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tv   Hearing on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter  CSPAN  April 30, 2016 6:08am-8:02am EDT

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>> if they continue to buy the airplane, the price will continue to come down. >> yeah, yeah. >> so that stabilizes -- >> that's where you come up with the 85 million, ultimately, taking that into consideration. >> yes, sir. >> one last thing. we were all a little disturbed a couple years ago, last minute we had --
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[inaudible] and, of course, you didn't have anything in paris. are you pretty confident we're going to have, it's going to make the -- [inaudible] this year? >> yes, sir. we are appointing a deployment of five f-35s to rio, to a models and three b model, one of those being a u.k. airplane -- >> how many flying? >> we'll fly all of those. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i just want to clarify one of your comments. you were talking about, i think, the difficulty of operating with forward aircraft in, essentially, the multi-- [inaudible] of the aircraft operating together. is that an accurate recollection? >> yes. it will often be used because that will provide information from four aircraft that must be
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fused in order to provide the situational awareness that general bogdan mentioned is so critical to dealing with future threats. and current threats. >> and there is a current difficulty in making those systems -- [inaudible] >> fusion has been a challenge to make work well. it will, based on what i've seen, continue to be a challenge. it's a very hard problem. it doesn't surprise me that it's turning out to be a lard problem and to -- a hard problem and to make the fusion work well because you get information from different sensors on the same aircraft as well as from different aircraft. you have to have software that then sorts through all that and says, ah, this signal that i got from this sensor is from the same target on another sensor on another aircraft. that's a very hard physics problem. it's not a heart of just simply writing -- it's not a matter of just simply writing cold. it involves the operation of the
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signals and so forth, and the errors in the signals. that's going to continue to be a challenge. it will require a lot of iterative test, fix, test, where you use subject matter to try to fix the solutions, test them to see how they work. >> just a clarification, in the ioc status, do you really get into that multiaircraft fusion issue, or is that just simply the aircrafting being able to f, you know, essentially -- >> well, the air force is the one just as the marines did for their own initial operational capability, the air force sets the standards for determining what constitutes sufficient performance for ioc. i can't remember the details of what the air force has said about fusion but, obviously, the more fusion capability they have, the better. it will be limited because block 3i provides the same capability
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that block 2b did and there were fusion shortfalls that block be f is -- 3f is meant to surmount. >> i know general bogdan talked about alice as a key issue in terms of resolution. any others you would identify, you're focused on and your sort of approach to deal with them? >> i think alice is kind of the leading problem in terms of achieving ioc for the air force on time. the issue that was mentioned earlier on stability, i think, was a concern, but that seems to be getting under control. there are a number of concerns with just the pace of testing and how much has to be done, and i know some steps general bogdan is taking to alleviate some of that schedule pressure that he has. it's a suite of a lot of things that have to happen. at the end of the day, the air force will make the decision as to when they think it's okay to declare ioc.
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my experience with the marine corps is they're not going to do that until they're comfortable with the product that they have. >> one of the major issues long term is the sustainment costs of the aircraft which seem to be quite significant. can you describe steps that you and general bogdan are taking to, you know, lower those costs? we want to lower the cost of the platform, but we'd certainly like to lower the cost long term of operation and maintenance. >> so far we've been able to talk about 10% of the cost out. a variety of things to do that. we're looking at various ways to structure the business case, if you will, for the sustainment, and that's work that's still in progress. we don't want to remain in a sole source environment for anymore than we possibly have to. we're looking for creative ways to work with our partners so that we do hinges together as opposed -- do things together as opposed to separately. general bogdan, i think, probably has a very long list.
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>> give me your top two or three, general. >> yes, sir. we started a fully funded reliability and maintainability program about two years ago when we looked at each and every component of the f-35 to determine if it was maintaining its performance on the airplane at the pace with which we needed it. that has proven to be very cost effective for us, so we're going after those pieces and parts on the airplane that aren't performing well. we also have a cost war room where we look at every idea that comes from the field on how to better maintain the airplane. perfect example of that is the original concept for tires, wheels and brakes on this airplane was to ship all that off to a contractor somewhere. the u.s. air force, the u.s. navy, the u.s. marine corps have that capability today with their legacy systems at their bases. so we're moving all that work to them. that reduces about 40 or 50% of cost and the turn time of fixing things like that. so we are going about systematically trying to get every piece of cost out of the program. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> senator adevelopment -- ayotte. >> thank you, chairman. general bogdan, i wanted to ask you recently general welch came before our committee and said that the mission capability of the a-10 will not be replaced by the f-35, yet the web site for the joint strike fighter program says the program -- that the f-35 will replace the a-10. so can you answer this question for us? there's an inconsistency there, and i would like to know is general welsh right or is your web site right? >> thank you for that question, ma'am. [laughter] first, the force structure of the u.s. our force and its fighter inventory is well beyond my purview. so i won't try and explain what general welsh said or what the decision making process is for the air force on replacing air fighter inventory.
