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31 Aug 18. Deputy Secretary Discusses Future of Space Force at Space and Missile Systems Center. Space is a contested environment, and the United States must deploy new tools, new capabilities and the right leadership to ensure dominance in that environment, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan said recently. The deputy secretary spoke Aug. 27 to airmen, civilians and contractors at Los Angeles Air Force Base’s Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, California. The SMC, a subordinate unit of Air Force Space Command, is the center of technical excellence for developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining military space systems.
“We’ve got a president who says space is no longer a sanctuary,” he added. “We need to defend our economy. We need to put in place the authorities and the capabilities [in space] to protect our way of life — period.”
Shanahan said in his corporate experience, he’s been through a transformation similar to what SMC is undertaking. “The first law of transformation is, do no harm. Our missions are too important. That doesn’t mean we don’t take calculated risks or we don’t move quickly,” he said.
“But, from the Pentagon’s standpoint we’re not going to do harm, and that’s why I wanted to come out here and spend some time with you,” the deputy secretary added.
During the course of the next year, a lot of changes will take place in terms of technology, roles and responsibilities, he said.
The Right Product
“If we don’t choose the right technical solution, we lose. This … is about physics. It’s about capability. And when you pick the wrong product, no matter how talented the team or how many resources there are, you lose,” Shanahan said. “This is about development and programmatics. Acquisition is a huge enabler, but getting the product right is, in my mind, the most important thing we can do,” he added.
It’s also vital to put a plan in place that achieves performance, the deputy secretary said. “We have to have clear goals. Without clear goals, the team can’t practice what I call ‘selectful neglect.’ We have — in large organizations like this — competing priorities, and if the goals aren’t clear, then it just creates too much confusion.”
Having the right leaders in place also is critical, he said. “There are so many great people that work in the Department of Defense, so we have the talent. We just need to put them into the right roles.”
And, Shanahan said, “the hidden secret sauce is engagement of the team. When the team is engaged, they reward you with discretionary effort. And when you have that kind of environment, it is really fun and energizing to come to work.”
As for innovation, he noted, “you find the really great leaders, because they’ll put the project or the program ahead of their own careers, and that’s the kind of culture we want at the end of the day — [the] people who are mission-oriented, first and foremost.”
Organizing Around Capability
Organizations should be centered around the capability DoD wants to deploy and the resources it needs to deploy them, the deputy secretary noted.
“If you want to know what I think about the Space Force [it’s this]: How do we deliver warfighting capability more quickly?” Shanahan said.
Other key priorities, he said, are how to give the Missile Defense Agency more capability to do “birth-to-death tracking” of ballistic missiles and other cold objects in space, and how to operate in a GPS-denied environment.
“If we’re really serious about being combat credible, forward-deployed, you’re going to have to operate in GPS-denied environments. We have to get after that capability,” Shanahan added.
The deputy secretary said DoD also can go a lot faster with dynamic space situational awareness. “We’re standing on the air hose with technology that can be readily deployed. We can go faster.”
DoD Command, Control
Command and control at the DoD level will set the foundation to do what’s important, Shanahan said.
“And whether we say it is the legacy of the SMC or the department, but you know the capability emerging to do persistent surveillance of the globe, the amount of data that we’ll be able to collect and parse that in the decision tools to aid the war fighter, that’ll create a time constant that is going to be you know, unbeatable,” he added.
DoD will create the environment and infrastructure to provide data to the warfighter, Shanahan said. (Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
30 Aug 18. Lockheed Pitching F-22/F-35 Hybrid to U.S. Air Force. With a Raptor’s body and the JSF’s brain, the new jet would aim to answer the next decade’s Russian and Chinese threats. Lockheed Martin is quietly pitching the U.S. Air Force a new variant of the F-22 Raptor, equipped with the F-35’s more modern mission avionics and some structural changes, Defense One has learned. It is one of several options being shopped to the U.S. military and allies as Lockheed explores how it might upgrade its combat jets to counter Russian and Chinese threats anticipated by military officials in the coming decade, according to people with direct knowledge of the plan.
“You’re building a hybrid aircraft,” David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who is now dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “It’s not an F-22. It’s not an F-35. It’s a combination thereof. That can be done much, much more rapidly than introducing a new design.”
