has not flown in years is no simple task. First, the aircraft are assessed to identify what level of work they need. NAMCE doesn’t have the space to fix them all at once though. According to Cmdr. Michael Windom, NAMCE’s Officer-in-Charge, “Up to six aircraft at a time are in the process of being rebuilt, or ‘in the oven’ as I call it. The rest are given Level 2 preservation to prevent further issues while they wait in line.”
Each aircraft has its own unique requirements and challenges to overcome in order to be restored to flight status. NAMCE maintainers strip the aircraft down during a detailed assessment process to ensure nothing is overlooked. Because of the nature of long-term down aircraft, fuel cell leaks, environmental system issues, corrosion, and worn seals are often discovered in addition to the original maintenance concerns. It is a painstaking process, but in NAMCE’s first year it returned 11 aircraft to the fleet, averaging 183 days per aircraft to rebuild.
In the summer of 2019, NAMCE, in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group, fully reassessed their processes and procedures. Through some adjustments to the build flow, a remodeling of the production control center, the establishment of the parts control center, and an aggressive allocation of available skill sets, NAMCE has recently cut the average rebuild time down to 67 days.
“This 300 percent increase in production has resulted in extraordinary cost savings and by the end of April, eight MC aircraft will have been returned to fleet squadrons under this expedited process,” Windom said.
NAMCE’s efforts are already paying dividends. Of the 66 aircraft initially inducted, 16 have been rebuilt and returned to service, and six more are in Cmdr. Windom’s “oven” awaiting work. As Capt. James Bates, Commodore Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet said, “In less than two years NAMCE has gone from a concept to the successful reconstitution of over 15 long-term down F/A-18 Super Hornets, enabling the Naval Aviation Enterprise to achieve and sustain the SECDEF-mandated Mission Capable (MC) rate for the Super Hornet. This was truly a team effort across all stakeholders as everyone aggressively leaned in to turn the NAMCE vision into a reality.”
Commodore Bates added that the acceptance of the long-term down (LTD) aircraft enhanced the abilities of both VFA-122, the F/A-18 E/F Fleet Replacement Squadron (which had dozens of long-term downs) as well as Lemoore’s depot, Fleet Readiness Center West (FRC-W) to help produce more MC jets.
“The successful execution of NAMCE’s mission—returning LTD aircraft to the flight line–allows VFA-122 to focus on training enlisted maintainers and the production of replacement aircrew and FRC-W to focus on aircraft PMIs in support of flight line readiness,” Bates said.
Although NAMCE’s task is far from complete, the more efficient processes in place will enable the remaining aircraft to be returned to service ahead of schedule. NAMCE’s unprecedented success is a testament to the Sailors and maintainers assigned. The skies around Lemoore are buzzing with more flyable jets, and it is due in part to the unsung heroes at NAMCE, who one-by-one are reducing the numbers of long-term-down Super Hornets and getting them back into the fight. (Source: ASD Network)
04 May 20. Marshall wins 5-year support contract with Cameroon Air Force. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (ADG) will provide aircraft maintenance, technical support and training to the Cameroon Air Force’s fleet of C-130H aircraft, as part of a five-year contract now ratified by the Cameroon Presidency. The support contract was signed last year by Marshall ADG Sales Director, Matthew Harvey, and Brigadier General Jean-Calvin Momha, Chief of Air Staff Cameroon Air Force, at Air Force Headquarters in the Cameroon capital Yaoundé.
Brigadier General, Jean-Calvin Momha, said “The Cameroon Air Force demands the very highest standards of support across all its fleets and the C-130 provides critical capability to our important airlift missions.
“Marshall ADG has an excellent reputation within the industry for providing world-class support on the C-130 and our evaluation process confirmed that their solution delivered the best value for money. We look forward to developing a solid long term relationship with Marshall and seeing the benefits that their experience will bring to our C-130 operations.”
Under the new five-year contract, Marshall ADG will carry out all depth maintenance on the fleet at its facility in Cambridge, as well as provide important technical support.
Training will also be provided to ensure the Cameroon Air Force have the necessary skills to deliver front line maintenance and support to the fleet in Cameroon. Marshall ADG will also be working closely with the Cameroon Air Force’s logistics partner Aeromec to enable the best possible delivery of services.
Commenting on the success, Marshall ADG CEO, Alistair McPhee, said, “We are delighted that the Cameroon Air Force selected our tender as the most competitive solution to deliver support to the operations of their C-130 fleet.
“We are proud to support the largest customer base of C-130 operators in the world and this latest contract is very much testimony to the extensive knowledge and expertise of our skilled workforce on large military aircraft.
“We thank the Cameroon Air Force for the trust they have shown in Marshall ADG and look forward to building on this success within the African continent.
30 Apr 20. In First, DoD Awards Massive $7.2bn Contract to Single Company for PCS Moves. After extended debate and some controversy, U.S. Transportation Command has inked a massive $7.2bn, three-year contract with a single company for the relocation of household goods in military permanent change of station moves. The contract is a major step forward in the Pentagon’s effort to outsource the military moves process — an effort that gained steam during a 2018 summer moving season that saw a surge in reports of broken goods and delays.
