Officials Testify on the Challenges of the F-35 Program, Part 1

Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and Robert F. Behler, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, testify at a joint hearing of the House Subcommittees on Readiness and Tactical Air and Land Forces. Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric T. Fick, F-35 program executive officer, will also testify. The subject of the hearing is the Sustainment, Production, and Affordability Challenges of the F-35 Program, Nov 13, 2019.

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And we’ll begin with an opening statement. The normal process here is for, I’ll open and then I’m gonna turn to Mr. Lamborn and then to Mr. Norcross, and then Miss Hartzler. Good morning. I want to welcome everyone to this hearing especially for my colleagues, Don and Vicky and Doug when he shows up. This hearing joint hearing of the Readiness Subcommittee and the Tactical Air and Lane Forces Subcommittees concerning the F-35 program. The hearing comes at a very critical time for the F-35 program. After nearly two decades of development, the aircraft is entered into its operational testing period, and it’s actively deployed around the globe and it has seen its first combat missions. Acquisition continuous apace, we’ve delivered over 450 F-35s to the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and key international partners. By 2023, the fleet is expected to include more than 1,100 aircraft stationed at 43 operational sites. As Department of Defense costliest weapons system, it goes without saying that the F-35 has been the subject of much concerned criticism and occasional optimism, with acquisition costs expected to exceed $406 billion and sustainment cost estimated at more than a trillion dollars over its 60 year life cycle, this scrutiny is warranted. In fact sustainment activities will ultimately contribute to 70% of the program’s total costs. So, today’s discussion, the first F-35 hearing, led by the Readiness subcommittee will rightfully focus on sustainment issues. The F-35 sustainment enterprise faces formidable challenges, these include unacceptable high operating and support costs, inadequate repair capacity at depots, spare parts shortages compounded by insufficient reliability of parts, components, and deficiencies in the platform’s ALIS system. As a result of these problems, only about half of the F-35 fleet was available to fly at any given time in 2017 and ’18. The program has had a complex relationship with its prime contractors, Lockheed Martin and Pratt Whitney, who bear the responsibility for some of the programs sustainment challenges and problems and from whom we will hear in the second panel. While the Department paid insufficient attention to sustainment in the program’s early years, that bears repeating, but I won’t at the moment, we have seen an increased focus on the problems of sustainment, resulting in measurable progress, and we acknowledge that progress. Cost per flying hours are decreasing, and the aircraft’s mission capability rates, while still too low, did increase this year, partially as a result of the spotlight placed on improving mission capability by former Secretary of Defense Mattis. Yet attention to these problems must outlast any particular leader or directive. As we look ahead to the next few decades of the F-35 service, failing to create an effective cost efficient sustainment system will diminish readiness, squander taxpayer resources, and discourage the Services and our partners from continuing to purchase the F-35. This would create unacceptable risks for the program, and would be an abdication of the trust and investment of the public and our allies. The capabilities of the F-35 brings to the battlefield are essential to the objectives of our new National Defense Strategy and to those of our international partners. I’m not interested in dwelling on the mistakes of the past. But I do think we all agree that the stakes are too high for us to allow this program to fail. And we all, the Congress, the Senate, the Department of Defense and the contractors, we all must take a constructive and collaborative approach towards solving the F-35 sustainment challenges. And I look forward to discussing how we can do that in today’s hearing. Now, with the arrival of my colleague, and Ranking Member of the subcommittee, and by the rules of this committee, I turned to Mr. Lamborn.

Well, thank you Chairman Garamendi I truly appreciate the opportunity to conduct this joint hearing with our colleagues on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, which I’m also on, so I guess I’ll wear two hats along with Vicky Hartzler and others. The F-35 program is an example of a program that seems to be like it was designed so that it’s too big to fail. From the program’s inception, the Pentagon has struggled to resolve conflicts between the Services regarding the Joint Strike Fighter’s requirements, failed to protect the government’s ownership of an intellectual property that was funded by taxpayer dollars, and failed to manage cost growth. Lockheed Martin has delivered over 450 aircraft to our military and to international partners participating in the program. We now enter the period where sustainment and readiness of the F-35 fleet are critical to our national security. One of the biggest concerns I have is whether the government has full access to the intellectual property required to sustain the F-35. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses in both panels about how we are addressing that issue. We are at risk of allowing one company to be in a monopolistic position to the government, which would enable it to charge a premium for sustainment contracts. My next concern is that we must build capacity within the depots and maintenance systems of our Armed Forces. Failing to do so will guarantee future sustainment challenges. When you talk to the pilots and maintainers in the field, they have serious questions about the Autonomous Logistics Information System known as ALIS that supports mission planning, supply chain management, and maintenance. Operators are spending countless hours inputting data that is supposed to be automated. From my perspective, it appears that the software architecture is outdated, and I look forward to discussing the way ahead. Within the data management part of the program, I am also deeply concerned about simulator support for the force. My understanding is that there are significant issues in replacing the servers that support these systems, which significantly reduces the ability of our pilots to train. Finally, supply chain management for F-35 is still a work in progress and has a long way to go. The prime contractor is responsible for maintaining, excuse me, managing replacement parts, packages, and government personnel on site have limited to no visibility into the actual parts on hand. We are receiving consistent feedback from the field that these packages are not configured for the correct version of the aircraft that they were supposed to be supporting. Because the contractor is managing the supply chain instead of the military managing the supply chain, the program is incurring unnecessary costs to move parts between countries and to support our partner nations. So, I want to thank our witnesses for being here today and for their testimony, and I know you’re working hard to address these shortcomings. The foundation of these problems were laid decades ago in some cases, but we have to pick up the pace on sustainment as we get closer to full rate production. At $406 billion per acquisition, and more than $1 trillion estimated for sustainment, we cannot afford any further mismanagement of this program. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

Thank you, Mr. Lamborn. I now turn to my colleague chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. Don Norcross, your opening remarks sir.

Thank you, Chairman. Want to thank my good friends from California, Colorado, Missouri for agreeing to this joint hearing with the Readiness and Tactical Air and Land Forces. Welcome to the distinguished panel of witnesses for taking the time to come before us to meet our constitutional oversight responsibilities, we must hear from the Department program leaders, as well as those independent agencies that help us evaluate program progress or shortfalls. We should also take the opportunity to get on the record testimony from our two prime contractors responsible for production and sustainment of this critical capability for the warfighter, and for the American taxpayer who is funding the program. I agree with everything that has been said so far and note that the F-35 programs is trying to recover from risky acquisition decisions made by past program leaders, previous decisions that resulted in unforeseen increases in funding for development production to address this failing assumptions made for the high concurrency designed into this program. That bill for the past acceptable concurrency risk is now due and has resulted in significant fiscal challenges facing us today. Block 3F configured aircraft delivered today are only somewhat combat mission capable. There are still material deficiencies that negatively impact the load serviceability characteristics of this aircraft. And that’s only a fifth-generation aircraft that can provide. And yet the system development design phase of the program has officially ended. We now embark on the next upgrade known as Block 4 which is estimated to cost an additional 20 billion in development and retrofit costs for both today’s fielded aircraft and future production aircraft to achieve full combat capability. Today, we want to understand what fixes you’re making to the struggling ALIS system which we’ve heard from two of our colleagues so far, where are we finding the qualified alternate sources of supplying resulting from the Turkey suspension from the program, and what strategy and execution plan to establish greater capacity, effectiveness, and insight with the prime contractor deficiencies with supply chain, parts management currently plaguing the efficiency of the production line. Finally I’d like to learn from the Department, what they’re doing to establish common costs categories and metrics, and evaluating the true ownership cost of the aircraft, whether defined in terms of costs per flight hour or cost per tail year, I believe it is imperative for leaders to establish a Department wide policy for guidance when we’re comparing costs, apples to apples input between some of the legacy programs and the future generation aircraft. The Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee I will continue to support the program. But we don’t have unlimited resources, which seem to continuing need this elusive term affordability. With that, again, I look forward to the hearing and yield back to my Chairman.

Thank you, Mr. Norcross. Miss Hartzler.

