Sponsored by Hobson Industries
23 Jul 20. Boeing’s MQ-25 Tanker Drone with Refuelling Pod. Here is a first look at Boeing’s MQ-25 carrier-based tanker drone test article, also known as T1, carrying a Cobham buddy refuelling store under its wing. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, Tweeted pictures of T1 after a recent tour of MidAmerica Airport, where work on and various testing of the unmanned demonstrator have been going on for more than a year now.
Duckworth said she had visited Boeing’s facilities at MidAmerica last week as part of a larger visit. The airport, which is adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, is situated in the southwestern end of Illinois, approximately 18 miles east of St. Louis in neighboring Missouri. Boeing moved T1, which also carries the U.S. civil registration code N234MQ, there in April 2019 and that’s where it took its first flight five months later.
“Last week I visited @MAAirport, where I met with local officials and viewed the Navy’s new MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system,” Duckworth wrote on Twitter in addition to posting the pictures. “MidAmerica Airport is an important driver of our state’s economy, and I’ll keep working to make sure it has the federal support it needs.”
Senator Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran and former Lieutenant Colonel who lost both her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a mission in Iraq in 2004. She was a member of the House of Representatives from Illinois between 2013 and 2017 before winning her current Senate seat. She is now a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, among other assignments, and is a contender to be Joe Biden’s running mate in this year’s presidential election. Source: (Source: UAS VISION/The Drive)
22 Jul 20. Defense Department Improves ‘Ready for Issue’ Rate for F-35 Parts. The Defense Department has been working to improve issues that affect the ready-for-issue rate for F-35 joint strike fighter parts, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment told Congress.
Parts for the F-35 should be accompanied by an “electronic equipment log” through the jet’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, but that doesn’t always happen, Ellen M. Lord said. Without this log, dubbed EEL, parts are not deemed to be ready for issue and might not be able to be installed on the aircraft.
“The department has taken near-term action to address key degraders of ready-for-issue or RFI rate,” Lord said during testimony today before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “But the long-term solution to the problem depends on the already underway effort to replace [the autonomic logistics information system] with a more stable, capable system.”
Lord said those near-term actions have resulted in increased RFI rates at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Luke Air Force Base, Arizona; and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. She said those rates have moved from about 43% in February to more than 70% in every month since April. In June, she said, the RFI rate achieved a high of 83%.
A more long-term solution to ensuring parts for the F-35 arrive with EELs will involve replacing the ALIS with a different system called the Operational Data Integrated Network, or ODIN, a government-owned product. Lord announced that system to Congress earlier this year.
“The department will introduce the first tranche of ODIN capability fleetwide by the end of 2021,” she said. “In the interim, the department has been working to develop solutions to the legacy ALIS system to improve EEL’s accuracy, tracking and transmission performance to reduce maintenance workarounds and to mitigate potential risks to the fleet.”
Air Force Lt. Gen Eric T. Fick, program executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, explained to lawmakers why a missing EEL is a problem for aircraft maintainers.
“It takes a significant effort in time for maintainers to reconstruct the part history and create a digital record for that part,” he said. “This activity diverts time from scheduled maintenance, increases the probability of human error, adding cost to the program. The bottom line is, we must receive our parts on time and with all the required identification markings and electronic records.”
Of about 50,000 parts on an F-35, only about 1,000 require an EEL, the general said.
“It’s a very small number of parts that actually require EELs,” Fick said. “We’re actively looking to reduce the number of parts that have EELs, so we reduce this problem.” (Source: US DoD)
22 Jul 20. Lawmakers pressure Lockheed to pay back Pentagon for F-35 parts problems. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program head on Wednesday refused to commit to fully compensating the U.S. Defense Department for delivering parts not ready to be installed on the jet, which may have resulted in more than $183m in labor costs.
“It’s not all associated with Lockheed Martin performance. There are many aspects associated with [parts that are] not ready for issue,” Greg Ulmer, Lockheed’s vice president for the F-35 program, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “I’m committed to meeting with the Defense Contract Management Agency as well as the [government’s F-35 Joint Program Office] to sit down and reconcile the concerns and adjudicate the cost appropriately.”
It was a response that lawmakers on the committee — which held a hearing July 22 to explore the beleaguered jet’s ongoing sustainment problems — were not happy with.
Much of the hearing’s discussion centered on a June 2019 report from the Defense Department’s inspector general, which found that the department may have paid up to $303m in labor costs since 2015 to correct wrong or incomplete “electronic equipment logs” or EELs. Since then, the Defense Contract Management Agency revised that estimate to at least $183m, said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the committee’s chairwoman.
“That’s $183m that the American taxpayers were forced to pay because Lockheed Martin failed to meet the requirements of its contract,” Maloney said in her opening comments.
