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Nov 29, 2021

Navy’s Security Cooperation Programs Office employs small businesses, enhancing readiness

The Navy’s Security Cooperation Programs Office (SCPO) recently awarded a contract to small business industry partner Tyonek Services Group, an Alaskan Native corporation (Tyonek), for aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) and training in support of the unique requirements of our international partners.

The program office and its International Sustainment Center provide product support and sustainment services to our international partners, contributing to the Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Carlos Del Toro’s, strategic objectives of expanding our U.S. forward presence, enhancing warfighting readiness, innovating and modernizing our work, cultivating talent and teamwork, strengthening alliances and partnerships abroad, and reducing the time platforms and systems are offline.

'The use of small businesses promotes competition at the working level, and provides the U.S government with an agile and flexible resource provider that can easily and quickly adapt to the rapidly changing requirements experienced in today's evolving warfighting environment,” said Binnie Rawalay-Vandevoort, SCPO’s international sustainment center division director.

Partnering with a small, agile business allows the SCPO to perform not only MRO, but also logistics and training functions at multiple sites across the globe in support of NAVAIR program offices. Tyonek is assisting NAVAIR with executing an Excess Defense Article foreign military sales case, which is currently in the early execution phase. This effort consists of extracting nine TC-12B’s and one UC-12B special mission aircraft from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) and subsequent maintenance regeneration effort for all 10 aircraft. The overall objective of this case is to return all 10 aircraft to Federal Aviation Administration safe for flight airworthiness condition and status, while simultaneously complying with the international partner’s request to minimize material repairs to the greatest extent possible. 

Tyonek is operating in an overseas contingency environment to assist the SCPO with the on-site replacement of Mi-17 helicopters in an allied nation. These replacement helicopters are a critical enabler to the Multi-National Aviation Special Project Office (MASPO), coalition aviation force draw down efforts, and to the international partner’s ability to increase their operational tempo over the course of the next year. 

These efforts are indicative of the SCPO’s mission to move capability closer to the global flight-lines and strengthen strategic partnerships to achieve interoperability, integration, and interchangeability across the allied operating space, and ensure mutual support in the pursuit of U.S. and international partner shared missions.

'The use of small businesses to support U.S. government requirements is a highly beneficial, opportunity for both the government and the small business community,” said Ron Weinberger, SCPO director.

Due to the benefits seen in working with small businesses and the rapidly growing requirements in support of international partners, SCPO is always seeking small businesses to support other emerging SCPO requirements. To learn more about the 8(a) Small Business Community, and to find more small businesses like Tyonek, SCPO representatives attended the 2021 National 8(a) Associations Regional Conference in Anchorage, Alaska in August of this year. During this trip, SCPO representatives had the opportunity to visit the Tyonek Village. While at the village, SCPO representatives received a tour and presentations from tribal leaders and reciprocated the hospitality by presenting a SCPO challenge coin to the Tyonek tribal leaders.

The Navy’s Security Cooperation Programs Office (SCPO) mission is to advance U.S. strategic objectives by supporting key allied and International Partners with the acquisition, training and sustainment of U.S. Defense Systems on behalf of the Naval Aviation Enterprise.

Nov 24, 2021

Two Naval Test Wing Atlantic squadrons secure coveted safety award

The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 received a Safety “S” for earning the 2020 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Aviation Safety Award, Nov. 3.

Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, Commander of the Naval Air Systems Command, presented the awards during back-to-back ceremonies at the respective squadrons on Nov. 3.

The award and the safety “S” displayed on each of the squadron’s aircraft recognizes the squadron for excellence in aviation safety by maintaining Class A mishap-free safety records throughout the fiscal year, and making contributions to the Naval Aviation Safety Program. A Class A mishap is when a pilot or crew suffers death or disability, or property damage at least $1 million.

Earning this award requires a culture of safety inclusive of everyone in the command. Safety leaders pointed to respect for the “no vote” – a policy that allows anyone to cancel a flight for any reason – as foundational to their safety record, along with engagement from every level.

“It takes dedicated, experienced individuals to make a safety program work,” said Col. Richard Marigliano, Commodore of Naval Test Wing Atlantic. “At USNTPS, Lt. Cmdr. William Vey and Barbara Gordon; at HX-21, Lt. Trey Wheeler, and Doug Dickens, provide safety program leadership and focus, ensuring ground and flight test risk is appropriately mitigated. These two safety programs and the individuals that execute day-to-day safety functions ensure continued accomplishment of NTWL’s mission supporting our nation’s warfighters.”

