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DoD News Briefing: Dr. Sheila E. Widnall, SECAF

Presenters: Dr. Sheila E. Widnall, SECAF
June 23, 1995 4:30 PM EDT

Thursday, June 22, 1995 - 4:30 p.m.

(Also participating in this briefing were General Ronald R. Fogleman, CSAF; Admiral Mike Boorda, CNO and Ms. Darlene Druyun, Acting SAF/AQ.)

Secretary Widnall: I'm pleased to announce today the selection of Beech Aircraft Corporation as the prime contractor for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, otherwise known as JPATS.

This aircraft, which is the next-generation primary aircraft training system for the Air Force and Navy will be produced by Beech, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. The final assembly of JPATS will also be in Wichita.

There are two contracts associated with this selection: one for the aircraft development and manufacturing, and one for contractor logistic support. These contracts will be awarded after the Defense Acquisition Board has reviewed the program planned and authorizes entry into the manufacturing/development phase.

The current program calls for buying up to 711 total production aircraft 372 for the Air Force and 339 for the Navy. The Air Force's first operational aircraft is planned for delivery in 1999, and the first operational Navy aircraft is planned for 2002.

The JPATS aircraft will be delivered in multiple lots to the Air Force and the Navy through the year 2017. The JPATS program has been budgeted at $7 billion. This includes all manufacturing, development, production, and initial support costs. However, we anticipate the final program cost to be less than this amount. The final price for the initial acquisition and contractor logistics contracts with Beech cannot be publicly released until after contract award.

JPATS has incorporated several acquisition reforms including regulatory and statutory relief and a significant reduction in required military standards.

This source selection culminates a highly successful joint Air Force and Navy process that has exhaustively evaluated proposals from a total of seven offerors. Each has been selected following a determination that it provides best value to the government. Our joint source selection process for JPATS has encouraged the use of best commercial practices throughout the life of the system.

Now I'd like to ask General Fogleman to say a few words about JPATS and our undergraduate pilot training.

General Fogleman: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

Good afternoon. I've got to tell you that I believe this is a great day for the Air Force, for the Navy, and for the nation.

The acquisition of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System is an important part of our future ability to field well trained pilots capable of operating all kinds of advanced military aircraft.

As you know, every Air Force pilot, every Navy pilot undergoes some form of undergraduate pilot training. One of the things about this undergraduate pilot training is that it provides them with the fundamental ability to fly military aircraft. That is skills such as contact flight -- that is just learning how to take off and land -- instrument flying formation.

Since the late 1950's, every Air Force pilot candidate has flown the T-37 as their primary trainer. The T-37 has served us very well for nearly 40 years. In fact, 32 years ago I first flew the T-37, ended up instructing in it for a couple of years. I will tell you, its lack of pressurization and its outdated navigation aids makes it less effective in today's environment.

For the Navy, their fixed wing pilots undergo primary flight training in the T-34. It's been around as long as the T-37 and it faces many similar problems.

The Navy and the Air Force are committed to improving the efficiency and the standardization of their pilot training, and JPATS is going to help us meet this objective.

With its pressurized cabin, its advanced navigation suite and its state of the art propulsion system, the JPATS will better prepare our future pilots to fly advanced aircraft.

Commonality with the Navy is going to allow a better cross-flow of information between pilots of both land and carrier-based aircraft. This common foundation can only improve service interoperability. We'll see the benefits, I'm convinced, in future joint operations.

Acquisition of JPATS will directly support ongoing efforts to consolidate Air Force and Navy flight training. We've already established two prototype flying training squadrons that have instructors and students from each service. We're working toward increased cooperation in training navigators from both services.

I would also tell you that the JPATS program is part of a broader effort to upgrade Air Force trainer aircraft. We recently acquired the T-1A trainer to prepare our pilots to fly airlift and tanker aircraft, and we're upgrading the T-38 to prepare bomber to fly bombers and fighters.

Today's JPATS announcement marks another milestone in the Defense Department's efforts to improve both the efficiency and to reduce the cost of air crew training through joint programs.

