Page 1       TOP OF DOC
[H.A.S.C. No. 109–11]









 Page 2       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


APRIL 14, 2005




CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania, Chairman
HOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
KEN CALVERT, California
JEB BRADLEY, New Hampshire
WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina
 Page 3       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
JIM RYUN, Kansas
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania

JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
LANE EVANS, Illinois
ADAM SMITH, Washington
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
G.K. BUTTERFIELD, North Carolina
DAN BOREN, Oklahoma

Doug Roach, Professional Staff Member
John Sullivan, Professional Staff Member
Curtis Flood, Staff Assistant

 Page 4       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC



    Thursday, April 14, 2005, Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act—Budget Request on the Department of Defense's Major Rotorcraft Programs


    Thursday, April 14, 2005




    Abercrombie, Hon. Neil, a Representative from Hawaii, Ranking Member, Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee

    Weldon, Hon. Curt, a Representative from Pennsylvania, Chairman, Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee
 Page 5       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


    Balderson, William, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air Programs; Brig. Gen. Martin Post, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, United States Marine Corps; David W. Duma, Acting Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense; Maj. Gen. Robert Bishop Jr., Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, United States Air Force; and Brig. Gen. Jeff Schloesser, Director, Army Aviation Task Force, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–3/5/7, United States Army


Balderson, William, joint with Thomas Laux, Program Executive Officer for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs, and Brig. Gen. Martin Post
Bishop, Maj. Gen. Robert D., Jr.
Duma, David W.
Schloesser, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey


AH–1W, Program Costs/Flight Hour, Department of the Navy
Army Fleet in OEF
Army Fleet in OIF
CH–46E, Program Costs/Flight Hour, Department of the Navy
 Page 6       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
CH–53D, Program Costs/Flight Hour, Department of the Navy
CH–53E, Program Costs/Flight Hour, Department of the Navy
Current Notional Schedule, U.S. Air Force
Dear Colleague Letter submitted by Sherwood Boehlert and Maurice Hinchey, dated March 2, 2005, Setting the Record Straight on the New Marine One
Fleet Costs Per Flight Hour, Department of the Navy
HH–60G/PRV Blocks 0 and 10 Comparison, U.S. Air Force
HLR Schedule, Department of the Navy
Meeting the Requirements, Department of the Navy
Modernization Strategy, U.S. Army
Program Costs/FH, Platform Comparison, Department of the Navy
SDD/Production Estimates, Department of the Navy
Statement submitted by Sherwood Boehlert and Maurice Hinchey, dated April 14, 2005, Regarding the Recently Awarded Contract to Team US101
UH–1, Program Costs/Flight Hour, Department of the Navy
V–22 Osprey Joint Program Schedule (Top Level), Department of the Navy
VXX Program Schedule, Department of the Navy


Ms. DeLauro
Mr. Evans
Mr. Everett
Mr. Weldon

 Page 7       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Washington, DC, Thursday, April 14, 2005.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 3:48 p.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Curt Weldon (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.


    Mr. WELDON. The subcommittee will come to order.

    Today, we apologize for our lateness. Votes have ended so we will not have a large contingency of members, but we will have quality. So we will try to make up for it. We are very interested in the subject at hand. We have the Ranking Member here, so that is all that matters, Mr. Skelton.

    The Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee meets to receive testimony on military rotorcraft programs from representatives of the Departments of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Office of Operational Test and Evaluation. We are pleased to have with us today the department's experts on the VXX presidential
 Page 8       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
helicopter replacement, the Marine Corps heavy lift replacement, the V–22, the Air Force's personnel recovery vehicle, and the Army's aircraft modernization program.

    Nearly two decades have passed since the Department of Defense has initiated a new rotorcraft program. This period has been accompanied by a dearth of rotorcraft science and technology (S&T) investment, an issue that we have raised both in this committee and that I have raised also on the Science Committee. Now, the initiation of several new rotorcraft programs raises the question as to whether the Department of Defense can afford all of these programs ongoing at once.

    The Department of the Navy recently awarded a contract for the development and procurement of a new presidential rotorcraft that will have a program cost of over $6 billion. The Department of the Navy is also planning a heavy lift replacement, HLR, for the Marine Corps CH–53E, while the Army does conceptual studies for its own heavy lift helicopter, with the objective of fielding a new rotorcraft by 2020.

    Further, the Air Force determined that its current aircrew rescue helicopter is insufficient for its needs, reviewed candidates for its replacement and has determined a new aircraft, the personnel recovery vehicle, PRV, is required. Even though both the Navy and Air Force plan to initiate systems development and demonstration for their HLR and PRV in fiscal year 2006, no total program cost estimates are currently available for these two programs.

    In some respects, our situation today with rotorcraft programs reminds me of our concerns in the mid-1990s when it was evident that the department could not afford all the tactical fighter aircraft it had in its future years defense program budgets. Unfortunately, we were correct. The result has been that we have spent and continue to spend large sums on research and development (R&D), but because of fiscal reality end up having to buy tactical aircraft at greatly reduced quantities and at very high unit procurement costs. For example, when the F–22 was first planned out, we had thought the buy would be over 750. It is now well below 200 and the cost has increased dramatically.
 Page 9       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The Department of Defense is proceeding as if unlimited future funds will be available for whatever program can be envisioned. The Army is facing major decisions and budget challenges on manpower, modularization, future combat systems and other issues. Yet the Army has at least seven different types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in development, plans to purchase four different types of new aircraft, and plans to start a Joint Heavy Lift helicopter with no other service currently committed to participating in the program.

    The Department of the Navy has major shipbuilding issues. Yet it plans to proceed with a heavy lift replacement for the CH–53E instead of rationalizing requirements with the Army for a Joint Heavy Lift helicopter. And the Air force continues to have major problems with space programs, affording a new aerial tanker fleet, cargo aircraft and F–22s. Yet it insists on a new helicopter for search and rescue, even though the current aircraft in use, as well as several aircraft from other services, could possibly be used to support this mission.

    The H–60 helicopter program serves as a model of joint service acquisition, with one aircraft being developed for all services and then adapted to meet the unique requirements of each service. It would seem that this model would at least apply to heavy lift rotorcraft.

    I also continue to have concerns regarding the inadequate level of rotorcraft science and technology investment being funded in service budgets. We have already given up on NASA so now we are focusing on the services. This year, the Army is at 60 percent of its recent high in fiscal year 2004 and the Navy is less than 20 percent of its recent high in fiscal year 2002. Both departments show modest increases next fiscal year, but it seems we too often hear that things will be better next year.
 Page 10       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The levels of proposed spending for rotorcraft investment should maintain a healthy manufacturing industrial base, but if we continue to inadequately fund our technology industrial base, U.S. long-term competitiveness and capability will continue to fall short of world-class standards. This is especially true, as I said, now that NASA has completely eliminated its rotorcraft research program, which is why I have embarked on a major effort to put a significant thrust in to rotorcraft research nationwide, both within the science budget as well as within the defense budget.

