Two pilots in flight suits sitting at a table with microphones recording a podcast.

Left to right: Cmdr. Jeff Desmond and Capt. Adam Scott from the U.S. Navy's Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office (PMA-271) participate in a recording of AirWaves, the podcast for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), hosted by Mikel Lauren Proulx. (U.S. Navy photo by PMA-271 Public Affairs Officer Kathy Hieatt)

AirWaves podcast highlights E-6B modification program success

The team responsible for improving modification times on the U.S. Navy’s critical E-6B Mercury fleet shared how “Get Real, Get Better” behaviors paved the way for their success in this week’s all new episode of AirWaves.

AirWaves is the podcast of Naval Air Systems Command and features stories from throughout the command. This week's episode features the Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office (PMA-271), which sustains the Navy’s E-6B Mercury fleet. It highlights how PMA-271 embraced “Get Real, Get Better” practices to dramatically reduce turnaround times for upgrades to the fleet, known as Block II.

Capt. Adam Scott, the PMA-271 program manager, shared lessons learned and how to put “Get Real, Get Better” into action. He was joined by Jaimie Grubb, PMA-271 principal deputy program manager, and Cmdr. Jeff Desmond, PMA-271’s E-6B mission communications systems lead.

“‘Get Real, Get Better’ success is improved mission outcomes,” Scott said in the podcast. “We do not apply these principles just for fun.”

The podcast centers on how PMA-271 reduced the turnaround times for the E-6B’s Block II upgrade from an average of 475 days to 255 days and is nearing its requirement of 180 days. Block II is a complex set of modifications and upgrades to the aircraft that encompass multiple engineering change proposals.

To hear the full story, listen on your favorite streaming service, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud.

The E-6B Mercury is a communications relay and strategic airborne command post aircraft. It executes the no-fail Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) and Looking Glass missions. TACAMO connects the president, secretary of defense and U.S. Strategic Command with naval ballistic missile forces during times of crisis. Looking Glass facilitates the launch of U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles using an airborne launch control system. Together they provide strategic nuclear deterrence against America’s adversaries.

The E-6B Mercury fleet, which started as the E-6A in 1986, has been in service for 38 years and requires upgrades to continue effectively executing its missions. The ECPs included in Block II provide more secure, modernized communications systems.

Pilot in flight suit sitting at a table for an interview

Capt. Adam Scott, the program manager for the Navy's Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office (PMA-271), discusses how the program put "Get Real, Get Better" principles into action to dramatically reduce turnaround times on modifications to the E-6B Mercury fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by PMA-271 Public Affairs Officer Kathy Hieatt)

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