We, in the Air Force, are very proud to participate in this program. We look forward to a new era of flight as our future pilots begin their flying careers in the JPATS aircraft that you see modeled before you.

Now it's a real pleasure for me to introduce Admiral Mike Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations, for his comments.

Admiral Boorda: I'll be very brief because Ron talked about the details for both the Navy and the Air Force.

I want to stress this is a joint program. We're both going to procure and fly the same aircraft.

As we begin to combine our pilot training and our navigator training as well, everywhere we can, you can see the efficiencies we're going to get by having the same aircraft.

In addition, we're going to be able to train our pilots, both in undergraduate training as they fly this aircraft, but also later as they move to more advanced aircraft. [With] our T-45 for example, we will be able to save time and money in the process because they won't be moving from an older, T-34 aircraft, and then seeing something very modern and very new as they move into the advanced phase. They're going to start out with a very good cockpit that is modern, with modern navigation and flying characteristics. So we can reduce the time it takes to train a pilot by a considerable amount.

This is a joint program. It reflects the way Navy and Air Force are cooperating on a host of things, and we're very pleased to be a big part of it. Almost half the buy will go to the Navy.

Thank you.

V: I'd like to first introduce a couple of the key folks that we've had working on this source selection. The program Executive Officer is, Frank, do you want to introduce yourself?

General Moore: I'm Brigadier General Frank Moore, stationed in the Pentagon, PEO for Bombers, Missiles, and Trainers.

V: And our Mission Area Director.

General Richards: I'm Brigadier General Jim Richards. I'm the Mission Area Director for Long Range Power Projection, Special Operations Forces, Airlift and Training.

V: And our partners from the Navy?

Admiral Rittenaur: Rear Admiral Harry Rittenaur. I'm on the CNO's staff for aircraft training requirements.

V: And our Program Director?

Colonel Huston: I'm Colonel Jack Huston. I'm Director of the Flight Training School at Wright-Patterson.

Captain Cossner: I'm Captain Bill Cossner. I'm the Program Manager for the T-45 and the Navy J-5.

V: We are happy at this point to try to field any questions that you might have with respect to the source selections.

Q: What are the characteristics of this plane that led you to this selection over the others?

A: You have some details in your kit that's already been handed out. I would emphasize that...

Q: It hasn't been handed out yet.

A: You'll get that at the end. What we did is a very thorough evaluation of the characteristics of all the competitors, and wrapped this together into what was mentioned by Dr. Widnall as the best value selection for both the Air Force and the Navy. So it was an integrated assessment of all the characteristics of the airplane put together and determined to be the best value.

Q: Was Beech the low bidder?

A: As mentioned previously, that kind of information is not able to be disclosed at this time.

Q: How important (inaudible) turbo prop versus a turbo fan engine?

A: I have to say that if you looked at the source selection criteria we had laid out in the RFP, technical was really the most important factor that we had there, followed by manufacturing, cost, logistics support, management, and scheduling.

We very carefully, as Jack has pointed out, evaluated each one of the candidate aircraft. As a part of the source selection, we flew 13 sorties with each one of the candidate aircraft. We laid out what those sorties would be, and then measured the results of those sorties against the evaluation criterion.

As it so happens, two of the candidate aircraft that were part of the competition -- one of them was Beech, which was a turbo prop, as well as Northrop, who also offered a turbo prop.

Q: What's the U.S. content of the airplane that will finally be delivered?

A: Basically, the RFP requirement was that 50 percent was basically under the Buy America Act, would have to be built in this country. When you look at the final source selection decision, basically the aircraft is going to be built in Kansas, and it's basically all going to be built here.

Q: What is the total value of the contract again? Did you say $7 billion?

A: When you look at the total value, it's going to be basically two contracts that will be awarded after the DAB which takes place in the early part of August. The total value, if we buy up to 711 aircraft, which is our current projection in the budget, along with the contractor logistics support, is approximately $7 billion.

Q: What's the breakdown between the two?

A: The exact details of the breakout are in the same category as the precise financial information, so that's something we need to keep unannounced for the time being.

