PEO Spotlight: Supporting the Antisubmarine Warfighting Resurgence

December 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
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World events have caused the U.S. Navy to once again focus on antisubmarine warfare, in part, by building the P-8A Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft to replace the aging P-3 Orion. When it comes to getting the P-8A to the warfighter and keeping the older P-3 in the air, the buck stops with Rear Adm. CJ Jaynes, USN, program executive officer, air anti-submarine warfare, assault and special mission programs (PEO(A)).

For years, the United States did not need to focus heavily on antisubmarine warfare (ASW). “With the Chinese and the Russians building up their sub forces again, it has led us to increase our anti-submarine warfare capability. After the Cold War, the Russians pretty much got out of the submarine business, and there wasn’t too much concern with China,” Adm. Jaynes says. “But with everything you hear on the news and see about what they’re actually doing, we need to pay attention.”

The lull created capability gaps that Adm. Jaynes and her team are helping the Navy confront. “Antisubmarine warfare has been on the back burner. Now that there has been a renewed focus on ASW, we’re really trying to understand and to fill the gaps that are out there,” she reports.

That renewed focus includes an integrated warfighting capability team specifically for ASW to evaluate the gaps across Navy platforms, whether aircraft, ships or submarines. “Our P-3s, our P-8As, H-60s, the littoral combat ship, the submarine community, we’re all working together to identify true gaps in the kill chain and fill those missing gaps with new technology or capability,” she states.

The Navy deployed the first two P-8A Poseidon aircraft to Japan in November last year and declared initial operational capability shortly afterward. “The P-8A is on its second deployment right now. We had a pretty successful first deployment. We have done a really good job as a P-8A community from both the training and readiness side and the supply side to deploy that squadron for success,” the admiral asserts.

The P-8As are expected to replace the P-3s, which have been in service since the 1960s. Meanwhile, those aging P-3s must be maintained, and Adm. Jaynes suggests 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, may be one solution. “Some of our platforms are very old,” the admiral points out, citing both the P-3 and the CH-53E heavy lift helicopter as examples. “The parts support is just not there anymore, so we’re looking at working with industry on additive manufacturing techniques where potentially we could start to print parts for these aircraft and save us some time and money.”

She suggests that small businesses may be able to fill the void. “I think small business can really help us by taking a load off of larger industry—like in additive manufacturing. I really don’t know why some smaller companies couldn’t pick that up and run with it,” she says.

ASW is not her only focus, however. Her portfolio also includes tactical aircraft; multimission helicopters; maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft; light attack helicopters; the V-22 Osprey; presidential/executive lift helicopters; airborne strategic command, control and communications platforms; and heavy lift helicopters. While that variety presents challenges, it also offers benefits. “It keeps us very focused on the warfighter, and it gives us an opportunity to do some pretty unique things,” she offers, citing the E-6B strategic airborne command and control aircraft.

Adm. Jaynes has served as PEO since July 2013 and established program execution, affordability and people as the top three priorities. Every program is required to assess risks as well as opportunities thoroughly for efficiency and cost savings. “The focus on affordability is much stronger now than it has been in the past. Just having the focus on it has really driven some good ideas that normally would not have been implemented if folks had not been pressured into the situation,” Adm. Jaynes maintains.

Success often can be measured by who is screaming—or not. “The two things I look at most are who’s screaming at us—if the fleet’s not screaming at us, we’re meeting the readiness piece—and execution, whether we are meeting all of our benchmarks and making the best of the situation we have with the budget that we get,” she says.

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