Monday, November 13, 2006
Classic Defense Acquisition Blunder
First, the story....
F-16 Simulators 'Substandard'
"Lockheed Martin was paid $145 million for computerized F-16 pilot-training simulators that were "substandard," according to a Defense Department audit.
Simulators create realistic flight conditions on the ground, allowing training for a variety of missions without the costly wear and tear on planes. But Lockheed's simulators allow training on only two of 16 missions specified in the Air Force contract, and pilots must continue using the F-16s "at a cost of more than $5,400 an hour," the audit said.
The Air Force has been taking delivery of "substandard" simulators since June 2003 and has continued to pay full cost for the equipment and services, the audit said. The only sanction has been to dock Lockheed $561,000, or less than 1 percent of the contract payments.
Assistant Inspector General Paul Granetto criticized that decision. He said the Air Force did a poor job of testing to ensure that deficiencies were corrected before delivery, and he didn't recommend the service seek a refund. In the future, the Air Force should pay only for the simulation services that Lockheed actually provides, he said.
Lockheed won the contract in June 1999. The contract has a potential value of $359 million, and it expires in June. The Air Force has put out for bids for a new simulator contract that would be worth as much as $582 million.
Warren Wright, spokesman for Lockheed's Orlando-based Simulation, Training and Support unit, said the company "has worked in good faith with the Air Force." He declined to say whether Lockheed Martin has bid on the new program."
Second, my recommendation....
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Does the Air Force understand how much money they could be saving if they went with something this basic that actually worked like it is supposed to?
Unbelievable. I thought we'd come so far since the days of $10,000 hammers, and $20k toilet seats.
posted by El Capitan at 10:05 AM
Actually, we haven't left the days of $10,000 hammers, bolts and toilet seats. It came out the government uses the direct cost method--which adds the cost of every transaction, movement, or whatever to the last recorded value of the item in question. It put a BIG damper on political value for both sides since one or the other would have to authorize going back to re-do the books for...I doubt even God wants to think about how far back that correction would go!11:31 AM
No way! MS Flight Simulator would make too much sense! Off-the-shelf products? How can that possibly meet the AF's standards?
In all seriousness, maybe MS Flight Sim would work for IFT but it's a big leap to an F-16 simulator. Regardless, Lockheed shouldn't get away with crappy sims. I wonder if the AF can tie in any accidents or aircrew deficiencies to the sim.
Tumbleweed isn't quite correct about off-the-shelf stuff.
Back in the day...I worked on avionics. I remember going to radio shack one time to get a resistor we needed for a piece of electornics--because supply didn't have one and we had a bird to get in the air. Funny thing is that resistor lasted longer than the ones the Air Force supplied us with.
Now, it's "probably" an exception. It was urgent, and we never did it again. Of course, I can't say about anyone else...:)
Tumbleweed has a good point. If the sims were supposed to help train pilots and they're deficient, can Lockheed Martin be held partly responsible for any pilot mishap or death because they failed to meet standards.
I know the AF would hang any commander who was deficient in training his folks, and an accident or death resulted.
As for 'Off the Shelf' stuff, it's a myth in the Air Force today. We were supposed to go Off the Shelf for a lot of things, but we failed miserably at adapting common sense practices.
For example, the T-6A Texan JPATS trainer. Supposed to be a COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) aircraft for the Navy and Air Force. Instead, the AF and Navy screwed with already exiting, already proven design to add a few features that really weren't necessary. They turned a great working Dell computer into a monster gaming machine that really wasn't needed. In the end, the aircraft is no longer COTS. It is its own beast of a desin, and now the Navy is breaking off their own T-6B version... going completely opposite of the original intent of the aircraft.
Yup, I've got a few bones to pick with those JPATS folks.