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>> but could, general, i think this is an important question, so when general welsh comes before our committee and says the f-35 a, is not going to replace the a-10 and yet the joint strike fighter says it will, pretty important as we think about the capabilities of the -- general kendall? >> i can't speak for general welsh, but i think what he was trying to say. first of all, i think both statements are correct. >> both statements can't be correct. >> we will, in fact, replace a-10s with f-35s, that is the plan. but the f-35 will not do close air support mission the same way the a-10 does. the a-10 was designed to be low and slow and close to the targets that it was engaging, relatively speaking. we will not use the f-35 in the same way as the a-10. so it'll perform the mission very differently.
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>> so let me ask dr. gilmore, so if it's going to perform the mission very differently, is it not important that we understand how the two compare? and so i would ask you how will -- will there be comparison testing not just with the a-10, but with other comparative a frames, airframes that the f-35 is going to replace, and how will the operational testing of the f-35a and a-10 be conducted? >> senator, i have here the operational requirements document for f-35, and on page 2 it says the f-35a will rely primarily on the f-22 for air superiority and will assume the role as high-low fighter -- [inaudible] so that's in the operational requirements -- >> okay. so if it's going to perform the a-10 role, it's a pretty darn important role to our men and women on the ground. so what about the flyoff?
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how will that go down? >> we are going to do a comparative test of the ability of the f-35 to perform close air support, combat search and rescue and related issues with the a-10. we're also going to do a comparison it's as an integral part of evaluation of the ability of the f-35 to perform suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses with the f-16 and the f-18. this operational requirements document has numerous citations to the performance expected of the f-35 in relationship to the aircraft it's going to replace, so that operational testing is entirely consistent with the operational requirements document. it's also the comparison testing is also not unprecedented. there was comparison testing between the f-22 and the f-15. and there's been comparison testing as part of oh operational tests including things like tactical vehicles like the humvee.
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so to me, comparison testing just makes common sense -- >> of course. >> if you're spending a lot of money to get improved capability, that's the easiest way to demonstrate it, is to do a rigorous comparison test. and we're going to do it under all the circumstances that we see -- conducted including under high threat conditions in which we expect f-35 will have an advantage and other conditions requiring loitering on the target, low altitude operations and so forth in which there are a lot of arguments that ensue about which aircraft might be, might have the advantage, the a-10 or the f-35, but that's what the comparison test is meant to show us. >> i think that's really important so that we can understand, we can understand the capability comparisons there. so, general bogdan, i wanted to ask you, i'd asked a question of general welsh in march as to when do you expect the sdb-2 to demonstrate a full capability for the f-35a.
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>> ma'am, our program of record has the sdb-1 coming in in the end of block 3f which is in the 2017 time frame, but sdb-2 which is a much more enhanced capability for that precision weapon is planned for the first increment of our block 4, and that's approximately into 2021, 2022 time frame. >> okay. i think that's an important issue as well, because the sdb-2 provides f-35a an ability to kill mobile targets in adverse weather which is something that, obviously, the a-10 has capability on. so i hope that is taken into conversation as we look at this comparison. >> the comparison testing will be done with mobile targets and targets in close proximity to buildings and civilian structures, but in particular with mobile targets. and as i mentioned, right now the mobile target capability of the f-35 is problematic and how much it will be corrected as we
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get to block 3f remains to be seen. sdb-2 in 2022 will provide a weapon that can actually follow the target. before that, in 2020, laser -- [inaudible] also may help in that regard. but the current moving target capability is limited. >> i know my time is up, but one of the things that continues to worry me is under the air force's plan, the a-10s are all retired by 2022, and it seems these are important questions that remain that very much matter to our men and women on the ground. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank all of you for your service. general bogdan, the gao's report recommends an approach in which new development efforts are -- [inaudible] gao recommended that this type of separate acquisition program for the f-35 block 4, follow-on modernization efforts. however, dod has not concurred with the gao's recommendations
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and plans to include the f-35's block 4 fall under existing cuts plus contracts. so if dod did not adopt gao's recommendation, would that help eliminate cost plus for the block 4 phase of the program? why would they not? and i don't know why any of us don't pay attention to gao, but why the department of defense doesn't makes no sense at all. >> sir, at a strategy level, i'm going to defer to mr. kendall -- >> secretary, i'm sorry. >> senator, i think we're talking about a distinction here that may not have a difference. the label, mdap brings with it a lot of statutory oversight. >> sure. >> what we plan to do with block 4 is insure that it is accounted for separately, that we have an independent cost estimate, that we manage it very intensively, there's full transparency and visibility into what we're doing. >> i'm saying -- >> it's, all the things that i