Maintaining the highest levels of safety is difficult in any environment, but particularly challenging in squadrons that routinely push aircraft beyond their limits in order to provide new fleet capabilities.

Naval Test Wing Atlantic, a component of Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), serves as fleet advocate supporting test and evaluation of the Navy’s principal aviation systems ranging from unmanned to rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division is the Navy’s largest warfare center, employing more than 17,000 military, civilian and contract personnel. It operates test ranges, laboratories and aircraft in support of test, evaluation, research, development and sustainment of everything flown by the Navy and Marine Corps. Based in Patuxent River, Maryland, the command also has major sites in St. Inigoes, Maryland, Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Orlando, Florida.

Nov 23, 2021

FRCE's H-53 line ends fiscal year with strong push

A Vietnam-era aircraft platform facing a challenging supply posture seems an unlikely candidate for an underdog victory story.

But that’s just what happened when Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) artisans made a hard push to the finish line to complete and return to the fleet two H-53 heavy-lift helicopters – each having seen various stages of work stoppage during their repair at the depot – before the end of fiscal year 2021. With a cross-disciplinary group of support entities behind them, the team finished the job just under the wire, delivering the first aircraft Sept. 29 and the second Sept. 30.

Those two aircraft helped FRCE’s Rotary Wing Division meet its goal of delivering 43 completed Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) events in fiscal year 2021. The division includes the H-53 line, along with the UH-1N line and the V-22 production line at FRCE and its remote sites at the North Carolina Global TransPark in Kinston; Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina; and Hurlburt Field in Florida.

“Having the H-53 line push hard to the end helped fill a critical need for H-53 aircraft within the fleet,” said FRCE Commanding Officer Col. Thomas A. Atkinson. “This effort is a great example of the skill and dedication shared by our entire team at FRC East. I couldn’t be more proud of the workforce and their continual efforts to provide the highest level of service to the fleet.”

The H-53E is a sundowning aircraft, said David Williams, director of FRCE’s Rotary Wing Division, which means it is nearing the end of its life cycle within the fleet as its planned replacement, the new CH-53K King Stallion, completes testing and evaluation. This status can make it difficult for FRCE’s partners in Naval Supply Systems Command and Defense Logistics Agency to source the components needed to maintain and repair the aircraft. The only way to overcome these issues is to work cooperatively with internal and external partners to develop innovative solutions.

Often, the H-53 production line at FRCE has to work with engineering and manufacturing programs within the depot to produce a one-off part or develop a new procedure for a repair process that hasn’t been conducted before, Williams noted.

“The H-53 team faces hurdles that no other line faces simply because of the age of the aircraft, and I’m very proud of the team,” he explained. “I can’t say enough about the support we receive from manufacturing and engineering to resolve issues that have never been seen before. Every time we had a barrier, the team collectively resolved those issues and we kept moving forward. It truly is a team effort across the plant.”

Material constraints led to work stoppages on both helicopters earlier during the fiscal year, and unplanned work – maintenance requirements discovered after the aircraft arrived at FRCE, in addition to the work previously scheduled – had leaders believing the aircraft wouldn’t be completed until sometime in fiscal year 2022, said David Thorpe, H-53 branch head at FRCE.

“It’s an uphill battle with every aircraft, but our team never lost faith in their ability to get the job done” he said.

Williams agreed the team’s perseverance made all the difference.

“They felt confident that they could bring the schedule back on time and meet the challenge to finish both aircraft before the end of the fiscal year,” he said. “We didn’t want to look for excuses; we just wanted to look for how we could seize on what opportunities we had.”

The team used strategic schedule loading and worked an effective execution plan developed by the team’s supervisors, work leads, aircraft evaluators and quality assurance specialists, Williams said, which allowed each employee to know what the requirements are for meeting the completion goal by setting out measurable and achievable goals along the way. This ambitious but realistic plan set the team up for success, and an innovative solution to a supply constraint helped seal the deal.

While disassembling H-53 aircraft, FRCE’s mechanics and evaluators have recently been finding more and more damage and corrosion on T caps and substructure fittings, which make up the aircraft’s lower bilge frames underneath the cabin floorboards. The T cap is vital to the structure of the aircraft for load-bearing purposes, Thorpe said; without it, the aircraft can’t be cleared for operation.

FRCE’s manufacturing shop produced new T caps based on original specifications, but during removal of the old T cap on one aircraft, unserviceable fittings in the substructure were found. With a long lead-time to procure material and manufacture these parts, the team needed a new solution if they were going to have any chance to make the fiscal year deadline.