A: I can say this. When you look at contractor logistic support, we're looking at a relatively lengthy period of time. Unfortunately, we cannot get into those specifics yet until a contract is actually awarded, but I think it's safe to say when you look at the initial buy of aircraft for the initial contract, and then add in the potential for a total of 711 aircraft, I'd say it's close to 50/50.

Q: Besides the paint job, is there any difference between the two versions? For example, can the Navy one land on a carrier, or is that strictly going to be advanced training?

A: The two airplanes are identical. Because this is a basic trainer, we do not do any carrier qualification with this particular airplane. This airplane, when you transition from the T-45, the Navy will do all of its carrier qualifications in the T-45.

Q: Are there so many hours that are going to transfer from the T-45 to the JPATS?

A: That's correct. That's called footprint expansion. The exact amount of footprint expansion, of course, depends upon the JPATS aircraft. We're currently looking at that. But that is true. Some of the hours will transfer to the JPATS aircraft.

Q: Twenty-five, 30? Can you give me a ball park?

A: I would say in the neighborhood of 30 hours.

Q: Will the T-37 require any additional modifications or structural enhancements to keep it going another four years?

A: At this point in time, I don't know of any, really anything we have scheduled in that arena. We have been anxiously looking forward to the aware of the JPATS so that we could get on with the EMD portion, and then eventual delivery of the aircraft itself.

Q: When will the last T-37 be finally phased out?

A: Based on the current buy-out schedule, there's no requirement to any modifications to the T-37 to keep it flying. It will fly out the time that is required until we get JPATS full on-line. I think we will have all of the Air Force and Navy JPATS on the ramp in the year 2011, is that correct?

A: 2017.

A: For the Air Force, 2011.

Q: After the DAB and the first contracts are awarded, how much will they be worth?

A: I can't give you that number either because it is still source selection sensitive until we get through the DAB.

Q: Was this the only entry that involved a U.S. design, first of all, not based on a foreign design? If so, did that have any impact on the source selection?

A: No. Let me say very clearly that the Beech, its heritage is a Pilatus aircraft, it's basically a Swiss aircraft. It's also known as the PC-9, the MK-2. There have been approximately 160 of those aircraft built.

We very clearly, I can tell you from chairing the Source Selection Advisory Council, clearly followed the criteria laid out in the RFP, technical being the most important item, followed by manufacturing, cost, and the other factors I mentioned.

Q: Is there a royalty that's paid to the Swiss firm that holds the design?

A: The exact details of that business arrangement is, that's another element that is that company's particular arrangement. That's in the same kind of category as the financial details that we just can't disclose right now.

Q: What's the name of the firm that owns the business design, or the design...?

A: The announcement we made today is Beech, but it's Pilatus, which is a Swiss aircraft.

Q: Can I ask a half-facetious question? How do you do single engine-out training with this?

A: We do the same kind of engine-out training with this airplane as we would do with a single engine jet aircraft. We practice engine loss and getting the aircraft on the ground. That will be practiced in this airplane, just like it would be in any other single engine airplane.

Q: Have you done any studies on the safety over the life of these programs on twin engine versus a single?

A: We had a long discussion about that in the source selection. I guess the result of that discussion was we have never been able to prove -- either the Navy or the Air Force -- that there is any significant difference based on history, accident records and history between a single engine or multi-engine aircraft.

Q: If the DAB is in August, can you say how soon you hope to start EMD, and if there are protests, will work stop for the duration?

A: The DAB is currently scheduled for the very early part of August. As soon as the DAB is completed, it is our intention to go ahead with a contract award.

Obviously, if we get a protest, we will have to wait for that protest process to be complete. Our experience is that generally takes four to five months to get a GAO decision, and we would wait for that to be first finished up.

Q: How much would that affect, then, the rest of the cycle? Would that affect delivery or anything like that? Or not significantly?

A: I think its affect would probably be about a max of three or four months.

Q: Is that per protest, or for all the protests?

A: We are hopeful that within the next two weeks we can debrief the other offerors on their proposals, and from the debriefing, the clock starts running, basically ten days to file a protest. So we'd like to try to schedule that and get that done within the next two week period.

Q: Do you expect a protest?

