Performance-Based Logistics has become a way of life in Britain’s military, and has also been adopted for some programs in the USA, Canada, France, and other countries. Now, a $5.8 billion contract will add the UAE to that list, and support every aircraft and helicopter in the UAE’s armed forces: Air Force, Army, Navy, Special forces, and the Presidential Guard.
What do a fresh look at what “logistics” means, the ongoing electronics revolution, new manufacturing techniques, and the social norms and movements arising from these trends, have in common? Within the US Army, the answer is the Rapid Equipping Force’s new Expeditionary Lab (“Ex Lab”), which incorporates and fosters those trends on the front lines of combat.
The US Army’s Retrograde, Reset, Redeployment, Redistribution, and Disposal (R4D or “Afghan retrograde”) is a huge effort, moving an estimated $17 billion of good out of country at a cost of around $6 billion. Some of its successes, and failings, offer lessons that apply much further down the chain of service, and in the commercial world.
As part of the current coalition government’s defence reform efforts, the UK Ministry of Defence has begun issuing a bare-bones 10-year equipment plan of expected budgets, and graphics of planned expenditures by category. A fuller plan is submitted to Britain’s National Audit Office for review. The plan itself is a step forward, and so are some of its underlying practices. Even if the document as a whole falls short of being a useful contribution to public debate.
Summaries of some key changes, and information, can be found below.
Under ATTAC (Availability Transformation: Tornado Aircraft Contract), BAE will take over depot-level support and maintenance for the RAF’s Tornado fleet, with the responsibility of ensuring that enough of Britain’s Tornado GR4 strike aircraft and Tornado F3 interceptors are available to fly, rather than paying BAE for selling spare parts and maintenance hours.
This “future contracting for availability” approach is a major departure from traditional military and commercial practice; but it has been proven on a smaller scale within the UK’s Tornado fleet, and a number of other platforms are already operating under these types of contracts in Britain. BAE hopes to achieve the required availability levels using a combination of embedded diagnostics, rear-echelon repair process improvements, and what BAE executive and former Air Vice-Marshall Steve Nicoll referred to as the “Dirk Gently approach” to problem diagnosis and maintenance during the September 2006 TFD Group Conference. DID explains what Nicoll meant, and discusses the ATTAC contract and its follow-ons in more detail.
In May 2012, Realization Technologies, Inc. in San Jose, CA received a $35.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to maintain, deploy, and sustain their Concerto software at existing sites. Corcerto is designed for managing multiple projects using Eli Goldratt’scritical chain method, which is derived from his Theory of Constraints (TOC). One of the likely outcomes for Concerto sites? Less multi-tasking, which isn’t productive. The other big change is the removal of added “safety time” per task, to be replaced with a project-level buffer. Beyond the individual project level, these 2 principles are combined by committing key resources to just one project at any given time, which has their entire focus for that specified block of time. Project scheduling is then managed around the availability of those resources. If you think that aspect sounds similar to the “bottleneck” principle at the core of TOC, you’d be right.
Work location will be determined with each task order, with an estimated completion date of April 30/15. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Alexandria, Va., is the contracting activity (W91WAW-12-D-0007).
On July 25/06 Al-Anbar commander and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer submitted an MNF-W priority 1 request. It pointed to the hazards inherent in American supply lines, and noted that many of the supply convoys on Iraq’s roads (up to 70%, by some reports) were carrying fuel. Much of that fuel wasn’t even for vehicles, but for diesel generators used to generate power at US bases. That is still true, and Afghanistan has even more daunting logistics. By some estimates, shipping each gallon of fuel to Afghanistan requires 7 gallons of fuel for transport.
Deployments aren’t easy for active personnel. They can be even harder on families, and the impacts don’t end when the deployment does. In recent years, the US military has recognized the effect family difficulties have on its all-volunteer force, and placed a higher priority on family assistance programs. The priority is especially urgent with respect to special forces, who are deployed more often because they’re in such high demand. That means trouble if family problems cause them to decide to do something else. Even if replacing existing operators is possible, it’s time-consuming, difficult, and costly.
One example of the US military’s response is the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Resiliency Program, which recently issued a contract worth up to $44.4 million to Loving Couples Loving Children, Inc. in Seattle, WA. This LCLC program was originally developed by John and Julie Gottman for low-income couples expecting a child…
In 1998, Boeing began a revolutionary development program: create an unmanned aircraft that was about the size of the USAF’s F-117 stealth fighter, with similar performance, better stealth, and better range. DARPA’s J-UCAS program launched Boeing’s X-45A and Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs), which went on to perform tests that included multiple UCAV flights, bomb drops, and other aviation firsts.
J-UCAS was effectively killed in 2006, though it went on to spawn the Navy’s UCAS-D competition. NGC’s X-47B Pegasus won, but the Pentagon’s back-and-forth over the USAF’s Next-Generation Bomber program gave Boeing an incentive to remain active. The bomber program will either create a big opening for UCAVs, or allow Boeing to lever any new advances in stealthy UCAV design for its bomber bid. Not so coincidentally, Boeing is using company funds to put its X-45C back on track, as the “Phantom Ray”.
The USA’s aging aircraft problem spans a number of fleets, from aerial tankers, to fighters, to tactical transports. One may argue, however, that its most severe problem lies with its fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3 maritime patrol aircraft. Not only was the global P-3 fleet produced between 1962-1990, the aircraft have often been flown at low altitudes in a salt-spray environment. This is not a recipe for aircraft health.
Rear Adm. Holmes’ 2005 interview confirmed the seriousness of the situation. The US Navy keeps retiring aircraft, and is trying to hang on until its P-8A Poseidon/ BAMS UAV successors are fielded. That is proving to be difficult, to the point that Boeing is reportedly being asked to speed up P-8 production and fielding. Meanwhile, the P-3 Recovery Plan is part of a range of efforts designed to keep the P-3s in the air. Contracts continue, including outer wing replacements and other deep structural maintenance efforts.