The Navy has its share of problems. Some, such as budget limitations, are imposed from the outside and are largely outside the Navy’s control. Others are self-inflicted such as maintenance, manning, and training.
One of worst self-inflicted problems is that of concurrency. This is a relatively new problem and is the practice of trying to build a ship or aircraft while also designing it at the same time. For most of us, this is an instant head-scratcher which simply defies understanding. Almost instinctively, we know that you must have a finished design prior to building. Otherwise, how do you know what to build? The short answer is that you don’t. What happens is that you wind up having to rebuild sections of the ship/plane as the design changes.
For anyone who’s unsure what I’m describing, consider the example of building a car without a design. You’re pretty sure there’s some basic things you need so you figure to get a leg up by starting the construction. Unfortunately, part way through you decide that you want to place the engine in the rear instead of the front so you have to tear out the rear seats, re-design the back end to support the engine, reroute the various gas and electrical lines and then re-install the removed seats somewhere else. In essence, you’ll wind up building the car two or three times over. An expensive proposition, right?
Well, that’s exactly what the Navy has been doing with the LCS, JSF (F-35), LPD-17, DDG-1000, and so forth. The results of this approach have been nothing short of disastrous.
|Anybody Know Where This Piece Goes?|
This says that 365 aircraft will be purchased before testing has been completed to identify what changes are needed in the final design. All 365 aircraft will need to be reworked to incorporate the changes and that will cost additional money to remove existing equipment and then add the new or modified equipment.
So, we see that the practice of concurrency results in triple payments; one, to build it the first time, two, to remove installed equipment to accommodate the changes, and three, installation of the new or modified equipment. Can you think of a less efficient way to build something? And it shows! The cost of the LCS, LPD, JSF, etc. have ballooned beyond belief. At what point and with what twisted logic did this seem like a good idea to someone in the Navy???
(1) Government Accountability Office (GAO), “Joint Strike Fighter, Restructuring Added Resources and Reduced Risk, but Concurrency Is Still a Major Concern”, Statement of Michael J. Sullivan, Director Acquisition and Sourcing Management, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, GAO-12-525T
(2) Congressional Research Services (CRS), “Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress”, Ronald O'Rourke,
April 6, 2012