Friday, August 17, 2012

F-35: Banging out the Sorties

...With a Swingin' Beat!

There are Potentially LARGE Ramifications

Source of Original: NAVAIR

From Dave Majumdar at FlightGlobal:
"During our first week of flying in March, we had two flights scheduled. Then in the fourth week of May we had twelve sorties scheduled and eleven flown. Now in August we are planning a standard of sixteen F-35A sorties a week," said Lt Col Lee Kloos, commander of the wing's 58th Fighter Squadron. "In September we will go to a planned twenty-sortie week as our standard."
You can’t do what Lt Col Kloos describes if a plane is not reliable or generates high maintenance demands. Nor can you generate the productive test sorties/test points at the rates Barry Graff detailed at his place back in June. From the article, I get the impression that the limiting factor in sorties to-date has been the number of pilots trained and being trained. As more pilots get on board, that limitation will disappear.

Update Note@1944 hrs: I see Barry Graff also found the money quote above before me!
Which brings me back to a detailed post that I put up in early July. There I posited the probable reason(s) for the minimal commentary from the pundits concerning the last, and rather muted, GAO Report: 
“Since the GAO report fails to highlight the existence of poor MMH/FH and MTTR numbers, AND we know from the program announcements that flight test operations are ahead of current schedule for flights and test points, we can be almost certain that the internals of the performance data shine a better light on the program performance than the GAO is attempting to cast.”
Based upon the GAO report contents (including that which was missing), flight test productivity, and Lt Col Kloos’ comments, I sense even more that the F-35 is at or ahead of the reliability and maintainability curve. If so, we will have to put on a keen lookout for the data. We will have to search it out because it will be merely business as usual for the F-35 program on the one hand, and ignored or minimized by the critics seeking to protect their Precious (meme) on the other.

Bye-Bye Scary Cost Estimates

If the F-35 is ahead of the curve as indicators seem to be 'indicating', then all the heretofore life cycle support cost numbers 'projected' (and now almost certainly based upon legacy systems and approaches) will have to revised downward once enough data is in hand.

A Cautionary Note

The F-35 MAY become the most expensive fighter to maintain over the next 50 years, but it is increasingly more likely that if it is, it will ONLY be because the Customers CHOOSE to make it so. Aside from aircraft reliability and maintainability performance and number of aircraft fielded, the key support cost drivers will be determined by how closely the F-35 program continues to embrace Performance Based Logistics (PBL) instead of being seconded to pork-barrel interests. Those interests will use nearly any means possible to suck up more work than the law requires into the existing DoD logistics activities under as uncompetitive a business model they can contrive. Do not misunderstand: There's VERY good people and EXCELLENT work done at the USG Depots, but without PBL it tends to be WAAAAY overpriced.
Why do I predict USG Depots will attempt to swallow as much F-35 work as possible for their own benefit? The ALCs and FRCs are where all the AV-8s, F-18s, F-16s, and A-10s are now sent for their depot-level maintenance. As most are having end-of-life issues, the total workload demands and numbers of associated artisans, engineers and their indirect labor (management) are much higher than what a new and moderen F-35 fleet will require. Factor in there will be fewer F-35s fielded than the legacy systems they are replacing (Air Force is talking 1 for 2) and you can be CERTAIN that the USG Depots have been and will be working overtime to preserve their capabilities and workforce. Without the extra F-35 work, the USG Depots will have to contract by law, and they have never done so without a fight (remember the BRAC closings?).

Callin' the Ball! Original from ?

No comments: