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Naval Air Forces Visits Training Wing

By Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker
Commander, Naval Air Forces

I continue to be impressed by the young men and women in Naval Aviation.  Over the last two days, I have visited and talked extensively with the instructor pilots, students and staffs from our T-45C Training Wings at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, NAS Kingsville and NAS Pensacola.  They raised concerns about safety and the risks associated with physiological episodes (PEs) being caused by the oxygen breathing system in the T-45C.

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, answers questions during a press conference.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, answers questions during a press conference.

 

It was important for me to hear directly from the pilots and share with them all the ongoing efforts to tackle this problem.  I have been tracking these events in both the T-45 and F/A-18 fleets, but a recent spike in T-45 events was cause for the Operational Risk Management (ORM) pause the pilots initiated and my directed operational pause that followed.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Although we have taken an “unconstrained resources” approach to this problem, meaning we are dedicating our best people to find solutions and allocating necessary money toward mitigation measures despite current fiscal constraints, we are still seeing a rise in these events.

As I have shared before in messages to the force, I am fully prepared to limit or curtail flight operations if our fleet leadership team determines the risk to our aircrew cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level.  After frank discussions with the aircrew, leadership staffs and engineers, I will extend the operational pause for at least a week to allow time for our engineers to do a deeper dive into T-45 systems and for leadership to determine additional mitigation measures that will reduce the risks associated with the T-45 oxygen breathing system.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 10, 2016) Pilots perform pre-flight procedures in T-45C Goshawks from Training Air Wing One (TRAWING) 1 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Mai)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 10, 2016) Pilots perform pre-flight procedures in T-45C Goshawks from Training Air Wing One (TRAWING) 1 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Mai)

We are seeking input from the pilots and they have shared some innovative ideas that we are evaluating as possible paths forward as we continue to identify the root causes of the PEs.  During the calls, I reinforced the importance of the ORM process, and acknowledged the instructors’ concerns and the use of that tool as the mechanism for last Friday’s pause.

As we eventually get back to flying I expect the same, deliberate and well-established ORM process to continue to be used as an assessment of readiness for flying.  And we will respect and honor those requests, as we have always done as part of our safety culture.  Communication up and down the chain is critical to successful execution of any mission and this last few days of engagement identified some areas we can work on to improve our communications.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) Sailors guide a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 onto a catapult aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) Sailors guide a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 onto a catapult aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

 

As I have said before, the greatness of Naval Aviation is not measured by the capability of the aircraft in our inventory. Rather, our Navy owes its stellar reputation around the world to the hardworking, dedicated professionals on our Naval Aviation teams who bring our squadrons to life.  I am awed by their commitment to the mission and the extraordinary work they do every day.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/04/09/naval-air-forces-visits-training-wing/ U.S. Navy

F-35C’s Arrival at NAS Lemoore: Beginning of Critical Element of U.S. Navy’s Future Carrier Air Wings

By Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker
Commander, Naval Air Forces

Naval aviation reached a significant milestone on January 25 when the first four F-35C Lightning II aircraft arrived at Naval Air Station Lemoore. It was also a historic day for NAS Lemoore, our only West Coast Master Jet Base, and the local community partners who’ve been so supportive of Naval Aviation’s presence in California’s central valley for more than 50 years.

F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft taxi across the flight line at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings and joint task forces.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft taxi across the flight line at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings and joint task forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

 

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Naval Air Forces, speaks at a ceremony marking the arrival of the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Naval Air Forces, speaks at a ceremony marking the arrival of the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter at Naval Air Station Lemoore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

I attended the arrival ceremony with Rear Adm. Roy “Trigger” Kelley, who is doing great work as the Director of the Navy’s F-35C Fleet Integration Office; Jeff Babione, Executive Vice President for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Program; and Capt. Markus “Goody” Gudmundsson, Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific.

Lemoore has been home to the Navy’s west coast strike fighter community since 1980, when VFA-125 was the first squadron established to train Navy and Marine Corps aviators in the F/A-18 Hornet. Earlier in January, we reactivated VFA-125 as the Navy’s first F-35C fleet replacement squadron, and I am confident the squadron’s storied history and legacy will continue as they start to fly the Navy’s newest strike fighter aircraft.

The arrival of the F-35C at NAS Lemoore marks the beginning of what will be a critical element of our future carrier air wings and the future of Naval Aviation. To keep pace with global threats, we need to integrate a carrier-based 5th generation aircraft – the F-35C is that aircraft.

The four jets that flew in to Lemoore bring incredible new capabilities and truly game changing technologies. The aircraft’s stealth technology will allow it to penetrate and conduct attacks inside threat envelopes, and its integrated sensor packages collect and fuse information to provide a common operational picture for the carrier strike group and joint forces, and most importantly, enable long range identification of air and surface targets. Without question the F-35 is required to win the future high-end fight, but it will be effectively complemented by the 4th generation capabilities and capacity of our Super Hornets – as well as the rest of our future air wing – to include carrier-based unmanned platforms.

Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

 

Much has been said about the value of 4th and 5th generation aircraft, and I’d like to share why our carrier air wings need both capabilities. There are mission sets each platform could accomplish, but some, like maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (MISR) or close air support (CAS) in the relatively permissive environment we see today in Iraq and Syria, don’t require 5th generation aircraft. Across the force we carefully manage aircraft utilization, and I would rather not expend precious 5th generation fatigue life doing missions that can be performed by other, 3rd or 4th generation platforms. This is why CNO said we will supplement Lighting II with a healthy cadre of Super Hornets. This “high-low” mix is essential to sustainable, cost effective, combat lethality now and in the future.

Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

Also, the requirement for our pilots to execute high-end missions that only F-35C can do, as well as those missions it could potentially do, would quickly make the training syllabus and the hours required to be current and proficient in all mission areas, unexecutable. Therefore, we will focus and tailor F-35C training where its design and capabilities add most value to our integrated carrier air wing. The Navy is in a unique position to do just that, and we plan to keep that advantage and capitalize on the synergy of our 5th generation Lightning IIs and 4th generation Super Hornets.

In other discussions with flight line leadership in Lemoore, I assured them that recovering readiness in our Super Hornet fleet, sustaining it through mid-life upgrades and smartly modernizing it, will ensure that fleet remains the lethal, warfighting partner to the remarkable F-35C platforms that just arrived. And as the home for our new F-35C fleet as well as our west coast Super Hornets, we need to ensure NAS Lemoore continues to grow in capacity and services to support both our warfighters and their families, well in to the future.

January 25th was a historic day for Naval Aviation, for the broader NAS Lemoore community and for the new team of professionals at VFA-125. Naval Aviation has taken another major step forward with the arrival of F-35Cs at Lemoore, and these first four aircraft are just the beginning of an extremely bright future for our carrier air wings!

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/02/16/f-35cs-arrival-at-nas-lemoore-beginning-of-critical-element-of-u-s-navys-future-carrier-air-wings/ U.S. Navy

F-35C’s Arrival at NAS Lemoore: Beginning of Critical Element of U.S. Navy’s Future Carrier Air Wings

By Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker
Commander, Naval Air Forces

Naval aviation reached a significant milestone on January 25 when the first four F-35C Lightning II aircraft arrived at Naval Air Station Lemoore. It was also a historic day for NAS Lemoore, our only West Coast Master Jet Base, and the local community partners who’ve been so supportive of Naval Aviation’s presence in California’s central valley for more than 50 years.

F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft taxi across the flight line at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings and joint task forces.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft taxi across the flight line at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings and joint task forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

 

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Naval Air Forces, speaks at a ceremony marking the arrival of the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Naval Air Forces, speaks at a ceremony marking the arrival of the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter at Naval Air Station Lemoore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

I attended the arrival ceremony with Rear Adm. Roy “Trigger” Kelley, who is doing great work as the Director of the Navy’s F-35C Fleet Integration Office; Jeff Babione, Executive Vice President for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Program; and Capt. Markus “Goody” Gudmundsson, Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific.

Lemoore has been home to the Navy’s west coast strike fighter community since 1980, when VFA-125 was the first squadron established to train Navy and Marine Corps aviators in the F/A-18 Hornet. Earlier in January, we reactivated VFA-125 as the Navy’s first F-35C fleet replacement squadron, and I am confident the squadron’s storied history and legacy will continue as they start to fly the Navy’s newest strike fighter aircraft.

The arrival of the F-35C at NAS Lemoore marks the beginning of what will be a critical element of our future carrier air wings and the future of Naval Aviation. To keep pace with global threats, we need to integrate a carrier-based 5th generation aircraft – the F-35C is that aircraft.

The four jets that flew in to Lemoore bring incredible new capabilities and truly game changing technologies. The aircraft’s stealth technology will allow it to penetrate and conduct attacks inside threat envelopes, and its integrated sensor packages collect and fuse information to provide a common operational picture for the carrier strike group and joint forces, and most importantly, enable long range identification of air and surface targets. Without question the F-35 is required to win the future high-end fight, but it will be effectively complemented by the 4th generation capabilities and capacity of our Super Hornets – as well as the rest of our future air wing – to include carrier-based unmanned platforms.

Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

 

Much has been said about the value of 4th and 5th generation aircraft, and I’d like to share why our carrier air wings need both capabilities. There are mission sets each platform could accomplish, but some, like maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (MISR) or close air support (CAS) in the relatively permissive environment we see today in Iraq and Syria, don’t require 5th generation aircraft. Across the force we carefully manage aircraft utilization, and I would rather not expend precious 5th generation fatigue life doing missions that can be performed by other, 3rd or 4th generation platforms. This is why CNO said we will supplement Lighting II with a healthy cadre of Super Hornets. This “high-low” mix is essential to sustainable, cost effective, combat lethality now and in the future.

Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore.
LEMOORE, Calif. (Jan. 25, 2017) Four F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighters fly in formation over Naval Air Station Lemoore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released)

Also, the requirement for our pilots to execute high-end missions that only F-35C can do, as well as those missions it could potentially do, would quickly make the training syllabus and the hours required to be current and proficient in all mission areas, unexecutable. Therefore, we will focus and tailor F-35C training where its design and capabilities add most value to our integrated carrier air wing. The Navy is in a unique position to do just that, and we plan to keep that advantage and capitalize on the synergy of our 5th generation Lightning IIs and 4th generation Super Hornets.

In other discussions with flight line leadership in Lemoore, I assured them that recovering readiness in our Super Hornet fleet, sustaining it through mid-life upgrades and smartly modernizing it, will ensure that fleet remains the lethal, warfighting partner to the remarkable F-35C platforms that just arrived. And as the home for our new F-35C fleet as well as our west coast Super Hornets, we need to ensure NAS Lemoore continues to grow in capacity and services to support both our warfighters and their families, well in to the future.

January 25th was a historic day for Naval Aviation, for the broader NAS Lemoore community and for the new team of professionals at VFA-125. Naval Aviation has taken another major step forward with the arrival of F-35Cs at Lemoore, and these first four aircraft are just the beginning of an extremely bright future for our carrier air wings!

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/02/16/f-35cs-arrival-at-nas-lemoore-beginning-of-critical-element-of-u-s-navys-future-carrier-air-wings/ U.S. Navy