13 Aug 21. ALIS Is Dying; Long Live F-35’s ODIN. The F-35 program began taking a major step the last two weeks toward removing an enormous albatross from around its neck by replacing the much-maligned ALIS logistics system with its sleeker, faster and younger replacement, ODIN.
The move to install ODIN on two of 14 deployments brings the logistics and planning system to units in all three services that are buying the plane.
An official DoD story noted the installation of the new hardware called the ODIN Base Kit (OBK) on July 16 for Strike Fighter Squadron 125 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., and Aug. 6 for the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The remaining 12 deployments should be finished in 2022.
Between April and May, Pax River testers evaluated the most recent software release for the F-35, designed for the original ALIS Standard Operating Units (SOUs) and the OBK. The OBK is 30% cheaper, 75% smaller and 90% lighter than the ALIS SOU, according to the Joint Program Office.
“The new capability worked very well,” the F-35 Patuxent River ITF ALIS/ODIN ST&E team lead, Dave Madera, told Patuxent River’s Navy authorized paper, The Tester. The software worked noticeably faster on both systems, but was especially effective on the OBK.
The new ODIN system (which, like the F-35 itself, was designed by Lockheed Martin) comes in two suitcase-sized cases weighing 100 pounds, replacing a big electronics box that weighed around 800 pounds. Its increased computing power cuts processing times by as much as 50%.
Richard Aboulafia, a top aircraft expert at the Teal Group, was willing to give the new setups the benefit of the doubt: “Given advances in software and other computing technologies, there’s no way this can’t be significantly better. But on the other hand, some of the concerns about the previous system related to operational sovereignty, which probably won’t be addressed by this new system.”
Setting up the original ALIS was well known to be difficult and time-consuming. The official story described the new system’s installation this way: “At each site, the hardware installation and set-up were complete and systems ready for operation in a matter of days, demonstrating the suitability and ease of use for administrators of this new hardware.”
ALIS and ODIN are designed to let pilots and maintenance crews plan, maintain and sustain a plane. Its predictive maintenance functions have been hailed for presuming to lead, over the long term, to lower sustainment costs and higher readiness rates.
While ALIS was supposed to make maintenance faster and simpler and more predictable, maintainers have constantly found it difficult to use and, often, just plain ineffective. And it was very expensive.
ODIN is a cloud-based system designed so software engineers can write updates quickly to cope with changing conditions
ALIS is beginning to be replaced, but it may be too early to play taps for it. The story in The Tester quotes F-35 PEO, Lt. Gen. Eric Fick to the effect that pilots and maintainers are finding the upgraded ALIS more useful: “We’re relooking at how we’re going to deliver (ODIN) … informed by dialogue from the users who say, ‘Look, we actually like what we’re starting to see in ALIS a little bit more, so don’t mess it up as you transition it to ODIN.’ So, we’re making sure we’re very deliberate as we move forward.”
As they move forward, the DoD story says that Lockheed and the JPO are may add capabilities so the systems can “host multiple operating squadrons on a single server.” One of the more interesting questions is whether that would allow US and foreign F-35 partners to be managed from single ODIN set-ups.
While the classified portions of each nation’s design are, well, classified, it’s long been suspected that US and UK aircraft possess capabilities other nations may not boast. And allowing other countries to see your aircraft’s planning, mission and maintenance data may be a bridge too far, even for staunch allies. Perhaps to that end, efforts are underway, the story says, to design “similarly improved hardware for other classified functions.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
18 Aug 21. GE Marine, TEI Sign MOU to Explore Localization of GE Gas Turbines in Turkey. GE Marine and TUSAS Engine Industries, Inc. (TEI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whereby GE and TEI will explore additional localization efforts relating to the manufacture, assembly and repair of GE’s LM2500 and LM500 gas turbines, the companies announced today at the IDEF ’21 industry exhibition.
“GE Marine and TEI have partnered in Turkey for many years. With this MOU in place, we hope to discover other opportunities for TEI to play a critical role in supporting the Turkish shipbuilding industry in partnership with GE Marine,” said Steve Rogers, EMEA Business Development and Sales Director, GE Marine. “Our philosophy is to provide in-country support from build to delivery to lifetime maintenance of GE’s gas turbines,” Rogers added.
Under the MOU, GE and TEI will continue discussions on localization relating to the manufacture, assembly, test, maintenance, inspection, repair, and overhaul of Turkey’s national and exported fleet of marine GE LM2500 family and LM500 gas turbines. The MOU also seeks ways to incorporate TEI into various design processes for potential naval programs.
“Since 1985, with its partner GE, TEI has been a major player in the defense and aerospace industries by manufacturing high quality aero engine components, rendering preeminent in-service support for military and commercial engines, and producing and servicing its indigenous engines not only for national needs but also global OEMs and end-users,” said Mahmut Faruk Aksit, Ph.D., CEO and President of TEI. “With this signed MOU, TEI will have the opportunity to become an approved and certified OEM service provider to Turkey’s marine engines and exported fleet of LM2500 family and LM500 gas turbines. This collaboration also will enable the localization efforts in design, component manufacturing, assembly and test of such aeroderivative gas turbines and open new doors for utilizing the capability of other local companies and organic depots in the ecosystem,” Aksit added.