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think we're being asked for will be supplied. but if we add to that the label of a major defense acquisition program, that's going to bring a lot of additional bureaucracy and cost, and i was hoping to avoid that. >> i agree, we don't want to put anymore bureaucracy on top of you that you already have, and i would ask mr. sullivan why did you make that report if you thought it was going to throw more -- >> one of the -- >> -- bureaucracy on top of it? >> we wouldn't want to see any bureaucracy on top of that either. >> right. [laughter] >> in fact be, we did a report last year hooking, we kind of call it our efficiency report. i know the undersecretary's familiar with it and agrees with a lot of it, i think. one of the things we're also attacking when we attack these kind of accountability questions is let's reduce some of that bureaucracy that they have to deal with if they become an mdap. but the reason we think it's important here is, number one, the dollars involved are such
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that even according to current law they meet the threshold for an mdap program. the other thing is on the f-22 program we saw something very similar to this when they decided to baseline new capabilities into the program, they did it under the existing program. and very quickly a $2 billion estimate for development of those new capabilities became about $11 billion. and there was no track over it, there was no accountability over it because it was in, you know, with the baseline program. >> first of all, i appreciate the job that gao does, i really do. >> thank you. >> i have to make apologies why we don't take your recommendations more seriously. you must have consider versus contract had to be significant savings. >> yes. and we sympathize with the desire to not have to go through so many reviews -- >> i got ya --
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>> and so many offices and comments and everything else. and we did the report on that, and it was eye-opening for us to see what they have to go through. to me, that is not -- they said that it would, if they had to go to a major defense act by its program -- acquisition program, it would cause a year's delay in getting that development effort going, and i just don't understand why that would be the case. they're doing many of the things that they'd be required to do for an mdap anyway. >> thank you. let me go on. yesterday it was announced that we are sending 250 special operations force to syria, i understand the cost approximately $1 million to $1.5 million to train one special operator equal to roughly 375 million for the 250. general, you indicated that the f-35 currently costs 108 per aircraft. i know it's going to come down to 85 you're hoping by 2019.
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conceptually, if we traded in ten jets, we could increase the size of our special or forces community by over 650. now, this is after general millie came here and said that we're about 220,000 short of end strength ground troops. so we're looking for ways to make sure that we can meet the imminent threats that we have. the f-35 pilot's helmet alone costs $400,000. that's $10 million for 2500. as we look at the costs associated with the f-35 and considering the current threats we are facing and how most of it is ground threats that we're facing and forcing and fighting, does it make sense to spend so much money on the f-35 while we currently depend so much more on our special force around the world? since we have to make choices? >> senator, what i will tell you is that the county has many different kinds of choices they have to make and try and balance their requirements with the resources that they have.
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i will tell you that the f-35 is a long-term investment in the defense of this nation. and our future adversaries are not sitting still. and in the next 10, 20, 30 years, we may very well need the capabilities that the f-35 will provide us to maintain our leadership in the world. so i consider the f-35 as an investment in the future. >> and i appreciate that, and my time is up, but i'm saying we have 2500 scheduled to be built, correct? is that the number? >> the u.s. services will build 2,443, sir. >> so just for ten less aircraft we could put 650 special ops people on the front lines right now. >> i believe your math is right, sir. >> okay. thank you, sir. >> [inaudible] >> dr. gilmore, in your prepared testimony you state that cybersecurity testing has
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revealed deficiencies and that full testing of the logistics operating unit and the logistics information system has not been permitted. can you give us an overview of the planned cybersecurity tests and whether based on the deficiencies discovered so far you believe the testing will be adequate in. >> if we execute the plan that my office has been working on with the joint operational test team and the program office over the next couple of years, that will be a very thorough, rigorous set of cybersecurity tests. the problems that we're running into, as you mentioned, are that the program is reluctant to let us test on the live systems for fear that we might damage them, and they had not made provisions for backup if the systems went down, although they are working on that now. so up to this point and in the
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immediate future, we will have to test on surrogate systems and laboratory systems. the office is making those available to us, and that's certainly better that forgoing all testing. and we are learning from that, as mentioned in my statement. but we need to do much more than that. we need to test on the live systems. we're also going to have to find a bay to do some sort of -- a way to do some sort of assessment of lock heed systems, information systems, because alice is plugged into the lockheed corporate network. and we're working thrall those -- true all those issues. and over the next couple of years, i expect we will have done adequate, rigorous testing, but we are just at the beginning of it. >> and, general, how's the program office working to address these issues? the doctor mentioned some accommodations, but there's still the need for the live testing. how are you addressing all of this? >> yes, ma'am. what i will tell you, today
