Starting today with news on the Navy's nuclear reactor program and its effect on the Ohio-class replacement submarine effort:
A funding shortfall affecting the Navy's nuclear reactor program could push back by six months the construction schedule for the lead ship of the Ohio-class replacement submarine program, according to top Navy officials.
At an April 10 Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee hearing, the Navy's top acquisition executive, Sean Stackley, and Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources (N8), cited an approximately $150 million shortfall affecting the National Nuclear Security Administration, $20 million to $50 million of which could directly affect the reactor for the lead ship and push it back by six months.
"We have to resolve this shortfall or we are losing schedule on the program," Stackley told the committee, noting that Congress, the Pentagon and the Energy Department need to address this issue together.
"The total shortfall that we're struggling with right now is about $150 million with [the National Nuclear Security Administration]. The six-month impact -- that's Adm. [John] Richardson's assessment in terms of what that shortfall, as it hits his requirements for developing the reactor plant for the Ohio replacement," Stackley said. Richardson is the director of the service's nuclear propulsion program.
An Inside the Air Force front-pager on the future location of the MC-12 Liberty aircraft:
U.S. Special Operations Command wants to consolidate its MC-12 Liberty aircraft operations with Air Force Special Operations Command as SOCOM prepares to take control of 33 additional MC-12 aircraft from the Air Force's 9th Reconnaissance Wing.
SOCOM has for years owned a fleet of 10 MC-12s, although they are operated by U.S. contractors, AFSOC spokeswoman Raquel Sanchez told Inside the Air Force in an April 9 email. But when those aircraft transition to AFSOC, they will be operated by active-duty and Air National Guard crews.
Funding to transition those 10 aircraft, and the additional 33 MC-12s the Air Force is making available for special operations missions, is included in the Pentagon's fiscal year 2015 budget request, and any transition would require lawmakers to authorize that part of the budget in its current form.
The transfer is the result of a 2011 debate over whether the Army should continue buying small turboprop aircraft for its Enhanced Medium-Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) program, or convert MC-12s currently being flown by the Air Force on medium-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The head of the House Armed Services Committee spoke with reporters yesterday on the FY-15 defense authorization bill:
As House authorizers prepare to mark up their fiscal year 2015 defense bill, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) wants the focus to be on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, deterrence and readiness.
McKeon told reporters on Thursday that funding for ISR and intelligence -- whether via unmanned systems or more human intelligence -- is critical. "If you don't know what someone else is doing, you don't even know what your risks are," he said when asked about his FY-15 authorization bill priorities.
Another priority is funding the nuclear triad and ensuring deterrence, McKeon said. And readiness must be funded, he emphasized, worried about what decreased funding could do in areas like South Korea, where troops must be ready at a moment's notice. "The point of the spear has to be ready," he said.
Another ITAF front-pager on problems with a just-launched weather satellite:
A joint team of Air Force, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Lockheed Martin engineers are working to address an anomaly that occurred after last week's launch of an Air Force meteorological satellite involving the faulty deployment of the spacecraft's solar array.
A spokeswoman from the Space and Missile Systems Center's weather directorate told Inside the Air Force in an April 10 email that while the launch of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's 19th satellite (DMSP-19) was nearly perfect, the spacecraft's solar array boom did not fully deploy.
"The team is currently working through a single anomaly affecting the solar array boom," the spokeswoman said. "The boom successfully deployed but stopped approximately 30 degrees short of its nominal position and did not lock into place."
The solar array is designed to help power the satellite. According to the spokeswoman, the boom anomaly's impact on the Lockheed-built satellite's mission is "negligible" as the satellite currently has "ample power to execute operations." However, the spokeswoman did not respond to questions about how the partially deployed array might impact the satellite's mission later in its service life. And while the spokeswoman noted that the joint early-orbit test team is "working through" the anomaly, she did not say what the team is doing to mitigate or fix the anomaly.
The Air Force is upgrading the avionics of its T-1 trainer aircraft:
In an effort to combat and preempt future obsolescence issues, Air Education and Training Command is pursuing an avionics retrofit of its mobility trainer, the T-1.
