Delivering 21st Century Aviation Solutions:
The Naval Air Systems Command
By JOHN A. LOCKARD
Vice Adm. John A. Lockard is commander of the Naval Air Systems Command.
Since its beginning as the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics in 1911, the
NAVAIR Team, centered on the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), continues
to provide the world's finest aircraft and technology to the sea services
and to many allied nations around the globe. More than 30,000 military
and civilian Team members at eight major sites worldwide manage and execute
148 acquisition programs that encompass more than 4,100 aircraft and
various cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, weapons, and crew-support
and training devices.
NAVAIR's mission is to deliver maximum results for the warfighter--the
operating forces of the Marine Corps, Navy, and other activities of the
U.S. Department of Defense and allied nations. The solutions NAVAIR provides
must translate to unbeatable warfighter capabilities in future conflicts.
During the 1990s, NAVAIR focused on developing, testing, and delivering
the Navy/Marine Corps Team's next-generation aircraft and weapons systems
within cost, on schedule, and meeting or exceeding performance expectations.
NAVAIR provided value to the nation and the fleet by delivering the F/A-18E/F
Super Hornet strike fighter, MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, Joint Standoff
Weapon (JSOW), Joint Direct-Attack Munition (JDAM), Tactical Tomahawk,
and AIM-9X air-to-air missile, along with many modernization programs.
As NAVAIR enters the new millennium, it will align its capabilities
to support the warfighter in a changing world environment. The priority
now is maximizing the combat performance of individual platforms by integrating
them into a networked striking force by using a systems approach to extend
the power, reach, and precision of U.S. naval forces.
Network Centric Warfare is where NAVAIR's knowledge will be relevant
in the next century. This is a complex problem, and every part of NAVAIR
will contribute to the solution. With its collective experience in providing
interoperable solutions, NAVAIR has all the right ingredients to solve
the naval services' integration challenges: systems engineering, development
and testing, information technology, aviation science and technology,
and logistical support.
NAVAIR already is linking live and simulated test facilities at its
Aircraft and Weapons Divisions and participating in fleet battle experiments
to improve capabilities. These are significant steps toward increasing
the speed and accuracy of tactical operations in a network-centric environment.
Readiness is an even more immediate issue for today's Marine Corps and
Navy. With increased operations around the globe, the demands on naval
aviation are higher than ever. Keeping up with that demand, however,
should not mean sacrificing investment in modernization. With a limited
budget, that is likely to happen unless the sea services find a way to
address force readiness while reducing costs.
NAVAIR must continue its key role in the Navy's Aviation Maintenance
and Supply Readiness (AMSR) study team, institutionalizing specific actions
to increase readiness and reduce maintenance and supply costs. NAVAIR's
numerous Total-Ownership-Cost initiatives, along with Business Process
Reengineering and Enterprise Resource Planning initiatives, will contribute
significantly to reducing the maintenance burden for the fleet.
Supporting the Warfighter
The NAVAIR Team goal is simply stated: operate as one Team to support
the warfighter. The Navy's operational environment is becoming ever more
complex and information-intense. With fewer resources and continued pressures
to increase efficiency, NAVAIR makes its capabilities and infrastructure
as integrated as the systems it delivers. This systems approach--linking
individual capabilities and knowledge to maximize results--is what is
meant by one Team. It is the means by which NAVAIR will achieve its vision.
One Team is a mindset that values individual contributions and idea
diversity, while recognizing that the whole is greater than the sum of
its parts. Customer requirements should be met with the best mix of solutions
the Team has to offer, independent of its geographic boundaries.
To do this, the Team is using its knowledge of where those capabilities
reside, and has the flexibility to apply them quickly. Developing common
processes and financial systems increase NAVAIR's ability to respond
quickly--delivering affordable, high-value solutions every time.
NAVAIR's vision is far more than just a slick marketing slogan. It describes
who we are, what we contribute, and why we exist--to support the warfighter.
