Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Cuban Communist Despot Has Died

Finally.
I join my Cuban friends in their celebration with a little something I've been saving just for this occasion: A fine American (Texan!) vodka that kicks the rest of the world's vodkas a**es.  I've had this in the cabinet so long that a deposit 'ring' formed in the neck of the bottle and Tito's has since changed its label.


And so a final update is in order...


I've been waiting too long, but nothing compared to how long those who he oppressed have had to wait. This isn't the end unfortunately, only the beginning of the end. I expect the era of the 'Commandantes' will now go out with a whimper without Fidel's 'cult of personality'. THEN the suffering will end once Raul and the last of his cronies pass into the 'dustbin of history'. 

Of course we should keep hurrying that day along 'some'.

Selected samples of older versions of the above below the fold. They weren't always featured in a post, but they were in the heading/masthead from almost day one.

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Pentagon Top Tester" Tests Nothing, But He Sure Can Whine



It's as if his phony-baloney job depends on it

Ah! The DOT&E memo leaked last month to Anthony “SlowTony” Cappacio by ‘someone’ has a follow-on. It is oozing out of the woodwork this time via the keyboard of a budding “Slow Laura” Seligman. No doubt the rabble will get their panties in a knot again, not realizing (or more likely: not caring) that it is essentially the same knot they tied last month: Gilmore doesn’t like the F-35 test program, doesn’t have the budget or technical knowledge to conduct a test himself (he’s a nuke physicist that went down the management track eons ago) and he just can’t shut up about his ‘concerns’ lest someone realize he and his organization are largely superfluous. Let’s break this memo down before the cycle repeats. It’s another hoot.

14 Oct 2016
MEMORANDUM FOR UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR ACQUISITION,TECHNOLOGY AND LOGISTICS
SUBJECT: Concerns Regarding Progress and Readiness of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program for initial Operational Test and Evaluation (lOT &E)

‘Prophet Gilmore’ he ain’t.


The Director of DOT&E has concerns? Who knew?
Seriously, if the DOT&E Director didn’t have ‘concerns’ and let the DoD command chain know-- he wouldn’t be doing his “job”. The biggest problem with his ‘concerns’ as far as I am ‘concerned’ are:

1) The content of his reports and testimonies go outside his consequential knowledge base in asserting beliefs as facts or possibilities as inevitable, and/or
2) Presents his assertions on ‘risks’ and their consequences as if he were some soothsayer.
Whereas the above fairly summarize my objections to Gilmore’s performance, the DOT&E apparatus itself is another thing entirely. It is a political construct that was created for political purposes by politicians AND it has been used consistently by SOME politicians as an instrument for their own political machinations from day one, on down through to today AND, contrary to another political construct’s superficial analysis, can be shown to cost us taxpayers far more than the value we get out of any benefit in return. And though I've pointed it out for quite some time, I know I’m not the only person to recognize this.

Bottom line: We shouldn’t have to worry about how bad Gilmore is in the first place because his job shouldn’t even exist.


IF Gilmore’s outfit was worth a spit, they wouldn’t have to leak their reports and memos to the Faux Military Reform machine before the rest of us saw it. It’s the only way they keep their wall of illusion from falling over whenever reality leans on it. (Think P.A.C.E. )
Gilmore continues…

The purpose of this memorandum is to document my continuing concerns regarding progress in the F-35 JSF program as you prepare to conduct the upcoming Defense Acquisition Board review. In a memorandum dated August 9, 2016, I identified concerns to you, the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force that, in spite of the recent Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration by the U.S. Air Force, achieving full Block 3F combat capability is actually at substantial risk. The primary concerns were that the program appeared to be prematurely ending System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and was not taking the necessary steps to be ready for IOT&E, which will be conducted using realistic combat missions fully consistent with our war plans and threat assessments. The program's limited progress since the memorandum continues to indicate clearly the program will not be able to deliver the full Operational Requirements Document (ORD)-required combat capability within the planned remaining SDD schedule….

This is where Gilmore places his stake in the ground. But since the program cannot by definition ‘complete SDD’ without delivering “the full Operational Requirements Document (ORD)-required combat capability within the planned remaining SDD schedule” will Gilmore’s reference to ‘prematurely ending’ SDD rely on some false belief about the use and purpose of the ORD, how ‘planning’ or ‘testing’, or risk management is ‘done’, or involve the presentation of transient situations as either insurmountable or permanent? Perhaps we’ll see again see DOT&E’s persistent cloying-on to raw program performance metrics as if the metrics equal program performance itself? Maybe we’ll again see Gilmore driving off into the ‘non-DOT&E’ weeds?

If past performance is an indication, I think we’ll find a bit of everything.

And so here it comes…


The reasons I have reached this conclusion include the following:
Continued schedule delays. According to the program's baseline mission systems software and capability release schedule, the planned release to flight test of Block 3FR6 mission systems software has slipped from February 2016 to December 2016, 10 months later than originally planned. This delay was caused in part by the need for multiple additional "Quick Reaction Capability" (QRC) software builds of Block 3FR5 to enable weapons testing to proceed and to reduce stability problems. However, since the program was funded to the baseline schedule, this 10-month delay in Block 3FR6 software indicates strongly that the program has shortfalls in funding and time to complete the planned testing of the remaining set of full Block 3F capabilities and necessary fixes. Moreover, releasing Block 3FR6 in December is another 3-month delay to the program's more recent estimate that this version of Block 3F software would be released to flight test in September.