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alice, our logistics information system, is operating on the dod networks. and in order for me to be allowed to put the alice system on the do to d networks, it has gone through over the last three or four years vigorous cybersecurity testing and certification from agencies to include the nsa and disa. so the idea that the alice system today is somehow untested is not an accurate statement. however, having said that, dr. gilmore or is correct. i was hesitant last year to give the operational test community the authority to test end to end the operational system because we didn't have redundancy in part of the system. and if the testing were to knock off that part of the system, i didn't have a backup. we are building that backup today, and as soon as that backup p is in place, we will give the operational test community full authority to test the system as it operates in the
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field today. and that should happen before the end of the year. >> when do you anticipate -- oh, before the end of the -- >> before the end of the year, ma'am. >> doctor? >> i would just like to comment, senator, that we do as operational testing as an integral part of systems that have been through certifications and nsa certifications, and we get into them every time. so i'm not arguing against those certifications, which are specification-based kinds of assessments. they're certainly necessary, but they're hardly sufficient. and commercial organizations such as microsoft have said in their advice, the advice they provide to their customers, assume that you have been penetrated and do continual red teaming which is what we do in our operational tests. so the certifications that the general talks about are certainly necessary, but they're hardly sufficient. >> and, mr. secretary, overall
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what are lessons learned from this process? what are we applying to other acquisitions, and how is cybersecurity going to be included in the requirements process? basically, what are we, what are we doing to integrate requirements for cybersecurity into the whole acquisitions process? >> cybersecurity is both a ubiquitous and basically an omnipresent problem. our guidance to the acquisition work force basically is that you have to take cybersecurity into account throughout every phase of the product, development of product life cycle and every aspect of it. the department is maturing it capabilities in this area, but i think it's in agreement with dr. gilmore on this, we still have a long ways to go. some of our older systems in the field were not designed with cybersecurity in mind. we have to go back and a assess those. not all of our systems like the f-35 that are in development we have to integrate into the
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design process as we go as well as into our business practices. it is a pervasive threat, and i worry particularly about loss of unclassified information which is much easier to extract and attack. in a logistics system, that's a particular problem because you want to connect to the internet somehow so you can order parts and so on. we are working this problem very, very hard. it is not going to be cheap to fix it, and it is not going to be quick to fix it, but we have to do something. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of the chairman, senator cotton please. >> thank you. i know that senator donnelly asked about lessons learned from f-35 program and what we might take forward into other programs given that some of the challenges of this program go back to some members' high school careers. i new we only -- i think we only go through mr. sullivan and dr. gilmore though. i would like to hear the answer to that question from secretary kendall and general bogdan. >> i was thinking as my
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colleagues were answering i think it's a combination of things. but at the end of the day, having a successful program depends on a handful of things, but they're all incredibly difficult and complicated. it starts with reasonable requirements. then you have to have professional management that is empowered to do its job. you have to have adequate resources. you have to have a system that basically will support people doing the right thing. in our system, as i think others mentioned, there's a very strong bias that's sort of built into our incentives structure towards optimism. it's easier to get a program funded if it costs less. people want everything faster, cheaper, and they want it to be able to do more. most of the problems i've seen in acquisitions stem from being in a hurry and being convinced for whatever reason that things will be cheaper, better, faster than they will actually be or that history would indicate that they would be. my office was formed in 1986
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because this problem was so pervasive. and i think we've had, frankly, a mixed record of success. one of the things that i hope i've done over the last several years is to put more realism and more, to structure programs with a higher likelihood of success. a lot of things we do like the f-35 are incredibly complicated and difficult. when you create something that's never within created before and you do it with cutting edge technology, that is a process that inherently has a lot of unknowns in it. no matter how much risk reduction you do ahead of time. so i think support for sound management, insuring that professionals are in place, resisting the tendency to spend the money just because it's in your budget and you're afraid you'll lose it if you don't spend it which i think is exactly what happened when we started production of the f-35 is something that has to be reinforced throughout the chain of command starting withhe secretary of defense. >> general bogdan? >> thank you, senator.