Thank you. As the Chairman mentioned, this hearing continues the committee’s ongoing oversight and continuing review of the F-35 program. As members of this committee, we understand and recognize the importance of fifth generation capability as well as the need to grow additional fifth generation capacity in order to meet the objectives of the National Defense Strategy and maintain a credible deterrence posture. I was pleased to see the latest F-35 production contract award, the largest in the history of the Department of Defense, has resulted in significant lower unit recurring fly away costs for the F-35 from $89.3 million per F-35A aircraft in the previous contract to $77.9 million for this contract award representing a 12.8% decrease. According to the Joint Program Office, this $34 billion agreement will see the delivery of 478 F-35 aircraft which will almost double the size of the current F-35 fleet by 2022. However, given the size, the scope, and complexity of the program that the fleet size will nearly double over the next two years, this hearing provides a timely opportunity to update our members on the challenges currently facing the program going forward to include what actions are being taken now to ensure long term affordability and drive down sustainment costs. I want to briefly run through a few issues that I expect the witnesses to cover today. Regarding Turkey’s recent suspension and ultimate removal from the program, I join Chairman Norcross in an interest in receiving an update on the current posture of the F-35 industrial base to include qualifying and ramping up alternative sources for the parts that were being produced in Turkey. I also expect the witnesses to update us on the acquisition plan, the cost estimates, and a test strategy for the Block 4 modernization program. I understand next year’s budget request will be the first production year for Block 4 aircraft. And I’d like to know whether you’re experiencing any challenges with overall Block 4 development schedule. And will these new aircraft result in higher unit costs? We were recently notified that the full rate production decision has been delayed by over a year. And I’m interested in hearing what programmatic impacts this delay would have, if any, on the program’s current acquisition strategy. Today’s hearing is also a good time to update us on some of the outcomes from the initial operational testing evaluation that is ongoing, specifically the challenges associated with developing the joint simulated environment capability which is needed to realistically test fifth generation capability. And finally, I would appreciate the witnesses to the degree they can in an open hearing, address how they are approaching cyber security concerns and testing, specifically as it relates to ALIS, which has been mentioned, the Automatic Logistics Information System, and the overall integrity of the supply chain. So, I want to thank our witnesses for being with us today. I look forward to an open and candid discussion. And with that, thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

Thank you, Miss Hartzler. I now like to welcome to the hearing our witnesses on the first panel, honorable Ellen Lord Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Lieutenant General Eric Fick, Program Executive Officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office, Robert Behler, Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Miss Diana Maurer Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at the Government Accountability Office. I’m gonna start with the government accountability. And let’s get an outline of what has happened. I know that the GAO has been on this issue for a long, long time, multiple reports over the last several years. So, Miss Maurer if you would here to start us off, all that’s good and not so good.

We’ll give you the full picture. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

[Garamendi] Thank you. Pull that microphone up close and be personal with it.

All right, sure.

[Garamendi] Thank you.

I’m pleased to be here today to discuss GAO’s findings and recommendations on F-35 sustainment. U.S. air power depends on the F-35. And when we talk to pilots and mechanics in the field, we hear good things that they have to say about the amazing capabilities of the aircraft. But the success of the F-35 ultimately depends on sustainment. And for too many years sustainment has taken a backseat, while in recent years, this has changed for the better, DOD has increased its attention and commitment to sustainment challenges. Let there be no doubt the program is trying to dig itself out of a big hole. Many important plans, agreements, and details on how to supply and maintain the F-35 were not worked out before the Marines, Air Force, Navy, and international partners began using the aircraft. As a result, we have a very capable, very expensive system that’s not flying nearly as often as planned. During the last fiscal year F-35s were on average, able to perform one of their many potential missions less than 2/3 of the time, and all missions only about 1/3 of the time. These figures are far from the goals set by the Secretary of Defense and the Services. Our work has identified several reasons for these outcomes. First, there are not enough spare parts to go around. As we reported earlier this year, F-35s cannot fly about 30% of the time due to supply issues. In addition, parts are breaking more often than expected, it’s taking twice as long as planned to fix them, and the necessary depot repair capabilities won’t be completed until 2024. And then there’s ALIS, the information system vital to the F-35’s maintenance, logistics, and mission execution. If ALIS doesn’t work, the F-35 doesn’t work, and ALIS has been struggling for years. In addition DOD’s options for improving sustainment are constrained by the overall structure of the program. For example, contractors largely own the technical data, provide the spare parts, and manage the global logistics system. But to help with these challenges, my statement today discusses 21 recommendations we’ve made over the past few years. And DOD by and large agrees and has started taking action to address most of them and that’s very encouraging. However, improving sustainment will not be quick and it will not be easy. It will require action by DOD, action by the contractors, continued robust congressional oversight, and full implementation of GAO’s recommendations. Continued focus and action on sustainment is necessary to ensure the F-35 is able to meet our national security goals for many decades to come. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning and I look forward to your questions.

I want to thank you and your colleagues at the GAO for its work, your work, over almost two decades now, on this program. We would do very well in our role of oversight to pay attention to the 21 recommendations that you have made. And I will now ask Miss Lord for her review of those 21 recommendations Miss. Lord.

Good morning. Chairman Garamendi, Ranking member Lamborn and distinguished members of the Readiness Subcommittee, Chairman Norcross, Ranking Member Hartzler, and distinguished members of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I’m pleased to join Robert Behler, Lieutenant General Eric Fick, Diana Maurer to discuss our continued efforts to develop, build, and sustain an affordable and ready F-35 air system. With more than 458 fielded aircraft operating from within the U.S. and abroad, our warfighters are beginning to experience the true game changing capabilities the F-35 brings to bear as well as identifying challenges that need to be addressed. As Undersecretary, I have maintained a laser focus on driving down costs, improving quality, and increasing fleet readiness. The Department is actively transforming the F-35 program to deliver the efficiencies, agility, and readiness outcomes we need in a time of strategic competition. I would like to briefly walk through how the F-35 enterprise is working to dramatically improve F-35 sustainment outcomes by focusing on a subset of our actions to achieve the Department’s goals of improving aircraft availability, and reducing sustainment costs. I’ve submitted a more in depth statement for the record. As the F-35 fleet continues to grow and the air systems capabilities are enhanced, it is crucial that we stay focused on improving fleet readiness to ensure the F-35’s critical capabilities are available to the warfighter. I would like to thank Congress for their support in helping us maintain a balanced investment approach. With your help, the program continues to make steady progress in enhancing fleet readiness, but much work remains. My team has identified several success elements that we’ve documented in a comprehensive life cycle sustainment plan, we call it LCSP, that are required to drive fleet readiness improvements. For example, we’re focused on a number of efforts to accelerate supply chain improvements to increase supplier capacity, decrease lead times for spares, and optimize spares available on the shelf. The Department is also accelerating depot component repair activations by six years to meet fleet component repair demands. Additionally, we’re working to improve ALIS field level functionality and responsiveness. ALIS is a key enabler to the platform’s operational availability and sadly, as presently constituted, ALIS is not delivering the capabilities the warfighter needs. The Department is progressing towards a future ALIS developed and sustained utilizing agile software development techniques designed to rapidly deliver flexible applications on a modern secure architecture. I see a number of our industry partners demonstrating a high degree of confidence in developing the kinds of open architectures needed to support the warfighter. The problems with ALIS are ones we can and must solve. The F-35 enterprise recognizes that the U.S. Services, the F-35 JPO, and industry must collaborate to reduce sustainment costs. I am personally overseeing an effort to understand the barriers preventing more rapid improvement to both readiness and affordability. The intent is for the F-35 program to uncover performance drivers and apply commercial best practices where appropriate to targeted interventions. The Department is using these insights to support accelerated implementation of key success elements in our LCSP. Specifically, we have identified that driving down support costs, both in terms of labor cost and labor demand, is the key lever in reducing overall F-35 sustainment costs, because sustainment support accounts for over a third of all sustainment costs. Additionally, as we learn more about the readiness barriers and the cost drivers, we’re using this knowledge to help inform our analysis of Lockheed’s five year fixed price, performance based logistics or PBL proposal. We’re in the early stages of working in conjunction with our industry partners to analytically understand if, when, and to what scope an F-35 PBL contract could be awarded. Our goal is to ensure that any such contract meets the readiness and affordability goals important to the F-35 Warfighter and in the best interest of the American taxpayer. In conclusion, the Department continues to demonstrate our commitment to provide an affordable, lethal, supportable, and survivable F-35 air system. While the Department is grateful to Congress for passing a two year budget agreement that provides budgetary certainty, the Department needs to implement the National Defense Strategy. I want to reiterate how regrettable it is that we are again under a continuing resolution. CRs cause great damage to military readiness and disrupt our ability to modernize our forces. I strongly urge Congress to pass the defense appropriation and authorization bill now so that we can move forward with the many important programs needed to ensure our readiness and deter our adversaries. I want to thank both subcommittees for your longstanding bipartisan support. And I look forward to your questions.

Thank you very much, Miss Lord. Yes, we’re gonna go at those issues that you raised, that’s the subject of the hearing, we’ll get at it. Lieutenant General Fick.