American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group, Inc., based in Parsippany, New Jersey, confirmed Thursday it had received the contract, which covers moves for the Defense Department and the U.S. Coast Guard. In a statement provided to Military.com, the company said it planned to lead a “full-service, worldwide relocation effort with a team of subcontracting partners” with the intent of improving military moves and offering better service.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been disappointed with what the Defense Personal Property Program does to families,” Chief Master Sgt. Jason France, command senior enlisted leader for TRANSCOM, said in a statement. “Today, I’m confident that the Defense Personal Property Program will deliver the care and service they deserve in the coming years.”
Related: The Pentagon is Rushing to Outsource Military Moves, and Moving Companies Aren’t Happy
ARC CEO Eric Ebeling said in a statement that the company was eager to get to work on behalf of the military.
“Moving not only can cause significant stress for an individual, but can also challenge the mettle of an entire family,” he said. “This is especially true for our nation’s Service Members, who are routinely challenged to relocate every two or three years. Team ARC brings superior quality, deep experience, increased capacity, and enhancements for the customer experience. We have been looking forward to this announcement and cannot wait to get started.”
The contract begins in May, assuming no protests, and could run for nine years including the initial three-year base period, if all options are exercised. It requires a nine-month IT and system hand-off, with the first moves under the contract slated for February, according to a TRANSCOM release. Officials plan to hand off all continental U.S. moves to ARC by next summer, with the goal of shifting both CONUS and OCONUS moves to the contractor by May 2022, they said.
“Under [the global household goods contract], a single commercial move manager was appointed to oversee activities that relate to the domestic and international movement and storage-in-transit of household goods,” ARC said in its statement. “ARC will provide all personnel, equipment, facilities, tools, materials, supervision, and other items and services necessary to provide global Household Goods (HHG) relocation services.”
The contract award is the first time the Pentagon has outsourced management of the military household goods shipment and delivery system. Personal vehicle shipments are already outsourced to a private contractor, International Auto Logistics (IAL).
That contract, awarded in May, 2014, came under intense scrutiny after hundreds of service members complained that their cars went undelivered far past their arrival due dates, could not be located in IAL’s shipment tracking system or arrived at their final destination damaged. About 70% of the vehicles IAL tasked with shipping over 2014’s peak moving system were considered late.
Despite those headaches, TRANSCOM officials said in late 2014 that annual costing savings brought by the contract, about $50m, were worth the hassle.
After the 2018 summer moving season, in which 10% of military families reported loss, breakage or other problems with their moves, a Change.org petition begun by a military spouse got more than 100,000 signatures, prompting TRANSCOM to put a series of new measures in place to ensure the quality of PCS moves. But when news emerged in February 2019 that the Pentagon was moving forward with a plan to outsource the moving process, some expressed alarm that the process was happening too fast.
Megan Harless, who authored the Change.org petition and later was invited to be part of a new TRANSCOM advisory board, said thorough research was important.
“On paper, this briefs well — the idea that a single move manager would be able to levy financial penalties on the [subcontracting] companies is a great thing,” Harless said at the time. “But the biggest problem is the lack of research supporting the idea. One 2012 study on the concept showed it would increase the overall cost of PCS. There’s been no more recent study or research to show potential benefits nor has there been a new cost analysis of what this large-scale shift would mean for taxpayers.”
Later in 2019, moving industry members also cited concern that the Pentagon was moving too fast to outsource the PCS process and award a single company oversight of all military moves.
“This is untested. The plan hasn’t undergone any kind of scrutiny. I believe it’s U.S. TRANSCOM’s wish to move to this type of procurement and they don’t understand the ramifications,” Charles White, president of the International Association of Movers, told Military.com in May of last year. (Source: Military.com)
About Hobson Industries
Hobson Industries is a private company established in 1987 by Peter Hobson, after serving as a Charge Chief Weapons Engineering Artificer in the Royal Navy. Hobson Industries is an innovative and highly technical engineering business operating to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System which is complimented with our ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System.
Across the markets we serve in, the UK and globally, we establish close relationships with the people that trust and depend on us. We specialise in the through life support management and development of Land Rover heritage military and civilian platforms – in effect, the Land Rover need never die!
Hobson Industries offer four core services that we specialise in:
We offer Land Rover vehicle builds to original specification or complete with modifications and upgrades at the customers request. All work is done in house using our bountiful facilities. In addition to vehicle refurbishment, reconditioning and homologation across all Land Rover models.
Powertrain and Transmission Units:
We offer new and reconditioned units, perfect for your Land Rover. All built using Land Rover tolerances and specifications. All for sale on our website. Additionally, we offer reconditioning services to your own units.
With over 16,000 part lines in stock, and the Asset Management programme pioneered by the company, we are able to provide a cost effective range of parts which may no longer be available. Additionally, we are offering Hobson Original branded parts to drawings for obsolete parts to help provide Land Rover owners the parts to keep them on the road. Our parts strategy ensures that all re-cycled, asset managed and reconditioned parts and units meet original equipment standards and specifications to ensure your safety while driving on or off road.
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We offer armouring in steel, composite and ceramic of new and refurbished vehicles and fleets.