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i won't elaborate the optimism piece and the concurrency piece are given. i'll give you two other things, sir. when you set up a large acquisition program like this, you must insure that the risk between industry and government is balanced appropriately. if the risk is all on the government or if the risk is all on industry, you will get bad behaviors from both sides. so it is very, very important to make sure you have the incentive structures right and the risk balanced appropriately between the government and industry. we did not get that right at the early part of the f-35 program. mr. kendall, under his leadership, i have been trying to do that for a number of years now, and it has proven to be helpful. the second thing i would tell you that people do not talk about much is leadership continue knewty. if you have -- continuity. if you have a very large and complex program like the f-35, it will do you no good to put leaders in place that are there for two or three years. it takes them a year just to
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understand what's going on. our bigger act acquisition progs need stable leadership at the top for many, many years to help. >> are you talking about uniformed leadership or civilian leadership? >> either one, sir. they're both -- i believe government, civilians and military personnel are both very capable acquisition leaders. you've just got to leave them there in place for enough time to make a difference. >> so the extent -- to the extent it's uniform leadership is that an acquisition or personnel challenge? >> it is both, sir. how do you provide the incentives for a military person to continue moving up in rank if you leave him in a job for five or six years? but that's sometimes what's mess for big, complex acquisition programs. >> i've heard from some of our partners overseas -- and i don't mean just the joint strike fighter, but security partners generally -- >> because they're small compared to the united states, they worry about being a plane with a country rather than a
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country with a plane. what's the risk that some of the partners in this program face in terms of the cost of this aircraft and the ability to acquire number of aircraft needed to contribute meaningfully to the program in i mean, how many joint strike fighters need a country acquirer to have a meaningful contribution to their defense? >> that's an interesting question, senator, and i think it really goes to what each country cares about in terms of its resources and what they care to defend. what i will tell you is even our smallest nations on the f-35 program are looking at at least two squadrons of f-35s. and the idea that the partnership will be working together to sustain, maintain and train the airplanes is a huge deal for them because otherwise they could not afford a fifth generation capability like they are today. >> thank you. >> on behalf of the chairman, senator rounds.
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>> thank you, sir. dr. gill more, i'm concerned -- gilmore, i'm concerned by your testimony that the marine corps found they weren't able to achieve aircraft repair capabilities at the unit or intermediate levels that would support expeditionary warfare. can you expand on this and give your assessment as to whether alice, or the automatic logistics information system, is mature enough to support the sustained operations with a land or ship-based forward deployed squadron of f-35s at this time? >> at this time it is not sufficiently mature. there are a number of improvements that are planned as the program moves forward to what's called alis 3.0, the fully capable version that's meant to be available for operational testing and full operational capability. and if those improvements are realized, they will address a number of the issues that are mentioned in my testimony. but currently, there are immaturities in the system, there are lots of time consuming
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work-arounds that are required in order to keep aircraft flying. there's a heavy reliance on having contractors present again. when we move forward to alis 3.0, the plan is to fix many of those problems. there's also a concern that i think general bogdan alluded to when he was talking about tires, that there's still too much reliance on sending parts back rather than repairing them closer to front lines. but again, the program is working on those issues, and so we'll see how well alis 3.0 does when we get to operational testing, my estimate will be in 2018. >> lieutenant general bogdan, can you comment on dr. gilmore's assertion that with the current number of aircraft planned for testing use and 80% aircraft availability rate is needed to successfully accomplish the testing and evaluation on schedule, what would you assess is the current aircraft availability rate?
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and does the jpo's current projections estimate that the aircraft availability rate will be up to 80% by the time it's schedulinged to start? it seems as though right now you're not making that, and yet you're going to have more challenges between now and then to meet that. how are we going to meet the testing guidelines that are laid out in order to meet the kidlines that you've -- deadlines that you've laid out? doesn't appear as though it's possible. can you comment on that and give us your thoughts, please? >> yes, sir. i'm not quite sure where the 80% comes from, but i think if you take -- >> well, in order to have the number of aircraft just for the number of hours and tests you've got to do, you have to have 80% of them operational. >> to finish iot you need within a year. you're correct, sir, i do not believe we will get anywhere near 80%. today the fleet is hovering around of 0% -- 60% aircraft availability. the best we've seen so far is the u.s. air force airplanes at hill air force base when they
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deployed to mountain home this winter, they achieved about a 72% aircraft availability rate. what we have seen is our newer airplanes are doing much better, but i will tell you it is very unlikely that we would bet to 80%. so what that means is iot and e may take longer than we attempted, and that would be the -- anticipated, and that would be the major result of that. >> that's interesting. we have talked a little bit, and i'm going to follow up on senator ayotte's questions a little bit considering the a-10. if you compare the two aircraft today, the a-10 time on stations, hour to hour and a half, f-35b -- and this is, from what i can see, the planned operational capability -- of 25-40 minutes on station. with weapons, the a-10, four air to as far as webs. f-35b, under the 2b software,