    We look forward to hearing from our witnesses and discussing these issues today. Before we begin, I would like to ask my good friend from Hawaii, the Ranking Member, if he has any opening remarks he would like to make.


    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    At the risk of reiterating some points, but perhaps so that our witnesses understand that it is more reinforcement of your remarks, I would like to say that rotorcraft programs today are at a point much like where we were five or ten years ago on fighter aircraft. We are just starting to replace a large number of aircraft purchased 20 or 30 years ago. As you indicated, in a few years we will be looking at a major funding crunch. I probably should say right now we are looking at the funding crunch vis-a-vis rotorcraft modernization.
 Page 11       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    We all know this hearing is going to examine six major rotorcraft programs, each of which will cost in the billions. At some point, today's programs to replace Navy and Marine Corps helicopters will start to compete with major programs to buy Army and Air Force helicopters which are coming. Parenthetically, I actually think that is taking place right now. It is just that it may be on paper taking place in the future.

    It probably goes without saying that we need to keep these programs affordable. But the DOD should consider when and where it is appropriate to use the UAV instead of the manned helicopters, and we have to avoid requirements overload, which killed the Comanche program. To my great regret, when I first came in to the committee full-time 15 years ago, 16 years ago, I had been convinced by both testimony and observation that the Comanche was going to succeed. I am not going to let myself fall into that trap again. So I do not want to get a requirements overload. I think we maybe tried to make it do too much. That is as much our fault as anyone else's. That requirements overload killed that program, particularly with Army and Marine Corps programs to replace heavy lift helicopters, which was the whole idea.

    We have to work together to do this. Mr. Chairman, I want to conclude by saying that I think yet once again we need to examine seriously the question of capital budgeting once we decide what we are going to do, because absent capital budgeting I think that our capacity and ability to actually do the funding once the decision is made is probably in jeopardy.

    Thank you.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank my good friend and colleague.
 Page 12       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    I recognize the gentleman from Missouri, the Ranking Member on the committee, for any comments he would like to make. Thank you for being here, Mr. Skelton, I know how busy you are.

    After consultation with Mr. Abercrombie, I now ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Simmons, a member of the full committee, be authorized to participate in today's hearing. Without objection, Mr. Simmons will be recognized at the conclusion of the first round of questioning by members of the subcommittee. Without objection, all witness's prepared testimony will be accepted for the record and that will include a statement that I received from Congresswoman DeLauro from Connecticut who could not be with us today.

    [The prepared statement of Ms. DeLauro can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. WELDON. After all witnesses have made their remarks, we will go to questions. Our witnesses for today are: Mr. William Balderson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air Programs; Brigadier General Martin Post, Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation who will address the VXX, V–22 and the heavy lift replacement programs; Mr. David Duma, Acting Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), Department of Defense, who will address the VXX; Major General Robert Bishop, Jr., USAF, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, who will address the personnel recovery vehicle; and Brigadier General Jeff Schloesser, U.S. Army, Director, Army Aviation Task Force, who will address the Army aviation modernization program.

    Mr. Balderson, please proceed with your opening remarks.
 Page 13       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


    Mr. BALDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Abercrombie, distinguished members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss Navy and Marine Corps major rotorcraft programs. Thank you, sir, for introducing my colleague, Brigadier General Post. I know time is a constraint so I will be very brief in my opening statement.

    Mr. Chairman, I would like to begin by thanking the members of the subcommittee for your outstanding support for Navy and Marine Corps programs. In multiple theaters throughout the world, your Navy-Marine Corps team is prosecuting the Global War on Terror in a wide range of operations. As you are keenly aware, rotorcraft are an essential component of the immense capabilities the United States Navy and Marine Corps team provides our nation.

    The fiscal year 2006 President's budget request draws a balance between sustaining our fleet of legacy aircraft that are performing so magnificently in current operations, while also recapitalizing with newer, more capable and more affordable aircraft. I would like to take just a minute to highlight the status of three of our important recapitalization programs. The V–22 Osprey has flown in excess of 5,300 hours since resuming flight tests in May 2002. On March 28, 17 days ago, the program began operational evaluation which will lead to a full rate production decision in early fiscal year 2006.
 Page 14       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The VXX program achieved a significant milestone on January 28, 2005 with the award of an System Technology Demonstrator (STD) contract to Lockheed-Martin Systems Integration to introduce a new presidential helicopter into initial service by October 2009. We initiated a program to develop the Marine Corps heavy lift replacement, evaluating the CH–53X to replace the aging CH–53E. Prior to the planned Milestone B review in fiscal year 2006, the Navy has authorized expenditure of up to $50 million by Sikorsky and the government for the conduct of various risk reduction activities.

    In addition to our recapitalization efforts, recognizing the need to provide urgent support for our deployed forces, the Marine Corps and the acquisition team acted to install advanced survivability equipment on all helicopters going into Iraq last spring.

    Mr. Chairman, out of respect for the committee's time, I will stop here. I am grateful to the committee for the chance to offer just a few examples of how the department is day in and day out supporting the sailors and Marines fighting the Global War on Terrorism. Congressional support of these vital rotorcraft programs is essential to achieving these kinds of results.

    Thank you for your consideration, and General Post and I look forward to your questions.

    [The joint prepared statement of Mr. Balderson, Mr. Laux, and General Post can be viewed in the hard copy.]

 Page 15       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WELDON. Thank you.

    General Post.

    General POST. I have no comments, sir. Thank you.

    Mr. WELDON. Well, you scored one there, General, to plus-up the funding for the Marine Corps.

    Mr. Duma.

    Mr. DUMA. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Abercrombie, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about the test program for the presidential helicopter replacement program known as VXX. As you requested, I will focus my remarks on the VXX program schedule and my views on the cost and schedule risk associated with the apparent concurrency of the program.

    The VXX presidential replacement helicopter program responds to a White House requirement to replace the VH–3 helicopters no later than October 2009. Due to the urgency of the requested availability date, the Department has adopted a schedule-driven, success-oriented acquisition strategy. The program office acknowledges that the schedule-driven nature of the program leads to high costs, schedule and performance risks. I submitted the program schedule with my written statement, which I ask be included for the record.

    In January 2005, the Department designated VXX as an acquisition category 1D, major defense acquisition program that recognizes that replacing the aging and limited capability of the current presidential fleet warrants urgency and requires a success-oriented program schedule. The Department also recognizes that system safety, reliability, availability and security are overriding concerns that cannot be compromised. We will ensure that these concerns are adequately addressed.
 Page 16       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The program strategy approves Milestone B to begin the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase to develop Increment I and Increment II VXX configurations concurrently. The strategy authorizes procurements of three off-the-shelf aircraft for early flight familiarization and testing, and five Increment I low-rate initial production aircraft. Additionally, the Increment II low-rate initial production quantity was set at 10 aircraft.

