F-35B Begins New ‘Operational Readiness Inspection’

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neptune

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Unread post13 Jul 2015, 23:28

http://news.usni.org/2015/07/13/f-35b-b ... c-decision

F-35B Begins New ‘Operational Readiness Inspection’ This Week Before IOC Decision

By: Megan Eckstein
July 13, 2015 4:36 PM

PENTAGON – The Marine Corps added one final test before deciding whether to declare initial operational capability for the JSF; a first-ever Operational Readiness Inspection.

The ORI for the first F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, is scheduled to begin today and will last four or five days. An inspection team – with members from Headquarters Marine Corps, the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) school and the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFA-T) 501 – will “assess them from a maintenance perspective, a sustainment perspective and an operations perspective,” deputy commandant for aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told USNI News on July 8.

“We have a team of about 12 people going out to assess everything from maintenance to NATOPS (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization) knowledge,” he said. “There’s 10 items on a Commander of Naval Air Forces inspection, maintenance inspection; we’re going to go out and out of those 10 say, give us these five. And then we’ll look and if there’s problems with those five we’ll go deeper.” In addition to that maintenance test, the ORI will also include assessments of five areas of flight operations with live ordnance at up to a division-level context. The last day will be a “surge day,” during which every person in the squadron will be involved in a mission set either on actual planes or in a simulator.

At the end of the week, Davis will meet with the assessment team in person to go over the results. “we’ll assess, we’ll take a look, we’ll look for the goods and the others,” he said. “And then what I’ll do is I’ll look in the aggregate about the requirements for this squadron being able to go to war with an F-35 and sustain operations from a deployed base, and I’ll make a recommendation to [Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph] Dunford based on what I see out there, and he’ll either declare IOC or he won’t.”

Davis admitted his key concern is spare parts. “Do we have the depth in supply to support a combat deployment?” he said.
“If there’s any one area I’m worried about, it’s that.” When Davis became deputy commandant for aviation last year, he said he had a chart with the status of 14 different areas, color-coded green, yellow or red based on their readiness levels.
“When I got here a year ago … there was not a lot of green, a lot of yellow, some red. That chart right now is pretty much all green. Still a little bit of yellow in spares, we’re going to assess that. But for the most part we’re in good shape.”
He said the crews are well trained and the aircraft itself brings a greater capability than the F-18 Super Hornet, AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler it replaces combined. But the logistics supply chain needs to be solid because once Dunford declares IOC, the first squadron could deploy at any time.

“Just like the V-22, we declared IOC in 2007; a couple weeks later, we deployed to Iraq right away,” Davis said. VMFA 121 is set for a permanent change of station to Japan in January 2017, but they could potentially deploy sooner if called upon. Therefore, Davis said, his threshold for recommending an IOC declaration is, “could we take this squadron and go over to the Middle East tomorrow after Gen. Dunford declares IOC, yes or no?”

Davis said he would not prejudge the results of the ORI, but he expects the squadron will prove ready for IOC. During operational testing aboard USS Wasp (LHD-1), JSF-trained pilots worked alongside the ship’s crew that had never worked with the aircraft before, creating a steep learning curve for both the Marines and the sailors onboard. But Davis said everything went well – they flew all required test points, qualified all pilots for day operations, qualified some for night operations, and trained some of the landing safety officers and deck crew for future JSF operations. The Marines even flew an F-35 engine out to the ship on a cradle slung under an MV-22 Osprey, which many believed would be challenging if not impossible to do, Davis said.

After dropping live ordnance earlier this month, all that stands between the F-35B and its introduction to the fleet is the ORI – an assessment that comes from the British military. Davis said he did an exchange tour when he was a captain, and before certifying the first GR5-variant Harrier squadron, an assessment team came in to ensure the squadron could meet the full range of NATO requirements. Davis said he liked the idea of having one last check from those who know the program best before officially green-lighting the squadron, and he decided several months ago to bring the tradition to the U.S.

“A lot of people said, or had conjecture, that the Marines, me, were just going to declare IOC regardless. You have 10 jets, you’re going to declare,” he said. “We have a very stringent requirement for what the airplanes are able to do, and we were hell-bent on measuring and making sure we had what we said we were going to have in order to declare initial operating capability.”

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Unread post13 Jul 2015, 23:41

Interesting comment by Lt. Gen. Jon Davis above:
"PENTAGON – The Marine Corps added one final test before deciding whether to declare initial operational capability for the JSF; a first-ever Operational Readiness Inspection [IS THIS '1st-EVER' IN USMC HISTORY? or just F-35?]....