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two air to surface weapon, under the 3f, six air to surface weapons. the fuel burn on the a-10, 10-15% higher than an f-35 suggesting we're also going to need additional capabilities just to service them close by those areas. on the gun it the f-35, and this is the way it was designed in the first place apparently, f-35 apparently wasn't designed with a lightweight 25-mm cannon. a-10, a 30-mm cannon, 17 seconds. in an a-10 is double the weight of that carried by the f-35. clearly, when we talk about having a similar mission, we're talking about doing the job in completely different ways, would that be a fair assessment? dr. gilmore? >> yes. the f-35, when you're talking about close air support, it will do it much differently than the
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a-10, and we are going to do those comparison tests of the ability to -- [inaudible] between the a-10 and f-35 as an integral part of operational testing. and we're not going to say that, you know, the f-35 has to perform cass the same way the a-10 does. we're going to let the pilots take advantage of the systems on that aircraft, deal with some of the limitations you mentioned as well as they can. and see how well the missions are carried out in terms of the ability to strike targets in a timely manner and accurately and then report on that. and there are numerous arguments about how well each aircraft will do under certain, under different circumstances and different threats. clearly, the f-35 should have an advantage in higher threat environments than the a-10 does. and so the comparison testing and our report will illuminate all that. >> mr. chair, i just think secretary kendall looks like he wants to respond, and i think in fairness we ought to give him an opportunity. [laughter] >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i'm a huge proponent and fan of the a-10. i'm an army officer. it was purpose designed to be a close air support aircraft. and it was a very good design for that purpose. but if you asked an a-10 to do air to air, it's hopeless. the f-35 is designed as an aircraft that can do a variety of missions; air dominance, strike and close air support. it does close air support differently, it doesn't have the features that you mentioned. those are all real numbers i think you gave. but what's different now than the time when the a-10 was conceived was the ability of a wide variety of aircraft to put a munition like a small diameter bomb exactly where they want it to be. b-1 bombers, for example, something that would not have traditionally have been possible. i think everybody would like to keep the a-10 in the inventory,
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but given the constraints we have on both the size of our force structure and the financial resources, maintaining one aircraft in the air force which is not something we could fit into the balance we were trying to achieve. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of chairman mccain, senator lee, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for calling this hearing. thanks to all of you, our witnesses, for your testimony today. the utah delegation had the opportunity to witness firsthand the rollout of the f-35 in the air force as the 388 and the 419 fighter wings at hill air force bass in ogg to deny, utah -- ogden, utah, prepare to reach capacity later this year. we've also been able to see the development of the logistics and maintenance functions of the f-35a at toking den air logistics complex which has been so effective that they've been called to assist both the marine corp.s and the navy in meeting the modernization goals for
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their respective variance of the f-35, and we're very proud of that. the men and women who are working to train on, test and to keep these jets in the air are models of american ingenuity and hard work and patriotism and dedication at its very best, and i hope this congress will provide them with the resources that they very much need in order to continue succeeding in their mission. general bogdan, one of the main obstacles for the f-35a reaching its ioc goals this year, of course, involves the continued development of alis. which is, of course, used to manage the logistics and supply chain for maintaining the f-35 not just now during the rollout, but throughout its lifetime. can you tell me how is the joint program office working with industry to insure that this capability is functional and is
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fully integrated into this weapons platform in a timely and effective manner? >> thank you, senator. the alis system right now that the air force needs at hill air force pause is on track to be about 60 days later than we planned. and the biggest issue we have right now is getting the maintenance and supply chain and configuration management of the engine, the f-135, integrated into the alis system. that has proven to be more difficult than we had anticipated, because it requires both lock heed martin and -- [inaudible] and to connect with alis. we sent, we've worked with lockheed martin across the whole company as well as some of their teammates, and we have brought
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in some software experts from within, the od to -- within dod to try to figure out where those difficulties lie. the good news is there we understand where the difficulties are, now we just have to go and execute, and like i said, i think we're probably going to be about two months late getting that done, but i think from a technical standpoint, we'll be able to get it done. >> it's good to know. it's good anytime you can at least contain a delay and look forward and conclude that you've got a known quantity. because of budget reductions and the inability to retire the a-10, the air force is concerned about a special shortfall of experienced uniform maintainers to transition to f-35 units and keep those weapons safe and to keep them functional. so, general bogdan, has the air force been able to resolve this problem in the short term, and what long-term complications do you see that might still exist
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for insuring that a generation of maintainers is being trained to keep pace with the process of integrating the f-35 into the air force? >> yes, sir. in the short term, when the air force was faced last year with a shortage of maintainers for their ioc capability at hill air force base, they asked the program office to populate an entire squadron at luke air force base with contractor logistics support personnel, and we did that. the 62nd squadron are at luke air force base today on the flight line maintained with approximately 11contractors as opposed to blue suit maintainers. that gave the air force the flexibility to take those maintainers that would have been at luke air force base and transfer them to hill air force base for ioc. that is just a band-aid, though, and that is a short-term fix. in the long term, i believe the air force needs the ability to
