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21 Aug 19. tlmNexus launches new service with Defence Equipment & Support. tlmNexus, which works with Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), has developed a secure web-based solution called Damage and Repair Tracker (DaRT). DaRT enables an entire system’s damage and repair instances to be recorded and tracked by multiple users. This includes tracking associated removable parts across the fleet.
Being former RAF engineers, members of the tlmNexus team appreciate the requirement for the precise nature of technical records involved in managing safety and airworthiness throughout the life of an aircraft. By discussing the client’s requirements, the team identified a method of tracking to visualise the precise location of any damage and repairs which occur over a period of time.
A key feature of the DaRT system is that it enables maintenance and support personnel to visualise parts of an aircraft and identify instances of damage and repairs that occur in specific areas.
By providing a visual representation of the issues, DaRT allows the user to assess and manage risk by collaborating securely online with other specialists. The benefits of DaRT include potentially reduced maintenance costs, improved safety through identifying areas of concern on an individual aircraft as well as across the fleet, and influencing improvement in future designs.
Phil White, head of business relationships at tlmNexus said: “Maintaining a fleet of aircraft is a complex process. We have been working with DE&S over a period of time, to provide a solution. It has been a rewarding and collaborative exercise and we are excited about the future innovation and application of this service.”
The DaRT solution can be applied to a wide range of equipment across the MOD as well as to international defence organisations and to equipment in civilian environments. (Source: Google/https://www.arabianaerospace.aero)
21 Aug 19. US Army to Take Industry Approach to Upgrade Capabilities. While automakers and other industries are good at streamlining their processes to incorporate the latest technologies and roll out new models in a relatively short time to stay ahead of the competition, the Army traditionally has been slow to identify and field new capabilities, Acting Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy said.
McCarthy spoke at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Center on Military and Political Power in Washington yesterday.
From writing requirements to testing and fielding new systems traditionally takes the Army upwards of 20 years, McCarthy said, so Army leaders have made a business decision to completely revamp the service’s structure to roll out high-priority weapon systems faster and at affordable prices more in line with the way industry does it.
Driving this decision is the great power competition with Russia and China, he said.
The Army did three things to streamline the process and make better buying decisions, he said:
- Identified the six highest priorities needed for fighting near-peer or peer competitors: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality. The bulk of the Army’s science and technology budget is now being directed to 31 systems that will support those six priorities, McCarthy said.
- To fund those six priorities, the Army divested legacy systems and cut back on others. “We truncated the buys on 93 programs and terminated 93 others. We made some very big, hard choices,” he said, citing examples of winding down purchases of Bradley fighting vehicles and Chinook helicopters to save funding for a next-generation combat vehicle and a future vertical-lift aircraft.
- The Army made its biggest organizational structure change in nearly half a century, standing up Army Futures Command, which reached full operational capacity July 31.
Army Futures Command is about “bringing all the stakeholders together for unity of command and effort to reduce the timespan it takes to make informed decisions,” McCarthy said.
The new organization fuses futures and concepts, combat development and works closely with the acquisition community, he explained, noting that previously, these were all separate entities.
The command is located in Austin, Texas, not on a military installation, so Army personnel can interact with industry and academia to better inform requirements and keep abreast of new technology, McCarthy said.
Congress and others will be watching to see how successful Army Futures Command will be in the coming years, he said. There will be successes and there will be failures, he added, and researchers and developers will learn from the latter. Success will be measured in how quickly the command can get needed capabilities in the hands of warfighters, McCarthy said. “Field testing will be rigorous, followed by low-rate initial production testing in units at larger scale,” he promised. (Source: US DoD)
21 Aug 19. ThyssenKrupp invests in logistics sites. ThyssenKrupp Materials Services, the distribution and service provider of the ThyssenKrupp Group, is investing some €70m in the modernisation and expansion of its European warehousing and logistics network. It will set up a logistics centre and new warehouses in Germany, Poland and Hungary, an important part of the company’s ‘materials as a service’ strategy.
‘Expanding and modernising our capacities are important elements of our growth,’ Klaus Keysberg, CEO of Thyssenkrupp Materials Services, said.
‘Innovative logistics, automation and digitalisation help[s] us improve our performance and our productivity. Connected processing equipment and the digital integration of the company’s sites aims to ensure flexible and perfectly coordinated logistics processes and services.’
