The 2014 Annual Report from Director, Operational Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) has been released. As a reminder, this is the gold standard for what works and what doesn’t as opposed to manufacturer and Navy claims. This is the straight story when it comes to weapon and system performance. We’ll be taking a look at several systems in the near future. Today, we’ll start with the new aircraft carrier, the Ford.
According to the report, the Navy has reneged on its plan to conduct shock testing. Shock testing (Full Ship Shock Trial – FSST) was to have been performed on CVN-78, however, the Navy has postponed that testing until CVN-79, at the earliest. As the report states it,
"The original Alternative Live Fire Strategy prepared by the Navy and approved by DOT&E on
December 9, 2008, stated the FSST would be conducted on CVN-78. The Navy unilaterally reneged on the approved strategy on June 18, 2012."
You’ll recall that the Navy has opted not to perform shock testing on the LCS, at all. This is a standard test that has been performed on every ship. The suspicious among us might suggest that the Navy is trying to avoid shock testing because the construction and acquisition standards have slipped to the point where shock testing would be embarrassing and Navy ships are no longer capable of passing the tests.
The report discusses the new EMALS catapult and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) systems,
"Reliability for the catapult and arresting gear systems have not been reported on in over a year. Before the Navy stopped tracking/reporting on catapult and arresting gear performance, both systems were performing well below their projected target to achieve required reliability."
Now what do we make of that? The Navy has stopped reporting reliability data?? I guess that’s one way to avoid looking bad. This kind of action combined with the refusal to perform shock tests sure suggests an attempt to cover up bad news rather than report it and correct it.
Here’s some more EMALS news.
"The testing discovered excessive EMALS holdback release dynamics during F/A-18E/F and EA-18G catapult launches with wing-mounted 480-gallon EFTs. Aircraft dynamics are considered excessive if they exceed stress limits of the airframe, internal, or external stores. This discovery, if uncorrected, would preclude normal employment of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G from CVN-78. There is no funding at this time to correct this deficiency."
No funding?! It’s kind of a big deal to leave unfunded.
It’s not just advanced technology that is suffering. The ship has been found to have insufficient berthing for the crew!
"The ship will not be delivered with sufficient empty berthing for the CVN-78’s Service Life Allowance (SLA)."
Come on, now! Who messed up with a simple count of the crew and a corresponding count of the berths?
One of the major selling points for the new carrier was that it would supposedly increase sortie rates significantly. This was always a dubious claim and of highly questionable value given that carrier ops aren’t sortie rate limited and that shrinking air wings make sortie rates irrelevant. The report had this to say,
"It is unlikely that CVN-78 will achieve its Sortie Generation Rate (SGR) (number of aircraft sorties per day) requirement. The target threshold is based on unrealistic assumptions including fair weather and unlimited visibility, and that aircraft emergencies, failures of shipboard equipment, ship maneuvers, and manning shortfalls will not affect flight operations."
Reread that last sentence. It’s clear that the sortie rate claim was never valid and was a fraudulent attempt to promote the program. The Navy’s honesty and integrity are taking some serious hits over the last decade or two.
You’ll recall that we’ve repeatedly discussed the pitfalls of concurrent development and production. Here’s an example regarding the ship’s Dual Band Radar (DBR).
"The Navy planned to begin testing in January 2013; however, the testing has slipped repeatedly, and to date, no live testing with the full production DBR has been completed."
So, we’re going to install a radar system that is untested.
Here’s an interesting tidbit that is undoubtedly budget driven. JPALS [the automated landing system] has been deferred until the F-35 or unmanned aircraft require it.
"The Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) is no longer funded for CVN-78."
The Ford is a clear cut case study for how not to run a new construction program. Of course, so was the LCS and the LPD-17 and he Navy failed to learn any lessons from those so I doubt they’ll learn anything from this one, either.