LM2500 for Turkish Naval Forces
The LM2500 family — the base LM2500 (25.1 MW), LM2500+ (30.2 MW) and the LM2500+G4 (35.3 MW) — all are two spool engines that offer quick start capabilities, easy on-board maintenance, and an outstanding worldwide fleet performance of greater than 99% reliability and more than 98% availability.
GE has long been a trusted supplier to the Turkish Naval Forces. In fact, all of Turkey’s MILGEM multi-purpose corvettes are powered by a GE LM2500 and two diesel engines in a combined diesel and gas turbine configuration. Additionally, 24 LM2500s operate aboard the Turkish Navy’s Barbaros- and Gabya-class frigates, and two LM2500 engines will power the DIMDEG Fleet Replenishment Ship currently under construction.
GE Marine’s vast in-country experience makes the LM2500 and LM500 gas turbines ideal for the Turkish Naval Forces’ new TF2000 and Fast Attack ship programs, respectively.
Lightweight composite module
In 2020, GE delivered its first new lightweight LM2500 composite gas turbine module to Austal USA for the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32). GE also celebrated the completion of the first new module for the Arleigh Burke destroyer USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128).
This new module, which was fully certified by the United States Navy in 2019 after receiving MIL-S-901D shock qualification, offers these benefits:
- One-piece composite carbon fiber construction eliminates corrosion
- Shock, fire, and smoke tested
- 5,500 lb wall weight reduction versus steel
- Improved sound attenuation; 60% (4 dBA)
- Reduced wall temperature (25°F to 50°F cooler)
- Improved entrance with access doors that are 60% lighter, 6” taller than steel design; large 8”x 18” viewing window; new, large external plenum access panel; and larger, lighter rear panel for easier maintenance access.
With a GE gas turbine, navies have worldwide support whether onshore or at sea, and interoperability benefits with other allied ships. GE has delivered gas turbines onboard 646 naval ships serving 40 navies worldwide and provides 95% of the commissioned propulsion gas turbines in the United States Navy fleet. With GE’s split casing compressor and power turbine design, in-situ maintenance is allowed, often making a gas turbine removal unnecessary; navies save millions of dollars a year and weeks/months of ship unavailability.
(Source: ASD Network)
20 Aug 21. Refit of SA Navy frigates and submarines stalled by lack of funding. The South African Navy does not have enough funds to refit the majority of its frigates and submarines and combined with underfunding of maintenance, this has been a major contributor to the Navy not meeting its sea hour targets. This is according to a progress report from the Department of Defence (DoD) presented at a Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) meeting on 18 August.
For the 2021/22 financial year, the SA Navy’s vessel refit as well as maintenance and repair full cost requirement of R1.470 billion is only 53.4% funded, with R786 million allocated. “This impacts negatively on the preparation of naval platforms for force preparation and force employment,” the DoD stated, adding that “the underfunding of the refit, maintenance and repair of vessels…is the major contributing factor towards the non-achievement of planned sea hours.” The Navy’s annual sea hour target is 10 000 per year, but its target has not been achieved for some time.
The operational availability and longevity of naval platforms primarily depend on them undergoing periodic scheduled refits (major overhauls) of all systems, equipment and machinery to ensure effective, efficient and economical combat readiness of the total platform.
Due to historic and current funding shortages, only one of the four frigates, SAS Amatola, was partially refitted in 2014/15 and only one of the three submarines, SAS Manthatisi, was refitted in 2013/14. Funding for the refit of the remaining three frigates (SAS Isandlwana, SAS Spioenkop and SAS Mendi) and for the Submarine SAS Queen Modjadji 1 was not available since they became due for refits, the DoD said.
The current focus is on the completion of the refit of the submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke, which remains work in progress being undertaken by the Armscor Dockyard. An outstanding amount of R189 million has been made available to ensure the completion of the current refit during the 2023/24 financial year.
“Plans to refit the remaining three frigates and submarine will be finalised based on the availability of progressive funding to enable the phased commencement of their refits. In this regard it is to be noted that the average cost estimate for a frigate refit amounts to R687 million and that of a submarine refit amounts to R660 million,” the DoD stated.
Pending the conduct of the outstanding refits, the SA Navy’s current focus is to prioritise essential maintenance and repair of the frigates SAS Spioenkop and SAS Mendi, the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg and the Submarine SAS Manthatisi to ensure their expedited operational availability.
In spite of a lack of assets, the SA Navy executed two Operation Corona maritime patrols off the KwaZulu-Natal coast and South Coast of the Western Cape Province respectively this year. The submarine SAS Manthatisi deployed off the KwaZulu-Natal coast from 5 to 27 May.