...Davis said he did an exchange tour when he was a captain, and before certifying the first GR5-variant Harrier squadron, an assessment team came in to ensure the squadron could meet the full range of NATO requirements. Davis said he liked the idea of having one last check from those who know the program best before officially green-lighting the squadron, and he decided several months ago to bring the tradition to the U.S...."
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Unread post14 Jul 2015, 00:10

The USMC has historically never done ORIs (a la the USAF). They have had operational readiness evaluations but the alphabet soup was something different (like MCCRES inspections).
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Unread post14 Jul 2015, 00:58

OK thanks. Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation
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Unread post18 Jul 2015, 00:53

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Unread post18 Jul 2015, 00:58

NAVY score a touchdown?
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Unread post18 Jul 2015, 05:30

It's a go?
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Unread post21 Jul 2015, 05:13

Just some added detail....
U.S. Marines nearing F-35B combat readiness declaration
17 Jul 2015 (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Plumb)

"...[Lieutenant General Jon] Davis told Reuters last month that he was “very confident” about the combat readiness of the Lockheed program, but said he was keeping “a careful eye” on spare parts supplies given cuts in congressional funding.

Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said the company had resolved the spare parts concerns ahead of the 134-item operational readiness inspection that Davis ordered.

Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall told Congress in a report dated June 22 that the program had been executing on cost and schedule since a 2012 restructuring, and was “on the right track” despite some lingering technical software challenges.

Kendall said all but eight specific software capabilities required by the Marine Corps were on track to be completed before the combat use declaration, and the Marines had decided to address those shortcomings in the next software iteration.

Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the F-35 program, said the Marines had received all the software capabilities promised before the readiness inspection. He said the final version of the F-35 development software, Block 3F, had already started flight testing, he said."

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/ ... F120150718
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Unread post21 Jul 2015, 18:08

Software Flaws on Marine F-35s No Bar to Combat, Pentagon Says
17 Jul 2015 Anthony Capaccio

"Five years after the first F-35s were supposed to be declared combat-ready, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer says the fighter jet’s operating software is ready to go “with some minor workarounds” that need to be remedied later.

“All but eight” of the 243 software capabilities anticipated for the declaration of “initial operational capability” are “on track to be completed and verified” before the Marine Corps announces the milestone for its version of the plane, Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition, wrote in a report to Congress obtained by Bloomberg News....

...Shortcomings, previously reported and cited by Kendall as among the eight issues still unresolved, involve software used in the fusion of data gathered from air and ground sensors, electronic warfare and air-to-air and air-to-ground data links.

Kendall’s previously undisclosed report, dated June 22, said the Pentagon’s F-35 program office plans to resolve these issues during the testing of more capable software planned for deployment in late 2017.

“These shortcomings do not interfere with” the Marines’ intended missions, Kendall wrote in the report. The service “will still be able to meet” its declaration date “with requisite weapons and mission systems,” he wrote.

‘Key Components’
That assessment was questioned by Michael Sullivan of the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office, who directs the agency’s annual report on the F-35 program.

“Some of the capabilities that will be questionable,” such as sensor fusion and electronic warfare, “are key components of the aircraft’s” advantage over current planes, Sullivan said in an e-mail.

“Sensor fusion has an impact on pilot workload, and the report is vague about addressing how difficult it will be for pilots to actually perform those ‘missions sets,’ or how effective the aircraft will actually be,” Sullivan said.

Major Paul Greenberg, a Marine Corps spokesman, said most of the issues being tracked “are only considered deficiencies when compared to the F-35B’s full combat capability in 2017.”

Five-Year Delay
For close air support missions, Marine pilots “will be able to target in real time, talk to forward air controllers over the radio and data link, and put weapons on target,” Greenberg said in an e-mailed statement....

...No Rush
A Marine readiness inspection this week is reviewing the progress made by the 10 aircraft in squadron VMF-121 at Yuma, Arizona. The decision on declaring them combat-ready will be made by General Joseph Dunford, the Marine Corps commandant,...

...If the review is completed this week “and we are confident that the aircraft are ready for worldwide deployment,” it will be designated, Lieutenant General Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said in an e-mail. If it takes until August, he said, “then it will be August. Bottom line is that we won’t rush this; we are doing this the right way.”

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... tagon-says
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 00:46

neptune wrote:The ORI for the first F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, is scheduled to begin today and will last four or five days.
That was 12 days ago...
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 08:13

delvo wrote:
neptune wrote:The ORI for the first F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, is scheduled to begin today and will last four or five days.
That was 12 days ago...


