1998 Congressional Hearings






STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHN W. DOUGLASS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND ACQUISITION) BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON AIRLAND FORCES OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE ON TACTICAL AVIATION PROGRAMS MARCH 25, 1998
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before you to discuss the Department of the Navy’s fiscal year 1999 tactical aviation modernization programs. Since the end of the Cold War, it has been primarily the naval forces that have been called upon to respond to crisis around the world. The Navy and Marine Corps team has helped control events, from Europe to Africa to Asia. Since 1990 there have been 93 contingencies in 96 months. Almost half occurred with less than two weeks warning. Today, naval forces are not just the favored option, they are often the only option. The Quadrennial Defense Review validated our force today and our mission for tomorrow. If events of past years are representative, the 21st Century will be a time when our leaders call early and often on the Navy and Marine Corps to protect our national interests. In today’s world of promise and challenge, stability is essential and naval forces are a fundamental asset in support of our nation’s strategic and economic interests around the globe. The U.S. built 172 bases overseas since the end of World War II. We are, at last count, down to 24 bases with our options for replacement both diminishing and unaffordable. Accordingly, the Navy and Marine Corps contribute an essential shaping force and will almost always be the first to be called to respond. With such responsibility, the burden on the Navy and Marine Corps, and especially Naval aviation, is clearly to prepare now. The Navy operates ten active carrier air wings and three active Marine Corps airwings. The fiscal year 1999 Aircraft Procurement, Navy budget requests $7.5 billion for 71 aircraft and other aviation modernization and upgrade programs. The 71 aircraft procured include 30 F/A-18E/Fs, 7 V-22s, 3 E-2Cs, 15 T- 45s, 4 CH-60s and 12 AV-8B remanufactured aircraft. F/A-18E/F Super Hornet In the year 2002, a U.S. aircraft carrier will deploy with a strike/fighter aircraft that is five times more survivable than the aircraft currently deployed. I am referring to the deployment of the single seat F/A-18E and dual seat F/A-18F aircraft, a deployment, which with your continued support, is and will remain on the same schedule it has had since 1992. Several very detailed studies have shown that an air wing composed of today's aircraft operating in a high threat area will take nine days to deliver 3,000 weapons while the air wing of F/A-18E/F aircraft will deliver the same support in less than four days. The savings in lost aircraft, lost air crew, and expeditiously supported ground forces dwarf the 10 percent premium in aircraft production cost. The fiscal year 1999 budget requests $2.9 billion for the procurement of 30 F/A-18E/F Low Rate Initial Production aircraft and $216 million for continued research, development, test, and evaluation. The evaluation to be conducted by the Navy's independent operational test and evaluation force will begin in 1999. The development test phase is a little over 66 percent complete, and has become the most successful aircraft developmental testing period in the history of naval aviation. It is a more thorough evaluation than ever conducted on previous aircraft. At its conclusion the Super Hornet will have been cleared for employment of 27 different weapons configuration. In comparison, the original Hornet had been cleared for only two weapons at the completion of full scale developmental testing. During initial carrier qualifications conducted last year on board the USS JOHN STENNIS (CVN 74), the Super Hornet proved to be a flawless performer. However, the flight test program has detected an anomaly at certain locations in the flight envelope, where one wing briefly experiences more or less lift than the other, and the pilot must counter what you might consider a slight swerve if it occurred to you while driving your car. Aeronautical engineers refer to this anomaly as wing drop. It was discovered as early as the 1950s in the F-86 aircraft, and is quite common in high performance swept-wing aircraft. The Navy and McDonnell Douglas Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company, have worked hard to solve this problem and identify solutions to wing drop. We have approached this problem in a very deliberate and scientific manner, and several minor wing modifications that solves wing drop while eliminating or minimizing any other performance impacts. As a result of these investigations, installation of porous wing fold fairings has been determined to be the most promising solution. These fairings cover the wing fold mechanism and open when the wing is folded. The porous fairing has many small holes that influence the airflow over the wing, eliminating wing drop throughout the maneuvering envelope. This modification has been tested in both the fighter escort and interdiction load configurations and has been found to correct wing drop with little anticipated impact on other performance measures. In a configuration commonly used in deployment training, the aircraft experienced significant buffet during maneuvering flight. This buffet is not a safety of flight issue. Refinements in the design of the porous fairing are giving improved results for wing drop and maneuvering buffet, and these are being flown with a representative set of load configurations to confirm our favorable expectations. The porous fairing modification could easily be adapted to aircraft already in the production process. Solving wing drop and buffet relies heavily on flying the test aircraft to validate and verify the identified solutions. In recent months, flight test activities have been delayed due to weather. The highly instrumented test aircraft can not fly in any form of precipitation, and the Patuxent River test area has received a significant amount of rain over the past several months. However, the process to characterize and dispose of the buffet issue is well under way. Limited test flights have yielded data that shows closure on the causal factor for the buffet. The remaining path to the low rate initial production decision II approval will be event driven. Weather and the results of flight test will determine when the decision can be made. A Blue Ribbon panel of independent subject matter experts from NASA, the Air Force, and academia has followed the Navy/Boeing effort closely and approves the current approach. Wing drop is not the only item discovered in the test program; but neither it, nor any of the others, present a serious risk to the success of the program. An Operational Test IIA period was conducted on the F/A-18E/F aircraft in November 1997. Based on the Operational Test IIA Report, dated March 17, 1998, the F/A- 18E/F aircraft received the highest possible rating of “potentially operationally effective, potentially operationally suitable”. The F/A-18E/F engineering