The Maritime Reaction Squadron (a Reaction Force Platoon, an Operational Diving Team and an Operational Boats Element) deployed in the Overberg region of the Western Cape Province from 26 Apr to 25 May. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
19 Aug 21. U.S. Navy, Boeing Score Another MQ-25 First with E-2D Refueling. The U.S. Navy and Boeing [NYSE: BA] have completed a second carrier-based aircraft unmanned refueling mission with the Boeing-owned MQ-25TM T1 test asset, this time refueling a Navy E-2D Hawkeye command and control aircraft.
During a test flight from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport on Aug. 18, pilots from the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20 conducted a successful wake survey behind MQ-25 T1 to ensure performance and stability before making contact with T1’s aerial refueling drogue. The E-2D received fuel from T1’s aerial refueling store during the flight.
“Once operational the MQ-25 will refuel every receiver-capable platform, including E-2,” said Capt. Chad Reed, the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. “This flight keeps us on a fast track to getting the Stingray out to the fleet where its refueling capability will greatly increase the range and operational flexibility of the carrier air wing and strike group.”
The MQ-25 StingrayTM will be assigned to the carrier airborne early warning squadron within the carrier air wing, which currently operates the E-2 C/D aircraft – known as the “digital quarterback” of the fleet for its role in joint battle management and command and control.
“It was another great flight showing that our MQ-25 design is performing to plan,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director. “These historic refueling flights provide an incredible amount of data we feed back into the MQ-25 digital models to ensure the aircraft we’re producing will be the Navy’s game-changer for the carrier air wing.”
This is the second aerial refueling mission the MQ-25 team has conducted this summer. On June 4, the MQ-25 T1 test asset became the first unmanned aircraft to refuel another aircraft, a U.S. Navy Super Hornet. Both flights were conducted at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes, with the E-2D and F/A-18 performing maneuvers in close proximity to T1.
Boeing is currently manufacturing the first two of seven MQ-25 test aircraft and two ground test articles currently under contract. The Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset is a predecessor to these aircraft. The MQ-25 is leveraging advancements in model-based digital engineering and design, and ongoing flights are intended to test aircraft design and performance much earlier than traditional programs.
13 Aug 21. US FRCSW completes PMI-2 procedure of final E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. The aircraft departed the US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command’s test line on 3 August. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has announced the completion of the planned maintenance interval two (PMI-2) procedure of the final E-2C Hawkeye at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).
The aircraft departed the command’s test line to Carrier Airborne Early Squadron 116 (VAW-116) stationed at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC).
The E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, delivered by Northrop Grumman, is an all-weather airborne early warning aircraft to the naval task force. It became operational in 1973.
FRCSW performs two levels of scheduled maintenance, namely PMI-1 and PMI-2, on the airframe.
PMI-1 is a light maintenance interval conducted by FRCSW at its Site Pt Mugu and FRC Mid-Atlantic, while PMI-2, which is a heavy maintenance, is handled at FRCSW’s Building 460 onboard Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI).
The PMI-2 event involves disassembly of most of the aircraft and includes the removal of wings, engines, landing gear and the tail. It is not a full overhaul programme.
Around 120 artisans and 53 indirect support personnel at FRCSW support the procedures.
PMI-2 procedures were completed as part of a project management method, known as the ‘Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)’ programme.
According to NAVIAR, the throughput of the E-2 CCPM is divided into four procedures that involve induction, repair, assembly, and test line.
The first E-2D Hawkeye to complete PMI-2 was delivered by FRCSW in January last year.
In September 2019, the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft with aerial refuelling capability joined the US Navy’s fleet at Naval Station Norfolk. (Source: naval-technology.com)
17 Aug 21. KC-46A tanker for JASDF conducts first refuelling flight ahead of delivery. The first of four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker-transport aircraft ordered by Japan has conducted its first refuelling flight ahead of the planned start of deliveries to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) later this year.
Boeing said in a 16 August statement that the aircraft refuelled another KC-46A in the skies over the US state of Washington on 9 August, adding that the Japan-bound tanker also successfully received fuel in return.
“The ability to carry cargo and passengers while maintaining tactical situational awareness makes the aircraft a critical tool in the security alliance between the US and Japan,” said Will Shaffer, the president of Boeing Japan, adding that, besides JASDF aircraft, the Japanese KC-46As will also be capable of refuelling US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps aircraft.
The announcement comes after the US Air Force revealed in mid-June that Japanese crews had begun training on the KC-46A, pointing out that the first cadre of 12 JASDF students from the service’s 405th Air Refuelling Squadron (ARS) had undertaken KC-46A instruction at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma in preparation for the arrival of the four tanker-transports on order. As Janes reported, the 405th ARS was stood up in December 2020 as the JASDF’s first KC-46A unit, with the initial students comprising six pilots and six boom operators. (Source: Jane’s)