A logistics centre with 36,000 square metres of storage space is being built in Rotenburg/Wümme in Lower Saxony in Germany, and the company is investing approximately €60m in this site that will store up to 20,000 tonnes of materials to guarantee maximum material availability.
Building is expected to begin by the end of the year, and it will serve customers in the north of Germany when it becomes operational in 2021.
Thyssenkrupp Materials Services is investing the remaining €11m in the expansion of its sites in Nowe Marzy, Poland and Budapest, Hungary, and these two new warehouses are set to start operations at the end of September.
With around 13,500 square metres of storage space, the new warehouse in Nowe Marzy is in addition to the hub already in place in north Poland that was built in 2017, while the new facility in Budapest will cover a space of around 6,500 square metres. (Source: Shephard)
21 Aug 19. Global Markets, Shipping Shape Military Ops. About 85% of the joint force resides inside the continental United States. When they need to move to an operation overseas, and their equipment needs to go with them, U.S. Transportation Command will be doing the heavy lifting.
Speaking yesterday at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems Worldwide Conference in Tampa, Florida, Transcom’s commander said much of Transcom’s capacity to project U.S. military power around the globe relies on commercially procured transportation. Just who is the ultimate owner of that commercial transportation — friend or adversary — is something Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons said is being looked at all the time.
“When the sealift industry reorganized — when it was really in a downturn a couple years ago and reorganized and came out with three major alliances — one of those alliances was led by a French company. CGM, I think, is the name of the company,” Lyons said.
CGM has alliances with COSCO Shipping, “the leading state-owned enterprise for China that is buying up all the ports globally, owns all the sealift, includes the sealift that will support PLA activities,” he said.
The French-owned CGM also has an alliance with American-owned APL,” which is one of our U.S.-flagged companies,” Lyons said.
The general said he has spoken with the APL’s CEO to discuss concerns,
“The question was, ‘What does that kind of alliance mean?'” Lyons said. “You have to recognize that our traders have to trade with [the] Asia-Pacific. That’s the vast majority of the trade. But what does that really mean in terms of data sharing and their level of understanding?”
Right now, he said, “it’s a pretty clear bifurcation.”
“But it’s something we watch pretty closely,” he said, “because we’re not only competing for allies and partners, we’re also competing for business partners that we’re going to count on, that fly the U.S. flag, particularly on the sealift side.”
Lyons said a “vendor vetting cell” is helping Transcom keep abreast of who is partnering with whom — and who owns ships that Transcom may one day need to call on to ship troops or tanks overseas.
“It’s probably only one of two that are in the department,” he said. “[U.S. Central Command] has one focused on their Centcom theater operations. But we have one … [that] looks inside the subcontracting networks to make sure that our primes are doing business with the folks we want to do business with. We found a few that we didn’t want, and we’ve got to work that through the broader acquisition communities.” (Source: US DoD)
21 Aug 19. Engine upgrade for Indian Jaguars stalls. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is poised to scrap its decade-old proposal to up-engine its fleet of SEPECAT Jaguar ground attack aircraft owing to the high cost involved.
Industry sources told Jane’s that Honeywell quoted a price of USD2.4bn for 180 F-125IN turbofan engines as replacements for the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 811 powerpacks originally installed in the Jaguars. The plan was for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to install two new engines in 80 Jaguars to increase their thrust so they could carry more weapons, with the remaining 20 engines kept as spares. This would have amounted to about USD26.7m per Jaguar in addition to HAL’s fee of INR200m (USD2.8m) to modify each airframe, integrate the engine, and flight test and certify the completed platform. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Aug 19. 328 Support Services GmbH partners with Germany to form a new Leipzig based OEM – DRA GmbH. 328 Support Services GmbH (328SSG), the type certificate holder of the Dornier 328 aircraft, announced today the formation of a new aircraft original equipment manufacturer, DRA GmbH, founded on the proud heritage of Dornier and Germany’s reputation for engineering design, quality and innovation.
Representatives of 328SSG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and the German Federal & State of Saxony ministries, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish DRA GmbH’s final assembly line for the D328NEU® aircraft, a derivative of the Dornier 328, at Leipzig/Halle Airport, in the State of Saxony. The project anticipates the creation of up to 250 new jobs at the production facilities in Leipzig, and an additional 100 plus jobs at 328SSG’s HQ in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich.