“We ended up going out to the boneyard, where we have some old 53’s sitting out there, and the guys pulled this particular fitting off four different aircraft that were available,” Thorpe said. “With some engineering guidance and instruction, we were able to get the fitting that was closest to the original to the machinist, who was able to upsize and bush the fitting to make it work. The solution was rigorously tested and approved, and the team was able to save the day. Without that thinking outside the box, the aircraft never would have made completion prior to the end of the fiscal year.

“We’ve got the talent to do the job. We’ve got a great engineering group, and we’ve got good support. Work-arounds and small miracles seem to happen here all the time,” Thorpe continued. “It’s hard work, but these little victories against the odds make it gratifying.”

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

Nov 22, 2021

Military Officers Association of America selects Lt. Cmdr. Wanda Colon for 2021 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award

The Common Aviation Support Equipment program office’s (PMA-260) Lt. Cmdr. Wanda Colon was selected for the 2021 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award by the Military Officers Association of America. NAVAIR’s Vice Adm. Carl Chebi presented the award to Colon in a ceremony held on 18 Nov.

The award was established in 1981 by the Southern Maryland Chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) to recognize exemplary junior officers and is named in honor of Admiral Merlin O'Neill, Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1950 to 1954 and a prominent southern Maryland resident in his later years. O’Neill was a decorated veteran of World War II and known for taking a personal interest in the development of junior officers.

“The junior officers at Patuxent River are a force multiplier when it comes to supporting our mission here, and the Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year Award is one way the Navy highlights the achievement of these steller leaders,” said Mr. Gary M. Kurtz, program executive officer, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services (PEO(CS)).

To be eligible, officers must be grade O-4 or below and may be from any service branch, to include U.S. Coast Guard, assigned to activities onboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Particular emphasis must be placed on sustained superior performance and leadership. The officer’s emphasis on volunteer activities and involvement in community service are important factors in selection.

As a leader, Colon actively manages more than $100 million in programmatic funds as a budget and financial manager at PMA-260, achieving a 99.9 percent obligation rate, surpassing Financial Management and Budget (FMB) benchmarks.

As the Navy Supply Corps Foundation Patuxent River Chapter secretary, she coordinated the first NAVAIR Panel of Captains, providing mentorship to 37 Supply Corps officers of NAS Patuxent River, focusing on personal and professional development.

Colon aligns with the Chief of Naval Operation's longstanding priority of taking care of people. Colon trained four NAVAIR interns this year in proper financial management processes, decreasing rework and increasing effectiveness through the DoD’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution methods. As the PEO(CS) Common Spend Plan Tool representative, she was responsible for the creation of PMA-260’s CSPT business rules and spend plan guidance, facilitating organizational change throughout the command that directly supports NAVAIR production and financial objectives.

As the Naval Aviation Enterprise War Council operations officer, she was responsible for compiling all NAVAIR Direct War Overseas Contingency Operations requirements, ensuring these were included in the budget build and properly funded. Using lessons learned from the past, she identified and funded $803 million in direct war requirements for fiscal year 2022, providing critical support for down range warfighters.

“An exceptional representative of PMA-260, Colon is extremely intelligent, capable, and manages all tasking with wisdom beyond her rank; all key attributes of a superior Naval Officer. Her personal involvement, astute insight, and tremendous work ethic continue to make a positive impact in my command,” said Capt. Robert Burgess, PMA-260 program manager.

Colon is a parish member of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, where she dedicates volunteer hours assisting as a Spanish speaking interpreter for the Spanish speaking members of the congregation, serves as a server during Lent, and decorates her church in preparation for Christmas and Easter. She has participated in the “Clean the Bay” day, clearing NAS Patuxent River beaches of trash and debris that washed ashore, volunteers with the local chapter of Rebuilding Together, participating in “Christmas in April”, to rehabilitate the homes of low income families, focusing on elderly or disabled citizens of southern Maryland.

The Navy’s Common Aviation Support Equipment program office (PMA-260) manages the procurement, development, and fielding of common aviation support equipment required for the operation and maintenance of aircraft, aircraft weapons, related aircraft weapons subsystems, and miscellaneous ground support equipment. Additionally, PMA-260 manages the Metrology and Calibration program, the Foreign Object Damage mitigation effort, and the mobile facilities used to support Navy Expeditionary and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron Intermediate-level maintenance.