Well, the program has asserted (and Slow Lara notes in her article) that any extra testing will be coming out of existing program funds. In any case, DOT&E’s charter is to ensure technical test sufficiency. Gilmore was/is essentially complaining about funds that aren’t tithed to the DOT&E coffers yet but he’s acting like that there will be no funds forthcoming. I would expect he knew the situation before the JSFPO made the fact public, so the question is why does he note only part of the circumstance? Was it because “JSFPO is working to provide” or “JSFPO has committed” to filling any shortfall in test dollars from other areas of the F-35 was too difficult to put in a report? Or was that fact an inconvenient truth against the desired DOT&E narrative? Active mitigation of risk is just as relevant as the ‘risk’. Unless, apparently, you are DOT&E. Anyway, if there were no funds to ensure DOT&Es pet testing could be done, his test report would be very short and easy to write: “Test failed because test could not be performed.” Whew! Good thing this is a non-problem.
This next paragraph is built upon absolutes that are conditional possibilities. IMHO it can be made MOSTLY correct with just a few caveats (in red) added.

Need to complete all planned and agreed-to developmental testing (DT). The program’s continued cost and schedule-driven plan to truncate planned DT points and prematurely close-out SDD would could shift significant risk to OT and the warfighter. This ill-advised action could would also discard either create test gaps OR safely reduce test requirements in the carefully planned build-up test content in the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) .The TEMP content that might be removed was not included as an optional throwaway, but rather was content the Program Executive Officer formally agreed was required when he signed the TEMP. The program’s plan to ‘·quarantine” buildup test points that were in the Joint Test Plan (JTP) and planned to be flown by the test centers, skip ahead to complex mission effectiveness test points, and then delete the build-up test points as “no longer required” will only could delay problem discoveries and increase the risk to IOT &E, as well as to the men and women who will use the F- 35 in combat, or might have little or no effect on the end state capability. Additionally, the program will need to continue to allocate test points not in its current plans for characterization, root cause investigations, and correction of a large number of the open deficiencies and technical debt described later in this memorandum. The completion of the planned baseline test points objectives from the Block 3F JTP, along with correction or mitigation of significant deficiencies, is necessary to ensure full Block 3F capabilities are adequately tested and verified before operational test and, more importantly, before they are fielded for use in combat.

Remember I wrote the above paragraph could be made MOSTLY correct by adding caveats. It still has problems in that it is built upon a presumption of ‘technical debt’ (clever soundbite there BTW). Unmodified, this paragraph tries to sells an idea that the consequences of a ‘problem’ are serious, without proving the ‘problem’ itself is even a serious problem. Gilmore will now attempt to prove a problem in the crudest of fashion—using the crudest of numbers. Let’ let him run a couple of paragraphs here while he builds his straw man. As a ‘bonus’ fun exercise, try to find all the places where he keeps talking in absolutes about what is merely possibilities or opinions, we won’t belabor the point anymore, because now you can’t help but see them for yourself.…

Insufficient progress in F-35A, F-JSB and F-35C flight sciences testing. Although progress has been made in all variants, each is behind in planned test point completion for the year, as shown in the table below (data as of the end of September).