The new variant — similar to one Lockheed is pitching to Japan— would incorporate the F-35’s more modern mission system and “other advancements in the stealth coatings and things of that nature,” according to a person familiar with the proposal.
“There’s a lot of potential in this idea,” Deptula said. “I’m not suggesting that we jump right into it and embrace it, but from the Japanese perspective when they are looking at and willing to invest in this kind of an alternative as opposed to trying to build an indigenous aircraft that’s not going to get close to what an F-22 can already deliver. It’s a smart move on their behalf.”
A Lockheed spokeswoman declined to comment about the project. The proposal has echoes of the late-1990s evolution of the F/A-18 Hornet into the Super Hornet. Pitched as a low-risk project, the F/A-18E/F turned out to require a redesign of almost every exterior part. The new wing proved initially troublesome, but the design eventually proved successful. Lockheed’s proposal comes as the Air Force is evaluating its force structure to meet the objectives, missions, and threats laid out in the National Defense Strategy. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense One)
30 Aug 18. Beware, China and Russia: The Navy Wants to Transform Every Ship Into a Mini ‘Aircraft Carrier.‘ Once operational—both the missile and its kill chain—it will reportedly be able to strike a moving supercarrier at ranges of nearly 1,500 kilometers. Given the immense cost of America’s ten aircraft carriers, as well as the manpower required to operate them, the DF-21D will essentially force America to keep its carriers out of range from the Chinese mainland and many potential hot spots in the region. The U.S. Navy is seeking to transform every ship into mini aircraft carriers. (This first appeared in 2015.)
Last month the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the start of the second phase of its Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) program. TERN, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), aims to create a system that would enable small ships to operate both intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and combat drones.
“The goal of Tern is to give forward-deployed small ships the ability to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS),” DARPA said in a press release announcing Phase 2 of the program. “These systems could provide long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other capabilities over greater distances and time periods than is possible with current assets.”
Not only would Tern enhance the U.S. Navy’s strike capabilities, but it could also greatly reduce costs by decreasing the U.S. military’s reliance on expensive land-based air strips. “A capacity to launch and retrieve aircraft on small ships would reduce the need for ground-based airstrips, which require significant dedicated infrastructure and resources.” Land-based airstrips are also more vulnerable to enemy missiles, and frequently create tension with local populations. Tern also potentially help reduce the U.S. Navy’s reliance on aircraft carriers. This is crucial as many fear that large aircraft carriers are growing obsolete amidst the proliferation of long-range precision-strike missiles to U.S. adversaries like China and Iran. Beijing, in particular, poses a vexing challenge to the U.S. Navy as missiles like the DF-21D— frequently dubbed the “carrier killer”— appear to be aimed at sinking America’s aircraft carriers. An anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-21D is reportedly able to “carry a warhead big enough to inflict significant damage on a large vessel, providing the Chinese the capability of destroying a U.S. supercarrier in one strike.”
(Recommended: Should America Fear China’s “Carrier-Killer” Missile? )
Once operational—both the missile and its kill chain—it will reportedly be able to strike a moving supercarrier at ranges of nearly 1,500 kilometers. Given the immense cost of America’s ten aircraft carriers, as well as the manpower required to operate them, the DF-21D will essentially force America to keep its carriers out of range from the Chinese mainland and many potential hot spots in the region. Tern would help the United States overcome this issue by greatly increasing the number of targets China or another U.S. adversary would have to strike in order to destroy America’s strike capabilities. Indeed, according to The Motley Fool , the system that comes out of the Tern program could “permit MALE-sized drones to operate off ships as small as an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer—or even a smaller Independence—or Freedom-class frigate.” In other words, nearly every U.S. naval surface ship could become a mini aircraft carrier, especially as the U.S. Navy is moving completely away from manned aircraft after the F-35. Nor are surface ships the only mini aircraft carriers the U.S. Navy is seeking to develop to compensate for the growing missile threat. Back in 2013, the navy first “demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS) from a submerged submarine.” For the time being, however, these drones are strictly for IRS purposes.
DARPA launched the Tern program back in 2013. In May of the following year, it signed a memorandum of understanding with ONR to make it a joint program.
