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Tuesday, April 17, 2018
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JLTV at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

Source: US Army

JLTV at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

Source: US Army

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines and Soldiers will finish testing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Thursday at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center here.

Soldiers from Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division joined with Marines of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, to run the JLTV through its paces by conducting real-world missions in an operational environment as realistic as Iraq or Afghanistan.

Testing began late February, and according to Randall G. Fincher, JLTV test officer with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, 39 JLTVs in two variants of Combat Tactical Vehicle and Combat Support Vehicle were split, with 18 going to the Marines and 21 to the Army test units.

"The Marines and the Army were equipped with both variants in the following mission packages: Heavy Guns Carrier, General Purpose, Close Combat Weapons Carrier, and the Utility version," said Fincher.

The biggest advantage to testing was the almost unreserved size of the MCAGCC training area and its harsh terrain, providing a true test of the vehicle's maneuverability.

"The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center offers us a large expanse of maneuverable terrain with hardball routes, secondary routes, and cross-country terrain in a realistic desert environment," said Col. John W. Leffers, director of USAOTC's Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate.

"The terrain I see out there, is very indicative of what a Soldier or Marine would see in southern Afghanistan," he continued.

"It's absolutely the conditions the JLTV will be operating in, real-world, based on past deployments and the strong possibility of areas we will operate in for the foreseeable future."

Leffers said the two particular Marine and Army units performing tests represent the JLTV's primary customers.

"It's a joint vehicle," he said. "We used the Marines, who picked the company they thought would use the JLTV on a frequent basis. And, for the Army, the Recon Troop was perfect because of the number of JLTVs we wanted to test in a variety of missions that we project the JLTV might be operating under."

Operationally realistic scenarios allowed the test unit Marines and Soldiers to tell the Department of Defense how well the system supports their mission execution.

For the Marines, live fire and helicopter sling load operations, as well as a Marine Amphibious Landing mission at Camp Pendleton, California were added to testing.

One combined anti-armor team section leader Marine who has been deployed to Iraq twice, said training during JLTV testing was beneficial.

"In terms of everything we did specific to Twentynine Palms and the combat center here -- all of the scenarios -- we're pretty much experts at," said Marine Sgt. McLennan S. Janes. "That's all we do. That's our bread and butter, in terms of movement to contact and conducting deliberate attacks, defense in-depths, and conducting raids and clearances.

"The things exclusive to JLTV testing included the amphibious landings and sling loads by helicopter that we never get to do."

The 101st Airborne Division Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky compared the MCAGCC terrain and size to much smaller training areas at their home station.

"It's not very often my Troop gets to go out anywhere for an extended period of time and train mounted tactics, especially in this kind of terrain," said Capt. Michael D. Rodriguez, Bravo Troop commander. "It's just not what's at Fort Campbell."

Rodriguez said a Mounted Cavalry Troop is required to spread out over distances up to 15 kilometers and be able to shoot, move and communicate.

"The main thing we can't get at Campbell that we can get out here is the ability to do our mission over a great distance," he said.

"We've been doing long movements, we've been doing missions at distance, and we've been identifying enemy outside of our weapons range, which is ideal for what we want to do as Scouts -- we want to identify the enemy outside of weapons range and use indirect fire instead of direct fire to disrupt their ability to operate.

"At Fort Campbell, we come right up on our pretend enemy and get into a direct engagement with them. That's good training, but it helps to be out here for my Soldiers to be able to see how big the battlespace is that we are required to cover as a Mounted Troop."

Rodriguez also said he welcomed the opportunity to be involved in an operational test without the normal distractions at home station.

"I was able to look at all of my Soldiers and say, 'Hey, your job is scouting for the next two months.' That's pretty valuable," he said.

One of Rodriguez's platoon leaders said the training experience during the JLTV test will go a long way for him and his Soldiers.

"Traversing in new terrain which is unfamiliar is just like being on a deployment and it's a good experience for all of us," said 1st Lt. Mike D. Towery. "Now, we have this knowledge base of what it's like to maneuver in a desert environment, which will most likely be coming up for us, so now we have that experience in our back pocket.