Variant

Planned Points

Thru Sep 30, 2016

Points

Accomplished

Thru Sep 30.2016

Planned Points for

CY16

F-35A

1322

1080

1364

F-35B

1593

1580

2119

F-35C

1441

1354

1906

• Insufficient progress in F-35 mission systems testing. As of the end of September, the program had only accomplished 2,069 mission systems test points against the goal of 3, 189 and the plan of 3,709 for the year. Despite falling farther behind and carrying a significant number of open deficiencies, the program has decided to terminate testing of Block 3F software as scheduled in CY 17 due to inadequate funding to complete the planned testing in the JTP. As a result of this decision and ongoing software delays, the program has deleted two full software releases from their mission systems schedule, removing Block 3FR8 and replacing 3FR7 with additional contingency QRC software builds of3FR6, which will now be the last full developmental software release. The outcome of these decisions is that the remaining number of software releases to complete Block 3F development is currently insufficient to support adequate testing to identify and correct deficiencies prior to IOT&E and use in combat. Although the 3FR6 release in late 2016 is planned to have full Block 3F capabilities, some of those capabilities will be tested for the first time in that release and will certainly not be mature enough to be effective without additional testing and the necessary additional time and resources. In particular, additional builds of software to characterize and correct deficiencies, each of which will also require regression testing to verify fixes, will be needed. These problems are exacerbated by the proposal to quarantine test points described above. Despite these delays, and the fact that some of the "full" Block 3F capabilities are just beginning flight test or have not yet started (i.e., gun accuracy testing), the program still plans to terminate flight testing as scheduled in early 2017 and finalize Block 3F.
Gosh, the root cause of all the hooey Gilmore spouts in those two paragraphs could be caused by anything, including any and all of the following:
·         Gilmore presumes all test points are created equal, vs. there being the ability to eliminate test points through the analysis of other test points to reduce duplication.
·         Gilmore presumes all test points are mandatory vs. there being some that are perceived as optional from the get-go: contingent on upon the outcomes from predecessor test activity.
·         Gilmore has never heard of “replanning“, or “rethinking a plan“ based upon knowledge gained since the last plan was issued.
·         Gilmore mentally equates more test cycles as being good, when if your software is getting more stable, more test cycles will just waste everybody’s time and money.
·         Gilmore thinks he understands the risks of test compression more than the developers.
·         Gilmore thinks he knows how to manage risk better than those who are actually managing risks.
Gilmore proceeds…
Insufficient time and resources to conduct all required weapons delivery accuracy (WDA) events. The program completed a surge of weapons test events in August and is analyzing the results. While some of the events appear to have been successful, several WDAs unsurprisingly had significant issues that either required control room intervention or the employment of the weapon was likely unsuccessful. Despite making some progress, the program still has not completed the full set of planned test events for Block 3F weapons in the TEMP, with 13 WDAs remaining, excluding the multiple gun scoring events, which must also be completed. Due to the limited time and funding remaining in SDD, the program has prioritized completing testing of new and deficient Block 3F mission systems capabilities over completing the remaining WDAs. While completion of Block 3F mission systems is necessary, the WDAs are also an integral part of successfully completing required development and adequate testing of full Block 3F capabilities. Each of the planned WDA events is an essential end-to-end test of the full fire-control chain. Conducting all of the WDAs is the only way to discover problems that otherwise will be realized in operational test and/or combat. For example, one of the recent AIM-120 missile WDA events required control room intervention to direct the pilot when to launch, as there were no shoot cues or launch zone indications displayed to the pilot due to an outdated AIM-120 missile attack model within the mission systems software. Due to their importance and the distinct differences among them, all of the planned WDA events must be completed during DT; otherwise, these events will have to be completed before or during IOT &E, which will delay discovery of deficiencies and the completion of IOT&E while adding to its cost.
So. Gilmore STILL doesn’t like how the program prioritizes, deals with unexpected events, or apparently conducts/eliminates as many test points as possible in a test even when there’s a missing display element that otherwise would have prevented the test from proceeding. Noted.
But hold on. Doesn’t that partial test count towards ‘building up’ to a fuller test later?--Something Gilmore advocates whenever he yaps about it? ---i.e. when it is convenient?  And how important was it to get all the data that has been collected through August ‘analyzed’ first to ensure the remaining testing was not adversely impacted until the missing display was ready?
And let us observe that it takes more than a little chutzpah to bring up future test needs when the actual need is not fully quantified (except in ‘planned test points’ of course) when analysis of the last relevant testing is still underway. The jet’s not done yet. OK. We get it.
But isn’t it interesting how Gilmore glosses over the actual progress made in August in completing the WDAs? If his audience was told that 13 WDAs were completed in that one month, might that indicate a far-less harrowing situation than Gilmore portrays with only another 13 WDAs to go? Any bets that the remaining WDAs won't be easier to set up since those setting them up will be leveraging lessons learned from experience? 
WDAs traditionally have taken a longer time because of what it takes to organize and set up test assets and conduct dry runs. If you blow up one target, you need another one ready at another spot if you want to retest in anything less than a month at best in my experience.  Doing as many as the F-35 did in August required a lot of work orchestrating multiple ranges and test support organizations. The 30 or so weapons tests (13 of them WDAs) the F-35 program accomplished in August is a sign of a program capability to complete a very complex set of test challenges, and all Gilmore can do is play ‘kid in the back seat'; whining about “why are we not there yet?”.
Gilmore is handwringing over a possible 1-2 month schedule hit at most... unless it’s not really that important to the program then it might be nobody except Gilmore cares about how long it will take and where it will occur. Worst case, something is missed in DT and gets cleaned up in OT (it better not be in combat AFTER OT for Gilmore’s sake). He makes an absolute assertion that the WDAs are something that MUST be done in development test, when in all actuality as far as the warfighter is concerned, a miss in DT will only be a problem if the operational testers actually miss it in OT as well. Things ARE more expensive to resolve the later the problem is discovered. It all comes down to risk management and finding as many big things as early as possible, knowing it is impossible to catch every problem before it escapes to the next level of testing.
Gilmore is at the least flicking boogers at the program's risk management approach. At the most, Gilmore is insisting ‘all must be known’ and ‘all risk eliminated’ with WDA performance in an operational environment BEFORE the ‘operational test’, then mustn’t one then wonder: What is the freaking purpose of that operational test in the first place?