    I support the established and longstanding policy of fly-before-buy. This approach allows deficiencies discovered in early testing to be corrected more efficiently by design changes prior to production and fielding. The VXX acquisition strategy is not an example of fly-before-buy. Low-rate initial production aircraft will be designed and procured before the results of realistic mission-oriented operational test and evaluation are available. The decision to procure the 10 Increment II low-rate initial production aircraft will be made before Increment I performance and operational test and evaluation is fully understood. As a result, all but the final eight aircraft will be procured before operational test results will be available.

    The current acquisition strategy will likely necessitate retrofit of some number of procured helicopters to incorporate final configuration changes in the operational presidential support fleet of 23 aircraft. Such retrofit will likely incur some schedule delay and cost increases. I believe that the VXX acquisition program would benefit by shifting to an event-based strategy that allows time to perform the early operational testing, followed by deficiency correction and then production.

    I am committed to working within the Department to achieve an event-driven strategy which will enable fixes identified in Increment I to be incorporated into the Increment II low-rate initial production aircraft design and production. To date, the VXX test and evaluation master plan has not been approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. However, I applaud the significant effort of the Commander of the Navy Operational Test and Evaluation Force to plan a detailed set of operational tests and evaluation objectives that will be closely integrated with developmental test events conducted by the integrated contractor, Government Testing.
 Page 17       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    I am committed to ensuring that the operational and live-fire survivability test and evaluation efforts are adequate and conducted in accordance with longstanding policy and Title X U.S. Code.

    Mr. Chairman, this concludes my opening remarks and I welcome your questions.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Duma can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you for your statement and for your service.

    General Bishop.

    General BISHOP. Chairman Weldon, Congressman Abercrombie, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon.

    Today, nearly 30,000 Air Force men and women are deployed away from home, many in harm's way. Today, your Air Force will fly approximately 225 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, your Air Force will fly approximately 300 tanker and airlift missions around the world. On the home front, your Air Force is manning five combat air patrols that are sitting alert here in the United States at 25 different sites.

    Watching over all of these brave men and women, as well as our sister services and our allies, are your United States Air Force combat rescue forces. These forces are continuously deployed and engaged in the Global War on Terrorism and humanitarian operations worldwide. They are key to defeating adversaries and protecting allies. Our Air Force rotary wing assets represent an extremely small, but disproportionately important part of our combat force, and they are stressed.
 Page 18       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Today's extremely high operations tempo, combined with the low-density, high-demand nature of these forces, and the age of the aircraft, put them in an increasingly vicious cycle. These issues have created a situation where the HH–60, the current Air Force rescue helicopter, is driving our combat rescue forces's mission capable rate to the lowest in the fleet of all the categories of all the aircraft. This makes the HH–60 even more low-density, compounding this already severe problem. Worse yet, the HH–60 does not have the necessary range, payload or survivability to meet the combat search and rescue needs of the future battle space.

    Our answer to this mounting problem is the personnel recovery vehicle, or PRV. The PRV represents a significant leap in this critically needed capability. The PRV requirement has double the range and carries four times the number of critically injured survivors versus the HH–60, and is capable of defending itself against a much broader range of threats. We are working diligently in meeting our critical personnel recovery needs by replacing the aging low-density, high-demand HH–60 with an aircraft that has the capabilities needed for the future battle space.

    I am very proud to be here today to represent the United States Air Force and I look forward to addressing all the Air Force rotorcraft needs in questions that your committee has.

    [The prepared statement of General Bishop can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you, General.
 Page 19       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    General Schloesser.

    General SCHLOESSER. Chairman Weldon, Mr. Abercrombie and distinguished members, I would like to say first thank you very much for this opportunity to address the subcommittee. I would like to waive my formal verbal remarks, and instead try to address three charts that I handed our earlier and hopefully are at your place. I am not going to go into any lengthy discussions. We have submitted a lengthy testimony that addresses many of the questions of the subcommittee, but I would like to make just a few points.

    On the first slide, basically what you see is Operation Iraqi Freedom. On the second slide are the results of Operation Enduring Freedom as far as Army aviation goes and our UAV program. The bottom line is on the upper right hand side for the first slide. You can see that we have flown 535,000 hours on all of our airframes in Iraq since February 1, 2003. If you took the second slide, basically the bottom line is 76,000 hours as well. What you see on that slide, however, is every one of the aircraft that we operate inside Army aviation in combat are shown. I would just like to orient you to what you see in the way of information, and then move on to the last slide.

    If you take a look at the bottom left, first you see OH–58. That is our Kiowa Warrior. It is a program we have not admittedly put a lot of money into in the last number of years because the bottom line is we thought we would get rid of the program as we bought the Comanche. The decision to terminate Comanche basically meant we had stopped investing already before hand. This aircraft is flying in Iraq. The way you read this is there are 24 aircraft, you can see that in the asterisk next to it, currently in Iraq.
 Page 20       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The next figure, 137,000 hours, that is the total number of hours that have been flown in Iraq in this airframe, this type. The mission completion rate is 83 percent, which is very high. And the operations tempo, when you divide the number of hours flown per aircraft in Iraq, you see that it is 81 hours per month. The important point here is that is five times more than what we fund in peacetime, both in the way of parts and the maintenance capability. The bottom line is that that has a cost. We are paying that both in our reset fee, our reset program where we are trying to rebuild these aircraft as we bring them back.

    I want to note that this is not active only. This is our Guard and our Army Reserve, which is at this rotation 44 percent of Army aviation in Iraq at this point in time, and also in Afghanistan. Any solution set that we come to you about has to involve also the Reserve.

    The final slide, it is a very complex slide. It is the third one, and is our modernization strategy. It basically goes from every one of the aircraft types that we operate, including some of our legacy systems like the UH–1 and the OH–58 Alpha and Charlie that are not in Iraq and are not in Afghanistan, walks across from the current timeframe through the Program Objective Memorandum (POM), all the way into the extended planning period, and talks about joint solution sets in the future. Again, it is basically self-explanatory. When you walk your way down per airframe, on the far right you can see the total numbers that we are going to buy, over 1,125 new aircraft, and we are going to divest ourselves of over 880 aircraft as we go about the process.

    Admittedly, what you are going to see the Army buying in many cases in our new programs are common off the shelf, as much as possible, airframes. We are investing some S&T money in the future in our joint heavy lift program, as you have already mentioned. Again, that is aimed more towards the 2020, the 2024 time frame.
 Page 21       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Sir, with that, I appreciate the opportunity to come and speak before the subcommittee.

    [The prepared statement of General Schloesser can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you.

    Thank you all for your testimony and, more importantly, for your service to the country. We all agree, and those of us who have been over there, which includes all the members of the committee, have seen the work that our rotorcraft have done and continue to do in providing support for our troops. We appreciate your leadership in allowing us to upgrade and maintain the existing fleet and upgrade for the future.