..no news is good news??? :beer:
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 09:31

This is what boomberg said above:
"......If the review is completed this week “and we are confident that the aircraft are ready for worldwide deployment,” it will be designated, Lieutenant General Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said in an e-mail. If it takes until August, he said, “then it will be August. Bottom line is that we won’t rush this; we are doing this the right way.”"
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 14:03

delvo wrote:
neptune wrote:The ORI for the first F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, is scheduled to begin today and will last four or five days.
That was 12 days ago...


The ORI occurred, they spent some days writing the report on how it went and that was handed to Lt. Gen Jon Davis on the 22nd (a Wednesday); he's going to read it, do the necessary preparations, and (likely) declare IOC this coming week.

But, as Spazsinbad mentioned; if it gets delayed until early August it's no real issue (although you can bet detractors will try to make a fuss over it).
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 17:29

Dragon029 wrote:But, as Spazsinbad mentioned; if it gets delayed until early August it's no real issue (although you can bet detractors will try to make a fuss over it).


Of course they will. They will make a fuss if IOC is declared tomorrow too. They will complain that it is taking too long, then they will complain that it doesn't count when it happens.

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Unread post27 Jul 2015, 22:59

Marines File Paperwork for F-35 IOC; Sign-Off 'Soon'

WASHINGTON — The US Marine Corps finished tests and filled out the paperwork needed to turn the F-35 joint strike fighter into an operational aircraft.

Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for Marine aviation, told reporters Monday that once Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford signs off on the paperwork, the F-35B fleet will have achieved initial operational capability (IOC), becoming the first model of the joint strike fighter to become operational.

"[Dunford has] got all the paperwork now. He's going through all that," Davis said. "I would say 'soon' but… he and I talked. He's a busy guy and he's working his way through that right now. I'll tell you we met all of the IOC criteria."

Getting Dunford's signature may take longer than it normally would, as he is currently up for nomination as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is possible the decision could slip to Dunford's nominated successor, Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, although that would be surprising.

Once IOC is declared on the jump-jet variant, the F-35B will be deployable by the Marines in the same manner as any other military aircraft. The first F-35B deployment is scheduled to take place in 2017, with the unit known as VMFA-121 moving to Iwakuni, Japan.

However, if national security objectives required it, Davis said, the planes could be deployed anywhere in the world post IOC. Which is to say, the F-35 will no longer be a paper airplane, but rather one that is part of the overall US military aviation arsenal.

It is a milestone for an F-35 program which suffered years of delays and cost overruns, having been branded as the "trillion dollar plane" and "the plane that ate the Pentagon" by critics.Although the jets will be operational, they are not in their final form. More capability, including the use of the plane's gun, will come down the line with software update 3F, which will drop in 2017.

One issue revolves around how the F-35 does data fusion between ships. The fighter is designed to gather information through its sensor suites and share it with other F-35s in the area, with up to four jets gathering situational awareness data and creating a joint operational picture for the pilots.

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program head, revealed in March that during testing, the F-35 system had trouble identifying if the target was one target or multiple, something he said was a result of each plane looking at the target from a slightly different angle or using different sensors.For now, Davis said, the Marines have changed their concept of operations as a workaround. Instead of fusing the data between the four planes, the jets will be paired off, in what Davis referred to as a "2+2" configuration.

Davis said prime contractor Lockheed Martin is "getting closer" on fixing the issue. Asked for a timeframe, he was firm: "we demand it be fixed for 3F."

Asked about concerns with the F-35 is, Davis highlighted the need to keep the fighters rolling off Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas plant.

"We do need to build airplanes, and start producing them to make sure we have the aircraft in numbers to replace our legacy platforms, and frankly bring this capability to our warfighters," he said.

That's notable given that Dunford wrote in response to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee indicated that, for the first time in years, the Pentagon is weighing whether 2,443 F-35s is the right size buy."Given the evolving defense strategy and the latest Defense Planning Guidance, we are presently taking the newest strategic foundation and analyzing whether 2,443 aircraft is the correct number," Dunford wrote.

Asked if the Pentagon should look at buying less F-35s, Davis was blunt: "No."

"Right now I can't imagine wanting to cut back on the buy, because right now I'm replacing a greater number of F-18s, Harriers and Prowlers," Davis said. "Obviously ill defer to the commandant and do what he says. He and I have not talked about reducing the number of F-35s, so I'd have to go back and talk to him about that."

The F-35A conventional take-off and landing model will go operational for the Air Force in the fall of 2016. The carrier variant F-35C, which will be used both by the Navy and Marines, is scheduled to go operational in 2018, with a more up-to-date software package.



Here's to hoping that at or around IOC we get a picture of all 10 up in the air ;) ..
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