"We now know the best way to maneuver these vehicles, and especially for myself, I will know how to maneuver a platoon in this type of desert environment."

The operational test's purpose is to collect data to be used to address operational effectiveness, suitability and survivability of the JLTV in its intended environment, according to Fincher.

The Soldiers and Marines felt their opinions were being listened to and considered when test officers solicited their feedback.

"It is a good opportunity to be able to work out the kinks, and provide the future generations in the Marine Corps with a vehicle that is going to be able to operate efficiently in combat," said Janes.

"After every test after action review, I would write about three pages and submit about 20 comment cards per week," said Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Smith, 2nd Platoon Sergeant for the 101st's Bravo Troop.

With 9-and-a-half years as a Cavalry Scout and five wartime deployments, Smith was content with giving his opinion on what works and what does not work with the JLTV.

Smith said that while USAOTC Commander, Brig. Gen. John C. Ulrich, was on the ground April 10, he felt the general listened to him with great concern.

"A lot of the comments that I've made have been brought up," he explained.

"I was actually able to talk with the general one-on-one about some issues I addressed during data collection," said Smith. "They're definitely taking our recommendations.

"It seems like they want to make this the best vehicle possible, so they're like, "Hey, here is what we've designed. What do we need to improve upon?'"

Smith said a lot of his Soldiers are young, and outside of JLTV testing, his troops got lots of training on battlefield operations.

"At Fort Campbell, we focus more on dismounted and air assault tactics, and we focus more on the squad level," he said.

"So, to come here, we have a 100-kilometer square that we can operate in and we're out here with 20 vehicles fighting as a unit. Space is something that's limited at Fort Campbell because there's trees everywhere, and you can't put every vehicle in the Troop out there and be able to fight a threat like you can here."

The Army, lead for the JLTV portfolio, plans to purchase some 49,000 JLTVs while the Marine Corps plans to purchase 9,000.

Source:  US Army
Associated URL:
Source Date: April 17, 2018
Author: Michael M. Novogradac (Hood) 
Posted: 04/20/2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
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Source: US Marine Corps

Source: US Marine Corps

WASHINGTON -- What GAO Found: The first version of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV 1.1) is on track to meet development cost goals with no additional anticipated delays for major acquisition milestones. With regard to costs, the development phase of ACV 1.1 is on pace to not exceed cost goals that were established at the start of development, based on a recent Navy estimate, the ACV program office, and reporting from the contractors.

For example, a September 2017 program progress review reported a Navy estimate of the cost of development at $750.7 million, less than the $810.5 million baseline established at the beginning of development. With regard to schedule, the ACV program has made no major changes to the acquisition schedule since GAO previously reported on the program in April 2017.

ACV 1.1 program officials are in the process of preparing to down-select to a single contactor and enter low-rate production in June 2018, start a second round of low rate production the following year, and begin full-rate production in 2020. ACV 1.1 may be followed by the acquisition of other versions (ACV 1.2 and ACV 2.0) with advanced capabilities such as higher water speeds.

The ACV program is preparing to start production of ACV 1.1, which includes determining that the contractors' manufacturing capabilities are sufficiently mature. However, program officials are considering entering production with a lower level of manufacturing maturity than called for in Department of Defense (DoD) guidance or GAO identified best practices. The ACV program measures manufacturing maturity with manufacturing readiness levels (MRL) for risk areas such as design, materials, process capability and control, and quality management. DOD guidance for weapons acquisition production recommends that programs achieve an MRL of 8 across all risk areas before entering low-rate production and that a program achieve an MRL of 9 at the start of full-rate production.

GAO's previous reviews about manufacturing best practices found that achieving manufacturing maturity and identifying production risks early in the acquisition cycle and assessing those risks prior to key decision points, such as the decision to enter production, reduces the likelihood of quality issues, cost growth, and delays. The Marine Corps contract option for producing the first round of low-rate production for ACV 1.1 will be exercised after June 2018; the contract also contains additional options for production vehicles. Making the decisions to proceed with the second round of low-rate production and for the start of full-rate production before meeting called-for levels of manufacturing readiness criteria increases the risk that ACV 1.1 will witness delays and increased costs.