Chairman Garamendi, Chairman Norcross, ranking members Lamborn and Hartzler, and distinguished members of the Readiness and Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittees, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I am pleased to have this opportunity to join Under Secretary Lord, Director Behler, and Director Maurer to discuss our continued and collective efforts to develop, deliver, and sustain the F-35 air system with the capabilities our warfighters demand at a price our taxpayers can afford. Since becoming the F-35 PEO this past summer I have been both impressed by and proud of the progress that my joint and international team has made together with our industry partners in modernizing and sustaining the air system now deployed in combat operations around the world. Ranking member Hartzler noted our recent production contract award. But production success of course is nothing if not followed by progress in the area of sustainment. As our operational fleet continues to grow, we are committed to maturing our global sustainment solution to increase aircraft availability while simultaneously driving down operations and support costs. As you well know if we’re missing parts and we can’t get our jets airborne, the ability to deliver combat effects on this aircraft are significantly diminished. Getting parts to the field when they are needed, expeditiously repairing broken parts, and improving the reliability and the maintainability of the aircraft are all critical items we need to achieve to get to consistently higher mission capability rates while simultaneously driving down sustainment costs. While I am both personally and professionally unsatisfied with where we are today, I will offer that we are seeing measured progress on both fronts. Actions undertaken by the F-35 enterprise and by our warfighting maintainers in 2019 increased the mission capability rates of our U.S. operational fleet from 55% in October of 2018 to 73% in September of 2019, even as our fleet grew by an additional 91 aircraft, that’s the MC rate of a single deployed unit. In this past summer our four deployed Air Force units from the 38th Fighter Wing at Hill led the first F-35A combat employment encompassing 1,319 sorties for 7,248 flight hours. I’m pleased to share that the 38th saw their mission capability rates increase from 72% in April to 92% by the time they return in October. We know what success looks like, and we must make that the norm for the program, not the exception. Just as in aircraft availability, we’re also making steady measured progress and bringing down our sustainment and operating costs for the F-35. While much work remains ahead of us, this program is demonstrating a downward glide slope in this area. In 2019 alone, our negotiating team drove a nine percent reduction in prime contractor sustainment costs for the U.S. Air Force directly reducing our overall cost per flying hour. I’m committed to aggressively continuing on this path, across all Services and partners, and to sharing our progress with you as we do it. My sustainment team and I fully understand that there’s no silver bullet in this area and a coordinated and data informed effort across a wide spectrum of work is required. For the F-35 enterprise, this coordinated effort is captured in the F-35 life cycle sustainment plan Miss Lord mentioned, which is the most execution friendly sustainment plan I’ve ever seen. As a result of the initiatives defined in this plan, as well as the combined efforts of the Joint Program Office, the U.S. Services and industry in executing it, we are seeing meaningful evidence that our targeted initiatives across nine individual lines of effort are improving aircraft availability, while simultaneously driving down O&S costs. We are reducing to aggressively accelerate our software modernization cycles, our supply chain deliveries, and our depot repair capabilities and to prioritize reliability maintainability projects, so that we have the right return on our investment for our warfighters. The life cycle sustainment plan also encompasses our path forward for the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System or ALIS, with which you are all familiar. While we have seen recent improvements in ALIS functionality and responsiveness, significant additional work is required, work that can’t be done in old and outdated ways. We must change the way we deliver ALIS capabilities and we must do so now. In closing, I once again observe that with more than 460 aircraft fielded around the world, and delivering combat effects, the F-35 is more affordable and lethal than ever before. On behalf of the men and women of the F-35 enterprise, you have my commitment to continue to execute this program with the due diligence, engineering excellence, and professional impatience required so that we may develop, deliver, and sustain this fifth generation air system the warfighter requires on a timeline that makes a difference. With your help, we will continue to bring this game changing capability to our U.S. and international warfighting partners for decades to come. Thank you again for this opportunity, and I look forward to your questions.

Thank you, General, Mr. Behler.

Chairman Garamendi, Chairman Norcross, the ranking member Lamborn, and ranking member Hartzler, and distinguished members of two committees, thank you very much for inviting me to join my colleagues today to discuss the status of the F-35 program. As you know, DOT&E plays a vital role in the acquisition and fielding process. I’ve submitted a more detailed statement for the record but this morning I would like to give you a quick overview of where the F-35 operational testing stands today. DOT&E, the JSF Operational Test team or the JOT, the F-35 program office, the Service Operational Test agencies, have been collaborating closely to evaluate the F-35’s lethality, survivability, and readiness and we’ve been making good progress. So far the JOT has conducted 91% of the open air test missions, actual weapons employment, cyber security testing, deployments, and comparison testing with fourth generation fighters including the congressionally directed comparison test of the F-35A and the A10C. IOT&E events have assessed the F-35 across a variety of offensive and defensive roles. Based on the data collected so far, operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains below service expectations. In particular, no F-35 variant meets the specified reliability or maintainability metrics. In short, all variants, the aircraft are breaking more often and taking longer to fix. However, there are several suitability metrics that are showing signs of improvement this year. There are two phases of formal IOT&E remaining. The first is electronic warfare testing against robust service air threats at the Point Mugu Sea range. The other is testing against a dense modern surface and air threats in the joint simulation environment at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. I will approve the start of these tests when the necessary test infrastructure is ready. The joint simulation environment is essential. The JSE is a man in the loop synthetic environment that uses actual aircraft software. It is designed to provide a scalable, high fidelity, operationally realistic simulation. I would like to emphasize that the JSE will be the only venue available other than actual combat against pure adversaries to adequately evaluate the F-35 due to the inherent limitations of open-air testing. These limitations do not permit a full and adequate test of the aircraft against the required types and density of modern threat systems including weapons, aircraft, and electronic warfare that are currently fielded by our near peer adversaries. Integrating the F-35 into the JSE is a very complex challenge, but is required to complete IOT&E, which will lead to my final IOT&E report. The current schedule indicates that the JSE will not be ready to start final phase of operational testing until July of next year. As you know, most of the IOT&E results are classified. However, I’d be happy to provide observations to you and your staff in the appropriate venue. Again, thank you very much for this opportunity to be here and I look forward to your questions.

Mr. Behler thank you. General Fick and Miss Lord, thank you very much for your testimony. We have a lot of questioners, and each questioner has a lot of questions. So we’re gonna try to move expeditiously as we can. I will attempt to limit myself to five minutes as will Mr. Lamborn, Miss Hartzler, and Mr. Norcross, so we’ll have a go at it. Spare parts, ALIS, contractor control, depots. And by the way who runs this program? Joint Program Office or the various Services themselves? Fundamental questions we need to answer. Let’s start with ALIS. What are we gonna do about it Miss Lord Mr. Fick, General Fick, what are we gonna do here? Are we gonna rebuild this entire system planes don’t run with ALIS not working properly, what are we gonna do?

ALIS is being dealt with under the framework of our life cycle sustainment plan. One of the things we know we need to do in terms of having adequate sustainment, reaching cost per flight hour, getting the aircraft availability that we need, is to tackle discrete problems. ALIS is one of them. So, what we’ve done in the plan is we have actual assignments around ALIS, we have specific individuals responsible for it and dates that they need to meet. The core of what is being done is to re-architect ALIS, as we continue to patch ALIS, as it exists today, and General Fick has a lot of specifics around that. We are making sure that we are transitioning to agile and DevOps as we’ve demonstrated the capability to do through the air force’s Mad Hatter efforts at Kessel Run up in Boston. What we are doing is re-architecting ALIS to make sure it meets the needs of the warfighter while making good use of taxpayer dollar and we are working on a detailed plan right now as to when that capability will be delivered. But we are taking multiple lines of effort that exist today with ALIS and we are coalescing those in 2020 to one effort.

We would like for the record, what those multiple lines are.


[Garamendi] In the detail.

And for the LCSP or for ALIS?

Both but right now for ALIS.

Absolutely, we will certainly get those to you.

General Fick, you want to add?

I could just pile on a little bit. The four individual lines of effort that have historically been running on ALIS, or what I would characterize as ALIS classic, which is ALIS that was developed as the program evolved. The version in the field right now is ALIS We are in the process of feeling ALIS 3.5 as we speak, that will bring about 300 stability fixes to that baseline functionality to allow it to be a better system for the users. That’s the legacy system. At the same time, we’ve been working on what we call it ALIS next, which was an exploration of new architectures. We’ve been working on what’s called the Mad Hatter initiative, which is an agile DevOps focused look at.

So, excuse me for interrupting but I will. So, we’re looking at the the fundamental architecture is like Miss Hartzler said earlier, is 20 years old. So, you’re looking at a new architecture another new foundation, new system, Mad Hatter, whatever it is, when.

So, we’re working that transition literally as we speak. We have strong heavily leveraged Dr. Jeff Bolling, who works for Miss Lord as the OSD software expert. We’ve leveraged the work of the Boston Consulting Group to terminate.