and manufacturing development phase is 94 percent complete, on schedule, on cost, and meeting or exceeding specified performance. Joint Strike Fighter The Department of the Navy is fully committed to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program. Joint development of the JSF is imperative for modernization of Navy and Marine Corps forces with an affordable weapon system that meets the needs of the warfighters. The centerpiece of the JSF Program is affordability -- this demands a new way of doing business, and JSF is accomplishing that. The program has used from its inception principles such as Cost As an Independent Variable to balance weapon system capability against its life cycle cost. The JSF is effectively achieving such a balance through the use of Cost and Operational Performance Trades; investing in key technologies; emphasizing design, manufacturing and support initiatives; and leveraging the benefits of commonality to reduce the total ownership cost to the warfighters. To an unprecedented degree, through early interaction of warfighters and technologists, the JSF Program is using Cost and Operational Performance Trades as an integral part of the weapon system development process. Each iteration of the requirements is provided to industry who evolve their designs and provide cost data back to the warfighters as they proceed to evaluate trades and make decisions on the next iteration of requirements. The Services have included cost goals in their requirements. The Cost and Operational Performance Trades process is ongoing and supports completion of the final Joint Operational Requirements Document in fiscal year 2000. JSF cost goals will not be achieved by trading performance alone. The JSF message to contractors is that they must use innovative manufacturing methods, take full advantage of commonality among aircraft variants and establish revolutionary business practices to reduce cost. The JSF family of variants will be highly common and built on the same production line using flexible manufacturing technology. In the current phase, the program is also maturing key technologies to lower weapon system cost and reduce development risk in Engineering and Manufacturing Development. Demonstrator aircraft will fly in 2000 and show us the basic aircraft performance, further reducing risk as we proceed to the next phase of development. Milestone II and Engineering and Manufacturing Development start are planned in fiscal year 2001. Initial procurement of JSFs for the Air Force is planned in fiscal year 2005, followed by the Marine Corps in fiscal year 2006 and the Navy in fiscal year 2008. The program is proceeding on cost and on schedule at this time. Funding stability is essential for the remainder of the program. In fiscal year 1998, three technology efforts were canceled to pay for general reductions taken across RDT&E programs. If there are further funding reductions in fiscal year 1999 and fiscal year 2000, it is likely to result in a program slip since contracts are being executed, aircraft are being built and technology efforts are more than 50 percent complete with little reserve to accommodate program reductions. The Navy has assessed the possibility of accelerating the naval carrier variant of the JSF program and concluded that the single benefit of early fielding of the carrier variant is the acceleration of “competition” between the carrier variant and the F/A-18E/F. However, there are several drawbacks that make the acceleration of the carrier variant unfavorable. Drawbacks include, the requirement for $4.9 billion more than the planned (Quadrennial Defense Review approved) production profile in fiscal years 2005-2009, in a fiscally constrained environment. This $4.9 billion does not include other appropriations such as military construction and operational costs required to support earlier introduction of the JSF carrier into the fleet. In addition, the F/A-18E/F has the capability to meet the Navy’s requirement until the Quadrennial Defense Review approved acquisition of the carrier variant in fiscal year 2008. The current production of the carrier aircraft deliberately trails the Air Force and Marine Corps variant to reduce the risk of a single engine Naval variant. To enable the smooth transition of the Navy to a single-engine JSF, the current risk-reduction plan allows for additional flight test and operational hours on the engine. MV-22 Osprey The MV-22 Osprey is the highest priority for Marine Corps aviation and critical to the implementation of our Operational Maneuver from the Sea concept. The V-22 Osprey is designed to replace the Marine Corps CH-46E and CH-53D, as well as the Air Force Special Operations Command TH-53A, MH-53J, MH-47D, MH-60G, MC-130E, HC-130 and HC-130E. The fiscal year 1999 budget request includes $665 million for procurement of 7 MV-22 aircraft and $355 million for continued Research, Development, Test and Evaluation. The acquisition of this medium lift tiltrotor, vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft represents a revolutionary leap in our ability to project forces from over the horizon towards inland objectives. The MV-22 will fly significantly farther and faster with a greater payload than our aging fleet of medium lift CH-46 helicopters. Its ability to carry 24 combat-loaded Marines at a cruising speed of 240 knots is key to the execution of maneuver warfare. This combat multiplier nearly triples the present day battlespace and will give commanders the tactical flexibility to respond, to adapt to, and defeat a wide range of threats. The MV-22 will give us the ability to maintain battlefield dominance well into the 21st century. Initial operating capability for the MV-22 is the year 2001. F-14 Tomcat It is important to mention the initiative we have undertaken on the F-14 Tomcat program. The F-14 aircraft will bridge the Navy’s 50 strike fighter gap while awaiting the F/A- 18E/F. The F-14 Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) is scheduled to be installed in fleet aircraft in June of this year. The DFCS provides the warfighters with departure resistance, auto anti-spin controls, carrier line up improvements and increased reliability. We have received excellent results from the flight test, currently underway. The F-14 program has successfully created an Integrated Modification Plan which minimizes cost and aircraft time away from the fleet. Close In summary, Mr. Chairman, the Navy and Marine Corps team is working hard everyday to make acquisition success a routine occurrence. Our guiding principles are to communicate fully and openly with the Congress, industry, our warfighters, and our acquisition professionals, to do everything it takes to make sure our Sailors and Marines are provided with the best equipment for the lowest investment possible. The Department of the Navy’s tactical aviation programs combine operational requirements and acquisition successes to ensure we receive the best aircraft at the most affordable cost. We appreciate the support provided by the Congress and look forward to working together with this Committee toward a secure future for our nation.