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Modernizing U.S. Tactical Aviation for Air Dominance

  from: Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 86


  The Marine Corps believes their current plan to maintain F/A-18C/Ds and remanufacture AV-8Bs will meet their operational needs and will avoid significant modernization cost for DoD.

The JROC has initiated a special study to address this issue and other related tactical aircraft issues. The plan is to develop recommendations that will be reviewed by the JROC, service chiefs and CinCs [commanders in chief] in preparation for the F/A-18E/F production decision in the February 1997 time frame.

The JROC initially reviewed the JSF program in August 1995. At that time, the JROC validated the services' needs. Present service plans call for the JSF to replace the F-16 and A-10 in the Air Force, replace the AV-8B and F-18 in the Marine Corps and provide the Navy with a highly survivable first day strike aircraft to complement the F/A-18E/F. Because these earlier aircraft were bought at high annual rates during the 1970s, high JSF production levels will be needed to preclude a precipitous decline in tactical aviation forces for all the services around 2005.

The 1993 Bottom-up Review determined that a separate tactical aviation modernization programs by each service was not affordable and canceled the multirole fighter and advanced strike aircraft program. Acknowledging the need for the capability these canceled programs were to provide, the BUR initiated the Joint Advanced Strike Technology effort to create the building blocks for affordable development of the next-generation strike weapons system.

The JSF program has emerged from the JAST effort. As a multimission sortie generator for the Air Force, JSF will replace the F-16 as it reaches the end of its service life beginning around FY [fiscal year] 2005. The cancellation of the A-12 in 1991 left the Navy with the unfulfilled requirement for first-day-survivable, stand-alone, long-range strike capability. The JSF will satisfy that requirement and complement the F/A-18E/F.

The Marine Corps has a longstanding requirement to replace their TACAIR forces with a common aircraft that goes where Marines go, that is responsive to the ground commander and light enough to operate from forward bases or amphibious ships. The JSF will meet Marine Corps needs as existing aircraft reach the end of their service life. The JSF program provides an affordable answer to multiservice requirements.

The first formal product of the JSF requirements definition process was the Joint Initial Requirements Document signed in August 1995 by all of the participating services. The JWCAs reviewed the current TACAIR strategy, to include the JSF. Results were briefed to the JROC, the joint chiefs and each of the CinCs. The conclusion of that extensive review resulted in JROC support for the current TACAIR strategy to include the direction and scope of the JSF program. The process recognized the potential for achieving an affordable solution to meet our joint warfighting needs.

In addition to individual aircraft acquisition programs, the JROC looks at the potential to integrate air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons on these platforms to ensure joint warfighting requirements are being met.

Precision guided munitions are an indispensable part of our services' TACAIR program, and numerous steps are taken to avoid duplication and redundancies in PGM procurement. While drafting a MNS, the lead service considers the potential for integrating a particular PGM on multiple platforms within that service. As the JROC coordinates the MNS, other services and the CinCs consider whether a particular PGM would suit their existing or projected needs and may recommend integrating that PGM on other platforms.

Following MNS validation, the services consider the integration of a particular PGM on multiple platforms. This determination is made during ORD [operation requirements document] development. The ORD may stipulate commonality issues to ensure that the PGM is not platform-specific. Joint procurement programs would have a ORD that contain multiple service platform requirements. The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile program is an example of JROC oversight regarding PGM cost-performance trades and interoperability concerns.

In August 1995, the JROC reviewed the JASSM MNS, validated the mission need and determined affordability should be a major consideration. JROC concerns regarding affordability were provided to the DAB with a recommendation to focus efforts during the initial development phase of JASSM to minimize procurement and life cycle costs.

In June 1996, the JROC again reviewed the JASSM program. The services had embraced the concept of affordability and specified affordability guidelines within the operational requirements document. Also, the JROC observed that the Navy had included JASSM integration on the F/A-18E/F as a goal vice a requirement. In keeping with its interoperability of munitions policy, the JROC directed the ORD be modified to include the integration of the JASSM on the F/A-18E/F as a mandated requirement vice an optional goal.

The Navy will revise their budget to reflect this change in program status. This ongoing oversight process, led by the JROC, with participation from the services, CinCs and JWCAs, continues to produce positive results within the requirements arena.

As a result of JROC oversight, future PGM acquisition programs, particularly those PGMs delivered by fixed-wing tactical aircraft, will be joint and interoperable. The Navy and the Air Force have jointly procured PGMs and are participating in joint development programs, including the joint direct attack munition jnd the Joint standoff weapon. These jointly developed PGMs will be carried on multiple platforms in both services. For example, JDAM will be carried by the Air Force's B-52, B-2, B-1, F-15, F-16, F-22 and F-117, and the Navy's F/A-18, F-14, and AV-8B. Likewise, JSOW will be carried by the Air Force's B-1, B-52, F-15 and F-16, and the Navy's F/A-18 and A V-8B.