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move maintainers around for the growing fleet of f-35s, and we're committed to working with them to increase the throughput of maintainers through the schoolhouse and to work with our partners and to work with the guard and the reserve in the air force who can provide some of that manpower. i'll defer to the air force on those solutions though, sir. >> let me ask you one more question as my time is expeering. can you -- expiring. can you tell me, did the department of defense originally intend the f-35 to be a direct replacement for the a-10 in close air support missions, or was it designed to work with other air force and joint forces systems to fulfill the department's needs as far as close air support goes? and what's your assessment of how the services will be able to work together to meet close air support needs through integrated and joint operations? >> sir, what i will tell you is over time the evolution of the way we conduct close air support
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in the department of defense has evolved. it is no longer a single airplane out there talking to a ground controller and dropping a single weapon. it is a much more integrated fight. it is much more reliant on multi platforms and multiple communications systems with both the ground and the air. given that, the f-35 in the future, today and in the future will have the capabilities to seamlessly integrate into that network to perform close air support. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator lee. the chairman is on his way back from the second vote, and i'm also told that senator blumenthal and senator kaine are coming for questioning. but at this point if i may on behalf of the chairman just take a short recess, perhaps just a few moments until the chairman returns. so we will stand in recess until the chairman returns. thank you.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> let me ask the witnesses to reconvene, please. if we could take our seats. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> let me, once again, on behalf of chairman cain, call the
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hearing to order and at this time recognize senate king for his questions. >> mr. gilmore, one of the concerns that i have, and it's been touched on in this hearing, the length of time this platform is expected to serve. roughly 20 years from now, 30 plus years from initial inception. i think back to any product that i may have bought in 2004. i was originally thinking of senator graham's flip phone. i wouldn't want to be flying that in 2040. are we building upgradeability into this airplane so that it can keep up with the times? in other words, is it designed with that in mind? >> that's a question to me, senator? >> yes, sir. >> well, i will defer the details to general bogdan. this aircraft is going to be
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much more upgrade bl than the f-22 was. but having said that, we've already identified a need for an upgrade from the current -- well, from the now-being-installed technical refresh ii processer which provides additional capability relative to the processers that have been in the aircraft to this point. we've identified a need for an upgrade to that, a technical refresh iii processer. in this program moving from one processer to another is not nearly as arduous a problem as in the f-22 where there was a lot of software that was developed that was developed with features that were tied very specifically to the processers in order to maximize capability. but it's still not a trivial matter as has been demonstrated recently by the stability problems that we now hope have
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been resolved with the technical refresh ii processer. so, you know, upgradeability being built in, but that doesn't mean that it's going to be trivial to execute. >> okay. general bogdan, quickly, because i've got several other questions. but what's your thought about -- are we going to be able to upgrade this airplane so that it's not going to be obsolete in 2025? >> i believe we will, sir. there's a few points i'll make. one is when we do replace the next version of the computer or the brains in the airplane, we are requiring open standards and modular open system architecture which will allow for the incorporation of new sensors and new capabilities much easier. second, when we first originally designed the airplane, we knew many of our partners and fms customers would want to put unique weapons on the airplane, to we've created a system that will allow us to integrate multiple kinds of weapons on the airplane rather -- not trivial, but in an easier way.
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so from both those perspectives, i believe the airplane is adaptable and growable. the third is many of the capabilities inherent in the airplane today that make it special are software-based. >> right. >> therefore, in the future as new capabilities come on like electronic warfare and electronic attack, we'll be able to upgrade the software in an easier way than you would the hardware. >> i think this has got to be an important part of our acquisition process as we're buying 40-year assets. secretary kendall, was the attempt at jointness in this project a mistake? in retrospect? >> it's a good question, senator. i think the honest answer is i'm not sure. i was present at the inception of f-35. it started out as a technology part, program that was instituted by one of my predecessors when i was on the staff. we are now thinking about the follow-on aircraft for the navy and the air force, and i don't
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think we're going to repeat this. i think that, first of all, i think the design parameters are going to be quite different for the follow-on aircraft for the two services. we did get some benefit from commonality, but there's very little commonality in the structure. so i think we could still get some of those benefits without having to have a single program. i think -- >> you think you could get benefits in terms of common -- >> common avionics, common systems and so on. >> yeah. >> so i think those could still be achoafed without having -- achieved without having a common program necessarily. i think you'd have to make that decision kind of as your plans for modernization and for acquisition became more real and material as to whether or not it paid off or not. i think it's astonishing to me, frankly, that we having been able to keep this program together for so long, keep the three services fully committed and keep all of our international partners fully committed. we have two that are kind of on
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the fence right now, but at this stage of the game everybody's still in. pulling all that off is not a small achievement. that's very hard to do. so i think we have to think very carefully about that. the more complexity you have in a program, the more risk you have. and i don't know that the savings are necessarily worth that complexity and the risk that goes with it. >> thank you. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i thank you all for your being here today and for your insights on this very challenging program. it is as complex as it is critical to our national defense, and we should expect on this committee and the american public should anticipate that a weapons platform of this complexity will also have bumps in the road in its development and research. i take it one of you would disagree with that basic proposition.
