Archive for the 'procurement strategy' Tag

J. Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of Operational Test and Evaluation, has the most thankless job in the Pentagon. This guy, more than anybody else, knows where the bodies are buried on various platforms–and nobody listens to him.

As a weapons tester and evaluator, he is hated by program managers, dismissed as a cantankerous, meddling fool by the programs dinged by DOT&E testers, and yet, sadly, his data-driven critiques are often right.

J. Michael Gilmore was the one who first raised the red flag about the Virginia Class–and it’s issues with troublesome subsystems. The Program Managers pushed back, got their two-hull per year production agreement inked and then, in the space of a few weeks, three Virginia Class subs showed up with their Special Hull Treatment in tatters. I blogged about it, and then the story went national.

J. Michael Gilmore is changing DOT&E. Usually public DOT&E stuff is buried in a hard-to-reach annual catalog for Congress, little-reported upon beyond the cozy confines of the Inside the Navy subscription wall (and, well, this blog and maybe Tim Colton). But things are changing. DOT&E reports are now posted, here.

And J. Michael Gilmore is talking.

To find out what this new–and very welcome–voice on Naval Affairs is talking about today, here’s my complete story–or, if you don’t take my word for it, visit good ‘ole Galrahn for his view on this.

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Ria Novosti)

Bulava Launch (source: Ria Novosti)

“After its firing from the submarine Dmitry Donskoy, the Bulava missile self-liquidated and exploded into the air” – Russian MoD spokesman to Interfax 23 Dec 08

And thus was written the postscript on the latest test of the star-crossed Bulava SLBM. Five failures in eight attempts would seem to call into question the fast-track to IOC/deployment of the missile – but given that there is no alternative to speak of (yes, there is the SS-N-23, but it won’t fit the launchers on the new SSBNs), it looks like the Russians are stuck with continuing to try and make the Bulava work. And maybe not so fast on the IOC…

The Bulava scenario is pregnant with questions for our own procurement process – e.g., putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping it all works as advertised since¬†you’ve pinned the future of a platform/capability on the success of that development (*cough*JSF*cough*). So what happens if we find ourselves in a similar coffin corner with a major program? Cancel it and hope that in the interim we can stretch out the legacy platform until the (next) new one comes on line? Been there, done that. Remember the A-12? Look what that scenario did to the VA and VF communities¬†and our long-range strike capability in particular and TACAIR in general (still feeling the aftereffects today). There’s a lot of discussion out there right now about the F-35, some legit, some politically motivated, but enough that hope alone isn’t COA if it falls short in trials (and here I’m particularly concerned about the F-35B and it’s purported weight and cooling problems). Twasn’t always so – look at the development of the Tomcat out of the ashes of the TFX, but that was a different time. Or was it? What are your thoughts?



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