The rest is controlled by Lockheed Martin. Are they working with you, against you? What’s the deal?

They are working with us. The fourth line of effort outside of Mad Hatter was, that Lockheed is doing. And so what we’re working to do with Jeff Bolling’s help is to coalesce those efforts into a single, new version of ALIS marching forward that leverages an underlying data architecture that’s expandable with the expanding fleet in ways that the current ALIS.

And what is your deadline to achieve this?

We believe that we will be able to make significant progress by next fall, by September of ’20. But we are starting movement in that direction.

And the definition for significant.

We hope to be able to turn off select SOU, squadron operational units by September of 2020.

And what resources do you need to accomplish this? Or can you pry it out of Lockheed?

So, we’ll be looking to work with Lockheed with the group from Kessel Run, the Mad Hatter team, as well as the team at Hill Air Force Base, the 309 software sustainment group to do that work. My intent is to do it within existing program funds. But we have not finished our assessment whether additional funds will be needed at this time.

If I may just add to that, the Air Force has a high level of competency in software development. And we are trying to leverage what we have, particularly at Hill Air Force Base and Warner Robins, along with Lockheed’s capability to make sure we take the Air Force’s experience and success and leverage that on the F-35. In fact General Goldfein has specifically asked General Bunch who’s now commander Air Force Materiel Command out at Wright Pat and who I spoke to this morning about this very task to make sure that he is leveraging all the Air Force has to bear. I think we need to move forward quickly. And we need to make sure we understand exactly what the maintainers are experiencing and we need the Air Force’s help to do this. So, this will be a collaboration between the government and Lockheed Martin and Lockheed Martin, I’ve spoken directly with Marilyn Houston about this, is going to need to leverage their software expertise and their best and brightest on this.

Final question for me and then I’ll turn to my colleagues who will carry on. Who has the proprietary information, who has the right to the existing ALIS software and architecture?

Right now, that’s between Lockheed and the government. And one of the key elements of coming up with a new ALIS architecture and software standard, or I’m sorry, data standards, and all the other parts that would make a very good system is understanding the entire data set as it exists today, what all the algorithms are, and we are still in the process of going through that with Lockheed Martin and we are still having discussions over various parts of that. But understanding where all of the intellectual property is and making sure the government has access to what it has paid for is a key portion of re-architecting ALIS.

Thank you much more to be said about that. Mr. Lamborn, your turn.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and for having this hearing. And I want to follow up on what you just brought up about intellectual property. Miss Lord and General Fick, I’ll ask you this question. Can you give us a little more detail? A little more granularity, if you will, on where we’re at now with resolving these intellectual property issues with the prime contractor, and do you still have any major concerns?

So, we still do have concerns, there still are roadblocks as we go to execute everything from as simple as documents that get uploaded into a system and U.S. government documents that can get uploaded into a system and come back with Lockheed Martin proprietary markings on them. That is a frustrating occurrence, but it’s not one that keeps us from doing work. What we’re working to do is to to figure out where the places in which those proprietary, our intellectual property assertions, actually keep us from doing the kind of work that we intend to do. One of those cases to Mr. Behler’s point is within the JSE. So, our initial integration of the F-35, in a box into the JSE was held up by a dispute between the government and Lockheed over the intellectual property contained within nine individual algorithms within F-35 in a box that slowed our progress and getting started and slowed our early progress once we had begun. But that’s one specific case in which we identify.

That would have been resolved?

So, what happened in the case of F-35 in a box is, in order to get on contract in order to start moving forward, we had to sign up to accept less than government purpose rights to be able to move but reserve the right to challenge that intellectual property assertion. So, we brought in DCAA, they dug through the paperwork, working closely with Lockheed Martin to determine whether Lockheed could prove through their records that those software elements had been exclusively developed at contractor expense. DCAA could not come to a conclusion based upon the data they were presented. And the contracting officers final determination or COFD was that they could not prove that the those elements had been developed exclusively at their expense and therefore it should be government purpose rights. Lockheed Martin has protested that finding by the contracting officer and elevated that to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals for final adjudication and that issue is still being resolved. So, basically, we’re getting to a place where we don’t need all the data, but the data that we need, it’s important that we pursue it. And so this is the way in which we’re looking at what do we need? Okay, let’s go get it.

Thank you, Miss Lord, do you have anything to add to that?

I think one of the challenges we have is the fact that a lot of the ALIS data and functionality works back through Lockheed Martin computers. So, what we need to do with our newly architected ALIS is to have that in a government cloud and accessible. So, this deconflicting of Lockheed data and the government data will become much clearer. We also have fundamental standards that we need to set down such as data standards. So, it’s very, very clear.

Okay. Thank you. And Mr. Behler, you mentioned JSE and you said that you think it’s gonna be operational for testing in the last quarter of this fiscal year? Is it on track to meet this requirement?

Actually, what I said it’d be ready for the fiscal year next year, so. It’d be July of 2020 when we think it’ll be ready to start operational testing.

And that is the last quarter of this fiscal year, but go ahead. Go ahead.

You’re absolutely correct. So, the question was, why is it required?

Is it on track to actually be operational by that time?

Well, that’s what the master schedule says. So, I guess I’m not the program manager, and I guess I would ask the program manager if he feels comfortable. We have been closely coordinating with the program office, and NAVAIR out at PAX river to find out when this thing’s gonna be ready. There’s enormous challenges and there’s a lot of unknown unknowns still out there. But I’ll let General Fick kind of give you what he believes.

Yeah, thank you, General Fick.

So, I do believe that the JSE development, the F-35 in a box integration at the JSE is on track. The team, led by my tech director behind me, has spent an extraordinary amount of time going through and developing a very detailed line by line schedule that looks at that integration and to put it in context, we’re not only integrating the F-35 in a box into this environment, we’re also integrating all of the blue and red threat vehicles, ground systems, airborne systems and weapons, electronic warfare, and all of the things that you need to bring a full eight on eight or greater scenario to life in a synthetic environment. So, to Mr. Behler’s earlier point, this is a, it’s a very challenging enterprise. We’re trying to actually come as close to combat as we can come without actually putting iron in the sky.

Thank you so much. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

[Garamendi] Thank you, Mr. Lamborn. Now turn to Chairman Norcross.

Thank you. Miss Lord, in my opening remarks, we talked about defined standardization costs categories and metrics for understanding both the cost per flight hour and cost per tail per year. We’re talking about the F-35 today in particular, but this committee deals with many platforms and systems. When we start to deal with legacy issues versus fifth gen, and other systems, apples to apples, the metrics that we’re using seem to move. We use certain metrics for one system and different metrics for another. Some of them cross pollinate. Talk to me about this issue and how you deal with it and other systems and platforms, but more particular, how can we standardize so that when we’re talking about this system flight per hour per cost, is the same measurement as we’re doing for other platforms, whether it’s the F-18 or any other.

We found when we embarked on the 80% mission capable journey that Secretary Mattis at the time had set out for us that we were using the same words with different definitions across the Services and even between programs. So, words matter and we’re standardizing how we measure things. When we talk about mission capability, it’s really the total uptime as safe to fly and capable of at least one test mission over the total possess time. So, those are aircraft that are with the unit and can be flown. What we found.

Let me just interject a question right there because we mentioned about the availability rate of the F-35s. They had two different ratings, one as a single mission capable, then full mission capable. So, that goes directly to your question.

Yeah. So, in terms of air vehicle availability rate, that’s defined as total uptime capable of safe to fly, plus at least one mission over total active time, which is possessed and non possessed, which translates to those aircraft that are out of reporting. They could be in a depo, for instance. So, that’s the big difference between AVA and MC, it is confusing. I think we need to talk in a little bit clearer terms.

That’s just part of it. It’s also Lockheed and others are looking at their sustainment or their cost under one guys, and we’re talking about another and the reason I bring that up will go to my next question. But as we make these decisions, you know, we don’t have an unlimited pocketbook to pay for these things. And we’re trying to make these decisions as they come out. We need to have standards, so we can make accurate decisions on the cost.

And if I may make one comment, we found that we had apples to oranges, you’re saying types of comparisons. That’s one reason that we hired the Boston Consulting consulting group to look at all the costs in terms of cost per flight hour, so that we could understand all the drivers, whether it was direct labor, indirect labor, whether it was repair of repairables, whether it was spares, and on and on and on. As we peel back to get to that 25,000 per hour goal in 2025, we found that we had about $3,000 per flight hour that we couldn’t clearly trace back through Lockheed Martin as to the origin of those costs. So, we are working closely with Lockheed Martin to understand it, and it’s the fundamental basis of some of this confusion we have. So, before we get on the path so that we make sure that we are gonna achieve that goal with certain steps, we all need to have the same data set, same fact basis, so that we can define our terms, all have the same definition, and then have a plan that we all can trace because up to this point that has been a huge discovery process.