According to DARPA: The program has three planned phases. The first two phases focus on preliminary design and risk reduction for the Tern system. In Phase 3, a performer would be selected to build a full-scale demonstrator Tern system for ground-based testing, culminating in an at-sea demonstration of launch and recovery. AeroVironment and Northrop Grumman were the two contractors selected for the second phase of the program. Dan Patt, DARPA’s program manager for Tern, said that: Our Phase 2 performers are each designing a new unmanned air system intended to enable two previously unavailable capabilities: one, the ability for a UAS to take off and land from very confined spaces in elevated sea states and two, the ability for such a UAS to transition to efficient long-duration cruise missions. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
29 Aug 18. F-35 Program Cutting Corners to “Complete” Development; Officials altering paperwork instead of pursuing actual fixes. Officials in the F-35 Joint Program Office are making paper reclassifications of potentially life-threatening design flaws to make them appear less serious, likely in an attempt to prevent the $1.5trn program from blowing through another schedule deadline and budget cap. The Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) obtained a document showing how F-35 officials are recategorizing—rather than fixing—major design flaws to be able to claim they have completed the program’s development phase without having to pay overruns for badly needed fixes. Several of these flaws, like the lack of any means for a pilot to confirm a weapon’s target data before firing, and damage to the plane caused by the tailhook on the Air Force’s variant, have potentially serious implications for safety and combat effectiveness. POGO also obtained a copy of the Pentagon’s previously unreleased plan to control costs that shows the proposed savings may quickly be overwhelmed by the program’s rising costs.
In acquisition programs, a deficiency is a design flaw that affects the weapon system’s performance or safety. During the test and evaluation process, the testing personnel identify and categorize design deficiencies based on severity, breaking them down into Categories I and II, with degrees of priority within each category. Category I deficiencies “may cause death, severe injury, or severe occupational illness; may cause loss or major damage to a weapon system; critically restricts the combat readiness capabilities of the using organization; or result in a production line stoppage.”
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that, as of January 2018, the F-35 program still had 111 of these. Category II deficiencies “could impede or constrain successful mission accomplishment.” The program had 855 of these significant, though less catastrophic, design flaws. The testing engineers evaluating the F-35 flight tests and identifying design flaws determine their severity based on the potential impact on safety and mission effectiveness and recommend a categorization level. The testing agencies, the services, and the F-35 program office then review these recommendations to arrive at agreed-upon categorization levels, which are then entered into the formal reporting system as deficiency reports. Besides showing just how complex and incomplete the F-35’s development really is, 17 years in, the large number of deficiencies reported proves that many people have been conscientiously working toward improving the final engineering design to ensure it is safe and effective. With the revelation that officials made paperwork fixes to make these serious deficiencies appear acceptable, it seems that much of that work is being ignored in the name of political expediency and protecting F-35 funding. There is reason to be concerned about the manner in which these deficiencies are being recategorized. A copy of the minutes from the F-35 Deficiency Review Board’s June 4, 2018 meeting, obtained by POGO, shows that the Board downgraded 19 serious (Category I) deficiencies to the less-serious Category II, including 10 with no plan in place to correct the known design flaws. In a few cases, the Board followed the recommendations of the testing engineers to downgrade flaws. For the rest of the 19, however, the minutes show that the Board acted on its own to change deficiency statuses, with no apparent justification or evidence that the flaws were in fact not as serious as initially categorized.
In three instances, status changes were made “per direction from the F-35 DOE [Director of Engineering].” It should be noted that the director of engineering, Jay Fiebig, did not attend this meeting. Rather, the deputy director of engineering, Joe Krumenacker, served as chairman. Without further documentation, it is unclear whether the F-35’s remaining 90 Category I deficiencies are being recategorized in the same manner. Neither the Department of Defense nor Lockheed Martin responded to requests for comment on this investigation. The minutes show that one deficiency the Board downgraded on June 4 involves the F-35’s emergency systems. Test teams found that the F-35’s Identification Friend or Foe transponder, which communicates with ground-control radar to confirm the aircraft’s identity, does not automatically send an emergency signal when the pilot ejects. It is supposed to automatically switch to emergency mode and transmit the international emergency transponder Mayday code 7700 that alerts air-traffic controllers of the emergency. Were a pilot to eject without first manually switching the transponder to transmit the emergency signal—and an ejecting pilot will often have little time or presence of mind to do so—hours could pass before anyone knows they have had a problem, let alone that they ejected and crashed. The officials who identified this design problem gave it the highest severity rating, characterizing it as a Category I “High” deficiency. But the Deficiency Review Board knocked it down to a Category II “High” problem, without indicating a plan to correct it. This is not how the development process is supposed to work.