Fear Really IS the Mind Killer

About here is where Gilmore falls into the usual practice of pointing out ‘deficiencies’ of the current, and interim, software/hardware configurations. He’s been whining about the ‘gun test’ schedule since at least 2014, and does so this time around.
Pentagon’s ‘Top Bean Counter’ Wants to Count Beans His Way Dang It!
This next paragraph is a two-part whine by Gilmore. The first 1/3 is a whine about the DT schedule, which is pretty much the same schedule he’s never liked. He asserts it doesn’t look like the DT schedule will support the OT schedule the way he WANTS the OT schedule to be run (more on that in a minute).
Remember: DOT&E is testing NOTHING. DOT&E vetted the test requirements, now they’re just holding the camera.
Insufficient progress in gun testing. Planned gun testing continues to fall farther behind as the program works through design deficiencies, test discoveries, and the resulting modifications to the test aircraft. Despite the limited time remaining in SDD, the program still has not completed initial flight sciences testing of the F-35B gun pod, started ground testing of the F-35C gun pod, or attempted an aimed gunshot using the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) on any variant. Based on discoveries during F-35A flight sciences gun testing, required changes to vehicle systems software are being added to Block 3FR6 to attempt to mitigate yaw induced by the gun firing in the F-35A, as well as expected pitching moments when the gun pod is fired under the F-35B and F-35C-this adds further to the substantial burden of problems 3FR6 is supposed to correct. The first flight testing of a properly modified F-35A gun from a mission systems aircraft with 3F software, aimed by the Gen III HMDS, was planned to start in October but will likely not begin until 2017 due to continued delays.
Gilmore spends the next 2/3 of the paragraph wringing his hands over the program schedule risks from stuff left to test and having to fix stuff found in earlier testing. He provides an opinion as to when a specific configuration (as specific as possible given the vague and unquantifiable ‘properly modified’ caveat anyway), without indicating if and when in 2017 would test completion become a problem. 
This next paragraph is Gilmore ‘deficiency’ bread-and-butter:
Ineffective operational performance. The performance of earlier Block 3F versions during DT to date shows significant operational shortfalls. An assessment, based on OT pilot observations of DT missions, of the operational utility of Block 3FR5.03 software to support planned IOT &E missions, including Close Air Support, Destruction/Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Offensive and Defense Counter Air, Air Interdiction, and Surface Warfare, rated each of the mission areas "red" and unacceptable overall, with significant deficiencies in capabilities and/or performance shortfalls.
Interim capabilities have deficiencies and operational shortfalls. He left the ‘as expected and per the plan’ part out though.
Numerous remaining deficiencies and technical debt. The program's recent decision to eliminate two full software builds and delete TEMP- and JTP-required testing due to software schedule slips and funding shortages is inadequate to address the large number of significant open Deficiency Reports (DRs) remaining in SDD. This plan assumes no further significant discoveries in SDD; however, even in the unlikely event no additional discoveries are made, the program is running out of time and budget to properly test and verify the required fixes for the existing DRs. The program currently has 146 Category 1 and 1,033 Category 2 "active" open DRs, along with 16 new DRs, since the last deficiency review board on September 26, 2016. Of the 1,179 DRs, there are 528 that are being categorized as "Open Under Investigation" (OUIN) and 385 categorized as "Open Awaiting Fix Verification" (OAFV). All of the 385 OAFV DRs require flight test activity by the Integrated Test Force (ITF), and a large percentage of the OUIN will need flight test points to gather root cause data. None of these test points are currently allocated or accounted for in the ITF flight test priority. The scope of unaccounted-for DRs and the program's intention to terminate flight testing early demonstrate clearly the need for additional resources to complete SDD.
This is mostly more bean-counting without any indication as to how important those various beans are. In the end it is more ‘test sausage’ that Gilmore manages to avoid explaining how any of it is ‘made’.
How the DRs will be closed will vary by DR. If history is any guide, the important ones will be addressed by priority and as efficiently as possible. Some hits will be obviated by current planned Block 3F builds and will simply go away. Some will even be determined to be immaterial, irrelevant, or at worst ‘nuisance’ gripes that the Customer decides aren’t worth the trouble/cost to get rid of. I would suspect a good many of them are matters of the paperwork not catching up to reality, or (my favorite) simply unachievable due to the tyranny of math and poorly conceived requirements.
That last is my favorite because I was once on a program doing a job that every year would give me a request for engineering disposition of a DR against an allegedly “high ICAWS false alarm rate”. The problem wasn’t with the failure system reporting performance, it actually reported false alarms per flight hour at a rate an order of magnitude lower than legacy systems. The problem was the system hardly ever failed and generated a real ICAWS event. Since you can’t divide even a small number by zero and not get an infinitely high false alarm rate, the superior system could never 'meet the spec'. The spec was a legacy spec that was meaningful—as long has you had enough REAL failures to count. I don’t know if they ever got the paperwork cleared up on that one: some accounting systems appear impregnable. That one sure was for me at least.
Let’s take Gilmore’s ALIS b*tches in one swoop.
Shortfalls in the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS). The program continues to experience delays in the development and fielding of ALIS. o The latest version of ALIS in development - version 2.0.2 - was planned to be delivered by August 2016, as the Air Force had expected it to be fielded prior to their declaration of Initial Operational Capability (IOC), but it has yet to successfully complete testing and likely will not be fielded until early 2017. The key additional capabilities in ALIS 2.0.2 include propulsion integration, which will allow uniformed maintenance personnel to download and process engine data with the rest of the aircraft data in ALIS following flight. Currently, the propulsion data must be processed separately by Pratt & Whitney field service representatives.
•Delays in ALIS 2.0.2 development have also delayed the development of ALIS 3.0, the planned final release of ALIS software for SDD. Because of these cascading delays and additional emerging service and partner requirements, including critical security enhancements, the program adjusted development and fielding of remaining capabilities and has moved content out of ALIS 3.0 into post-SDD releases. The cumulative effect of these deferrals and unresolved deficiencies on suitability will be evaluated during IOT&E.
Big question here is what is the program impact of all the ALIS schedule deviations? Is it a show-stopper for the warfighter? Will it drive higher costs that will have to come outside the program? Is Gilmore being shy about telling us if the answers to the first two questions were troublesome?
Just kidding on that last question-- I’m certain if there were real problems with the ALIS impacts Gilmore would have mentioned each one two or three time by now.
Next stop for Gilmore is in an area I’m very interested in, but his feigned (I hope) naiveté as to when and how ORDs are modified is not very credible.
• Inconsistencies between contract specifications and the ORD. The program has accepted numerous changes or deferrals to contract specifications, while not receiving formal relief from, or changes to, the associated requirements in the ORD. As an example, the program office, in coordination with the Services, determined that the specification requirements for gun accuracy could not be met with the new ammunition planned to be used, the Frangible Armor Piercing (F AP) round for the F- 35A and the Semi-Armor Piercing High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer (SAPHEI-T) round for the F-35B and F-35C. The program office completed a specification change to the contract to delete the old requirement for gun accuracy and lethality, but did not add the new planned specification values nor complete any requirements changes for the ORD. As a result, the program now apparently has no contract specifications for either air-to-air or air-to-ground lethality and engagement performance; however, the program still has approved air-to-ground ORD criteria that have not been adjusted or changed, which are not possible to achieve due to the change in ammunition. The JSF stakeholders, including the Services and Joint Staff, should immediately conduct a requirements review of the ORD versus the contract specifications to identify documentation or performance shortfalls as the program closes out SOD.
Let’s put Happy’s perplexed mind at ease about the apparent disconnect (as if he didn’t already know). All we have to do is talk a bit about the nature of changing ORDs and Contract Requirements
Changing The ORD
The F-35 Program’s Joint ORD (JORD) is ‘owned’ by DOD’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC). Programs are loath to ask ORD owners to modify ORDs up to and until a requirement is either seen as unachievable or inadvisable. The JROC’s are loath to let any program off the hook for a requirement until it is both necessary and justified. I know this point doesn’t set well with the conspiracy theory types, so besides being true, it’s often fun to point out to the mouth breathers.
Changing the Contract Requirements
The Customer is always loath to change a contract spec beneath the contract requirement until it is known that the spec is truly unachievable or unneeded. The contractor may recommend change or elimination years before the Customer agrees or disagrees because each spec is a piece of a larger picture, and that picture becomes better known the further the program goes toward completion. In the F-35’s case the requirements are mostly about ‘W’ Lethality, ‘X’ Survivability, ‘Y’ Supportability, and ‘Z’ Affordability. There is a trade space between those requirements and each requirement has performance specs below them that also create a trade space below the requirements to achieve the right balance of W, X,Y,Z requirements that comprise total system capability.
Aligning ORD and Contract Requirements
Contract changes will be recommended. Those contract change requests, if the ORD is affected, will generate requests for ORD changes. It takes time to shake out the changes, and Gilmore can rest his punkin’ head knowing the process is working and that eventually all his little requirement beans will line up in neat rows and columns for him to count up and down, and side to side to his heart’s content. And it won’t make one whit of difference to the warfighter if DOT&E counts them now or come final judgement day.
 