Absolutely. And just the one issue, we saw the F-35. This CPFH was $44,000 an hour versus the F-18, 25,000. One point is everybody’s making decisions hearing these numbers and if we’re not comparing one to the other.

Exactly whether you account for fuel, whether you account for government labor on and on and on.

We have to standardize. And General, Turkey suspension from the program. We don’t expect them to come back. I’d like to say that’s permanent, but we have some meetings taking place today that who knows. They had lot 12, we were going to receive how many was it, 24 aircraft in those lots. Let’s talk about the replacement parts, where we are with those, and some of the challenges, and then what is going to happen to those 24.

Okay, sir. So, there were between Lockheed Martin and Pratt Whitney 1,005 parts that were singles or are dual sourced into Turkey. And so we began just over a year ago, and very quietly but deliberately taking actions to establish alternative sources for all of those parts. Lockheed and Pratt had been making spectacular progress against that goal targeting the end of March of 2020 as a time at which we will have alternative sources stood up for all of them. We’re not quite there yet. So, we have on the airframe side, about 11 components that still, we have yet to fully mitigate, to be able to be at for reproduction on those parts by the end of March. And on the engines, there’s, I believe, one integrally bladed rotors, IBRs.

Just a quick follow up. For the record, Turkey’s still supplying their part as of today.


We’ll follow up more on than that, but I want to give my colleagues a chance, sir. Thank you. Is it a surprise that we’re still getting those parts and how long do you expect? Or will we continue to buy those as you’re setting up an alternative source?

So, we’re working closely with Miss Lord and with Lockheed and Pratt to figure out what the most expeditious way is to to wean ourselves from those parts. There are a lot of orders still out and parts still in production that will be delivered presently after the end of March. But what we did not do as we work to stand up those alternative sources over the course of the last year was to actually dual produce those parts. So, we didn’t go and overproduce parts that we had already bought against those Turkish providers. So, what we’re working on right now is to figure out what the right lay down is of work orders that might be terminated and work in progress lost, or if we can extend the acceptance region to accept those parts and not have to buy duals. So, that’s what we’re working closely with.

But as of today, the suspension of Turkey is not impacting our parts in any delays so far correct?

Not at all. In fact, they’ve been very, very good suppliers.

Mr. Norcross, thank you for getting into that. A lot of this is blowing in the wind today. We’ll see what comes of all of it with the meeting that’s taking place, as well as the Congressional point of view, which may differ from what the White House point of view is, at the end of this day, we’ll see where we are. Very, very important issues. Miss Hartzler.

Thank you. Just to keep along the same line of questioning about Turkey, just wanted to follow up, what impact, Miss Lord, is a year long continuing resolution, what impact would that have on, you’re trying to find new sources and bring them up to production for these parts.

In terms of a CR, it hurts the overall program, but I’m not aware of any direct impact on resourcing the parts because Lockheed has and Pratt have ongoing money to do that. The real challenge is really how we deal with that work in progress that General Fick was talking about and how we make sure we don’t waste any of the money already spent on partially built parts.

Thank you. Want to shift to cyber security, General Fick and Dr. Behler. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, cyber security and associated cyber security testing of the platform needs to be a high priority. So, General Fick, could you please outline for us what actions you’re taking to ensure the integrity and the security of the F-35 supply chain to include ALIS Automatic Logistics Information System and then Dr. Behler, could you please provide us with your assessment of the program’s test strategy for cyber security? So, General Fick?

Ma’am, so as we look across the program at all of the elements of the air system from the air vehicle through to ALIS, the training systems, and the joint reprogramming environment that we work to make sure that those development efforts are all fully compliant with the RMF JSIG rules associated with the cyber security performance of the system. So, our development work, our fielding work, is all intended to be full up, RMF compliant as we do that work. We do work very closely, our development test team works very closely with the job under Mr. Behler’s cognizance to do dedicated cyber testing to include penetration testing over and above the RMF JSIG test work.

[Hartzler] Thank you. Mr. Behler?

About the, what we have left in IOT&E, one big portion of that is cyber testing the completed on the aircraft and on ALIS 3.5. It’s very challenging to do it on the aircraft because if we do it on the aircraft, we got to be sure that we can take everything out that we thought, you know, that we put in there. Right now, we’re not sure we can do that, we wouldn’t want to put an airplane in the air and do it, we’re probably gonna do an echo chamber. You know, we can, you know, do all the stuff we want to do you know, all the techniques we want to use, using RF signals and all that sort of stuff. I’m glad you asked that question because I’m biased a little bit about cyber and software. Because before coming here, I spent six years at Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, and that’s all I thought about was cyber security. And if I look at our weapons system today, you know, we have a very good acquisition process to buy hardware and our budgets are based on hardware, but it’s really software that makes a difference. Every weapon system we have today is all about software. It is defined by software, not enabled but defined. Without software boats won’t leave their pier, airplanes don’t fly, etc. We need to do better in cyber testing. And this is not putting more money into the problem, this is about intellect. We need to get the A team on the DOD side to help us do cyber security. But as for this particular program, we’re gonna do much of what General Fick said about penetration testing and adversarial assessment. But I will caveat this saying that we do not have all the tools that the adversary has to do the adversary assessments. That’s where the intellect comes in. We need to do better.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest threat, the planes that are flying right now, where would you put us at cyber security of our current operating planes? Or maybe you don’t want to answer it?

I think that’s a very difficult question to ask, you know, it’s.

If you’re still testing.

We’re still testing and we need to continue testing, every day we find another vulnerability. And I will also say, this is a very complex program, both in ALIS and the aircraft, millions of lines of software code. The more code you have, the more complex, the more complex, the more vulnerabilities. We need to figure out a better way to write programs for our weapon system to write less software rather than more software.

Okay, General Fick?

Ma’am, I will add, as we talked about, specifically about ALIS and about moving to modern code baselines and modern code architectures. one of the fantastic steps that the Air Force did in terms of moving ahead with their Mad Hatter and Kessel Run team is they’re changing the way they think about accreditation and certification of software. And they’re making it so it’s designed in and not patched on. They’re exploring new ways to basically accredit the development environment so that software that’s developed within that environment comes out cyber secure, and it’s not something you can about after you’ve actually put the software elements in place. So, to Mr. Behler’s point, bringing the right minds to think about it from a modern software construct perspective, makes a lot of difference.

It makes a lot of sense. Final comment?

If I could just add one very small part, you know, if we look at what we are able to do today in software testing, we’re in the lower left hand corner doing our work, the adversary’s in the upper right hand corner, it’s the junior varsity playing the NFL, and we gotta we gotta do better.

n that positive note, I yield back. Thank you.

I want to thank our four colleagues for raising some critical issues. With regard to the software, this committee we really are supposed to be out of this room at 12:30, so it can be swept for security. And guess what the next committee hearing is? It’s on the subject of software, G5, or 5G rather, and we’re gonna go right back into it with the next committee hearing. Maybe we can all stick around and learn something. Mr. Courtney, you’re next.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to the witnesses that are here today. When the F-35 decision was made to go to single engine, one of the biggest driving factors was the Navy’s adamant testimony. CNO Roughead pointed out that having a dual engine system and trying to find the space on carriers and amphibious ships would be almost impossible. So, I’d like to focus Lieutenant General, just for a minute on the Afloat Spares Package issue, which represents one of the four types of parts packages for supporting the F-35 in different environments. It is unique, however, in its space and maintainer limitations given that the package must provide the necessary parts to sustain F-35s on a ship while competing for space with all the other materials a carrier or amphibious vessel must carry while on deployment. So, I’m gonna ask two questions and then let you run with it. In working with the Navy to develop the requirements for the Afloat Spares Package, what kind of obstacles either from a fiscal or practical standpoint have you encountered and what adjustments have been made? And secondly, what has the program learned from early deployments such as the USS Essex, and how do you anticipate challenges will evolve as the B and C variant are increasingly embarked on carriers and amphibious vessels? Are there specific parts or components such as the stealth canopy that present particular challenges to the afloat environment?

