ORLANDO, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Systems Command, Orlando, Florida is developing a process that will deliver fully integrated products to the warfighter.
The capabilities-based acquisition process is designed to ensure the warfighter has everything they need to fully train on new systems the day they are delivered, said Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, commander, Naval Air Systems Command, during a general/flag officer panel Nov. 28, at the 2017 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
The six-member panel discussed this year's conference theme, "Harnessing New Technology to Win in a Complex World," and included senior representatives from the Department of Defense, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and NATO.
In his opening remarks, Grosklags zeroed in on capabilities-based acquisition as the key to satisfying the three things the warfighter wants to know when he or she receives a new product: what it can and can't do, that it's fully integrated and interoperable with other systems it is supposed to work with, and that it can be trained to the full extent of its capabilities.
Grosklags said the services across DOD generally do a good job testing systems and characterizing their capabilities prior to delivery. It is the second and third steps where the branches are currently falling short.
Developing systems that can communicate, share data and work in tandem with others requires a shift from the current platform-centric acquisition system to one focused on the actual capabilities that the warfighter needs, said Grosklags.
"That's not how we design our systems today," said Grosklags. "We build our requirements by platform. We build our budgets by platform. We do our acquisition by platform. [Congress] looks at our budget by platforms. We don't put out requirements, we don't fund, we don't build acquisition programs for integrated capabilities, which is really what the warfighter expects to be delivered."
Instead, it typically falls to the warfighter to come back to the services and ask for integrated capabilities, such as the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet being able to share data with Aegis-class cruisers and destroyers, or the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter being able to do the same with the rest of the carrier air wing, Grosklags said.
"My belief is that through this capabilities-based acquisition process, we can deliver an interoperable product on day one for our warfighters," said Grosklags.
Sailors and Marines also want systems that they can conduct training on when they are received, said Grosklags. However, the training system often lags behind a product's introduction to the fleet.
Grosklags offered Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air as an example of a high-end capability in need of a better training solution, one using live, virtual and constructive scenarios.
"Currently, the entire carrier strike group must be underway in order to train NIFC-CA tactics," said Grosklags. "Not only can we not afford to do that, but the available window for operators to become proficient is extremely limited."
Grosklags said the DOD and defense industry has been talking about LVC for a while, "but we still don't have that capability built into the baseline when it's delivered to our operators."
Capabilities-based acquisition starts with the end in mind. "That approach will allow us to build that constructive, interoperable, integrated environment and make it available on day one," Grosklags concluded.
Grosklags' call for LVC training capabilities was echoed by his colleagues on the panel, including Maj. Gen. Kevin Iiams, commanding general of the Marine Corps' Training and Education Command.
"The intent is to develop the cognitive capabilities of creative leaders who think and advance at least as fast as the world around them if not faster if we expect them to succeed in combat," said Iiams. "They must learn to innovate for the future, adapt to overcome and always win. There's only one training regime short of the actual battlefield that allows us to do this, and that is the virtual/sim world, that we, this collective, will build for this great nation."
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