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03 Dec 19. Lockheed outlines F-35 training and maintenance infrastructure. Running parallel to the physical development of the F-35 fighter programme, platform manufacturer Lockheed Martin is continuing to work to provide the services operating the aircraft, the necessary training and maintenance support capabilities.
To date 18 training and maintenance sites have been completed for the US as well as international customers such as the Australia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. Between 2020 and 2025 the intention is to develop another 14 sites worldwide, including a facility at RAF Lakenheath by 2021 that will serve the planned USAF F-35 deployment at the site.
Other planned international sites include Denmark’s Skrydstrup Air Base (2022) and Belgium’s Florennes Air Base (2024). The RAF Lakenheath facility has long been used as a base for US strategic air power in Europe.
Interestingly, it appears that Singapore may not have its own training and maintenance facility for its planned four-aircraft F-35 buy, with eight additional aircraft on option.
Ground was broken at Lakenheath on the $200m training complex in July 2019 with the base expected to see the first installment of an eventual two squadrons of USAF F-35A’s arrive in late-2021. In September 2019 it was reported that work had also started on the construction of a flight simulation facility to train the USAF’s F-35A pilots.
The UK MoD stated in September that the work was part of a wider programme to support USAF operations in the country, with more than $1bn expected to be invested in the UK over the next ten years.
‘The focus on the next few months is to continue to develop the infrastructure… to support the F-35 [at Lakenheath],’ Chauncey McIntosh, VP F-35 training systems told Shephard, adding that the site would be for the sole use of the USAF. The arrival date of key systems such as the flight simulation centre was not disclosed.
The UK’s Integrated Training Centre RAF Marham works to sustain its F-35B fleet, with the site in 2019 conducting initial qualification training. Currently, the UK has formal plans to purchase 138 F-35B aircraft over the lifetime of the programme, with the existing on-order book standing at 48 platforms.
Additionally, the F-35 programme has rolled out the auto-GCAS – automatic ground clearance and avoidance system – capability, which will help prevent the platform impacting the ground in the event of a pilot being incapacitated. This feature is also being integrated into the training systems from December 2019.
As Lockheed Martin continues to try to bring down the cost-per-flight-hour to $25,000 by 2025, other metrics point to a current 60-70% platform mission readiness rate, with aspiration to bring that up to 80% across the global fleet.
Elsewhere, Amy Gowder, VP training and logistics solutions, outlined trends in the training market that the company was monitoring, including on-demand training at the point of need, outcome-based training and a service and distributed mission and live, virtual and constructive training environments.
Gowder said that the market was moving away from the use of ‘traditional brick and mortar’ training facilities, as wider trends in VR and augmented reality took hold. (Source: Shephard)
04 Dec 19. Acecore Technologies Selects Robotic Skies for UAS Maintenance Support. Acecore Technologies, a designer and manufacturer of professional-grade unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV), announced that the company partnered with Robotic Skies Inc, the only certified global maintenance network for commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to provide customers with full-service maintenance and field repair support for Acecore’s Neo and Zoe platforms.
“Ever since we sold the first Neo in 2013, we have believed that durability is key in our solutions. If you’re buying a second Acecore drone, it’s because your operation is scaling. Not because the previous one has failed you,” said Jorrit Linders, President and Technical Engineer at Acecore. “Our partnership with Robotic Skies expands our ability to provide customers with professional services that ensure the continued dependability, safety, and long service life of their Neo or Zoe system.”
“Robotic Skies is pleased to partner with Acecore to provide additional infrastructure and services that will enhance the company’s customer support program,” said Brad Hayden, founder and CEO of Robotic Skies. “As commercial UAS operations gain complexity, regulatory bodies will require manufacturers and operators to demonstrate compliance with existing aviation maintenance safety standards. Robotic Skies provides this assurance for Acecore and its customers.”
The certified repair stations that comprise the Robotic Skies Service Center network employ the quality, standards, and practices of manned aviation maintenance in the unmanned aviation market. Robotic Skies services include routine and field maintenance, inspections, upgrades, and aircraft on ground (AOG) support.
Acecore Technologies uses the highest quality materials to design and build the Neo and Zoe UAVs for the discerning operator. Both platforms meet the demands of challenging weather conditions and operating with heavy payloads. Acecore’s radio link uses AES 128 encryption for added security, and both aircraft are FAA ADS-B mandate compliant. Critical components can be equipped with triple redundancy to ensure a successful and reliable return to home function.