Why GAO Did This Study

In June 2018, the United States Marine Corps plans to select a contractor and begin low-rate production for the ACV, a vehicle used to transport Marines from ship to shore under hostile conditions. The ACV will replace all or part of the current Assault Amphibious Vehicle fleet.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 included a provision for GAO to annually review and report on the ACV program until 2018. This report, GAO's last under that provision, assesses the extent to which the Marine Corps is making progress toward (1) meeting cost and schedule goals for the ACV program and (2) demonstrating manufacturing readiness.

GAO reviewed program cost estimates, updated schedules, and program assessments of test results and production readiness, as well as compared ACV acquisition efforts to DOD guidance and GAO-identified best practices. GAO also interviewed program and testing officials, and visited both ACV primary assembly locations.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends the Marine Corps (1) not enter the second year of low-rate production for ACV 1.1 until after the contractor has achieved an overall MRL of 8 and (2) not enter full-rate production until achieving an overall MRL of 9. DOD partially concurred with both recommendations, but noted that it is reasonable to proceed at lower MRL levels if steps are taken to mitigate risk. GAO made no changes to its recommendations in response to these comments.

Source:  US Government Accountability Office
Associated URL:
Source Date: April 17, 2018
Posted: 04/20/2018

Friday, April 20, 2018
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An MH-60R

Source: U.S. Navy

An MH-60R

Source: U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Mexico of eight MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters for an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. Congress was notified of the required certification on April 18, 2018.

Mexico has requested the following equipment for the new helicopters: twenty (20) T-700 GE 401 C engines (16 installed and 4 spares); sixteen (16) APS-153(V) Multi-Mode radars (8 installed, 8 spares); ten (10) Airborne Low Frequency Systems (ALFS) (8 installed and 2 spares); fourteen (14) AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe transponders (8 installed and 6 spares); twelve (12) AN/AAS-44C Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems Forward Looking Infrared Systems (8 installed, 4 spares); twenty (20) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) with Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module (16 installed and 4 spares); thirty (30) AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Devices; one thousand (1,000) AN/SSQ-36/53/62 Sonobuoys; ten (10) AGM-114 Hellfire missiles; five (5) AGM-114 M36-E9 Captive Air Training missiles; four (4) AGM-114Q Hellfire training missiles; thirty eight (38) Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) II rockets; thirty (30) Mk -54 Lightweight Hybrid Torpedoes (LHTs); twelve (12) M-240D machine guns; twelve (12) GAU-21 Machine Guns. Also included are twelve (12) AN/ARC-220 High Frequency radios; spare engine containers; facilities study, design, and construction; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; communication equipment; ferry support; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

Mexico is a major operator of the UH-60M Black Hawk. Initial agreements, covering six units for the National Police, were signed in July 2009 as part of the Merida Initiative. In August 2010, the Navy ordered three units for $35.3 million. In September 2014, the Mexican Air Force ordered 26 helicopters split between a batch of 18 and a batch of eight. The batch of 18 helicopters cost $203.6 million, while the batch of eight cost $93.3 million. In December 2015, the Navy exercised a $56.4 million option for five additional UH 60Ms. The Navy ordered another two in September 2015 for $22.6 million. The most recent order came from the Air Force in April 2016 for seven aircraft worth $55 million. In total, Mexico has ordered 49 UH-60Ms, with six for the National Police, 10 for the Navy, and 33 for the Air Force.

Initial deliveries of three UH-60Ms to the Navy began in 2011. Six UH-60Ms were delivered to the Air Force in December 2015. The Navy took delivery of an additional three in February 2016. A total of 18 have been delivered, with 12 for the Air Force and six Navy. One Air Force helicopter crashed in February 2018.

MH-60Rs are navalized version of Sikorsky's UH-60/S-70 helicopter. The addition of sonobuoys and torpedoes will be vital for Mexico to monitor and police its waters to stop traffickers transporting humans and illegal narcotics.

Source:  U.S. State Department
Associated URL:
Source Date: April 20, 2018
Author: B. Ostrove, Analyst 
Posted: 04/20/2018



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