Core F-35 DT Problem: Gilmore’s Attitude About OT Sucks

All that has come before and all of which Gilmore is about to dump in the next few paragraphs can be fixed with one simple attitude adjustment by the DOT&E. Director Gilmore! Repeat after me:
I know it can. I know it can. OT CAN be done incrementally!
Inadequate preparations for DOT&E. The program office and some other JSF stakeholders have proposed a "phase-start" for IOT &E, based on the assumption that the modification schedule for the fleet of OT aircraft will provide some aircraft earlier with which testing could begin. Besides the modifications to the OT aircraft being substantially late to need to start IOT &E (see immediately below), the full Block 3F flight envelope and weapons clearances, along with a verified Block 3F mission data file, will not be available before May 2018, according to the program's most recent schedule estimates. DOT&E will not approve a "phased start" for IOT&E that violates the spin-up and test entrance criteria, as outlined in the TEMP (list of criteria attached), which was signed and approved by the F-35 stakeholders, including the JSF Program Executive Officer. (Note that these criteria include a detailed and definitive definition of the agreed composition of full Block 3F combat capability.) This includes the requirement for all 18 U.S. OT aircraft and the US Partner OT aircraft to be in the Block 3F production-representative configuration. The full fleet of OT aircraft, with the full Block 3F capabilities including envelope and weapons, is required for the efficient and effective execution of spin-up mission rehearsals and for successful execution of the complex IOT &E plan, which includes four-ship and eight-ship test trial missions. These are common-sense, long-agreed-to criteria that must be satisfied to conduct a realistic and rigorous test of the Block 3F capabilities that will actually be fielded so that our warfighters will know what the aircraft truly can and cannot do in combat - the inviolate reason for the test.
Late plans for modification of OT aircraft. The TEMP requirement to provide production-representative Block 3F OT aircraft for IOT &E has been well known for more than seven years; however, the program has not adequately planned nor contracted for the necessary modifications, including the Technical Refresh 2 (TR2) processor upgrades. This failure to develop an adequate plan for providing modified OT aircraft does not relieve the program of the IOT &E spin-up and test entrance criteria. Late discovery of issues during development - such as those requiring the extensive modifications to provide an operational gun system or the ability to carry the AIM-9X missile throughout the employment envelope on the F-35C - are continuing and should be expected for a program as complicated as the JSF that is experiencing significant development and testing delays. However, these issues must still be addressed with modifications to the OT aircraft. Expecting DOT &E to allow IOT &E to start without a full complement of fully production representative aircraft, as agreed to and documented for years, is a recipe for a failed test, especially in light of the aircraft availability issues mentioned later. Failure to meet the TEMP entrance criteria means not only that the program is unready for operational test - it means JSF is not ready for combat and, therefore, certainly not ready for a Block (i.e., Multi-Year) Buy or full-rate production.
I like the skillful misrepresentation of ‘Block Buys’ as parenthetical ‘Multi-Year Buys’ there at the end, Gilmore. Let us also note here that the Block Buy question is STILL none of your or DOT&E's business.

Speaking of None of DOT&E’s Business

 
•Inadequate aircraft availability (AVA). Although AVA is not an entrance criteria, if the program is only able to achieve and sustain its goal of 60 percent AVA, the length and cost of IOT &E will increase significantly because the expected combat-ready availability of 80 percent was planned for in the TEMP and is needed to efficiently accomplish the open-air mission trials with the number of aircraft planned for IOT &E. The fleet of operational test aircraft, currently consisting of 8 F-35A and 7 F-35B aircraft, averaged an AVA of approximately 50 percent over the last 6 months (through the end of September), as shown in the table below. Although slightly better than average AVA of all of the Lot 3 through Lot 5 aircraft - from which the OT aircraft were produced - this is well short of the 60 percent objective and not adequate to support the flight rate of test trials planned for IOT&E. The table below also shows the maximum and minimum monthly average AVA over the last 6 month period, for reference, and indicates the wider variance in the OT fleet, as would be expected from a smaller sample size. Over the same six-month period there has been no readily discernable trend of increasing or decreasing availability for any of the groups of aircraft, supporting the assertion that availability has flat-lined and will not improve significantly prior to the start of IOT &E.


