While sustainment strategies do not guarantee successful outcomes, they serve as a tool to guide operations as well as support planning and implementation of activities through the life-cycle of the aircraft. Specifically, at a high-level the strategy is aimed at integrating requirements, product support elements, funding, and risk management to provide oversight of the aircraft.
For example, these sustainment strategies can be documented in a life-cycle sustainment plan, postproduction support plan, or an in-service support plan, among other types of documented strategies.
Additionally, program officials stated aircraft sustainment strategies are an important management tool for the sustainment of the aircraft by documenting requirements that are known by all stakeholders, including good practices identified in sustaining each aircraft.
Agents are integrating time-saving applications into their own workflow with proven concepts across commands and services. These time-saving tools enable simultaneous access to data such as requirements, program notes and contractor documents.
You can move from a system where you’re waiting for an email with comments to come back from an engineer or contractor to logging into a system where you can see what they’re working on, in real time, so team can work on a project without any lag time.
Acquisition rules require contractors, program managers, engineers and other stakeholders to work together but it usually involves dozens of technical documents to move from contractor to DoD on any given day, creating a nightmare for acquisition officials charged with ensuring each document is reviewed and meets expectations.
Programs find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data, putting the program at risk, if data spends too long in the review state, missing the contractual response deadline.
Without a vector check from DoD, the contractor assumes a conditional acceptance and moves forward, assuming they are on the right track. This could lead to a host of problems, including a possible schedule slip.”
The team is now spreading the proven results of tools and showing individual offices can use the tools to suit various purposes. Versatility is inherent in the review and content-sharing applications, so new users usually recognize ways to streamline the bulk of documents that shuttle through an acquisition enterprise.
The objective is simple: information dominance through the creation, review, approval and dissemination of data. If you have unrefined, makeshift processes, this won’t work for you, at least not yet. Business processes work more efficient with automation so there are now options if your workflow is functional, but uses outdated tools or requires intense use of human capital.
“The advantage of the utilities lies in the ability to collaborate on existing work, review past work and evolve the system architecture to meet changing needs. These tools provide value now, and value in the future by giving agents access to program work performed. Every agent in the chain can see, through comment tracking, how data changed to capture the correct info and meet requirements.
This fidelity, coupled with the capacity to short-circuit future process complications, makes content-sharing applications ideal for long-running, complex weapons systems program offices looking to limit volume of work spent on acquisition schedule.
F-35 Still Falling Short on Combat Readiness
Even though the F-35 program is making strides, each of the Joint Strike Fighter variants is still coming up short on combat readiness goals.
Based on collected data, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy variants all remain "below service expectations" for aircraft availability.
"Operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains below service expectations. In particular, no F-35 variant meets the specified reliability or maintainability metrics."
One reason for falling short of the 65% availability rate goal is that "the aircraft are breaking more often and taking longer to fix.’
Results improved marginally from 2018 to 2019 but were still below the benchmark, and well below the 80% mission-capable rate goal set by SECDEF ordering the services to raise mission-capable rates for four key tactical aircraft: the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Navy's F/A-18 Hornet, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35. The objective was to achieve an 80% or higher mission-capable rate for each fleet by the end of fiscal 2019.
Units that deployed for overseas missions had “better luck.”. "Individual units were able to achieve the 80% target for short periods during deployed operations.”
A substantial contributor to the degraded mission capability rate -- the ability to perform a core mission function --is a deteriorated stealth coating on F-35 canopies. The F-35 falls short of the 80% mission-capable rate target over parts supply shortages to fix the crumbling coating that allows the plane to evade radar.
"Canopy supply shortages continue to be the main obstacle to achieving this. "We are seeking additional sources to fix unserviceable canopies."
"DoD's costs to purchase the F-35 are expected to exceed $406 billion, and the department expects to spend more than $1 trillion to sustain its F-35 fleet.”
So DoD must continue to grapple with affordability as it takes actions to increase the readiness of the F-35 fleet and improve its sustainment efforts to deliver an aircraft that the military services and partners can successfully operate and maintain over the long term within their budgetary realities."
Lapses in supply chain management is one reason the F-35 stealth jet fleet, operated across three services, is falling short of its performance and operational requirements.
It's something the Pentagon and contractor need to work through as they gear up for another large endeavor. DoD last month finalized a $34 billion agreement with the company for the next three batches of Joint Strike Fighters, firming up its largest stealth fighter jet deal to date.