Additionally, individual services have procured PGMs developed by the other services. For example, the Navy and Marines purchased variants of the Air Force-developed Maverick and the laser-guided bombs. The Air Force bought the Navy-developed high-speed anti-radiation missile. One Air Force-developed laser-guided bomb (GBU-10) is carried by six Air Force platforms and four Navy platforms, while the Navy-developed HARM has been carried by two Navy platforms and two Air Force platforms. The goal is to integrate weapons on multiple platforms consistent with budgetary constraints and aircraft availability.

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The JROC, through the JWCA process, special studies and other ongoing assessments, directs numerous efforts which provide oversight to the requirements process. The JROC specifically focuses on affordability and cost-performance tradeoffs. The goal is the ferreting out of duplication, unnecessary redundancies or inflated performance requirements, while ensuring this nation maintains the capability for air dominance into the 21st century. ...

Some of your questions were directed at the department's processes for ensuring that planned acquisition programs are executed within requested budgets. The Defense Acquisition Board is the senior advisory group within the department chartered (DoD 5000.2-R, Part 5.2) to oversee the DoD acquisition system. The present DAB evolved from its predecessor, the Joint Management Review Board and its predecessor, the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council, which was instituted by David Packard in 1972.

The DAB is currently composed of the USD(A&T) [undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology] (chair), the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the principal deputy USD(A&T), the undersecretary of defense (comptroller), the assistant secretary of defense (strategy and requirements), the director of operational test and evaluation, the director of program analysis and evaluation, the service acquisition executives, the director of defense research and engineering, the chair of the cognizant DAB overarching integrated product team (as appropriate, the director of strategic and tactical systems; the deputy undersecretary of defense for space; or the deputy assistant secretary of defense for command, control, communications, and intelligence acquisition), the cognizant program executive officer(s) and program manager(s), and the DAB executive secretary. The DAB chairman is also routinely supported by senior staff advisors.

The DAB is responsible for advising the defense acquisition executive on the enforcement of policies and procedures governing the operations of the DoD acquisition system. This group reviews mission area deficiency needs validated by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council for the Milestone 0 decision to start a new acquisition program and possible concept exploration study efforts.

A key function of the DAB is to perform reviews of the department's major defense acquisition programs at the Milestone I through Milestone III decision points. The DAB ensures that established DoD acquisition policy and program requirements are met before permission is given to proceed into the more advanced stages of development or production.

The MDAP programs are directed, funded efforts designed to provide a new or improved materiel capability in response to a validated mission area deficiency. Programs estimated to reach and exceed total expenditure thresholds of more than $355 million for research, development, test and evaluation or more than $2.135 billion in procurement in fiscal year 1996 constant dollars are designated as MDAPs. In addition, the defense acquisition executive has the authority to designate any acquisition program as an MDAP.

We would like to describe in general terms the process used to oversee the acquisition system policies, processes and programs. We believe the Department of Defense has the necessary oversight mechanisms in place to ensure a critical and independent review of all defense acquisition programs.

For major defense acquisition programs, the purpose of a DAB review is to give the component acquisition executive, program executive officer, program manager and other senior officials management guidance and/or permission to proceed. There are two types of DAB reviews. The first type of review, a DAB milestone review, requires specific completed documentation and validation for the program to proceed.

These requirements, actions and responsibilities are defined in DoD 5000.1 and DoD 5000.2-R. The second type of review, a DAB program review, can occur at any time in the program's progression. A program review can be triggered for a host of reasons, including an acquisition program baseline breach, a testing failure, a funding shortfall or a change in mission requirements. The cognizant DAB overarching integrated product team leader is responsible for the DAB review agenda, presenting an overview of the program, summarizing the results from the overarching integrated product team review, defining the issues and offering acquisition decision memorandum recommendations.

The DoD 5000-series acquisition policy directives require certain supporting activities take place prior to a DAB milestone review (Milestones I through III). An appropriate series of integrated product team meetings are conducted to identify issues and define review requirements for the upcoming decision point. Next, a review by the OIPT is conducted and all issues and alternatives are clarified. A DAB readiness meeting is held about one week following the OIPT review. The purpose of this meeting is to provide the cognizant OIPT leader with an opportunity to present the views and findings of the OIPT to the USD(A&T) and VCJCS. The USD(A&T), in turn, may give further guidance to the cognizant OIPT leader in preparation for the upcoming DAB review.

The DAB meeting is usually scheduled one week after the DRM. Two days following the DAB meeting, the USD(A&T) signs an acquisition decision memorandum to the appropriate component acquisition executive that contains guidance, direction and approvals. Documentation requirements for nonmilestone DAB program reviews are based on the issues to be addressed. For this type of review, documentation requirements do not exceed what is normally required for a milestone review. A similar set of oversight and review processes exist in each of the services and acquisition components for nonmajor defense programs.

In addition, there are independent processes and checks and balances in place to assess threats, requirements, cost estimates and cost-operational effectiveness analyses. The intelligence community independently validates the threat in a system threat assessment report for each program before the appropriate DAB milestone review.

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