Despite any proclamations from the Pentagon, the F-35 program’s development phase will not be complete in any meaningful sense this year, or for many years to come. The F-35 Deficiency Review Board document reveals that F-35 Joint Program Office officials are not even attempting to deal with serious design flaws, just so they can claim to have finished this phase without busting the budget and the schedule yet again. Instead, without admitting it, they will complete development work and fixes later, that is, within their newly devised, amorphous “modernization” phase, free of the restrictions and accountability imposed by a budget and milestone baseline.
Congress—instead of exercising its oversight authority to prevent the inevitable cost overruns, performance degradations and safety hazards caused by these bureaucratic machinations—has rewarded the program with unrequested billions of budget add-ons every year for the last three years running. The men and women who will have to entrust their lives to these planes in combat, and the taxpayers footing the enormous bill, deserve better from their military leaders, their secretary of defense, and their Congress. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Project On Government Oversight)
28 Aug 18. Mattis: U.S. Military Becoming ‘Stronger, More Lethal, More Agile.’ The Defense Department is making significant progress along its three strategic lines of effort outlined in the National Defense Strategy issued in January, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters today. Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford updated Pentagon reporters this morning. The secretary praised the strong bipartisan support in Congress that resulted in the $717bn budget authorization for 2019. “And our military continues to grow stronger, more lethal, more agile, and certainly more deployable than a year ago,” he said.
The Fiscal Year ‘2019 National Defense Authorization Act is named for the late Sen. John S. McCain, and it meets all of DoD’s critical needs, Mattis said.
“I cannot thank Congress without expressing my respect for [McCain] for his steadfast courage and his service and my deepest condolences to his family for the loss of a man who represented all of the ideals America stands for,” the secretary said.
McCain was a staunch supporter of the U.S. military, he said.
“Our nation has lost a great patriot, and our military lost one of our most ardent supporters,” Mattis said.
The chairman also praised the late senator from Arizona.
“[He] was a lifelong and tireless advocate for the men and women of the U.S. military,” Dunford said. “While we mourn Senator McCain’s passing, we’ll be eternally grateful for his distinguished service and his courageous example.”
Maintaining Military Readiness
Today, the United States is being challenged across the global stage, Mattis said.
“[We] are witnessing a world that is awash in change, and maintaining readiness in the face of looming threats is a responsibility that we owe the next generation,” the secretary said.
The Defense Department is working hard to meet those challenges, he said.
“We’re going to put our activities into a strategic framework that we have provided in the National Defense Strategy,” Mattis said of the three lines of effort: increasing lethality, strengthening alliances and building new partnerships internationally, and reforming how DoD does business to achieve the best use of taxpayers’ money.
“[We] have no room for complacency in any domain, the secretary said. “We recognize cyberspace and outer space as warfighting domains on par with air, land and sea. And these two domains … were made contested domains by the actions of others, so as a result we have elevated [U.S.] Cyber Command to full combatant command status and we have worked with Congress and the White House to define the evolving space problem that we confront.”
DoD is also putting into place the National Defense Authorization Act’s provision for a unified space command, in line with the president’s vision for a Space Force, while revising its vision for defending its assets in space and revising antiquated acquisition processes.
“We are working now with Congress on our way ahead with regard to needed legislation for a separate department,” Mattis said.
“We have released our Nuclear Posture Review, outlining the necessary steps we are taking to strengthen America’s nuclear deterrents so these weapons are never used, nuclear war being a war that cannot be won and must never be fought,” he said.
DoD, also has added new standards to improve deployability of its forces so they are ready to fight and win at any time across any domain, the secretary said.
The No. 2 line of effort goal is to “improve consultation, cooperation and burden-sharing with alliances and partnerships so we can best deter … threats and competition, … because we are stronger alongside like-minded nations,” Mattis noted.
“Democracy is working, and we will be continuing to work with our friends from Ottawa to the southern tip of South America, for cooperation is critical for realizing the shared vision of democracy, prosperity and security,” he said.
The last NATO summit yielded tangible results with 29 partner nations, which are now spending more on defense in the organization, Mattis said “All recommitted to spending 2 percent of [gross domestic product] on defense by 2024,” he added.