So, thank you for your question, very insightful, very meaningful. As we look at the Afloat Spares Package, much like the Deployable Spares Package that goes with land-based units that go into combat, what’s important is that you marry up that package with the pedigree of the aircraft that you deploy forward. As we look at early deployments of As, Bs and Cs, we in some cases had a wide mix of aircraft from different LRIPs, Low Rate Initial Production lots, which means that in some ways, you may end up with a deployed or an Afloat Spares Package that has parts for a lot that may or may not actually be in your squadron anymore. So, the notion that you can have an Afloat Spares Package that you buy once and you only check when you buy it and you never look at it again, we need to throw that notion out the window. My team is working very close with Dan Fry, my product support manager right behind me to do reviews on the DSPs and ASPs on no less than an annual basis but also in terms of as they prepare for spin ups for deployments, to look at the kits to make sure that the kits onboard the ship reflect the configuration of the aircraft that are brought onboard. It’s absolutely essential to making this work. Relative to problem parts, you mentioned the canopy, right now the canopy is our current top mission capability rate degrader from over the course of the last six months I think has averaged about five percent of our NMCS, non mission capable for spares, is associated with the canopy. I wouldn’t necessarily characterize that as a B model or a C model issue as much as I would characterize it as a fleet issue. In fact the Bs particularly have seen fewer canopy issues than the A models thus far.

Deployments on the Essex, I mean, any sort of early feedback.

So, just reinforcing your point, sir, that making sure that the ASP matches the aircraft that are onboard is critical. And maybe one, one or two others. One of the things that we’ve noticed as we integrate this air system into the supporting infrastructure, both on land and at sea, is that we’ve got to get the comms, right. And so in in a couple of cases, as we’ve deployed aboard these amphibious craft, we’ve noticed that data for instance, that ALIS is attempting to transmit off board is transmitting much, much slower than they would otherwise have have thought it would. What has happened in both cases so far on two previous deployments has been that router switch settings and basic network configuration issues prevented the transmittal of data at appropriate rates, to allow us to operate the aircraft in the sense that we need to. So, we need to do better at helping those who we are boarding ALIS with, to actually understand what those settings need to be, understand what those configurations need to be. So, it’s not a matter of trying to invent how we integrate ALIS into a ship each time, it’s a matter of just plugging it in and going.

[Garamendi] Thank you, Mr. Courtney. It’s interesting we keep coming back to ALIS. Mr. Wilson.

Thank you, Chairman Garamendi and my son Hunter sends you greetings, and South Carolina, and I thank all of you for being here. But South Carolina is grateful F-35s have been warmly welcome at Marine Corps Air Station Buford. And we would like to welcome F-35s to the Joint Airbase McEntire at Eastover South Carolina, Colonel Gandhi would be very happy to be right on the flight line to wave you in and we would really appreciate the service. And Secretary Lord Fleet Readiness Center East is the largest industrial depot that generates combat air power for both the Marine Corps and Navy variants of the F-35. The infrastructure of FRC East continues to lag in upgrades and new construction commitment from the Navy. The problem of antiquated legacy maintenance facilities particularly acute in the Navy. And how is the Joint Program Office, the Navy and Marine Corps to ensure that we continue to commit resources to the right efforts to improve FRC East and their maintenance performance?

We are looking at the capability of 68 actual depot repair lines. We only have 30 of 68 up and going right now. And we’ve committed to accelerate those to have them all completed by 2024. And it comes down to a number of items. It’s getting equipment, it’s getting tooling. It is getting the actual repair information out there. So, what we’ve done is come up under our LCSP with a plan to do that. And we’re going back and working with Lockheed Martin and Pratt on each of these, but we are working down line by line on those and we meet monthly with all the Services to talk about the progress that is being made.

That’s very encouraging. We appreciate your service. And General Fick, the F-35 program does not maintain a war reserve materiel stock of F-35 engines, unlike other tactical aircraft programs. Was that a deliberate decision within the program to not maintain a war reserve materiel stock of engines, and if so, how will this risk be mitigated by not having war reserve stock during major contingencies?

So, a program decision was made early on, I don’t know exactly the date. But a program decision was made to spare modules instead of sparing engines which presupposes then that you can take a module and insert it into an engine that requires a new, you know, compressor or turban or burner module. The program is working closely with the Services today to reassess whether that’s the right approach or not. In most cases, as we’ve deployed forward, we’ve ended up taking spare engines with us despite the initial plan to take modules from a sparing perspective. That decision, I understand, was made for cost reasons, much more cost effective to spare a module than an engine. But if you can’t install the module in the engine then it isn’t very much use to you so we’re exploring in light of recent deployments we’re exploring whether that construct still makes sense today.

Well, thank you very much again, your service is so critical and we have faith in your leadership. Miss Maurer, at the end of 2022, the F-35 worldwide fleet is expected to double from approximately 488 aircraft to 985. How will the sustainment enterprise keep pace with the expanding fleet and need for additional parts? What is the Department of Defense doing over the next three years to increase depot repair capacity?

Well, I think the first thing I hope that they’re doing is implementing all 21 of our recommendations we’ve made them over the course of many years to help enhance sustainment of the program. Specific to the depo, we do know that the Department has made important progress in enhancing the depot capabilities but they’re eight years behind their initial plans for doing so.

Well, we need your cheerful encouragement that we can come up to date. And Secretary Lord, what is the service responsibility for funding the needed construction and modernization again at FRC East? Is it Navy or Marine Corps?

I defer to General Fick on that. I’m not sure.

Sir, I’m gonna have to take that question for the record. I’m not up to speed relative to what needs to happen from a facilitization perspective, specifically at FRC east. But what I can tell you is to Miss Lord’s previous point is that we have now 60 of 68 planned workloads on contract with Lockheed Martin to actually stand those up from an organic depot perspective to include, as I understand it, capabilities to be stood up at FRC East.

Thank you very much. And I look forward to getting full, complete responses and thank each of you for your service.

Want to compliment my colleagues here on raising critical questions, the FRC otherwise known as depots. The sustainment is not coordinated with the purchases of new airplanes, you’re headed into a situation where we’re gonna have 1,100 planes, and we will not have the ability to maintain them. And so, the readiness is going to decline. And the question that I’m going to be pursuing in the months ahead is, can we wait until 2024 to have the depos operating at half of the potential, half of what they need? The answer is no, we cannot wait. Unless we want a bunch of airplanes sitting unable to fly. And this is the sustainment issue. This is the ALIS issue. This is also the spare parts issue. All of those things. Fact of the matter is, this program has not paid attention to sustainment and it will from here on out. I’ll have you over here every week having another discussion about it. Miss Maurer, you’ve listened to the testimony thus far. I would love to be asking you on every question that we ask Miss Lord, General Fick, and Mr. Behler to comment on that, but I am well beyond my time. I’m now gonna turn to Mr. Carbajal.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, Miss Lord, and Lieutenant General Fick. In the GAO sustainment report issued this past April 2019, it provided a recommendation for the Department to develop an intellectual property or IP strategy that includes identification of all critical technical needs and associated costs. The report states that DOD concurred with the recommendations, but has not yet implemented it. And also that DOD’s inability to obtain intellectual property and technical data from the contractor is an issue across the entire F-35 supply chain. Can you please provide an update on the DOD’s implementation of an intellectual property strategy and what challenges remain in obtaining the necessary technical data and IP from industry partners to better address supply chain deficiencies and bring down costs?

We are doing a fundamental rewrite of all of our acquisition policy this year. And we are concurrently reworking the entire curriculum at the Defense Acquisition university to make sure acquisition professionals have the ability to really understand what’s out there in policy. Our policy in the past has been very legalistic, I would say. And what we’ve done is decomposed it into what I call the adaptive acquisition framework with a variety of different acquisition authorities explained that Congress has given us over the last five years or so, along with contract types that should be used. One of the critical components of this is understanding intellectual property. So, we actually have an intellectual property policy that’s just about to be released, where we worked closely with the Army, who began at the forefront of this. And what we are fundamentally saying is before we put together an acquisition strategy, you have to think about what information is critical to a program, particularly in terms of sustainability, so you’re not always held hostage to the prime on that through the life of the contract, and that you can find better cost solutions through a variety of different providers. So, we provide direction, asking the acquisition professionals to think about what is the information, the intellectual property that you need, and that you don’t need, and to make sure that is clearly articulated in the request for proposal and then is addressed during contract negotiations. Because frankly, if that was thought through at the beginning of programs, you would not be where we are in the F-35 program today, where the intellectual property is an afterthought and we’re having to wrestle it as we go through each contract. So, it is core and fundamental to what we’re doing when we are training acquisition professionals now versus kind of locking them down at Fort Belvoir, usually for eight or 12 weeks and learning. We are moving from sort of a transmit mostly mode of unstructured instructors to really doing adult learning where it’s experiential learning where we have actual operators coming in and explaining what their experience has been on programs, have people live through the life of what they learned during particularly problematical acquisitions, mistakes they made and so forth. So, it’s right at the forefront, and I think you’ll see a lot coming out on that shortly.