“We are proud to have won the confidence of the German Government in supporting this exciting new programme, and recognise the continuing support of our owners, employees and business partners,” said Dave Jackson, managing director of 328SSG. “Germany’s return to the design and building of a Part 25 category commercial aircraft is long overdue and this new operation intends to create an aviation legacy founded on the heritage of aircraft pioneers.”
“The expansion of our locations in Germany and the formation of DRA GmbH, a new dedicated OEM, will enable us to manage future developments of the D328NEU aircraft and exploit future technologies and capabilities to produce a more efficient, economic and environmentally friendly aircraft,” he added.
The aim of the upgraded D328NEU is to offer a suitable replacement solution for ageing ‘in service’ aircraft in the aviation market, as well as supporting the growing global market demand of new route development.
21 Aug 19. USAF base generates aircraft parts using certified 3D printer. The US Air Force’s (USAF) 60th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) at Travis Air Force Base has become the first field unit to have a certified 3D printer. The Stratasys F900 3D printer is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center. It is designed to print plastic parts up to 36in × 24in × 36in and will allow the USAF to create the required non-structural aircraft parts. The printer uses a material known as Ultem 9085, a flame-retardant high-performance thermoplastic that is claimed to be more flexible, dense and strong than typical plastic. Use of 3D printing technology will enable the USAF to make cost and time savings.
60th MXS aircraft metals technology section chief master sergeant John Higgs said: “It brings us a capability that we’ve never had before. There’s so many possibilities available to us right now. We’re just scratching the surface.”
USAF technicians have been allowed to download blueprints from an online database approved by the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI).
Higgs added: “The Joint Engineering Data Management Information Control System (JEDMICS) is where we go to download already approved blueprints. Now, the University of Dayton Research Institute is working with the engineers to get those parts they developed into JEDMICS.”
The squadron used the Stratasys F900 to print replacement latrine covers on the C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft.
Higgs further said: “The latrine covers we just printed usually take about a year from the time they’ve been ordered to the time they’ve been delivered. We printed two of the covers in 73 hours.”
In a statement, the airforce said that it took eight months to bring the printer online. The process to get the system operational involved facility requirements, installation and certification processes.
UDRI certified three members from the 60th MXS to operate the printer.
The maintenance shop aims to create products to meet the needs of every organisation. In January, the USAF installed a metallic 3D-printed aircraft part on an operational F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
20 Aug 19. KBR (NYSE: KBR) announced today that it has won a 10-year, $77m firm fixed price, sole source contract from Honeywell Aerospace to provide logistics services for the U.S. Air Force at Hill Air Force Base Depot in Utah. KBR will support the secondary power systems for the U.S. Air Force’s F-15, F-16, A-10, B-1B, B-2, C-130, and E-3 aircraft as well as their ground based auxiliary power systems. KBR will perform this work as a subcontractor to Honeywell, which won the $1.036bn performance based sustainment prime contract in 2018. KBR will provide program management, engineering expertise, supply chain management and kitting to ensure all repairs to the power systems are efficiently completed to meet the warfighter needs. This contract is a follow-on contract originally awarded in 2007.
“This contract award speaks to the strong partnership we have built with Honeywell and the quality of work we perform for the Air Force,” said Byron Bright, KBR President, Government Solutions U.S. “KBR will continue to deliver unique logistics solutions that assist the Air Force in increasing aircraft availability and reducing depot turnaround time.”
KBR is a leading provider of sustainment engineering support to the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps and other federal agencies and foreign allies. Its solutions optimize life cycle costs, improve operational readiness, drive innovation, and help ensure mission success on land, in air, at sea, in space and in cyberspace.
19 Aug 19. Despite record budgets, the US Navy is short hundreds of millions for maintenance. The U.S. Navy is short hundreds of millions of dollars for ship depot maintenance this year and is already looking at just shy of $1bn in unfunded maintenance in 2020, shortfalls that threaten to upend progress toward improved readiness and clearing its maintenance backlog. During a midyear review of 2019 budget spending, the Navy found it had more than $3bn in emergency costs that needed to be covered, including nearly $1bn for ship depot maintenance. And while it’s unclear to what degree the 2019 and 2020 shortfalls overlap, there is at the very least nearly $1 bn in unfunded ship repair, meaning the fleet will need to find money or defer to later dates, according to three sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
That move could have a cascading effect that means other ships may not get the full maintenance packages they need, putting pressure on an already beleaguered ship maintenance system. The shortages come in a year that saw a record $750bn defense budget. That means that while the Navy should be toasting its good financial fortunes, it will instead be scrambling to find money to fix its ships.