The secretary said DoD also gained full commitment to what’s called the four 30s: 30 air squadrons, 30 naval ships and 30 combat battalions, all available to fight within 30 days. “That is a well-established and quantifiable goal now,” he said.
DoD Business Reform
The department’s No. 3 line of effort is reforming how it does business.
“We understand we cannot have lasting security for our country without solvency,” Mattis emphasized. “We are conducting the first audit in the department’s history and I want that audit to find problems. It’s the only way we will be able to craft effective solutions.”
That ensures that DoD upholds the trust Congress and the American people have placed in the department to spend their tax dollars wisely, he added.
DoD reform efforts have produced nearly $4bn in savings in fiscal year 2018, which can be applied to more lethality, the secretary said. “We initiated the repeal of several hundred unnecessary regulations across the department, enhancing our efficiency and making it easier for industry to work with us and without compromising performance or accountability,” the secretary told reporters.
Mattis pointed out that DoD embraced and finalized the congressionally directed split between its acquisition and sustainment and research and engineering offices to ensure warfighters have the technology and equipment they need both on the battlefields of today and tomorrow.
The secretary said the bottom line is the “significant progress among the three lines of effort, and [that] our strategic framework is proving applicable across our far-flung department’s operations, and we will continue to drive results in the months and years ahead.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
27 Aug 18. Navy, Army Commands Reflect, Support National Defense Strategy. Last week’s ceremonies re-establishing the Navy’s 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia, and standing up the Army’s Futures Command in Austin, Texas, illustrate aspects of the National Defense Strategy. The stand up of 2nd Fleet, under the command of Navy Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, represents “the United States and the United States Navy’s dynamic response to a dynamic security environment,” said Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, the chief of naval operations. The CNO spoke aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in Norfolk.
“Our nation and Navy are once again being challenged at sea,” Navy Adm. Christopher Grady, the commander of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, said at the ceremony. “Our sea control and our power projection — two vital elements of our national security — are being challenged by resurgent powers — namely Russia and China — both seeking to supplant the United States as partner of choice among free and prosperous nations.”
New Security Environment
In this new security environment, Russia is a competitor and must be deterred, officials said. Studying the problem that Russia poses to the international order means understanding “what is called for in response to that environment, [and] to meet that environment at the relevant levels of speed, capability and capacity,” Richardson said. “It will require every ounce of our tenacity, ingenuity and fighting spirit to focus on this mission and focus on how we can best accomplish the mission. The 2nd Fleet will be our spearhead for doing that in the Atlantic.”
The National Defense Strategy stresses that the United States and Russia are competing once again, Richardson said. The U.S. Navy, he said, operates “from the sea floor to the stars and in the information domain” to deter crises and to peacefully resolve them.
“But make no mistake, if deterrence fails our fleet — 2nd Fleet included — will conduct decisive combat operations and bring them to a quick close,” Richardson said.
The 2nd Fleet is charged to “embrace every avenue to gain and maintain our competitive advantage — to maintain our maritime superiority,” he said.
The Army’s Futures Command is another side to the defense strategy coin.
Army Gen. John M. Murray took the reins of this entirely different type of command for the service in Austin, Aug. 24. Army Secretary Mark T. Esper said the command will focus on meeting the challenges entailed with facing near-peer competitors. The command will modernize the force by reforming the current acquisition system, and unifying the modernization enterprise under a single command, Esper said.
“Maintaining the Army’s overmatch requires a major shake-up in how we prepare for future combat,” the secretary said, adding: “We are bringing our Army’s entire modernization enterprise under one roof — Army Futures Command.”
Esper continued, “The command will provide unity of effort and unity of command to the entire modernization process. It will synchronize the disparate elements and sets of entities to achieve a common purpose.”
Developing Army’s Future Warfighting Concepts
The command, he added, will also develop the Army’s future warfighting concepts, and generate innovative solutions through research and development.
“[The command] will ensure that we get our soldiers the weapons and equipment they need to fight and win,” Esper said.
The secretary said he likes the idea that Futures Command is not located on a traditional military base. “To do this right, we needed to immerse ourselves in an environment where innovation occurs at speeds far faster than our current process allows,” Esper said.
Army Futures Command’s location in downtown Austin allows the command to tap into top-tier academic talent, cutting-edge industry and an innovative private sector, he said. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
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