    I guess I would ask an industrial-base question first of all and ask each of you to comment on the views of the state of the rotorcraft industry and technology manufacturing base in enabling the U.S. helicopter industry competitiveness internationally and in responding to future national security needs. One of my concerns is that because of the dereliction of NASA in eliminating the R&D focus on rotorcraft, that we are going to eventually pay the price for that down the road, but I would like to hear from each of you.

    Mr. Balderson, we go right down the line.

    Mr. BALDERSON. Mr. Chairman, as you acknowledged, and as I suggested in my opening remarks, our budget is all about a balancing act. We certainly share your concerns that in any particular area, we wish there were more money to invest.
 Page 22       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    We have tried to, of course, leverage off of the Army and DARPA and to a limited extent now NASA. We have invested to the extent we can invest. We believe in S&T and still balance that with other investments and production requirements and development requirements and support requirements.

    With respect to the industrial base, speaking for the Navy and Marine Corps, we did an assessment of the industrial base, and informal assessment of the industrial base prior to the VXX source selection. Although we always view the industrial base with concern and are watching it very carefully, at this point in time we believe that the major helicopter manufacturers supporting the Navy and Marine Corps, that we have a reasonably solid industrial base and we have a reasonably solid portfolio of programs that will be going into each of those facilities.

    I had the opportunity, with Secretary Young and others, yesterday to spend an interesting and a good day at Bell in Forth Worth. We reviewed the V–22 program, the H–1 program, some of their commercial programs. They seem to have a very robust backlog of aircraft. I would say the same for Sikorsky, doing some fine H–60 work for us. We will talk a little bit later about the HLR replacement. We have given Sikorsky money to begin the H–53X pre-STD work, and we believe that the programs we see going to Sikorsky and the potential for future business, that they are a viable supporter.

    So always keeping an eye and always being concerned that we maintain this vital industry capacity, we feel pretty comfortable now that we have done the best job we can of balancing not only our investments and our resources, but we have a pretty good balance of workload in each of our major suppliers's facilities.
 Page 23       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    General POST. Sir, just to add on Mr. Balderson, obviously for the V–22 and H–1 programs, they have been in R&D for a number of years, as you know, and we are getting surly here to get some major milestones ahead of us with respect to production decisions. Also inside the Navy, one program that Mr. Balderson did not mention was that the Office of Naval Research is looking at a V–22 reconfigural rotor blade for us that should provide potential great advantages for us for the V–22 aircraft.

    Thank you, sir.

    Mr. WELDON. Mr. Duma.

    Mr. DUMA. Mr. Chairman, the industrial base question is really one of the problems that are of a different office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense outside of my realm. If you would like, I can take that as a question for the record and get their input in providing that fact.

    Mr. WELDON. General Bishop.

    General BISHOP. Mr. Chairman, I know of the concern of the committee. I read the minutes from last March's 2004 session that you held and I certainly understand. As far as the PRV goes, I would say that we have had good interest from a wide range of helicopter manufactures, Bell, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Sikorsky, Boeing and Lockheed. So I do not see how it really affects this particular issue that I am here to address, but I certainly understand the committee's concerns.
 Page 24       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. WELDON. General Schloesser.

    General SCHLOESSER. Sir, as you know, the Army has huge interests in rotorcraft. You know also I am an operator, and not an acquisition person, so let me just answer quite frankly from an operational viewpoint. I would say that when you look at the domestic helicopter industrial base, right now today as far as the Army is concerned they are meeting our needs. We are looking, as I have said, at basically common off-the-shelf type of development of helicopters in the near term.

    My concern I would say overall, America's concern as you look to the future is where is that investment going to basically go beyond that into technological development. Eventually, you are going to need young aeronautical engineers that did not help design the Huey helicopter or the Black Hawk helicopter, and you have to have programs that invest in that type of education and then you have to have a job for them to go to, for one.

    The second thing I would note is, just as you noted with NASA coming out of the rotorcraft R&D business, there are resource issues out there as far as the capability to do tech development out there. That is America's problem. It is not just the Army's problem. I know that as we go down the load with our joint heavy lift program that there are expectations as far as the industrial base and then also the test activities and all that kind of thing, that are going to have to be resourced one way or the other.

    Mr. WELDON. I have two other questions, then I will turn to my colleagues. This is for the three Generals. Are all of our rotorcraft in Iraq and Afghanistan adequately protected from surface-to-air missile threats?
 Page 25       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    General Post, we will start with you.

    General POST. Yes, sir. Every Marine Corps helicopter currently deployed in the Global War on Terrorism both in Iraq and Afghanistan in total have the most current aviation survival equipment installed. That was through the partnership both of Congress and also of the Department of the Navy to make sure we had those aircraft reconfigured.

    Mr. WELDON. General Bishop.

    General BISHOP. Yes, sir. I would say that our aircraft are appropriately configured for the threat that we expect them to face, like Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADs), et cetera. The HH–60 does not have any radar missile protection, however.

    Mr. WELDON. General Schloesser.

    General SCHLOESSER. Sir, the answer for Army helicopters is yes. We do have adequate protection. As you know, we are investing a lot of money in what we think is the next step forward in the common missile warning system, as well as the improved conventional ammunition dispenser, counter-measure dispenser. So we are at a cusp where we have aircraft that have, I will not call it legacy protection, but they have adequate protection. We know we need to improve it. We are putting a lot of money into that program.

    The Third Infantry Division in Iraq and also the 12th Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan are the first units to have this new system on board. We are not there yet. We have basically 50 UH–60s and 13 Chinooks out of a total of 550 helicopters deployed that have that most modern system. As I said, we have systems on board all the helicopters as they are.
 Page 26       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. WELDON. The final question again is for you, General Schloesser. One of your graphics, the one on modernization strategy, depicts the consolidation of the armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) with the H–64 program and the extended planning period. Why not eliminate the ARH proposed buy and buy AH–64s now?

    General SCHLOESSER. Sir, right now that is probably not very well depicted. For the near-, mid- and in fact for the future that I can predict, there is going to be a requirement for reconnaissance in a smaller type of a platform that is not appropriately done with an Apache, whether it is an Apache Block II or Apache Block III. So the armed reconnaissance helicopter has a niche to get out there and a requirement.

    I will also note that the costs that we are trying to bring this program in, the aircraft would be roughly half of that of a modern Apache as well. In a sense, it would be buying more than what we need for the mission set. So we will correct that slide, but I cannot predict at a time when we are going to knowingly take the ARH out and only use the Apache for that type of a mission set.

    Mr. WELDON. Thank you.

    Mr. Abercrombie is recognized.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you.

    Mr. Duma, I know that you are the Acting Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. Do you expect to still be in that position after this hearing?
 Page 27       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. DUMA. Yes, sir, I do.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay. I appreciate that.

    Can you give me a little something more by way of your background and your resume? Why are you the director of Operational Test and Evaluation? Why does the Secretary of Defense (OSD) feel that you are qualified for that position and put his trust in you?