As part of the Acecore Technologies customer success program, customers who fly the Neo and Zoe UAS will have access to preventive maintenance and repair services no matter where in the world they operate via the global Robotic Skies Service Center network. (Source: UAS VISION)
02 Dec 19. US Navy shipyard repairs could cost billions more than planned. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the $21bn set aside for maintenance of naval Shipyards is not enough to complete the required works.
The GAO said that the US Navy’s repair plans have likely underestimated costs by “billions of dollars” and miss vital considerations like inflation, utility upgrades, and environmental considerations.
The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan set aside billions of dollars to maintain US government-owned shipyards that are vital to keeping the countries’ aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines at sea.
The navy devised the repair plans after the GAO in 2017 found that several US shipyards “were in poor condition and not meeting the Navy’s needs.” The earlier GAO report found that the backlog for maintenance of naval shipyards had reached £4.8bn and that there was no plan in place to monitor infrastructure investments in the navy.
The $21bn Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan commits the US Navy to the construction of dry-dock improvements and upgrades worth $4bn, “targeted capital equipment improvements to increase equipment efficiency and depot maintenance throughput” worth $3bn, and improvements to facility layouts and workflow changes at $14bn.
The GAO said that the condition of the shipyards affects the readiness of the US Navy, making the works critical. The report said: “The poor condition of infrastructure at the Navy’s four public shipyards— Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Washington; and Pearl Harbour Naval Shipyard, Hawaii—affects the readiness of the aircraft carrier and submarine fleets they are charged with maintaining.”
In 2018 the US Navy established a programme office to manage the maintenance programmes across the US’s four publicly owned shipyards, however, the office has yet to formally define the roles of its officials, something the GAO says “risks an ineffective implementation of its [US Navy’s] plan.”
Currently, the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan is in a development phase, setting out plans for each area and outlining the recourses needed to achieve new shipyard designs. In 2022 the US Navy then plans to create a list of prioritised projects to direct investment. The required works are estimated to take 20 years to complete.
The GAO made several recommendations to the navy including that the Secretary of the Navy includes all costs in future estimates, follow GAO guidelines on cost estimates, obtain an independent cost estimate, and establish clear roles in the leadership of the programme.
The GAO report said: “Without high-quality estimates, agencies are at risk of experiencing cost overruns, missed deadlines, and performance shortfalls.”
The report added that the US Department of Defence (DoD) agreed with the GAO’s recommendations. (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Dec 19. First US-funded infrastructure project opened in Top End. Defence representatives from Australia and the United States have attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at RAAF Base Darwin that marked the first project to be completed under the United States Force Posture Initiatives. The US-funded 557 metre-square pre-engineered building will be used to store ground support equipment to support United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft operating in Australia under the US Force Posture Initiatives (USFPI). Defence said the USFPI is an extension of Australia’s existing defence relationship with the US and provides security benefits for both countries by deepening interoperability, increasing engagement with regional partners, and better positioning both nations to respond to crises in the region. The two nations have agreed to invest about $2bn in infrastructure in the Northern Territory to enable the initiatives.
Director Logistics Air Command, Group Captain Grant Pinder, hosted US Brigadier General Jeffrey King (Director Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection Headquarters Pacific Air Forces) for the event.
“I am pleased to be part of this momentous occasion, and I expect the AMSF to be the first of many projects to come. Its success is indicative of the effort and collaboration between our two nations,” GEN King said.
GPCAPT Pinder said the facility would be used for tanker and cargo aircraft support equipment storage.
“It will ensure we can deliver a prompt response to disaster relief and humanitarian efforts,” GPCAPT Pinder said.
“This occasion also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the large amount of work by our two nations to achieve what we see today. It is great to be here with GEN King to mark this occasion.”
The facility has been constructed to support enhanced air cooperation activities, one of the two initiatives under the USFPI.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was also attended by US Navy Captain Tres Meek, Deputy Commander for Operations, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, and Sunbuild director and construction manager Jim Eadie, whose company constructed the aircraft maintenance support facility.
“Sunbuild was very excited about the prospect to work with the US Department of Defense,” Eadie said.
“Being the first project rolled out between the US and an Australian company under the USFPI, it has provided many learning opportunities for Sunbuild to work with the US government.
“Opportunities like this will provide direct economic growth for the Top End.
“The most rewarding aspect of the project has been the support and strong relationships that have grown, whether this was in Canberra, Darwin, Guam or Honolulu. All concerned have put their heart and soul into making this pioneering project the success it is today.”
The next infrastructure project to be completed under the USFPI, which will be funded by Australia, will provide modular accommodation facilities at RAAF Base Darwin to support the other initiative under the USFPI – the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin. (Source: Defence Connect)
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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