Despite improvements in availability and mission capable rates, copies of F-35are “breaking more often than planned and taking longer to fix." The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains at a level below service expectations. But after several years of remaining relatively stable, several key suitability metrics are showing signs of slow improvement in 2019.
The F-35 fleet missed the monthly availability target of 65 percent, missed an 80 percent mission-capable target and missed reliability and maintainability metrics. DoD linked recent improvements in availability and mission capable rates to a greater availability of spare parts ― through the programs efforts to improve maintenance process and depot support.
Parts shortages was the chief contributor to low mission capable rates. Parts were breaking more often than expected, it’s taken twice as long to fix them, and the depots for the repairs won’t be ready until 2024.
F-35 Production Delayed Deficits Due to Operational Performance of Joint Simulation System Impact Delivery Status
It's official: top Pentagon officials will not clear the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for full-rate production this year, after setbacks during a crucial testing phase.
The Pentagon’s decision to start full-rate production of the F-35 fighter may be delayed until 2021, due to difficulties with integrating the jet into the DoD virtual wargaming system.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is performing well in the real world, but challenges incorporating it into a simulation system will delay DoD from being able to move into full-rate production.
The JSE simulation projects characteristics such as weather, geography and range, allowing test pilots to prove the aircraft's "full capabilities against the full range of required threats and scenarios.
The delay is due to, in part, a slow progress adding the F-35 into the Joint Simulation Environment, a critical part of the fighter’s fielding process. JSE must be absolutely correct before we proceed” with Milestone C full-rate production decision.
But because the Joint Simulation Environment continues to face delays in its own development, DoD will have to defer Milestone C by more than one year.
The Joint Simulation Environment, or JSE, is needed to conduct simulated evaluations of the F-35 in a range of high-threat scenarios.
“We are not making enough progress on the Joint Simulation Environment, integrating the F-35 into it. It is a critical portion of IOT&E. Progress is being made out on the range with the F-35, but we need to do the work in the Joint Simulation Environment.
“We have collectively decided that we need the JSE to be absolutely correct before we proceed, so some decisions about when that full-rate production decision will be made.
Joint Program Office signed out program deviation report” of a “schedule threshold breach in the Milestone C full-rate production decision of up to a year.
Although the Pentagon and F-35 builder have had a “handshake deal” on the next 478 F-35s for months, they are still negotiating a final agreement on an upcoming contract.
“We’re moving forward with the program and the aircraft are performing exceptionally well. There has been significant progress, so it does not change what we’re doing on the production line, what we’re doing in development, or sustainment.”
Although DoD already buys the F-35 in large numbers, the full-rate production decision is viewed as a major show of confidence in the program’s maturity.
During this time, the yearly production rate is set to skyrocket from the 91 jets manufactured in 2018 upward of 160 by 2023. But before officials sign off on the production decision, the F-35 must complete operational testing.
There is progress being made out on the range with the F-35, but we need to do the work in the Joint Simulation Environment out of its low-rate initial production stage.
Heading into F-35 operational tests, threat of delays loom. The F-35 operational test plan doesn't leave much margin for re-testing or flight cancellations.
The F-35 won’t finish its operational test and evaluation by the end of 2019, which is the final step needed to clear the way for greater production numbers.
Even though F-35’s testing community had intended to complete initial operational test and evaluation in 2019, work on the JSE is not yet complete.
1. Aren’t there required DoD product support metrics?
Joint Requirements Oversight Council requires the mandatory Key Performance Parameter of Sustainment be addressed for all Acquisition Category I and II programs. The Sustainment Key Performance Parameter has three elements that provide an integrated structure that balances sustainment with capability and affordability across a system’s life cycle. The first element is an Availability Key Performance Parameter, consisting of two components: Material Availability and Operational Availability The other two elements are Key System Attributes of Reliability and O&S Cost.
2. How is the right number of key performance metrics tied to incentives/disincentives? What if any are the detrimental effects of having too many Key Performance Indicator? Typically, just a few metrics is the effective number of metrics. The inclusion of “too many metrics” typically indicates that the arrangement is focusing on activities and not outcomes, thus limiting the flexibility of the product support integrator or provider to apply resources where needed to be successful. Additionally, a large number of metrics can potentially dilute the impact of incentives, since metrics may offset each other.