Thank you, Lieutenant General Fick.

So, I think Miss Lord hit most of it. What I would go back to is, is the notion of if I were to encapsulate our strategy in broad strokes, I would say it’s to pursue the data that we need and only that data. Back in the beginning of this program, as it was stood up as a TSPR program, a Total System Performance Responsibility program, with Lockheed Martin in charge, we didn’t think about those data elements because we didn’t think we would ever need them. So, now what we’re doing is, to Miss Lord’s point, putting those data elements on contract every time we need them delivered. And in cases where the intellectual property issues get in our way, such as the F-35 in a box issue we discussed earlier, we’re actively challenging them. One of the things we talked about the stand up of those organic depots is it’s critical that that data that enables us to do that work is delivered as we work to stand up those organic abilities. And that’s a great success story as we’ve worked through those 60 of 68 items on contract. Now, each of those come with the data required to allow the organic workers, be they Air Force or Navy, to do that work. So, we are making progress, but it’s a broad problem.

Thank you, and I only have a few seconds left. Miss Maurer, are you aware of any other weapons system with similar supply chain problems from the lack of cost data or intellectual property from contractors?

You know, the F-35 program is unique in many aspects from the way it was first created and developed, the fact that is an international program, the extent of the involvement of the prime contractor. And I would say unfortunately, that the nature of the problems facing the F-35 program from the systemic perspective, are also unique. Just real quickly on the international property or intellectual property issue. That was an issue we, in a report in 2014. And we are quite pleased to see that that DOD is making progress in addressing it, but I really encourage you and the other members of the committee to pay close attention to that because I completely agree with Mr. Behler’s comment earlier that weapons systems today are essentially flying or sailing or moving pieces of software and the intellectual property is an important piece of that.

Thank you very much. Mr. Chair I yield back.

Mr. Carbajal, thank you for raising that issue. And thank you for calling on Miss Maurer. I’d like to make that a standard procedure. Mr. Bacon, you’re next.

[Bacon] Thank you for being here and for your leadership on an important program. And this is for General Fick. I would just like to get a real clear opinion from you and impression, what will a continuing resolution, particularly if it goes into the next year, what will be the impacts on the F-35 program?

Sure, from an F-35 perspective, what I look at are basically three areas, my ongoing development activities, specifically the development associated with the generation of modifications to the platform was a new start in ’20 and so those efforts will not be able to continue. One of those new start mod efforts was DCA RDO cable aircraft, critical capability that’s very, very important to us that we get that, that’s thing one. Thing two, I would characterize is we have actually a plus up of C model production, from 2018 to 2019, will be held at 2019 quantities if we’re unable to get a budget in this year. And then the final thing I would add is that we also, thank you very much, had EOQ as part of this budget, and that will help us to continue to drive production costs down in lots 15 and beyond. So, if we don’t get that it’s roughly $500 million or so. And so if we don’t get that that will delay our ability to start that work and the effectiveness of EOQ and production.

Mrs. Lord.

So, General Fick gave you many specifics, I will tell you if we have a CR, we continue to have to rearrange work to not be able to move forward. So, there’s an enormous amount of administrative time that’s really non-value added that goes to that. And we have to continue to think ahead about what’s the next impact. So, the EOQs, the economic order quantities, for instance, we’re always trying to figure out where those economies of scale are and how to best work that. We can’t do that if we don’t know when we’re getting the money.

Okay, thank you. Think it’s important that Congress realizes there’s impacts across the entire enterprise with a continuing resolution, and we owe it to you and the F-35 program here to get our house in order. General Goldfein calls the F-35 the quarterback of you know the battle space because it can receive all this data, fuse it and disseminate it. I’ve been concerned for years that we’re not gonna get this right, that we want to ensure that the fifth generation aircraft are getting this data, but more importantly, the fourth generation, and hopefully get the data back to the air operation center, so while the F-35 fly over the battle site, the next sorties are taking off, have the current battle space data, so that we can be more effective, save lives, and get the job done more effectively. How are we doing on this fusing of the data and transmitting the data? So, really, I think it’s probably mainly for General Fick, but if anybody else has any feedback, I will appreciate it.

Yes, sir. That’s a terrific question. We have been doing have been doing operational testing with fourth and fifth gen together. And what we’re finding is the combination, we’re having a more lethal and more survivable force. The F-35 as a quarterback, like General Goldfein likes to say, is absolutely correct. You know, a stealth airplane has had some challenges with how much weapons they can hold, because you want it all internal to keep yourself real stealthy and low observable. So you need a truck that carries weapons for you. And we have found that you know, you put the F-35 with the A-10, which we did some lot of close air support, the combination of combination of those two weapons together really provides a capability that we’ve never had before. F-35 with the F-15 and then future EXF-15, it’ll be a just a big truck carrying weapons out in front of the F-35 doing the defensive and offensive counter air and the communication will be right now if you will be with a link 16 but we hope it will get a better combination.

How are we doing, getting, thank you for that, because of being a 30-year Air Force myself, I’m totally with you on this. So, we want to make sure that we optimize this and take advantage of it. How are we doing getting the data back to the air operations center, ’cause that’s really sort of a concern that I’ve not heard that we’ve really solved this because what we want to do is as that, F-35s are leading the fight, the next wave has the data, and also that our joint force is getting the data. And so we can disseminate where the enemy tanks are at, where the the enemy S-300s could be and so forth.

Exchanging that information with the fleet, with the AOC, with the tankers, is all critical to this mission, especially when you’re flying a high density, high threat environment. Right now, the data from the F-35 to the AOC is not as good as it should be. I mean, you almost feel like there ought to be an ALIS terminal in the AOC to gather that information in real time, or having a software defined radios but we’re not we’re not real time enough, but we need to do that and going forward in the future the AOC I mean, it’s one of those things that technology begets doctrine, not doctrine begets technology. We have more capability in the F-35 we’ve ever had in any other airplane, data fusion and the ability to understand the full situation is one of them, that needs to be disseminated to the rest of the wings that are out there flying. The AOC is important, but I think it’s more important to get the information out to the other warfighters, and especially the tankers to.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Garamendi] Thank you. Mr. Brown.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me thank you both chairs and both ranking members for convening this hearing today on the sustainment, production, affordability challenges of the F-35. Lot of hearings happening on Capitol Hill today. I think this is one of the most important not only today, but in the 116th Congress. I say that because the F-35 is the most expensive program in the history of the Department and arguably one of the most complex acquisition, production, and sustainment programs. I want to thank the chairs. Also want to thank the professional staff members on HASC for assisting Congress through your arduous and diligent effort engaging the Department and industry so that we understand this program and we can fulfill our Congressional oversight role. We’ve heard about insufficient spare parts. We’ve heard that the Autonomic Logistics Information Service known as ALIS is struggling. Mr. Behler, you mentioned that aircraft are breaking more often and taking longer to fix. And while General Fick, in your short tenure, you are observing, or seeing progress. I think Secretary Lord probably captured what most of us understand appreciate that much work remains. So, I’m gonna indulge the Chairman, Chairman Garamendi, and start with a question with Miss Maurer from the GAO, our watchdog. I value tremendously the work that you do, the work that your colleagues do, and the recommendations that you make. So, you mentioned that there were 21 recommendations, you said that DOD agrees with most. So, I assume there’s more one or more that they don’t agree with. So, could you please either identify the most significant recommendation that the DOD does not agree with? And then Miss Lord, if you could kind of respond, so I can have a little bit of back and forth. And to the extent that DOD does agree with all of them, which recommendation concerns you most in terms of the rate at which they’re implementing that recommendation? And then perhaps Miss Lord could respond. Thank you.

Sure. Well, first off, thank you very much. It’s a privilege and honor to spend my professional career at GAO and serving the Congress and the taxpayer. So, thank you. In terms of our recommendations, DOD’s concurred with a vast majority of them, the relative handful, we’re talking about three or four out of the 21, are related to the issue of cost assessment. A lot of that takes back to some of our prior work. And GAO and the Department basically have a philosophical difference of views on how robust cost assessments and cost estimates should be and the extent to which you build flexibility or a variation around the future cost estimates, whether you have a point or whether you have a range. I think a lot of the differences are around that point.

This really gets to the nature of the types of systems that we’re developing today. They are hardware enabled, but software defined, we also have an adversary who is rapidly changing what they’re doing. So, we have overall requirements, but we want to maintain a very flexible requirement level to some degree to be able to respond to that. We also want to make sure that in the software defined environment we are able to really take advantage of DevOps in terms of coding software. So, essentially, we are developing, producing, and sustaining software, all at the same time running testing every night, we talked about having cloud environments where we have.

Let me just do this. I think I have the call of your response, what’s your response Miss Maurer?