The Air Force started flying the T-1, a commercial derivative of the Beechcraft 400A, in 1991. Since that time, the service has made only minor modifications to the jet. Frank Yanuzzi, T-1 program manager at AETC's intelligence, operations and nuclear integration directorate, told Inside the Air Force this week that the avionics replacement program is not aimed at upgrading the aircraft, but is instead an effort to prevent component obsolescence issues that could arise in the future.
"We're not really using the term 'upgrade' because, from a capability standpoint, we're going to be maintaining the same capability that we currently have in the T-1," Yanuzzi said in an April 8 interview. "The challenge is, after 20 years flying the T-1, we're starting to recognize that we have components that are becoming harder and harder to support and therefore we're faced with obsolescence, kind of a dilemma. And so the replacement of the avionics components is not an upgrade. It's just sustaining the fleet because of the obsolescence issues we're facing."
Bob East, T-1A requirements manager in AETC's capability requirements division, also participated in the April 8 interview. He said that because the T-1 is a derivative of a commercial aircraft that has gone through component retrofit efforts in the past, there are parts in existence that have inherent increased capabilities. An example of this, he said, is in the new display design.
More coverage of this week's Sea-Air-Space symposium:
Huntington Ingalls Industries executives will meet later this month with the Missile Defense Agency to discuss a new ballistic missile defense ship concept based on an LPD Flight II hull design, a capability the shipbuilder believes could contribute to Ballistic Missile Defense System improvements being considered by the Pentagon for the early 2020s.
Steve Sloan, Ingalls' business development director for LPD programs, said the company pitched the BMD ship concept -- which features space for a radar twice as large as those on current missile-defense destroyers and cruisers -- to MDA on April 1 in response to a solicitation last month to support a BMDS sensor study.
"We responded to the RFI and will meet with MDA one-on-one shortly," Sloan told InsideDefense.com on April 8 during the Navy League's annual convention in Maryland.
On March 14, MDA asked industry for ideas to support government efforts to identify "potential discriminating sensor options, architectural innovations, and lessons learned that could be applied to the future BMDS sensor network."
Plus the latest presentations from the symposium:
Document: Navy Presentation On The LCS Program
The April 9, 2014, briefing slides presented at the Navy League's annual symposium outline the status of the Littoral Combat Ship program.
The April 9, 2014, briefing slides presented at the Navy League's annual symposium outline the status of the Littoral Combat Ship mission modules program.
The April 9, 2014, briefing slides presented at the Navy League's annual symposium outline the Navy's unmanned maritime systems program.
Stay tuned for much more in next week's Inside the Navy.
The Army has whittled the number of companies that will compete for a radio program contract down to four firms:
Four teams have been selected to compete for nearly $1 billion in Soldier Radio Waveform Appliqué radio orders, the Defense Department announced this week.
Exelis Inc. Night Vision & Communications Solutions, General Dynamics C4 Systems Inc., Harris Corp., and Thales Defense & Security Inc. were picked for the $988 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, according to an April 9 notice. The contract will have a five-year base ordering period, plus five one-year options.
"Four companies, offering five different SRW-Appliqué radio systems, were awarded a basic contract, which will allow the companies to compete on future orders to support Department of the Army directed fielding requirements," service spokesman Josh Davidson told InsideDefense.com in an email. "On an annual basis, the Army will review its technical requirements to determine if an on-ramp opportunity will be established to allow additional vendors to submit proposals for award consideration."
Exelis, GDC4 Systems and Thales each have one radio solution, while Harris offered two different designs, Davidson wrote. The companies will demonstrate their products during the Army's Network Integration Evaluation 14.2 in May, he added.
Some new reports from the Government Accountability Office:
The April 10, 2014, Government Accountability Office report finds that "it is too early to determine whether the ACV acquisition will follow acquisition best practices."
The April 10, 2014, Government Accountability Office report finds that the Navy "continued to make progress in the past year toward (1) establishing a knowledge-based program that generally aligned with acquisition best practices and (2) meeting corresponding statutory certification requirements for entering the Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition process in the engineering and manufacturing development phase."
Document: GAO Report On UAS Pilots
The April 10, 2014, Government Accountability Office report finds that "actions [are] needed to strengthen [the] management of unmanned aerial system pilots."
Document: GAO Report On The KC-46 Tanker Aircraft
The April 10, 2014, Government Accountability Office report finds that the Air Force's KC-46 tanker aircraft program is "generally on track, but [its] upcoming schedule remains challenging."
-- John Liang