Aircraft

Average

Maximum

Minimum

F-35A OT (8 A/C)

51.2%

64.5%

39.8%

F-35B OT (7 A/C}

50.4%

64.2%

34.5%

Lots 3 thru 5 (76 A/C}

44.5%

49.0%

40.8%
Two things about this paragraph bug me no end. The repeated assertions of Gilmore’s beliefs as absolutes by this point are merely annoying
1.       Gilmore is clinging to a TEMP that is based upon an 80% AVA and the program has always planned a 60% AVA rate as a goal? Why hasn’t Gilmore fixed that disconnect yet? Is he setting the program up to now be blamed for something he would be equally responsible for?
2.       Gilmore is attempting to tie past and present availability rates to future availability rates without explaining WHY the AVA cannot be higher in the future. Claiming current rates are relevant to future rates without showing additional support for that assertion is highly suspect, as that assertion can be shown to be a non-sequitur. Any maintenance or ops puke can tell you the number one determinant in aircraft availability (given adequate spares) is flying schedule and how other priorities stack up against the flying schedule. It is a fine balance that is needed to get maximum AVA out of a fleet. On the one hand, if you have a flying schedule that doesn’t let maintenance touch the jets at the intervals they should, the AVA will drop because maintenance cannot keep up with the breakdowns. On the other hand, if you are not scheduling to fly the jets as much as they can, there is no impetus to fix jets as soon as possible to make them available: maintenance/service work is stretched or deferred and the AVA drops. My studies have found that the MOST military fleet AVA you can ever get over a sustained period of time is about 80-85% depending upon aircraft type. External operational factors/decisions and budgets having nothing to do with aircraft capability can and will limit the availability of even ‘perfect’ aircraft.
Then Gilmore goes back to more issues related to the aforementioned attitude problem:
• Insufficient progress in air-to-air range instrumentation (AARI). AARI has not yet been tested in the F-35. In fact, the required DT of AARI has not yet been planned. Despite the limited time remaining in SOD, the AARI OT must be completed in time to support a fly-fix-fly correction cycle so this TEMP-required system is ready in time to support and not delay IOT&E.
• Inadequate Fusion Simulation Model (FSM). Corrections to this model, which is currently too unrealistic to be used for IOT &E, are required and must be put on contract to ensure FSM can support IOT &E requirements.
• Inadequate Virtual Threat Insertion (VTI). The task of adding missing threats required for IOT &E to the VTI-associated reference table must also be put on contract as soon as possible. This will ensure threat messages from AARI for required threats can be recognized and displayed by FSM on the F-35 cockpit displays during IOT &E.
• Inadequate United States Reprogramming Lab (USRL). Upgrading the USRL to the necessary Block 3F configuration is late to need to enable the USRL to begin the development of Block 3F mission data files (MDF); the latest projection is that the USRL will not be able to start building basic Block 3F MDFs until February 2017. However, because of the inadequate tools provided to the USRL and the complexity of the MDFs, the USRL estimates that it will take approximately 15 months to create, optimize and validate the MDF for IOT &E. Also, because the program failed to order the required signal generators, the Block 3F MDFs will not be optimized against several fielded threats of significant concern. The inadequately equipped USRL increases the likelihood of failure in operational test, and, more importantly, in combat.
The following paragraph is just more Gilmore insinuating himself into areas that are none of his business that he WANTS to make his business. After the Block 3F configuration is tested DOT&E’s F-35 charter is complete.  This is just another sales pitch by Gilmore, proffered to keep DOT&E’s Non-Value-Added A**es in their feathered bureaucratic nests.
Sadly, I’m certain ‘some’ will listen.
• Substantial Risks to Follow On Modernization (FoM). Despite the significant ongoing challenges with F-35 development listed above, including the certainty of additional problem discoveries, the proposed modernization schedule is not executable. Even with the significant ongoing SOD delays and problems delivering full Block 3F capabilities, the program still plans to award contracts to start simultaneous development of Blocks 4.1and4.2 in 2018, well prior to completion of IOT&E (and possibly before it has even started for the reasons detailed above), and therefore lacking understanding of the inevitable problems it will reveal. Also, the proposed aggressive modernization plan and overlapping schedule for Block 4 increments do not depict adequate schedule and resources for formal operational testing. In addition, due to the cost and complexity of the proposed additional capabilities in Block 4, sufficient test resources, including enough test aircraft, will need to be available. Furthermore, because of program concurrency resulting in the fielding of multiple configurations, (i.e., different avionics processors) additional configurations of test fleet aircraft will be needed. For example, enhancements and fixes of mission systems software for aircraft with TR2 processors will be needed while capabilities are developed and tested simultaneously for aircraft with new open architecture Technical Refresh 3 (TR3) processors. Due to the hundreds of aircraft that will already have been produced, the program and Services will be sustaining aircraft with TR2 processors with versions of Block 4 software for 10 to 15 years before all aircraft can be modified to the TR3 configuration.
BTW: making a big deal out of having a mixed fleet of TR2 and TR3 processor aircraft is a Red Herring, used apparently to increase the memo’s page count. The mixed fleet was the plan. It is not unexpected, not unprepared for, and certainly not a 'problem'. Gilmore can take some smelling salts and stop fainting already.
Gilmore closes by reiterating all the risk, deficiency, ‘inevitability’, and ‘you need me for Block 4’ horse sh*t that he’s already spread.
For all the reasons stated above and described in my previous memoranda, the F-35 program clearly lacks sufficient time and resources to deliver full combat capability and be ready for operational testing and deployment to combat if it is unwisely constrained to operate within its currently planned budget and schedule. The program should now be provided the additional resources required to deliver full Block 3F combat capability; i.e. to complete all the testing (including regression) needed to rectify a substantial number of existing critical deficiencies as well as the new deficiencies that will inevitably be discovered during the remaining Block 3F testing.
Failure to adequately finish SDD will result in far greater risks and costs than completing it now. First, since the program clearly will not be able to start IOT&E in August 2017, as indicated in their program of record, the program's plan to draw down staffing and test infrastructure in CY17 to close out SDD would occur at a time when the program should be aggressively using the full capacity of the current test resources and experienced personnel to complete testing, address deficiencies, and ensure full Block 3F capability is delivered and ready for IOT&E and combat. Second, if the program continues with plans to close out SDD prematurely, it will carry the high risk of failing and having to repeat the approximately $300- million operational test, and failing for many years to provide the full combat capability Block 3F has long been meant and claimed to provide. Third, the unresolved technical debt will spill into FoM. where it will take longer to fix and cost more to address than if rectified now. Finally, the combination of unfinished SDD work and the likely follow-on operational test would significantly delay, and increase the cost of, achieving the important FoM capabilities which are urgently needed to counter current and emerging threats.
I therefore recommend very strongly that the program be restructured now and provided the additional resources it clearly requires to deliver its long-planned and sorely needed full Block 3F combat capability.
Gilmore’s 8 Page Memo in Bullet Format:
1.       Gilmore says schedule delays bad!
2.       Gilmore says much risk ahead!
3.       JSFPO wants incremental OT to accommodate delays, reduce risk and keep schedule!
4.       Gilmore has piece of paper that he likes that says NO to incremental OT!
5.       Gilmore/DOT&E doesn’t want to count incremental beans!
6.       Gilmore says Replan/Stretch the SDD Schedule so OT schedule stays same!
7.       Gilmore says keep DOT&E employed!