So, in terms of the recommendations that we think are most important, we had a couple of recommendations in our report that we did this year, as well as one of those issued about a year and a half ago, that asked the Department and the program more specifically to look fundamentally at the structure of the overall approach to sustainment as well as the approach to supply chain. We found and we were very concerned about the fact that over a period of many years, the Department had been incremental and reactive in its approach to these critical issues. We’ve started to see the Department getting traction on some of those, but frankly, there’s a long way to go. There are a lot of important details.

And could you just in the last 30 seconds I have, can you give us a sense of what that does in terms of the sustainment, production, and affordability?

Well, for example, one of the key things that has not been worked out is the movement of spare parts around the global supply pool, right? That means the contractor has to move parts between the U.S. Services and the partners, that requires a number of specific trade agreements to move the parts from country A to country B, those have not all been negotiated, that slows down the ability to move parts, and then affects the overall ability to sustain the system in the field.

Thank you. I wish I had more time. Will there be a second round, Mr. Chairman?

No, there will not be a second round, we will move to the contractors. And you may want to ask them that question.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d Like thank our witnesses for joining us today. Mr. Behler, I’d like to begin with you. We’ve had a lot of information given back to us about the ALIS system. We all know how it’s designed to work taking lots of data in, and using that to integrate that, make sustainment choices. We’ve heard about the challenges with software, how the system is supposed to operate versus how it does operate, what happens with sustainment issues, supply chain, all those kinds of things. But what I want to ask is if we get all those problems fixed, it still seems like to me that there is indeed a challenge because that system relies on with the F-35 being able to communicate, give that information back and forth. And we know that if we find ourselves in a contested environment, comms are gonna be denied. So, then the question becomes is what what happens to ALIS in a comms denied environment or what we’re doing to really channel comms. As you know, there are a lot of different things that we do to manage that under an m-comm condition. Give me your perspective on how does ALIS function within that environment, especially if it’s over a long period of time?

Right. So, that that is a question we’ve been asking for a while. We’ve actually taken aircraft to austere locations and operate them for an extended period of time to see if we can do exactly what you’re suggesting to be able to and the exact days that can go without repeating the ALIS into the connected, back to to Fort Worth, you know, that’s to be determined. We really don’t know that yet. But you’re giving up some really important points. You know, and in a comms denied environment, how do we do command and control of just the air warfare, but the not having access to ALIS. When we were out on the aircraft carrier the Abraham Lincoln to watch the Saudi generation there, it’s kind of an austere location when you think about it. The biggest challenge with ALIS, of getting the information of the aircraft into the current system on the carrier, which had the, all the ALIS modules had to be brought out there and it just ran out of room because we were so much space required. And so much, you know, the heating requirements, electrical requirements. So, that is gonna be something that we’re gonna have to do more investigation on. And we’ll be definitely writing that in our final report.

It seems like the problems that you point out now, software, sustainment issues, supply chain, potentially could be exacerbated if you’re operating in a comms denied environment. So, I hope that you all look very carefully at that because to me that seems like the largest strategic question that we’re gonna have to address and there may not be as direct an answer to it as a software issue and the other operational issues that have been pointed out.

Yeah, they are enormous. And I’ll leave you with one point. I believe that information is like ammunition, it needs to be in the hands of the warfighter. Doesn’t need to be back in some central location. It’s got to be right where it needs to be like at the squadron level, ALIS system, in an operational environment.

Lieutenant General Fick, let me let me get you to drill down a little bit on that. We know that our large tech amphib ships are the operating platform for the F-35 Bravo. That variant has proven to be a game changer for the Marine Corps. But what happens with that is that aircraft is able to gather so much information and our large tech amphibs unfortunately don’t have the ability to take that information in in real time so the C2 capabilities there then are very, very limited. So, tell me your perspective on what do we do to get the full power capability of the of the JSF, the F-35 Bravo through our Navy’s large deck amphibs. To me, there’s there’s a limiting factor there. It’s not just the structural issues of heat on the deck and reinforcing the deck, but it’s, you know, what are we doing to be able to get that information in real time and utilize it in ways that are tactically important to the warfighter.

Sir, thank you for the question. First of all, go back to the to the previous one, we do carry a requirement to do disconnected ops for 30 days with ALIS in its current instantiation. And as we work to re-architect ALIS and to look at what the requirements are as we march forward from both a data architecture and a hardware architecture perspective, we need to examine that requirement to operate in austere locations so that we get the right system built in to be able to accommodate that. Relative to the big deck amphibs, we have had cases over the course of the last 12 months in which ALIS data specifically was choked coming off the platform. In each of those cases, I understand that it was basic network settings, that some combination of we not communicating properly with the ship’s company, or them not communicating properly with the F-35 folks onboard, prevented us from getting the network set up in a way that enabled that communication to happen. So, I think two things need to happen as we march forward. One is we need to look at what’s the bare minimum amount of data that has to flow in this new architecture to allow us to do the things we need to do on the ship. So, we minimize the demand for that pipe. Then the second part, sir, is to make sure that when it comes to instantiating ALIS aboard those big deck amphibs, or at those austere basing locations that we actually have a very, very well defined installation process so that we don’t have to discover these things again.

All right, good. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for your question. We’re not doing a second round of questions. But in deference to my chair, co-chair, Mr. Norcross does have another set of questions that he’d like to get on the record.

Just a quick follow up, General, dealing with the the Turkey question. They had 24 aircraft in the most recent contract award. How do you mitigate that issue to preserve the unit price for the contract taking those 24 into consideration?

Sure. So, what we did to main both the flow and the overall quantity, as we worked very, very closely with Lockheed Martin, because we had already been a handshake before this Turkey removal happened. We worked closely with Lockheed, my negotiating team and the Air Force I would add, because what we were able to do is to slide Congressional plus ups from U.S. Air Force As into those positions in the production line to allow the U.S. Air Force then to take possession of those aircraft as they flow off. So that the eight Turkish designated.

You say the plus ups, the potential plus ups.

We’re talking about lots 12 and 13, specifically, and then looking at potential plus ups in 14 to take care of the eight Turkish F-35 As in lot 12, the eight Turkish F-35 As in lot 13 and then also in lot 14.

And then they have two more production aircraft. So, we’re adding those in anticipation of O&S that is now running out of control, and we’re not handling those F-35s that are coming off the line now. And we’re talking about adding 24 in a more expedited roll. How do you plan to handle that cost? Those 24 are coming in quicker then we had planned for. Correct. So, the O&S side of that equation is now being pushed forward. How are you addressing that being accelerated?

So these aircraft were were the. So, I guess I’d like to come back to you with a more complete answer. Ultimately, those aircraft were intended to be purchased by the Air Force in lots 12, 13, and 14 anyway, they’re just being accelerated by a number of months forward.

We understand what you’re saying. It’s not the acquisition costs it’s how do we accelerate the cost of maintaining them, those O&S. Miss Lord, just quickly, do you have anything to add to that?

Just that we are trying to work with the economies of scale here to our benefit as we work forward.

[Norcross] The purchase price absolutely.

No, no, no but as we also work forward on sustainment contracts, we’re doing the same type of thing where we’re looking at the costs very carefully, and making sure that the indirect costs associated with the direct costs are coming down so that we get those and making sure that we structure all the contractual agreement so that they do have incentive fees that have to be earned versus fees that go along with that.

The point we’re trying to make here, and I think it’s across the board, is that the sustainment costs are a major issue. I think the acquisition costs are going relatively well if not good. But when we push or accelerate those planes into the sustainment side of the equation earlier, we’re not prepared for ’em. So, I yield back.

Thank you, Mr. Norcross. That’s a fundamental point we’ve been raising throughout this entire hearing. We’re gonna have to move on now to the industry, Lockheed Martin and Pratt Whitney. Thank you. I was just about to ask another question with the current panel, but I’m going to not do so. I would like if you’re. I’m just I’m sure the current panel has other appointments, would like to get to them, but perhaps your staffs can stick around. If they would do so. All too often I’ve seen the first panel head out the door when they should be here to listen to what others have to say. So, thank you very much for that. Thank you very much. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re talking about $1,400,000,000,000 over the next 20 years or so, that will be taxpayer money spent on what most people consider to be the most important element of the air battles that may take place in the future. And we got a big problem here. This thing’s not working well, and in many cases is not working at all. And so we’re going to have another opportunity to speak to the four of you in early January, and we may do it in a closed hearing, we’re likely to do it in a closed hearing. So, enjoy the holidays. Thank you very much appreciate your testimony. We’re gonna now move to the second panel. We’re gonna take a short break, no more than five minutes as people move and reassemble themselves. So, thank you.

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