Because of everything from President Donald Trump’s border wall to hurricane relief to addressing problems with public-private housing ventures, the Department of Defense is rapidly closing in on the $4bn cap Congress set on how much money can be moved between accounts to pay for midyear surprises. Those surprises almost always includes ship maintenance costs that increase once workers at maintenance yards pop the hood and discover new problems.
That, in turn, is forcing the Navy to take a fleetwide look and identify what issues are most important — a triage process that ensures that some issues that could be addressed in scheduled maintenance availabilities today will instead be pushed off and become more expensive in the future.
The Navy is also hitting capacity at both its public and private shipyards and is having to defer maintenance simply because there is no room at the inn.
The problem is exacerbated by a reduction in the overall amount of money Congress allows for the Pentagon to reshuffle in any given year without having to go ask lawmakers for new legislation and new authorities in that year. In years past, the DoD had $4.5bn of authority to reshuffle money. In 2018, that was reduced to $4.25bn; and in 2019, the year that’s causing the problems, that was reduced to $4bn.
“We can’t reallocate the way we have in the past,” said a defense official with knowledge of the situation who spoke on background. “Things like the border wall, they didn’t cause the shortfall, they contributed to our ability to address and mitigate the shortfalls. We’ve got the sources, we just can’t reallocate them.”
But that only goes so far in explaining the predicament. According to a Congressional Research Service Report on transfer authorities, since 2016, the DoD hasn’t used more than $3.5bn in transfer authority, and in 2016 and 2017 it used less than $2.1bn per year. This means that in most years, $4bn in transfer authority exceeds what the Navy and the rest of the DoD would need.
Border wall blues
The bulk of the crunch inside the DoD comes from the wall.
The DoD burned through $2.5 bn, or 60 percent, of its transfer authority by shuffling the money to the border wall, which Trump freed up through a declaration of emergency at the southern border. Effectively, the Navy and the rest of the DoD had $1.5bn left over in transfer authority, $100m of which was used for an Air Force satellite program, according to Rick Berger, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.
“No matter how one cuts it, the administration’s use of the Pentagon’s transfer authority will weaken the [Pentagon’s] ability to meet the unfolding contingencies it now faces and will face in the months ahead,” Berger wrote in April, a prediction that is bearing out in the Navy’s maintenance accounts.
For the Navy’s beleaguered maintenance accounts, the fiscal mess plays out this way: Growth work discovered during maintenance periods combined with insufficient capacity at the shipyards caused maintenance budgets to run over by almost $1bn. But because the DoD used the majority of its transfer authority on paying for the border wall, the Navy lacks the flexibility to move around money it accounts under the congressionally mandated cap.
The Navy points to the reduced cap authority as a primary driver in the situation, as well as a series of unplanned expenses.
“During the Navy’s Fiscal Year mid-year execution review, we identified approximately $3 bn in emergent unfunded requirements, which included items like fuel cost increases, Public Private Venture housing costs, increased utility rates, civilian pay raises, hurricane recovery, and increased ship maintenance costs,” said Lt. Ben Anderson, a Navy spokesman. “Normally, these unfunded requirements would be adjudicated via the mid-year reprogramming, but the reduction in available transfer authority has limited the Navy ability to re-allocate as in previous years.”
No matter which factor is given the most weight, the ultimate effect remains unchanged: Maintenance to ships that was supposed to be done this year threatens to snowball into an ever-larger mass of deferred maintenance as more ships in later years may have to sacrifice needed repairs to pay for the maintenance pushed off from this year.
In his opening statement during the prospective Chief of Naval Operations Vice Adm. Michael Gilday’s confirmation hearing, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., cited a $1.8bn maintenance shortfall. That number seems to combine the $977bn for 2019 and the $810bn for 2020.
In the 2020 unfunded priorities list, the deferred maintenance comes from three Los Angeles-class submarines — the Boise, Hartford and Columbus — and cites shipyard capacity. The lack of capacity is driven primarily by the midlife overhauls for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers, which take priority and dry-dock space away from attack boats. An additional $51m came from the maintenance of surface ships.
In 2019, the same factors applied: Some of the deferred maintenance was due to lack of capacity and some growth work, according to a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. That means that it’s likely that some of the 2020 deferred maintenance is the same as the 2019 maintenance.