    Mr. DUMA. The Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation was created by statute by Congress in the mid-1980s. I worked in this office as an action officer in the early and mid-1990s as a member of the United States Navy. I retired from the Navy and worked in industry for a number of years and in 2002 I came back to this office in the position of the Principal Deputy Director. The reason I am here in front of you today is because the politically appointed Director retired effective February 1 of this year.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So is it fair to say that you have had a professional, as well as a personal direct experience in dealing with the question of safety of rotorcraft, as well as all the areas associated with mission? You are thoroughly familiar with that and feel comfortable?

    Mr. DUMA. I have some experience, yes, sir.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay. And the Secretary of Defense obviously has confidence in you or you would not be here today.
 Page 28       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. DUMA. I would hope that is true.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I am asking that a bit rhetorically, but there is a reason for it. I am very impressed with your testimony because it corresponds to some of my concerns. As I indicated in my opening remarks, or maybe I should elaborate a little on my opening remarks. I am not an aeronautical engineer. I have not flown aircraft, rotor or otherwise. I certainly have to rely on people like yourself who have been involved both as a professional military person, as well as someone who has had the responsibility for making decisions with respect to the building of these craft. I am relying as a member of Congress on your professionalism, on your judgment.

    Where the Comanche was concerned, I am sure motivations were good and all the rest of it, but it did not work out. Now, where the Osprey is concerned, we have tried to experiment there. Lives have been lost in the course of trying to perfect this, right? It weighs on everybody's mind I am sure, in terms of responsibility. I recognize that the VXX presidential replacement helicopter is not coming from virgin territory in terms of its construction or its origins. But nonetheless, if I read your testimony correctly, there are significant changes that need to be made in order to bring it up to the mission standards that have been outlined to you. Is that a correct statement?

    Mr. DUMA. It will not be a commercial helicopter.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Correct?

 Page 29       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. DUMA. Yes, sir.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So I am very disturbed by the idea that someone who I presume is a lot like me, never flown a helicopter, does not have a clue about operational necessities, does not understand anything about aeronautical engineering, is relying upon the judgment of professionals, and is now telling you and telling the people associated with the building of this plane that they are going to meet a certain schedule with regard to these missions. If I read your testimony correctly, you do not agree with that.

    Mr. DUMA. No, sir, I do not. From a technical and engineering standpoint, I would much prefer to see an event-driven program, as opposed to a schedule-driven program.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Which also says according to here, success-oriented. I mean, that scares me to death when I hear something like that, success-oriented. That is public relations phraseology. Presumably, nobody wants lack of success. I do not mean that that came out of whole cloth from you in any sarcastic way, but that is what this is; that this is totally inadequate.

    In other words, they want to buy these planes before you know for sure that they can do what you want them to. Isn't it the idea that we are supposed to get some test planes out there, test craft out there and work on the bugs and the difficulties and all the rest that area associated with anything, even if you are coming from a platform with which you have some experience. Isn't that true? Isn't that the way ordinarily you would do this?

 Page 30       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. DUMA. That is correct, Congressman. Normally, you would have a development program. A low-rate initial production would produce production representative aircraft which would undergo operational testing. The success of that testing then would lead to a full rate production decision.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Well, let me make sure I understand. Am I correct that your testimony says that of the 23 helicopters anticipated here, that only eight of them will be purchased after we conduct the operational tests?

    Mr. DUMA. That is the current schedule.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. How the hell can you buy helicopters before you are satisfied, you professionally, that they meet the operational standards?

    Mr. DUMA. I have opposed that program plan.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Does this have the support of the Secretary of Defense at this time, officially, in writing?

    Mr. DUMA. It has the approval of the Defense Acquisition Executive, who acts for the Secretary of Defense on acquisition matters.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. At least when I received your testimony, the sentence I am looking at, the reason I asked that question, ''To date, VXX test and evaluation master plan has not been approved by the office of the Secretary of Defense.''
 Page 31       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. DUMA. My office approves those plans. It has not been submitted to my office for approval yet.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. You have not recommended to the Secretary that it be approved.

    Mr. DUMA. I do approve it. They are working on the content of that test plan. My action officers are involved in that. The test program that they are laying out is a comprehensive test program. My objection to the situation we find ourselves in is that we do not get the results of the testing that they plan to do until late in the program.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So what? Isn't that the way it is supposed to be done? You get the results according to whatever schedule of testing. Maybe I am misunderstanding. A schedule is being presented to you to lay out how to accomplish the mission that is stated here by Mr. Balderson in his testimony. Right?

    Mr. DUMA. The decision for the acquisition strategy is made. My input to that acquisition strategy was for it to be event-based.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes. What I am driving at is, this acquisition strategy, that is a beautiful phrase, I enjoy it, the acquisition strategy. What the hell strategy are we talking about? The acquisition should be based on the schedule that you set out for when you get the results that you think warrant production to take place.

 Page 32       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. DUMA. The acquisition strategy is made——

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. But that is not what you are telling me.

    Mr. DUMA. No, sir. What we find in this program is the acquisition strategy was laid out and approved and we are building the test program to accommodate that acquisition strategy.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. But that is ass-backwards.

    Mr. DUMA. Yes, sir, it is.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. We cannot do this. I am not going to vote to do that. I want to vote for something that you approve of, where you put your professional, not just your reputation, but I mean you put your professional word on the line. You are operating on behalf of the interests of the people of this country in this position. I take it that your recommendation is that this is not something that you can go along with.

    I cannot go along with it. How the hell can you build something that you are not sure is going to work? It is different than building something where you have a schedule of experimentation and testing, and then you find out where there are difficulties and try to correct those. Believe me, I do not think that you can build something and from day one know that it is all going to work just exactly the way you want it. This takes time, right, even though you are working from a platform with which you have familiarity. Or am I just being too overly concerned?
 Page 33       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. DUMA. I cannot think of any instance where we have not discovered some problems during a test program, whether it was developmental testing or operational testing, that did not require some retrofit or deficiency correction for the platforms that were being purchased.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay, if you will indulge me just a moment or two more, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Balderson, can you give me something in your background as to why you are the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air Programs?

    Mr. BALDERSON. Congressman, I started work out of graduate school in 1978 for the Navy as a presidential management intern.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. You have managed to overcome that, obviously. [Laughter.]

    Mr. BALDERSON. No comment, sir.

    I have spent the past 27 years working for the Navy in various positions. I worked my way up the acquisition chain. In 1994, I became the Deputy Acquisition Executive at the Naval Air Systems Command. In 1997, I became the Program Executive Officer for Common Systems at the Naval Air Systems Command, the non-electronic commerce aquisition team (ECAT) programs if you will, and served in that capacity until 2 years ago and was selected 2 years ago for my current position.
 Page 34       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So you are thoroughly familiar with acquisition processes and protocols?