Working together to apply our collective knowledge and strength, the
Team is creating aviation solutions to enable warfighter dominance in
the next century. But meeting the asymmetrical threats of the future
requires a fundamental change in NAVAIR's approach. There is no better
organization when it comes to creating positive results for the Navy
and Marine Corps. NAVAIR is recognized for its ability to adjust and
excel in the face of a sea of change. That is a good quality to have
in an environment where resources are short and demands are as high as
The Department of the Navy faces significant challenges and sees the
NAVAIR Team as the key to overcoming them. Budgets are not keeping pace
with the demands of current operational commitments. Unless savings can
be identified quickly, the sea services will be forced to continue to
transfer funds from modernization accounts to maintain readiness. The
Team will help break this cycle by significantly reducing the cost and
cycle-time required to get aviation products and services to the fleet.
To improve readiness in the near term, NAVAIR will continue to focus
on improving its support of current systems. But that is only one part
of the answer. Working with industry and the fleet, the Team will anticipate
future demands and deliver new systems that increase the speed, precision,
and lethality of the operating forces.
New threats will be harder to predict and defeat, making "information
dominance" a top priority. State-of-the-art communications, sensors,
reconnaissance, and computing systems will be required to tightly link
all elements of the battle group. Unique knowledge and experience will
make the NAVAIR Team the leader in this emerging market--integrating
leading-edge air systems technologies into the naval and joint battle
space. Partnering with industry and the fleet, the Team will leverage
the best mix of capabilities to deliver effective, affordable, and interoperable
systems that will improve warfighter effectiveness now and in the future.
Again, the Team has a corner on the market when it comes to solving
difficult problems. With considerably reduced resources, however, it
has become increasingly difficult to maintain the quality of support
that NAVAIR has always delivered. Now, more than ever, the Team needs
to execute a coordinated strategy to maximize its return on investment.
That plan is in place.
Business-process reengineering (BPR) represents a meaningful step in
that direction, and will help NAVAIR preserve its critical capabilities
as resources decline. BPR is not a one-time response to budget pressures--or
another tool for downsizing. It is the final step in the vision NAVAIR
set for itself back in the early 1990s--to be stronger, faster, and more
responsive. NAVAIR has downsized and reorganized to maintain efficiency
with fewer resources. Now, its customers are demanding greater responsiveness.
The Team is continually reengineering its processes (not just updating
or improving them) to meet their needs as circumstances change.
As for current status, the first set of BPR teams presented their final
recommendations in December of 1998. NAVAIR began implementing the process
changes in January 1999, following a series of leadership decision meetings.
Since then, NAVAIR has crafted and refined its corporate vision by defining
goals and strategies to guide it through the next five years.
NAVAIR's vision is simple--to be "One Team, Supporting the Warfighter,
Delivering 21st-Century Aviation Solutions, Enabling Dominance From the
Sea." The vision has several key elements. NAVAIR will see the world
through the warfighters' eyes and anticipate their needs; its team members
will be valued for their expertise and responsiveness; and the Team will
deliver high-value solutions for the battlespace of the future at an
Four important goals give NAVAIR the proper balance needed to achieve
Increase warfighter readiness, effectiveness, and satisfaction;
Attract, develop, and care for a diverse and Team-focused work force
capable of meeting the current and future needs of the Navy;
Reduce the total ownership cost of NAVAIR products and services; and
Reduce cycle time to deliver products and services to the warfighter.
Each of these goals is supported by several strategies. Senior Team
leaders representing all NAVAIR units and activities are currently refining
those strategies and developing specific action plans, along with a system
for measuring performance.
This is an exciting and challenging time for NAVAIR. It is positioned
where it needs to be and must be--out front--and the Team is working
hard to stay there. The Team has tremendous talent and unmatched capabilities
in the acquisition business. With a solid plan, and the commitment to
see it through, the NAVAIR Team is producing the best possible products
for its people, the taxpayers, and the Navy and Marine Corps Team.