 

Monday, July 11, 2016

What I've Been Doing

Is what I'll be doing for a little while longer.

No deadline considerations, just quality ones.

I've had a few enquiries as to why the long time 'light blogging'. I hope to come out from under a rock someday and hit some of the big topics anyway, but here's what I've been spending my off-work hours doing since the weather was still cold (for Texas).

I designed what we call 'the shed' (~500sq ft) for construction at the secret location of stately Mac Manor somewhere in the wilds of Parker County Texas. I have played general contractor for the heavy stuff, am but doing the insulation, drywall, trim and paint, and also building the large bay barn doors myself. The foundation slab is twice typical thickness with 2ft deep perimeter and cross 'rails' with up-sized rebar so it isn't going anywhere. Believe it or not, the most time consuming part of the project (so far) was finding a concrete contractor who would take the job.  Couldn't find one forever. Seems the job was too small for the guys who do real house foundations and too complex for the guys who pour patios and driveways.

I would have done the electrical, but my main breaker box at home was so full I needed a new panel and the wiring had to be dragged all the way from the other side of the house AND a buried cable run was needed to get 110v/220v to the shed. Better to pay someone who does this kind of stuff all the time, I say.    

Framing the roof. If I had known how complicated a cathedral ceiling, and storage area over the side room, would make the insulation and drywall job I may have simplified it some. Live and learn.
 Back side, Roof on!
Drywall beginning. I had to temporarily hang the doors I built to keep the Spring storms from blowing through. The table you see on the sawhorses is 4' x 8' and was where I built the template for the bi-fold barn doors (80 lbs per panel plus or minus).
 Stone selected and delivered:
 Finally! the brick came. It matches my house and is part of the last batch the company will ever make. I didn't do this a moment too soon.
 No finished photos will be posted except maybe from the back. You'll have to take my word for it-- it is IMHO-- freaking awesome! (And the neighbors seem happy since I knock off at 10 every weeknight.) I'm now re-hanging the barn doors permanently so I can put an A/C in there and finish the drywall.
Have you  ever tried to finish drywall joints when the air AND the wall is about 100 degrees F? Fugeddaboutit!

Friday, July 01, 2016

F-16 and F-35 parallels: Boy Reporter Gets Few Facts Right, Story Wrong

Hat Tip: 'tbarlow' @ F-16.net

This is just too funny and too easy to debunk for me to pass up. I just gotta point out the stupid involved. Kyle Mizokami tripped over a thread in Reddit and built a nice 'on the one hand, but on the other hand' F-35 "narrative" for Popular Mechanics that is so lame it answers the question as to why most media writers aren't paid as much as they think they're worth. It is a shame too, because with really very little research, and demonstration of a minimal understanding of economics--specifically the 'time value' of money and proper use of deflators -- he could have contributed significantly to killing the false narrative that the F-35 program is 'plagued by (fill in the blank)'. Instead, he tries, and fails to make the F-35 look bad, using numbers that when applied correctly only make the point that the F-35 program, and the problems that have been encountered are in no way unique.