    Mr. BALDERSON. I think so, sir. Yes, sir.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay. As what Mr. Duma has outlined as the usual course of events to try to determine whether we should procure any military platform as he outlined what would be standard operating procedure as far as your concerned, of what you have observed?

    Mr. BALDERSON. Yes, sir. I would say that is generally true.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So when you testify here as you do that the goal of this accelerated program is a seamless transition to the next generation of presidential helicopter support, that is an accurate statement and this is a goal, to have some kind of seamless transition. But the process by which this goal is to be accomplished seems to me seriously flawed. Do you have any differentiation from Mr. Duma's testimony?

    Mr. BALDERSON. Could I offer a few comments?

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I read your testimony up and down and I do not see anything in it that contradicts what Mr. Duma says.

    Mr. BALDERSON. If I could offer some elaboration. I do not know that I will contradict him, but I would like to talk through the rationale for how we are approaching the program and the test program.
 Page 35       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. How you are approaching it, I do not really have an argument there. I realize you are concentrating on getting it done. My objection, or at least what I derive out of your testimony and Mr. Duma's testimony, is that you are not being allowed to, or you are being admonished to move ahead with the acquisition before you have finished your test approach. Whether it is accelerated or not, that is okay with me. If you accelerate it, hell, it is a presidential helicopter and you are trying to improve its capabilities. If you want to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is fine with me, provided that it goes through all of the necessary steps.

    Mr. BALDERSON. I would not completely agree with Mr. Duma's assessment.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay. In what way don't you?

    Mr. BALDERSON. Okay, if I could just make a couple of points, and if this is too lengthy stop me and I would be happy to provide some additional information for the record.

    Let me just say first of all, I have never personally used the word ''success-oriented,'' and I hope it is nowhere in my statement. As you say, we always shoot for success. That is a trite term in my view. I would make a second comment. As you acknowledged, the AH–101 of US–101 does have 60,000 operational hours on it, so we are not starting from scratch on a normal type of development program. Although as you say, there is absolutely no question that this is not a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft. We are starting with a commercial aircraft. We are making significant modifications, but we are able to leverage off those 60,000 operational hours.
 Page 36       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    I will also tell you that as a part of the procurement strategy, we are buying three test articles which are currently flying. So we have already started flying green aircraft. We are fully aware, and I believe in our discussion with DOT&E I believe they would agree with this, we are fully aware that this is a very aggressive schedule and that this schedule brings a considerable amount of risks with it.

    A lot of that is driven by needs in the post-9-11 environment. I cannot get into those here, but when we break for the classified session after this, we are going to go into and provide some information will at least shed some light on why we have a schedule urgency here.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Just parenthetically here, I am not arguing about your schedule velocity.

    Mr. BALDERSON. Right.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I am arguing about your acquisition, or not arguing, but what I have been alerted to here is that you are acquiring these things before you have gone through all the steps, regardless of how fast you are doing this. Let me tell you why. Understand this: You are talking about passenger lift capability. You are talking about survivability. I am not quite sure what mission growth capability is, but I am assuming it has something to do with range and air speed.

    Mr. BALDERSON. Primarily weight, yes, sir.
 Page 37       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. As I say, I am not an aeronautical engineer, but I am not an idiot. It does not take much to figure out that you are talking about weight and passenger capacity and all the rest of it. That is tricky stuff. I do not care whether you are operating from something you have flown 6 million hours, not just 60,000 hours. The second you start getting into a different range, I presume, how high you can go, that changes temperature.

    I know what happens when you take a helicopter over a volcano, for example, as they do out in Hawaii and they do not pay attention to changes in temperature and so on, and the kind of craft that you have, its power is related to whether or not you can survive extreme changes in temperature, for example, very quickly. I know that much, those kinds of things.

    That is what I am saying. I do not understand why on earth would we be moving to purchase these helicopters ahead of the capacity to say with authority that you believe that they have met all the tests with regard to passenger lift capability, survivability, high temperature operations, range and air speed changes.

    Mr. BALDERSON. Congressman, we will ensure all of that. We are working very closely with DOT&E. We are not doing any of this in a vacuum. We are doing some things on this program that I believe are somewhat unique and progressive. We are making use of multiple systems integration labs. We have an integrated contract or government test team. We are working with Commander Operational Test Force (COMOPTEVFOR) and DOT&E to integrate contractor testing, which is going on now. Developmental testing, which we will do of course in the government prior to operational testing, and then our operational test objectives, so that we can provide the maximum feedback loop and the maximum insight into the system.
 Page 38       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    But let me just say this, I will take exception to one thing, and it probably appears in the literature somewhere, but I do not view this as a schedule-driven program. There is some urgency to schedule here, maybe more so than on some other programs for reasons that we will get into upstairs a little later. Having said that, this is not schedule at all costs. We have said up through the Navy leadership and the OSD leadership that we are not going to do anything to release into operational use for the president or anybody else any aircraft that we are not sure is safe and operationally suitable and operationally effective. If we get to the point where we do not feel that way, then we are not going to put the President in that aircraft.

    To that extent, I do not view this as a schedule-driven program, which to me says we are going to meet that schedule and we are going to put the president in the best aircraft we have at a point in time.

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you.

    The other members and the Chairman have been more than generous with me on this time, but this is so serious. I am just concerned that in trying to meet some schedule, I do not want anybody's life jeopardized on the basis that there is some abstract necessity of the President to meet a schedule set up by a politician on Pennsylvania Avenue. I think this should be done in a professional manner. I do not mean the President when I say that, by the way. I am not being sarcastic about it. I mean it. I do not want some political appointee, anymore than I want me telling you.

    I am not in a position. I am not capable of setting up some date and giving you a date, Mr. Duma, and saying you have to certify this by such and such a date. I would like you to tell me that this is certified by whatever date is as fast and as accurate as you can make it, given that you believe you have met every criterion necessary to ensure the safety and the mission capability of what you have been charged to accomplish.
 Page 39       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the other members. I deeply appreciate your courtesy to me.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman for his outstanding comments. As always, his questions are success-driven. [Laughter.]

    With that, we will turn to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Conaway.

    Mr. CONAWAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I want to respect the process a little bit and not wade in ignorantly, so I yield back my time to the gentleman from Connecticut.

    Mr. WELDON. I would be happy to reserve time for you to ask questions.

    Mr. CONAWAY. Thank you.

    Mr. WELDON. We will turn to our guest, who is a member of the full committee, a very capable member, Mr. Simmons.

