News from late Sunday evening:
ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) -- The Navy on Sunday held its first demonstration of carrier-based integrated flight operations involving manned and unmanned aircraft, with the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstrator's most recent detachment aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
The X-47B successfully took off, landed and cleared the landing carrier while an F/A-18 followed, cooperative maneuvers that were repeated several times throughout the day.
The Navy conducted two separate flights of the X-47B with the F/A-18 during the first test period aboard the ship on Aug. 17. During the first flight of the test period, the aircraft experienced about a 30-minute delay between the launch of the F/A-18 and the launch of the X-47B. After the demonstration, Capt. Beau Duarte, the unmanned carrier aviation program manager, attributed the delay to the fact that the vessel was not "exactly level" -- a mandatory condition for launch of the X-47B at sea.
The problem was resolved and the X-47B successfully catapulted off the ship just a few minutes behind the F/A-18 during the second flight of the test period.
Inside the Navy's top story this week is on cost increases in the DDG-51 destroyer program:
The Navy anticipates costs for the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer to increase between fiscal years 2017 and 2019 due to "estimating errors," according to the Pentagon's latest Selected Acquisition Report.
"Due to estimating errors, the program office expects Future Years Defense Program submissions to increase funding for DDGs in FY 2017-FY 2019 over the current budget submission," the April 16 report states.
Recent fiscal uncertainty led the Navy to estimate several different "scenarios" of ship quantity during the late stages of the FY-15 budget development, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Matt Leonard told Inside the Navy in an email.
News on the Littoral Combat Ship:
The Navy is implementing several design and engineering improvements to its Littoral Combat Ship program using lessons learned from the construction of the first two vessels, according to a service spokesman.
The changes include adjusting water jets, improving the ships' elevators, enhancing berthing spaces, and efforts to increase the weight service life margin of the vessels.
The Navy recently finished construction on the Lockheed Martin-built Freedom (LCS-1) and Austal's Independence (LCS-2) variants of the ship, and is planning to procure 32 in all.
More ship news:
Results from a recently completed analysis of alternatives to replace the Navy's aging dock landing ships lead the Navy to focus on either using a modified LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious ship as the basis of the notional LX(R) program, or designing a new vessel altogether.
The Navy is focusing its efforts for a program to begin replacing the LSD 41/49 fleet in the mid-2020s on either the Huntington Ingalls Industries' LPD-17 hull form, or the possibility of a "clean sheet design," a service official told Inside the Navy last week.
Officials briefed the Navy's top acquisitions official Sean Stackley, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert on the AOA on July 30, ITN previously reported.
The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding a $25 million contract modification to complete 40 design and construction changes to the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).
The modifications are "routine in nature," Navy spokesman Lt. Rob Myers told Inside the Navy last week, but normally they would be executed individually. In this instance, the changes were "bundled" in order to save time and resources, Myers explained.
The changes are "fairly benign" and include things like structure and outfitting construction, as well as installation and integration of government furnished equipment, Myers added.
Marine Corps news:
The Marine Corps is looking to assess industry's ability in providing gallium nitride-based module components for the multibillion-dollar Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar, according to a service spokesman and a Federal Business Opportunities notice.
A July sources-sought notice was amended Aug. 12 on the FBO website. The service seeks design, engineering development, fabrication, and testing within the engineering development model, Marine Corps spokesman David Branham wrote in an Aug. 12 email.
The current design meeting G/ATOR requirements uses Gallium Aresenid (GaAs) semiconductor technology but because the semiconductor industry is moving to a next-generation gallium nitrde (GaN) semiconductor technology the requirement for G/ATOR must be modified. "Thus the "Sources Sought" FBO announcement to assess industry's capability in providing such technology," he wrote.
The Marine Corps and its Norwegian counterparts are refreshing gear stored in Norway so that the service can increase its readiness in responding to crises in both Europe and Africa, according to a service official.
Since the Cold War era the Marine Corps has had an agreement with Norway to store prepositioning equipment in caves in Norway's Trøndelag region. This allows Marines to support both their NATO counterparts in U.S. European Command and respond to crises in U.S. Africa Command, Master Sgt. Drew Bombick, prepositioning operations chief for Marine Forces Europe and Africa, told Inside the Navy in an Aug. 14 interview.
The equipment brought aboard a maritime prepositioning ship from Jacksonville, FL, to Norway includes M1A1 main battle tanks, tank retrievers, armored breeching vehicles, amphibious vehicles, humvees, gun trucks and several variants of the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement 7 1/2 ton trucks. The service will see savings because it will now not have to bring equipment from the United States to EUCOM or AFRICOM for training, exercises or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, he said.
The Defense Science Board has a new report out:
A group of outside advisers says it is unclear who is in charge of policy, training and planning for the use of civilian contractors who support the military in war zones, according to a new report.
Craig Fields, chairman of the Defense Science Board, warns in a cover letter on the just-released report, "Contractor Logistics Support of Contingency Operations," that "recent history has demonstrated that without foresight and planning for use of OCS [operational contract support], the potential for unintended and undesired consequences for our deployed forces is certain."
Operational contract support is defined as the use of civilian contractors in support of military operations.
Don't expect the delivery of F-16s to Iraq to happen anytime soon:
The State Department has confirmed that site preparations at Iraq's Balad Air Base for the delivery of the country's first F-16 fighter jets have been placed on hold as the scheduled delivery date nears and the security situation in the country worsens.
In a statement to InsideDefense.com this week, State Department officials confirmed that F-16-related construction at Balad, Iraq's largest military air base and a key Air Force installation during the Iraq War, has been suspended due to the security situation.
The confirmation means the on-time delivery of the first two jets, long scheduled for this September, is unlikely. The government has for months refused to state that publicly, even as Islamist fighters overrun large parts of the country and assault Balad Air Base directly.
-- John Liang