The Navy asked for $280.6m to be reprogrammed in a June reprogramming request to Congress, which would reduce the overall deferred maintenance tally, though it remains unclear by how much.
But the fact that the maintenance bill grew significantly in 2019 may not be all bad, the defense official said. Some of the increased cost has resulted from better planning and more comprehensive work agendas heading into the availabilities, the result of recently implemented changes.
“The Navy has improved some of its planning processes, and we have a better understanding of the work that’s required,” the official said. “It has resulted in better and more productive availabilities, but it has also increased the cost. They are more comprehensive because in the past we haven’t understood what needed to be done. So we’re getting more efficient, but the efficiency is costing us more.”
Delays caused by a green workforce at the public shipyard, which deals with nuclear maintenance (or submarines and aircraft carriers), are also causing delays.
The ‘fester factor’
The problem with delays and deferrals for maintenance is a phenomenon the Navy refers to as “fester factor.” Former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems Vice Adm. William Burke told an American Society of Naval Engineers conference in 2013 that costs for deferred maintenance rise on average about 6 percent every year.
So the fester factor for a repair that cost $1.00 in 2019 will likely push the cost to $1.06 in 2020. And when you apply that same 6 percent cost change to $300m in maintenance availabilities, it’s going to add up quickly. A $1bn deferred maintenance bill will hit you with a $60m deferral tax.
But the other factor comes from the fact the Navy seems to consistently underestimate how much ship maintenance is going to cost, a problem that derives primarily from the fact that the availabilities are budgeted for more than a year in advance of the actual start, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“You have to build the program a year before the budget cycle starts, so you are really two years out from when you are going to spend the money that you are initially building that program for,” Clark said. “So you are really estimating two years into the future what your maintenance requirements are going to be.”
There are class maintenance plans and class maintenance planners for each class of ship, but sometimes the data is incomplete because an inspection regime isn’t what it should be, Clark said, something that has particularly hampered the surface fleet. However, Clark agreed with the defense official that the Navy has improved its planning and prework inspections.
Regarding private shipyards, the Navy is working toward giving them more notice — six months instead of 30 days — ahead of maintenance availabilities to help shipyards drive down workforce costs by better controlling their workflow, the Navy’s top acquisition official told Defense News earlier this year.
“What we’re trying to do for the ships returning from deployment is we’re moving away from executing a contract 30 days before we needed to start the maintenance. So now we’re back to a six-month goal,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts.
“We’re never going to be able to control every variable. It’s not a commercial effort where you own every route and you can control every variable to hyper-optimize. And, quite frankly, we don’t want to hyper-optimize because then you lose some resiliency. But we’re trying to find that sweet space of enough predictability so that we can be efficient.”
But “I would say our lack of either planning or adhering to plan has been one of the core issues,” he admitted, adding that a new 30-year ship maintenance plan would help industry understand the demand signal from the fleet. (Source: Defense News)
16 Aug 19. Six percent of US Air Force C-130 fleet remains out of service due to rainbow-fitting inspections. Approximately 6% of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules medium transport/multirole aircraft fleet remains out of service as the air force continues its rainbow-fitting inspections. The USAF announced on 7 August that 123 of 450 aircraft were temporarily removed from service after atypical cracks were found on the lower centre wing joint, or rainbow fitting, during programmed depot maintenance. USAF spokesperson Jonathan Simmons said on 15 August that 98 aircraft had been inspected and 97 platforms returned to service as of 14 August. After announcing its grounding, the air force only found rainbow-fitting cracks in two Air National Guard (ANG) aircraft: the one that prompted the original grounding, from Carswell, Texas, and another from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense is a leading provider of tactical wheeled vehicles and life cycle sustainment services. For decades Oshkosh has been mobilizing military and security forces around the globe by offering a full portfolio of heavy, medium, light and highly protected military vehicles to support our customers’ missions. In addition, Oshkosh offers advanced technologies and vehicle components such as TAK-4® independent suspension systems, TerraMax™ unmanned ground vehicle solutions, Command Zone™ integrated control and diagnostics system, and ProPulse® diesel electric and on-board vehicle power solutions, to provide our customers with a technical edge as they fulfill their missions. Every Oshkosh vehicle is backed by a team of defense industry experts and complete range of sustainment and training services to optimize fleet readiness and performance. Oshkosh Defense, LLC is an Oshkosh Corporation company [NYSE: OSK].
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