    Mr. SIMMONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say that I appreciate the courtesy that you have extended to me to allow me to be here today to listen to this very important testimony. I very much appreciate the remarks of the gentleman from Hawaii. I think he has done a very good job of illustrating an important issue. While he and I do not always agree, I certainly think he is performing due diligence here today on this subject. I also would like to associate myself with the remarks of my colleague, Rosa DeLauro, that have been submitted for the record. I have had the opportunity to read over her remarks carefully. I think she is right on the dime when it comes to the issue of her concern, which I will not comment on further because I have other questions that I want to submit to the panel.
 Page 40       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    First of all, to General Schloesser, I read with interest your testimony, listened to your testimony and appreciated your slides. I would like to ask a question about the UH–60 program. In your modernization strategy, you point out that we currently have 1,578 UH–60s of various designs, and that the planned goal is for 1,806. I notice on page 16 of your testimony that the number 1,577 as opposed to 1,578. Let's just say there is one helicopter out there that got lost. I am sure you will find it.

    But you have raised some very important points in your testimony. I have not spent a lot of times in helicopters, but I spent enough time in helicopters in Vietnam to know that operational conditions wear them out. When operational conditions wear them out, sometimes you take casualties just due to overwork, under-maintenance, not even hostile fire. And there is nothing sadder, really, to think that we would be knocking on someone's door and saying your son or daughter is gone. The helicopter went down and unfortunately it was old, it was worn out.

    The Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) located in Groton and New London, deployed to Kuwait for a year. The Commanding Officer of the AVCRAD came back and told me that we are wearing them out in Baghdad, in Iraq. We are wearing them out faster than we anticipated.

    So my question to you is that when we look at these numbers, we look at this increase from 1,577 or 1,578, whatever it is, to 1,806, is that good enough? And how are we going to fit that into the annual schedule? Are we doing enough of those up front to meet the requirement to field safe, new aircraft so that we can be sure that our men and women are flying in the very best? That is my first question. If I could have a second one, I would appreciate it, but why don't I listen to the answer.
 Page 41       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    General SCHLOESSER. Mr. Congressman, again thank you for the correction and we will find that one missing UH–60 there. The prices, as you note, are fairly substantial.

    What I would say is the Commander of the AVCRAD was absolutely right on. There is no doubt, and in fact I had hoped to be able to show you on those two pages of those slides that there is significant operations tempo on all of our aircraft. The UH–60, what I did not do since I did not go into detail, I did not show you that, and ask you to take a look at that picture and show you the numbers there. But if you had the time, you would see that it is the workhorse by and large within Iraq as far as the sheer numbers that we have. There are 244 during this rotation. So it is almost half the number of aircraft, just by its own type.

    Are we wearing them out more than what we would in peacetime? There is absolutely no doubt. But are we fixing them as they come back home? Yes. We have this reset program where with the help of Congress we have put substantial resources. What we do in reset is the aircraft comes out of the theater and we basically bring them back into a combat-ready status as fast as we possibly can, with the best types of parts that are available at the time, et cetera.

    They are not zero-timed. So we still have an issue out there of recapitalization. We still have a modernization issue. In the UH–60 line, we have taken that head-on. That complex chart there shows numbers. We are buying UH–60s. As you know, the requirement has gone up because we are transforming the Army, so that is how you get to 1,806. UH–60s, as I said, it is a workhorse. We are buying 351 brand new UH–60s that are a part of the Mike model program. We decided, working within OSD and the department that it was more efficient to buy a brand new aircraft rather than recapitalizing. In other words, making an A-model Black Hawk into an M-model. The M-model is going to be a much better aircraft with quite a bit more capability provided out there to those soldiers, but it made more sense to buy the new ones. So this is 351 zero-time airframes.
 Page 42       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    At the same time, we are keeping the line open as we do what is called ADA recapitalization, also then ADA–LEMO, which is of course that other model of airframe of the UH–60 frame. I guess I am saying to you that we are doing the very best that we can with the resources, which we believe are fairly substantial within the UH–60 line, to provide that workhorse out to the American soldier at any one time.

    Again, the M-model is a significant increase in capability, with new engine, new rotor blades, a new digital cockpit, fly-by-wire, et cetera, and significant survivability enhancements. So the bottom line is we are working it. Are we there yet? No. Are we in combat? Yes, and we are wearing the stuff out, but we have a plan and we are executing it.

    Mr. SIMMONS. I thank you for that. I agree with you. Buying the new ones makes a hell of a lot of sense, and I think it is reassuring to us and to the families that are flying them that new is good. If you encounter any difficulties, I would be happy to work with you off-line on that issue.

    My second question, Mr. Chairman, goes to General Post. In his testimony, he also raised some of the issues that we have already discussed about optempo and fatigue with regard to the heavy lift 53E. I understand that we are moving towards a 53X, a CH–53X. My question would be, are the Marines encountering fly times in the war zone that exceed what the CH–53E, what was anticipated for the CH–53E? If so, are we learning from this experience what we need to incorporate into the CH–53X? Are we pushing the aircraft, and in pushing the aircraft, are we learning things that we then can take to heart when it comes to the CH–53X? If so, what lessons are being learned?
 Page 43       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    And then second, do we have enough money in the pipeline to ensure that we can capture those lessons learned and rapidly deploy the next heavy lift helicopter for the Marine Corps?

    General POST. Thank you, Congressman. As in my written statement, our 53 Echo fleet is being utilized, like all our rotary helicopters, at a rate probably at least two-and-a-half to three times a normal peacetime utilization. Approximately 25 percent of our total active duty and reserve component helicopter fleet is deployed in Iraq. Our rotation base with respect to how we are maintaining that forward deployment is a pretty robust rotation base with respect to pretty much a one-to-one rotation, home for seven, back for seven and so forth.

    Your comments on the, as we look down range with respect to, you mentioned CH–53 Echo or X-ray. We call it the heavy lift requirement, HLR, its name as far as the requirement side. It has been approved by both the Marine Corps and the Joint Staff in December of 2004 through the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development Process (JCIDs). So we do have a validated requirement. Obviously, for our future work on capabilities, we obviously have a near-term issue with how we are utilizing the helicopter force. The average age of the 53 Echo is about 17 years across the fleet.

    We also are looking at the, from a sea-basing construct, where we are going to be out there in the 2012, 2015 time frame, how we are going to fight with respect to expeditionary maneuver warfare, and the sea-basing. We need that heavy lift capability to move that materiel from the sea-base and not build it up on shore, and that is where the requirement for the HLR or the CH53 X-ray comes from. The stated requirement for the Marine Corps is to be able to lift 27,000 pounds to a distance of 110 nautical miles.
 Page 44       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    So we obviously have a lot here recently, as we mentioned earlier, upgrading the survival equipment on all our helicopters, to include the 53. We monitor that very closely. I will tell you, we are flying absolutely safe airplanes. As the Army is doing, as the Marine Corps is doing, in-country and when we bring those airplanes home, we have extra field teams fully deployed in Iraq working side by side with the Marines at our forward bases. And when we bring those aircraft home, they are getting the additional funding and we get them to the depots and we are getting them back into the fight.

    So for the near term, we are managing the inventory properly. There is strain on the inventory, for sure. We are going to watch that very closely. For the long term, the HLR is imperative for the Marine Corps to get this capability, to be able to provide that type of lift we require in the future.

