Armor & Mobility

MAR/APR 2017

Military magazines in the United States and Canada, covering Armor and Mobility, focuses on tactical vehicles, C4ISR, Special Operations Forces, latest soldier equipment, shelters, and key DoD programs

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Support Equipment at Solomons Island, Maryland. They are responsi- ble for intermediate-level maintenance that provides material support to the fleet at the best possible cost, and depot-level maintenance that entails the major overhaul of parts, assemblies, subassemblies and end items for both Navy and Marine Corps Aviation. We also have detachment sites at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia; Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; NAS Patuxent River, Maryland; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; NAS Joint Reserve Base (JRB) New Orleans, NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas; and Naval Support Activity, Bahrain. A&M: From a current challenges perspective, please speak to some key areas of focus testing Fleet Readiness. Rear Adm. Zarkowski: Naval Aviation brings a unique set of capabilities to the defense of our nation: the ability to project military power beyond our shores. This distinction means that Naval Aviation forces will continue to be in demand, not just to deter and defeat threats, but to support humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions worldwide as well. Just recently, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) deployed with three U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Sea Stallions to assist Haiti in its recovery efforts after Hurricane Matthew. A P-8A Poseidon also conducted flights to survey the storm's impact, enabling disaster relief experts to determine the extent and severity of the devastation. A month later, USS Sampson (DDG 102) and two embarked MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73 provided assistance to New Zealand's South Island after it was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Naval Aviation brought a unique combination of assets to the crisis unmatched by any other organization. Today, Naval Aviation has endured significant readiness chal- lenges that stem from 15 years of combat operations that have manifested in the premature aging of our force due to the high number of flight hours; aircraft that are being extended past their original service life; delays in the introduction of follow-on aircraft; parts obsolescence; and extensive aircraft corrosion. All of these factors contributed to an induction of aircraft at the FRCs faster than originally planned. These factors were also accompanied by years of Naval Avia- tion operating in an uncertain fiscal environment, which led to the underfunding of recapitalization and readiness enabler accounts. As a result, Naval Aviation's aircraft RFT gap increased. Our readiness challenges are not insurmountable. For instance, from 2014 to 2015, FRCs' production increased 20 percent—a total of 480 aircraft completions across all type/model/series (TMS). How did we do this? Two years ago, Naval Aviation implemented the Naval Aviation Readiness Recovery Plan that included the follow- ing lines of effort: Improve supply support, agility and predictability; eliminate work stoppage in depots due to parts and reduce flight line Non-Mission Capable for Supply (NMCS); ensure sufficient repair capacity to manage and reduce in-service repairs (ISRs); reduce current work in progress (WIP) and close flight line readiness gaps; achieve depot production levels that match fleet requirements for all TMS aircraft; and fix maintainer standardization, education, training and experience gaps that affect Non-Mission Capable (NMC) rates for aircraft. To achieve its part of this strategy, COMFRC, in conjunction with NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) developed resources and tools to increase productivity. One of them was Theory of Constraints Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), a project management methodology that accounts for variability and resource sharing across projects. CCPM, implemented across all depot-level maintenance sites, takes into account the resources required to exe- cute all maintenance and repairs on an aircraft and resolves resource conflicts during the planning process. Additionally, CCPM's scheduling methodology protects delivery dates by incorporating project-level buffers. Another initiative was Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that pulls from numerous maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems and supplies analysts and other Naval Aviation stakeholders and providers with a single source for actionable data. We are also using tools to optimize in-service repairs, better manage inventory and visualize aircraft in- and out-of-reporting statuses. In addition, we've also strengthened our partnership with NAVAIR Research and Engineering (AIR 4.0), who is responsible for engineer- ing in support of acquisition and life cycle management of aircraft and weapons systems. With better coordination and prioritization of engineering efforts, engineering investigation response, and in-service repair response turnaround times for maintenance have been reduced across all FRCs. AIR 4.0 was instrumental in COMFRC's efforts to extend the service life of select legacy Hornets from 6,000 flight hours to 8,000 hours, and in some cases, up to 10,000 hours. In August 2015, the NAE held a summit to focus on the health of Naval Aviation's supply chain that captured more than 10 action items. These included standardizing procedures to validate Bills of Mate- rial (BOM), measuring and tracking industry performance across the Enterprise, pursuing data rights as a standard element of procurement and contract negotiations. One result of this effort was a 55 percent decrease in the number of backorders associated with aircraft that were down for supply in 2016. FRCs are labor-intense industrial complexes operated by a skilled and diverse workforce. Without the Sailors, Marines, civilians and con- tractors that make up the team, we can't do the work. Sequestration- related hiring freezes and furloughs of 2013 reduced FRCs' 12-million man-hour-a year-production machine throughput. There were also mandated reductions in the contractor workforce and litigation related to insourcing. For period of a year to about 18 months, our ability to hire the expertise we needed was restricted. We are still recovering from that. Our rate of attrition is high as many of our logisticians, artisans and technicians are older and eligible to retire in the next five years. Military manning, due to reductions in force, is another concern. The good news is we have made progress since 2014 after execut- ing a targeted hiring plan; the workforce is returning to pre-sequester numbers. During fiscal year 2015, COMFRC hired approximately 1,530 new employees as part of this effort. We're continuing to make sure that we have the right people at the right place, doing the right job at the right time. Sustaining the workforce's knowledge base is another COMFRC focus. Based on business case analyses, we've integrated intermedi- ate-level and depot-level manpower in the repair process. Originally introduced to reduce component repair costs and increase speed to the fleet, it has proven to be a learning opportunity for the entire team as well. Intermediate-level maintainers and depot-level technicians are co-located and are learning from each other. This approach reduced artisan touch-time by an average of 30 percent and cost avoided more than $138 million from Fiscal Year 2007 through 2016. The camarade- rie it has generated is beyond measurement. NAVAL AIR LOGISTICS FLEET READINESS CENTERS Armor & Mobility | March/April 2017 | 23

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