Here's the PM story:
A New York Times newspaper article describes a beleaguered American fighter program enduring delays, escalating costs, and technical problems. Another article about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter no doubt, right? Nope. It's an article from 1977 about the F-16 Fighting Falcon.  
The F-16 was the original multinational fighter. Developed by the United States with Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway as partners, the fighter was designed to be an agile, lightweight, daytime fighter to replace aging fighters such as the F-5 Freedom Fighter and the F-104 Starfighter. At $6,091,000 per unit—$27.1 million when adjusted for inflation—it was also supposed to be inexpensive.  
Many of the F-16's past problems are mirror images of the issues we see in the F-35. According to the article, the Air Force expected the F-16's research and development costs rose by some $7 billion to reach $13.8 billion by 1986. Adjusted for inflation, that's $54.7 billion in today's dollars. F-35 R&D costs, on the other hand, are estimated at $107 billion dollars to date.  
Like the F-35, the F-16's problems arose from technological issues and design challenges. The fly-by-wire mechanism of the F-16, in which an aerodynamically unstable but highly maneuverable aircraft was tamed by computers to keep it flying, was an expensive problem that was eventually solved. Like the F-35, the F-16 had problems with its engine and also had to be modified to placate U.S. allies who wanted a fighter capable of air-to-ground missions, a real multi-role fighter.  
Still, as similar as the problems between these two planes are, the F-35's problems are much more intense. The F-35 was originally slated to cost $50 million apiece—nearly twice the original cost of the F-16 at today's prices—but the three versions of the plane currently run anywhere from $112 to $120 million each. The F-16 encountered months of delays, but the F-35 A/B/C models will, on average, be delayed half a decade. 
Yes, America and her allies have been down this road before, but this time it is a lot rockier.
First, the 'costs' narrative whereby Mizokami attempts to make it look like the F-35 is MUCH worse than it's predecessor....when it is not that different at all.

RE: The F-16's “$6,091,000 per unit—$27.1 million when adjusted for inflation”.

I don’t know where he got the $27.1M inflation unit cost value (though given the depth of research he shows I suspect he just found a number) but it strongly correlates with Contemporary Opportunity Costs between 1976-77 and 2015. In terms of a project’s Economy Cost (relative share of the GDP used: the correct figure for 'projects') that 1977 F-16 unit cost would equal $58.2 million in 2015 dollars. [Note: Calculators I used for the interested are here.]

RE: “the Air Force expected the F-16's research and development costs rose by some $7 billion to reach $13.8 billion by 1986. Adjusted for inflation, that's $54.7 billion in today's dollars. F-35 R&D costs, on the other hand, are estimated at $107 billion dollars to date”

This is an odd disconnect from Mizokami's unit cost claim and the R&D figure he used for the F-16 DOES equal about $54B in 2015 Economy Cost, so who knows why the author came up with a lower number for the unit cost of the 1977 F-16 in “today’s dollars”. It was widely touted early in the F-35 program that we could develop three aircraft for the cost of 1.5 to 2 aircraft. Craptastic! RAND policy pieces non-withstanding, let's note that the estimated F-35 R&D costs that Mizokami uses (and we will watch these estimates as they become 'real') are running about 2 times that of the 1977-era's F-16 R&D costs when adjusted for inflation. That seems pretty reasonable, considering the F-16 is the cheapest of the 'Big three' aircraft designs (F-16, F-18C/D, AV-8B) whose capabilities drove the requirements for the F-35 design.


Even the F-16 as we know it today involves much more content and cost as Mizokami indirectly acknowledges than that of the 1977 F-16, so how about we consider all the additional ‘content’ the F-16 now has that it didn’t have in 1976-77? What was the later ‘development cost added’ that came with the later ‘value added’? We can't compare apples and apples directly, but we can get an idea about unit costs at least . In 2012, it was said that the F-16V would be less than half the “then” cost (Richard Aboulafia) of the F-35. Anyone remember the 2012 F-35 unit cost? It was $125-150M a copy depending upon who’s chart you’re looking at in whatever FY$’s being discussed. (see charts lifted from F-16.net's voluminous archives to the left) That would make the F-16V somewhere in the $60M-70M range in 2012 dollars. Guess what that is in 2015 dollars? Go ahead do the calculations). That's right. the F-16V would probably cost $70M-$80M (Economy Cost) in 2015 dollars. Note that also does not include the same 'content' that comes on an F-35.

 

 

 

People who rail about F-35 costs fall into one or more of three camps:

1. The willfully ignorant or gullible who’ll fall for anything.
2. The liars who have their own agendas
3. The internet's village idiots.

Enough about dollars. How about some history instead of Mizokami's stories?


RE: "Like the F-35, the F-16 had problems with its engine and also had to be modified to placate U.S. allies who wanted a fighter capable of air-to-ground missions, a real multi-role fighter."

1. The AF ALWAYS wanted the bells and whistles that were finally delivered with the first Block 30 F-16s. It wasn't the 'allies'. Don't believe me? Just look at what then recently retired Gen John Vogt who had commanded USAFE was saying about what was needed while the F-16 was in early development via a Euro 'Hit piece' from the period:
This rather poor documentary looks even sillier now than it did at the time, given the successes of the F-16 (airplane and program) that came soon thereafter. But it's value in illustrating how the stripped down version of the F-16, the day-time knife-fighter that the faux reformers wanted, was a politically driven, and not operational requirements-driven configuration endures. Of course, we could also simply review the history of the development to see the USAF always wanted more on board the F-16. This was made possible only by advancements in small electronics technology that then had to be developed for military aerospace. And TANSTAAFL.

RE: "The F-16 encountered months of delays, but the F-35 A/B/C models will, on average, be delayed half a decade."

'Delays' are a measure of the difference between 'time planned' and 'time scheduled' to reach some meaningful achievement. If you want to compare the F-16 development with the F-35's, then the baseline F-35 Block 3 will be achieved two years faster (with about 1600 fewer aircraft produced) than the F-16's Baseline Block 30. The biggest difference between the F-16 and F-35 programs is the differences in size of the initial 'brass ring' being sought.   

Finally, a minor nit to pick about the F-16 so-called 'engine problems'. If Misokami cared to do some research, he'd find that the problems never really affected the F-16 like the F-15, partially because of the installation, and partially because the F-15 was the lead user o the PW F100.

Misokami's story could have been a good one. In any case, if Mizokami read a little more widely, he would have known about this part of F-16 development 'history' over NINE Years ago.

Yes, that's right. All has proceeded as I have foreseen.