The F-35 program is the only program to link an aircraft part to an EEL, which serves as an electronic record of the part’s usage and life span and can be used by the military to inform maintenance and buying practices.
But since 2015, Lockheed has delivered more than 15,000 parts to the U.S. services with incorrect or incomplete EEL information that prevented maintainers from being able to register a part in the F-35′s logistics system, the inspector general report found. As a result, military maintainers and Lockheed support personnel were forced to spend hours troubleshooting these problems, racking up additional costs.
“Every time a pilot gets into those planes and flies into the sky, they’re risking their life,” Maloney told Ulmer. “A contract is a contract. And the contract says you will deliver a plane — which you’ve done beautifully, it’s a beautiful plane. But it also says that the material that is needed to fly that plane have to be delivered too.”
Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, who leads the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office, said that Lockheed and the department are currently negotiating a compensation package that will allow the government to recoup some of those expenses.
“My understanding is that the team has come to an agreement relative to the magnitude of the issue of the problem, but that the consideration offer demanded has not yet been agreed to,” he said. In other words, Lockheed and the Pentagon have agreed on the scope of the agreement, but not how much money Lockheed will pay back to the department.
Lawmakers asserted that, as Lockheed continues to rake in money from its contracts with the Defense Department, the company should be doing more to invest in solutions to the F-35′s technical problems.
The committee’s top Republican, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, repeatedly asked Ulmer about Lockheed’s recent earnings and revenue.
“With all of this profit, why is Lockheed failing to fulfill the contract and deliver EELs intact and on time?” Comer said.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said it was unfair for Lockheed to accept contractually permitted incentive payments when the F-35 has so many issues, and he warned that the company could suffer “reputational damage” unless future contracts become more fair.
“I do believe the F-35 is probably one of the finest aircraft out there — when it flies. When it flies. And that’s the problem,” he said. “So you’re on notice, Mr. Ulmer.”
Ulmer responded that Lockheed has spent $30m to resolve a problem with the electronic logs, and that the company is negotiating in good faith with DCMA on a financial solution on the labor issue.
“We’ve had six direct meetings with the DCMA since April 2. We were meeting with the DCMA prior to April 2 to work on this issue together,” he said. “You have our resolve to fix this problem.”
Maloney also called on Lockheed to deliver internal documents related to the issue that she requested in a June 18 letter, saying that the company had yet to provide some information.
“It’s upsetting to me. If you can’t deliver a document, I have no trust that you can deliver a plane that’s going to operate [correctly],” she said.
As late as last year, the problem of managing electronic logs for spare parts was so serious and systemic that it was designated a “category 1” deficiency — the Pentagon’s label for critical technical flaws that restrict the jet’s ability to be ready for combat or perform its primary missions.
But on Jan. 13, it was downgraded to the lesser “category 2” status because of “data quality improvements” that “have reduced the frequency and magnitude of issues that have impacted operational units’ abilities to quickly release aircraft for flight following maintenance,” the F-35 Joint Program Office told Defense News in April.
Ever since the IG report was released last year, the Defense Department has taken major steps to try to fix the EEL problem, said Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.
“The department has increased the RFI [ready for issue] rate at Hill Air Force Base, Luke AFB, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma from 43 percent in February, to exceeding the RFI threshold metric rate of 70 percent in every month since April, achieving a high of 83 percent in June,” she said in testimony delivered to the committee.
Action requests made to Lockheed to resolve EEL issues have also sharply decreased, from more than 1,100 requests in March 2020 to 363 in June — lower than the threshold metric of 389, Lord said.
“The F-35 JPO is also working to negotiate more comprehensive contract terms in future sustainment contracts to ensure that the contract has defined EEL and RFI metrics to measure performance,” she said.
Much of the improvement that has occurred since 2019 has been due to reforms put in place by a team made up of government and industry stakeholders, said one defense official, who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity.
Of the 65,000 unique parts on the F-35, only about 1,000 have EELs — usually, parts that can be repaired, the official said. All F-35 parts that have an EEL also have a bar code associated with a specific part number, a serial number and a “cage code” that indicates the supplier, as some parts are manufactured by multiple companies.
One of the biggest problems related to EELs occurred when a military base accepted a new spare part. Typically, Lockheed sends each part with an “advance shipping notice,” a set of paperwork that includes information about the part that can be plugged into the F-35′s IT backbone — the Autonomic Logistics Information System, also developed by Lockheed — to process the part and bring up the EEL information.
However, if that advance shipping notice doesn’t arrive, contains incorrect information or doesn’t match with the EEL information, what should be a “six- to eight-step [process]” turns into a “66-step [process],” the defense official said.
In February, the team implemented a number of software fixes for ALIS that would help decrease the number of EEL problems. It also made improvements to the advance shipping notices to ensure that parts arrive properly labeled and with the correct information, the official said.
