NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Warfighter dominance against current and future adversaries, coupled with affordability, remains the key focus of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
Connecting networks, sensors, platforms and weapons is key to delivering the integrated capabilities the Navy and Marines Corps need to win. NAVAIR leaders expounded upon this idea with industry partners in a March 3 panel discussion, “One Team One Fight—Delivering the Warfighting Capability the Fleet Needs to Win, at a Cost We Can Afford,” hosted by The Patuxent Partnership (TPP) and Association of Naval Aviation (ANA).
“Today will be about us learning from you,” Chebi said. “We will communicate where we are now and where we are going, but the dialog is also important. We need this strong partnership with industry.”
Chebi said the fleet is no longer in the business of delivering a single weapon, platform, or network, but rather an integrated warfighting capability that requires them to partner closely across programs, systems commands, services, and industry. Delivering the next generation of capability by providing the workforce with modern hardware and software development tools, processes, infrastructure, and environments, and the training to apply these development processes is now an additional priority. He detailed the critical need to remain focused on speed of capability, affordability and availability and called upon industry partners to set their sights on opportunities to disrupt technology with accelerated approaches in those areas.
NAVAIR Deputy Commander Tom Rudowsky said affordability needs to be more than trading the outcome for costs. “Cost is a monetary objective we are targeting, but it is also about transforming how we think, act and operate,” he said. “If we change our affordability mindset, then we will succeed.”
He said the current mindset requires looking at more than just the outcome or the sustainment system, but the whole system as it is operating. He stressed the importance of setting cost targets, understanding what drives cost, taking action, and measuring ourselves to deliver outcomes; as well as making sustainment decisions early in programs to mitigate cost downstream.
Dan Carreno, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) executive director, called attention to the increasing need for integration and collaboration across warfare centers to deliver capabilities faster.
“In the past, it’s been pretty easy to draw the boundaries between weapons and aircraft,” he said. “Those lines are now blurred and in the spirit of partnership and integrated capability, this gives us the opportunity to really bring our teams together to tackle tough problems. We are stronger together.”
Carreno invited the industry to introduce nontraditional players to the NAVAIR environment and stressed the need for open architecture and incremental improvements that shorten timelines to weapons capability realization.
Steve Cricchi, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) executive director, asked participants to join him in considering capabilities in a more comprehensive, holistic, and mission-focused way. Labs, facilities, people, and processes should align to warfighting outcomes and their capabilities should be characterized as such in order to meet the “One Team, One Fight” resolution. Cricchi introduced several developments in virtual environments, model-based systems engineering, and modeling and simulation training methods.
“Foundational to our success will be a workforce trained with the right tools and processes,” said Cricchi, “as well as a digital environment connected with industry at the right security levels, to allow our teams to work collaboratively.” He called on NAVAIR industry partners to focus on the keys to rapid technology insertion—open architecture and modularity.
Roy Harris, Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) deputy commander, spoke to availability, which the FRCs support under the Naval Sustainment System–Aviation program.
“We are expanding the learnings of our Super Hornet successes to other platforms,” he said. According to Harris, speed and affordability are at the forefront, and every member of the workforce plays a critical role in becoming world-class maintenance, repair, and overhaul organization.
“The FRCs are engaging with program managers to develop the maintenance philosophy upfront and early in the life cycle,” Harris continued. Another key initiative is transforming from paperwork order systems to digital shop floors, which will increase speed and drive down cost. Harris challenged the industry to collaborate with the FRCs on data analytics, harnessing data to drive efficiencies into production lines and revamping the FRC IT system on the production lines from an operational standpoint.
“The FRC workforce is focused on pulling commercial best practices into its operations,” he said. “That has been at the forefront of all we’ve been doing within our reform efforts.”
Chebi closed out the panel by reinforcing the importance of government-industry collaboration for delivering the integrated warfighting capability the fleet needs to win at a cost we can afford.