    Mr. SIMMONS. I appreciate that response. I guess in my mind's eye, I see a very fine helicopter that is being worked very hard, and is due for replacement. Maybe the hardworking of that aircraft is encouraging us to accelerate the R&D and the bringing on of the new replacement; that we are kind of seeing those two pieces come together. I just am concerned that we have enough money in the pipeline to make sure that we accommodate that situation.

    General POST. Yes, sir. As we sit here, this is a PRO–7 for the Department of the Navy, quite frankly, for the milestone, to hopefully get to a milestone decision to go to System Development and Demonstration (SDD) later on this fall. So we are working very diligently and also inside the Department of the Navy to come up with a strategy that we have to go forward through to get through that milestone later on in the fall. So there is much work to be had here in the next 60 to 90 days inside the department.
 Page 45       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. SIMMONS. I appreciate that. Of course, we are interested in seeing what we can do to help. I thank the panel and I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your courtesy.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman. I have one additional series of questions I would like to pursue, starting with General Schloesser.

    What other services other than the Army have committed to pursuing the joint heavy lift program?

    General SCHLOESSER. Sir, let me give you the short answer and then the long answer. First of all, it is truly joint and it is one of the few programs that I am aware of where we started off talking about it in the room with all of the services. That said, right now it is under Army lead, and quite frankly it is under Army funding to start off the program with the S&T.

    I am optimistic as we go down and when we start bringing together the groups to take a hard look at the requirement out there, that we can get more interest. The truth is, we do have Navy interest because of requirements that my colleague has already talked about as far as ship-to-shore, ship-to-objective maneuver types of joint fighting concepts, and the ability just to move things off of a vessel and move it further ashore than, say, the beach.

    So as we go on, I am optimistically looking for not only continued participation in the joint program, but more participation in the funding portion of it as well.

 Page 46       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WELDON. General and General Post, with regard to heavy lift replacement for the Marine Corps and the joint heavy lift for the Army, could you give me the projected total development costs for each program and what major differing requirements of the two programs preclude consolidation of the two programs? Starting with General Post.

    General POST. Yes, sir. The biggest difference obviously, as I explained earlier with HLR, the heavy lift requirement for the Marine Corps, the current program we are working towards. We have a stated requirement that has been validated for how we anticipate fighting in the future. That obviously has been through the appropriate requirements process. I will not elaborate any more on that.

    I will add that we are fully partnered with the United States Army, with the concept refinement of the joint heavy lift which was started by Army Aviation Task Force (AT&F), so that process we have our officers and expertise along side-by-side with the Army. I would also say that the Marine Corps does not have a stated requirement for the joint heavy lift concept at this time. We look at it as a refinement process over the next 2 to 3 years to see what it is capable of as far as what we are talking about, as far as what type of weight we are talking about lifting with this platform. So we are going to be fully engaged with our joint partners as we proceed down this process.

    Mr. WELDON. General, could you give us a cost for development?

    General POST. I am sorry. The cost for the joint heavy lift?

    Mr. WELDON. Yes.
 Page 47       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    General POST. I do not have a number for the joint heavy lift requirement.

    Mr. WELDON. The heavy lift, do you have a projected cost there?

    General POST. For inside the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) for the R&D, sir, it is about $4.2 billion for R&D. I do not have a total life cycle cost for you for the whole program.

    Mr. WELDON. Can you provide that for the record?

    General POST. Yes, sir. You bet I will, sir.

    [The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. WELDON. General.

    General SCHLOESSER. Sir, on the joint heavy lift, first to note on the requirements process, I spoke today with the joint staff. We believe within the next week that what we call the initial capabilities document for the joint heavy lift, it is a joint initial capabilities document, will be loaded into what we call KMDS. In other words, it is loaded into the system and will go through a period of adjudication. Again, it is a joint requirement from the start as far as getting moving.

 Page 48       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    As far as the funding goes, I will take it as a question for the record, but I think that what we are going to tell you is that the Army has put $20 million over the next few years, 3 years, into a concept refinement, and we are hoping for additional funding from our sister services as well, and as well as from the department. At $20 million, we know that we can at least do a portion or we can do a full concept refinement. We would get a wider survey if we had more money in there.

    [The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Beyond that, then it depends upon what type of program that we initiate after that concept refinement, and also just what is in the art of the possible. But I will go back and see if we can give you better data as far as the down road cost of that, sir.

    Mr. WELDON. General, if you could, and you probably cannot do this now, but for the record give us the long-lead critical technologies for joint heavy lift that require maturation for the program to succeed and the funding levels for each, if you could do that also.

    General SCHLOESSER. Yes, sir.

    [The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. WELDON. Mr. Abercrombie, do you have additional need for time?

 Page 49       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Chairman, I was distracted. I beg your pardon?

    Mr. WELDON. Do you have additional need for time?

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I have other questions, but I want to accommodate your classified hearing schedule. There is nothing I cannot ask now that I cannot ask in there if you want to proceed.

    Mr. WELDON. Okay.

    Do either of the gentleman have additional questions for the public session?

    Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I just want to say one other thing, Mr. Chairman, for the record. I appreciate the candor expressed with my questions on the presidential helicopter. I just want to make it clear. I am very, very concerned about this. I do not want on my conscience that I facilitated even in advertently something that does not meet the standards that otherwise would be professionally set. That is all.

    Mr. Balderson, believe me, I was not being critical of either of you and your testimony on that. I read those things simply because, and the same for you Mr. Duma, on the success-driven. I understand what that is. I do not attribute any of that to you by way of trying to characterize anything. Believe me, I do not.

 Page 50       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I just want to make certain that politics does not get in the way of making decisions that involve the lives and mission of our personnel in any way, shape or form. And most particularly, of course, if it comes to the President. I have no doubt, and I want it on the record, nothing that I asked in any way shape or form should be construed to indicate that I had some question about whether anything that the Department of Defense is doing in this regard would jeopardize the life of the President or anything else, or put something forward for political purposes.

    What I am talking about here is that it appears to me, Mr. Chairman, that the schedule outlined here is not necessarily being driven on the basis of what is the best judgment of the professionals involved as to how that schedule should emerge, and whether or not, I do not know all the politics behind the decision made on this, but I do not want politics making professional judgments with regard to testing, evaluation, operations or acquisition. That is all.

    Mr. WELDON. I thank the gentleman for his comments and for his questions.

    I thank my colleagues and most importantly thank each of you for your testimony and for your commitment to the position that you hold, and for the support of our troops.

    Without objection, all of your statements are submitted as a part of the record. Without objection, we are submitting the statement of the Honorable Sherwood Boehlert, both a letter as well as a dear-colleague, regarding the topics of this hearing.

 Page 51       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    [The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    There will be an adjournment of this hearing and then we will assemble for a classified brief in room 2337.

    With that, the hearing stands adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 5:03 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]