That month, the team also decided to cut down the number of parts that are associated with EEL records, reducing data-entry requirements. It plans to remove the EEL requirement for 44 percent of air vehicle parts that currently are tracked with electronic logs; and by March 2021, those parts will have gone through the process of having their EELs removed.
The defense official said the program will continue to use EELs for parts that are critical to safety or have a limited life span, but that the program was gathering life cycle data for many parts where that information historically hasn’t been tracked in legacy fighter programs.
“I think when you have the ability to start collecting all kinds of data electronically, maybe we were too aggressive on how many parts we assigned EELs to,” the official said. (Source: Defense News)
20 Jul 20. NSM partners with Sydney City Marine to support LHD landing craft. Naval Ship Management (NSM) has expanded its partnership with Sydney City Marine (SCM) for facility and vessel maintenance services for the Royal Australian Navy’s 12 landing helicopter dock (LHD) landing crafts (LLCs).
This new long-term agreement with Sydney City Marine is a natural fit for NSM after SCM was awarded Naval Technical Bureau (NTB) qualification from the Director General Engineering – Navy for slipping and docking vessels.
The agreement enables NSM to meet the contractual obligations of the LHD asset class prime contractor and is another example of NSM’s inclusive approach to naval sustainment and commitment to Australian industry.
NSM general manager Joe Smith said, “NSM is committed to supporting local small-to-medium sized businesses throughout the Australian maritime industry and we’re proud to extend this valued partnership with Sydney City Marine.”
SCM provides local and sovereign sustainment capabilities and is conveniently located in Rozelle with waterway access to key Defence establishments such as HMAS Waterhen and Fleet Base East (Garden Island Dockyard).
SCM director Brenton Fischer added, “This long-term agreement further validates our credentials as a key service provider for Defence assets and ensuring the availabilities of the LLCs is critical in achieving the fully operational conditions of the LHDs, a responsibility to NSM that we take very seriously.”
Australia’s Canberra Class amphibious assault ship, also known as an LHD, provides the Australian Defence Force with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.
These 27,000-tonne ships are able to land a force of over 1,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.
The LCM-1E is a class of amphibious landing craft, mechanised (LCM) manufactured by Navantia, which also builds the LHD hulls. In RAN service, these craft are purpose-built for the LHD and are referred to as LHD landing craft (LLC).
These landing craft are intended to deliver troops and equipment onshore where there are no fixed port facilities. They have the ability to be used over the horizon, which means that the LCM-1E can transport between the ship and the coast starting at a distance greater than that marks the horizon, i.e. greater than 20 nautical miles (37 kilometres).
To perform this type of landing, the LCM-1E are equipped with a radar navigation, GPS, gyro needle/magnetic and HF communications equipment, VHF and UHF.
NSM is a leading provider of complete maritime sustainment solutions. The team of sustainment experts, strategically located across Australia, work with a broad international supply chain to provide cost-effective and responsive solutions that optimise the availability, capability and seaworthiness of critical maritime assets.
Established in 2012, as a joint venture between Babcock and UGL, it now supports assets across the RAN’s fleet – most notably the Anzac Class frigates as a member of the Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) and the Canberra Class LHDs, LLC and associated assets.
Headquartered in Henderson, Western Australia, NSM’s national footprint and highly responsive supply chain is ideally placed to support customers’ critical assets wherever and whenever the need may arise.
Sydney City Marine is positioned as the one-stop shop for all kinds of marine projects, from boat service and maintenance to refits and rebuilds. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Jul 20. Australian F-35A fighter jets undergo maintenance. TAE Aerospace based at Bundamba in Ipswich, Australia, has conducted routine maintenance of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) first F‑35A engine fan module. With the latest development, the Australian defence industry has achieved a milestone in the maintenance of the RAAF new F-35A Lighting II fighter jets. The maintenance of the jets highlighted the growing capability of defence companies in the country.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said: “By maintaining and repairing the F-35 engines in Australia, we can get these planes back in the air quicker, while also creating skilled jobs for many Australians.
“And in a world first, this type of engine work was the first to ever be completed outside of the US, representing a significant new step for TAE Aerospace and the Australian defence industry.
“TAE’s recent achievements are a testament to the importance of defence industry in contributing to our economy, and our footprint in the global F-35 programme.”
Last month, the RAAF’s F-35A fighter aircraft reached another milestone by completing 1,000 flying hours over the skies of Arizona, US. In 2014, the aircraft was manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Texas, US.
During the same month, the Australian Government funded three companies to increase their involvement in the global Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 programme and continue to fight against the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
NuMetric, trading as Axiom was one among the three companies that secured more than A$800,000 ($553,240) to purchase new technical equipment and train staff for its operation. (Source: airforce-technology.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.
Amour – Design and Fabrication and Blast Protection
We offer armouring in steel, composite and ceramic of new and refurbished vehicles and fleets.