3. What is a product support arrangement?
Product support” and “product support arrangement” defined as: Product support — the package of support functions required to field and maintain the readiness and operational capability of major weapon systems, subsystems, and components, including all functions related to weapon system readiness. Product support arrangement — a contract, order, or any type of other contractual arrangement, or any type of agreement or non-contractual arrangement within DoD, for the performance of sustainment or logistics support required for major weapon systems, subsystems, or components. The term includes arrangements for any of the following: Performance-based logistics, Sustainment support, Contractor logistics support, Life cycle product support and Weapon systems product support. Product support arrangement enable a product support strategy. They must document the following: An acceptable range of weapon system performance objectives Corresponding support necessary to meet that level of performance Terms and conditions for payment, remediation, and other contract conditions
4. Can there be more than one product support integrator?
There is no limit to the number of product support integrators that can be designated by the product support manager, but product support integrators are generally assigned a specific scope of responsibility that aligns either with subsystems or components on the weapon system or for specific integrated product support elements. There can be a single product support integrator for the entire weapon system, or two, for example, an aircraft airframe and propulsion system or multiple product support integrator for various subsystems or components of the weapon system. Each product support integrator has responsibility for accomplishing designated performance outcomes for their assigned scope of sustainment responsibility.
5. What exactly does the term “Integration” mean in the product support integrator role?
“Integration” refers to coordinating typically one dozen product support element activities to deliver an effective and cost-efficient product support solution to the Warfighter. The product support elements are: Product Support Management Design Interface Sustaining Engineering Supply Support Maintenance Planning and Management Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation, Technical Data Support Equipment Training and Training Support Manpower and Personnel Facilities and Infrastructure Computer Resources. Effective support and sustainment of any weapon system, subsystem, or component over its life cycle always involves several, and often all, of these support elements. Each of these can be performed by separate organizations or by either/both the public and private sector, and in geographically disparate locations. Each of these functions is dependent, to some degree, on the other functions.
6. Does it make any difference whether the product support integrator is a DoD entity or an industry entity?
Although statute allows for the product support integrator to be “an entity within/outside the DoD” there may be times when it is advantageous to use a DoD or commercial product support integrator. For example, the product support manager may want to use the original equipment manufacturer as the product support integrator if original equipment manufacturer engineering expertise and experience with the system is important. Conversely, the product support manager may use a DoD product support integrator if the arrangement includes responsibilities inherently conducted by DoD.
7. How can an industry product support integrator manage the performance of the work being performed by DoD workers, or vice versa, in accomplishing the “integration” of product support?
Many product support functions are accomplished by a combination of public and private sector workers, not only working separate functions, but also working together on common functions. The collaboration of public and private sector workers is usually done under a public/private partnership. For example, if an industry original equipment manufacturer is designated as a product support integrator with responsibility for delivering outcomes dependent on organic performance of depot maintenance, then the industry provider has the ability to enter into a public-private partnership with the depots in which the details of the roles and responsibilities to facilitate achievement of the necessary outcomes through their mutual efforts is documented. This collaboration can apply under an Organic product support integrator as well.
8. It seems that most product support integrators are from industry and most of them seem to be the original equipment manufacturer . Does assignment of a product support integrator signify outsourcing of sustainment to industry?
Programs choose to allocate work among DoD and commercial providers, the product support manager is ultimately accountable for the performance of the product support providers. A powerful incentive is the ability to receive extensions to the duration of the contract/award term with good performance. This provides stability to the provider’s order book and adds shareholder value. Incentives that focus on profit may not be applicable for DoD facilities, but increased percentage of available workload, promotions, bonuses, and spot awards are all possible incentives along with the desire to positively impact Warfighter outcomes. Whatever form the incentive takes, it should be sufficient to ensure the desired behavior and outcome over a range of conditions.
9. What are the product support integrator and provider responsible for?
The product support integrator and provider are responsible for successfully executing all delegated activities associated with delivering the outcome specified in the performance-based logistics arrangement. Similar to product support integrator, organic activities, such as an Depot, a Logistics Complex or an Inventory Control Point can also serve as a product support provider. Much in the same way as incentivizing a product support integrator, it depends on whether or not the product support provider is an organic or commercial activity. If the product support provider is an organic activity, the primary incentive is to increase the volume and predictability of the performance-based logistics workload. For the commercial product support provider, there are a variety of effective incentives that can be used to manage repair behavior.
10. If operational requirements change, can required pay level of performance from the product support provider be reduced e.g., a “readiness metrics.”
This is always a requirement that needs to be considered when constructing a performance-based logistics arrangement. A properly structured performance-based logistics arrangement should have provisions that cover such circumstances by allowing the program manager to adjust the performance or terminate a contract under certain conditions. For example, if payment is tied to unit of use, such as operating hour or miles driven, then a change in the level of operations will automatically result in a change in payment.