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despite that bumpy road, at some point the f-35 as a whole has already made significant advancements in a number of areas and in particular the f- f-135 program provides truly a fifth generational power capability to the fleet. every low rate initial production, lrip, contract as i understand it for the f-135 has been on or below cost. the recent announcement of the lrip lots 9 and 10 will bring the price down another 3.4% from the lrip-8. today the f-135 conventional takeoff and landing engine cost has been reduced by 47%. since the initial flight test engines. the sobel engine cost has been
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reduced by 34% in the same time period. these are real achievements, and in addition, pratt and whitney has already identified technology improvement options that will increase the thrust, durability and fuel efficiency that could ultimately save billions of dollars for this program. the f-135 is meeting the key finishing y-2020 milestoneses -- fy-2020 milestones, my understanding, for engine capability and reliability. but those facts that are accurately stated so far as the panel knows. >> sir, they're very accurate. >> thank you. all that said, i know that questions have been raised, general bogdan, about the f-135 performance, and i take it that from your testimony that quality
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has not been an issue so far as the pratt be bitmy -- pratt and hutny supplier performance has been concerned. >> sir, two or three years ago i would have told you i was worried about that. i will tell you pratt and whitney has done a good job of standing up a quality organization within the military engines that has dug down deep into their supply chain and helped improve that significantly. >> thank you. well, their supply chain is a lot of it based in connecticut, and i can tell you from my experience in connecticut that our suppliers and manufacturers have recognized the challenge we face for this century, literally, this weapons platform will be critical to our national defense throughout this sent i r -- century. we can look back and draw lessons, and we should, from the challenges that caused that improvement to take place and
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maybe even the overall conceptual framework as you suggested, secretary kendall. should there have been more individualization of the platform for different services? but i can tell recall that the conventional wisdom not so long ago was that the services ought to get together and collaborate and buy a single fighter, and that was the wisdom du jour of contracting in its day. and now maybe lessons point in a different direction. so i hope that we will learn lessons from this procurement experience, but there is -- i think there has to be a recognition that this weapons platform will do things that no fighter engine or platform has done in the past. would you agree, dr. gilmore?
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>> the investment ranking is large and need that we have is large to deal with the threats that currently exist. and if the f-35 doesn't succeed, we'll be in a pickle. >> we have a common national interest in making sure it succeeds. >> yes. >> would you agree, mr. sullivan? >> yes, i would. we need, we definitely need to have this moving forward. this is the fifth generation. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> well, let me just say in summary it's been a scandal x the cost overruns have been -- and the cost overruns have been disgraceful, and this committee in our authorization responsibilities will take whatever actions we can to prevent a reoccurrence. it should not take 15 years and still not have an aircraft ioc. with the cost overrun after cost overrun.
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so i guess my question finally, mr. sullivan, do you think that we have learned the lessons and taken sufficient measures to prevent a reoccurrence, or do we need to do some more? >> i think there's always room to do more. i don't think we've learned all the lessons yet, but i would, i would say that if you go back five or six years from now or go pack to -- go back to, say, 2010 we're not seeing as many as of these f-35s or programs that aren't achievable. some of that could be because of budget constraints, some of it is from the work that the congress has done. and, frankly, i think the department has done a good job of trying to implement and drive down into the culture some better practices. they talk about their better buying power initiatives. we've got a long way to go though. i mean, there's still way too
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much cost growth on these programs. we're not using enough. looking at requirements in an incremental way, using open systems as senator king was talking about. there's a lot of things we can do to create more efficiencies. >> dr. gilmore? >> well, i think block 4 will be a good test. of whether we've learned lessons. as mentioned in my written statement, i see a number of unrealistic assumptions with regard to block 4. and so i hope as secretary kendall and general bogdan take a look at how to structure that program, that they take a look at those issues, and that will be a good test. >> secretary kendall and general bogdan, i hope you'll pay attention to dr. gilmore's words, particularly given his responsibilities to the department of defense as well as to the congress. i thank the witnesses, and i
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believe that most of the takeaway from this is that we are making progress, that we have challenges that lie ahead, but there has been some significant improvements as opposed to some years ago. so i thank the committee for their hard work -- i mean, the witnesses for their hard work, and this hearing is adjourned. ♪ ♪ >> madam secretary, we proudly give 72 of our delegate votes to the next president of the united states -- [cheers and applause] ♪ ♪ [cheers and applause]
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