A: No. But I know this has been a hotly contested competition, and we'll just have to wait and see what happens as a result of the debriefings.

Q: Can you tell us anything about the state of turbo props versus jets that went on in the circle?

A: I think that General Richards did a very nice job of basically summarizing the discussion that we had. That was basically one of the questions that I know I raised, and I know General Moore also raised. I think when you go back, and we actually went back and kind of sorted through a variety of data, there is no conclusive data that says you're better off with a twin engine as opposed to a single engine. We went back and looked at a variety of data.

Q: I meant a prop versus jet.

A: Looking at a prop versus a jet, that really was not something that we specifically had any real focused discussion on. We basically went through all of the source selection criteria and the operations utility evaluation which was basically co-equal with crew accommodations, were the two items under the first area called technical that we looked at. There we clearly looked at all the data that had been gathered, particularly the results of the actual 13 sorties that were flown jointly by a mix of Air Force as well as Navy pilots.

Q: The Navy and the Air Force are buying roughly the same number of aircraft. In my uniformed way, I would have thought the Air Force trains more pilots than the Navy. Is that not true?

A: The Air Force is buying 372 aircraft, is our projected buy, and the Navy 339. Admiral Rittenaur, would you want to add anything to that?

A: The Navy, of course, also trains Marine and Coast Guard pilots through this basic form of a pipeline, and the way the program is set up, we will plan to train jointly, as was mentioned earlier. So essentially, even though it's a Navy squadron, you'll have Air Force student pilots coming through that squadron, and you'll have an Air Force squadron, and you'll have Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard pilots going through that. So essentially, the airplanes will be owned by the respective services, but because it is joint training, the assets will really be used jointly to train pilots in basic programs.

Q: Do the two services roughly train the same number of pilots prior to this program?

A: I don't know what exactly the Air Force... I don't have those exact numbers, but it's fairly close.

Q: Would you characterize this win as a squeaker, or was Beech pulling away at the end?

A: I think when you looked at all of the data that we collected and did the overall integrated assessment, I believe very clearly that Beech had the lead. In my opinion, it was a very competitive source selection, but when you went through and evaluated all of the data that we had, this overall integrated assessment, Beech clearly came out on top.

Q: Did it win in every category?

A: It's an integrated assessment.

Q: Could you say what weight was given to say the top six elements?

A: I can tell you that technical and manufacturing were more important than cost; and logistics support, management and scheduling were less important than cost. I don't know if that helps to answer the question.

Q: When are you going to give this thing a number so we can stop calling it the JPATS?

A: The Air Force has a forma process for deciding the designation and naming it. Clearly, since we didn't know today exactly what it was going to be, we haven't done that. So technically, it has not been named.


I think I need to mention one important attribute of this aircraft that has not been mentioned yet. Not only is JPATS the key to joint primary pilot training, JPATS provides us the ability the greatly expand the type of undergraduate pilot candidate that we can admit to pilot training.

One of the primary features of this new aircraft will be a greatly expanded ability to accommodate different sized people. So we have in the JPATS aircraft the ability to accommodate approximately the same percentage of male and female pilot candidates, and that's in the high 90 percent range.

So JPATS really is unique from both service aspects in that important characteristic, too.

Q: (Inaudible). I think she said the last aircraft will be delivered in 2017, the first of the Air Force in 1999, the first of the Navy in 2002. I thought we were talking about a '98 delivery for the Air Force, first aircraft; 2000 for the Navy; and 2016 for the last aircraft. Do the dates she used represent anything like a stretch in the program?

A: I think some of you may recall that we basically, as a part of the budget deliberations for FY96 and beyond, did a restructure of the program, and what you basically see is the program sliding out somewhat to the right. Our initial buy will be a single airplane. The follow-on buy will be three airplanes, another three airplanes, and then begin ramping up to 12 and beyond. And I believe the date is FY99, first delivery of operational aircraft, Air Force AETC -- Air Education and Training Command. So it is 1999.

Q: So that's pretty much what's been in place the last (inaudible)?

A: Yes, that was part of the change process that we went through with the budget. We put out a major amendment to the RFP in the January time frame, laying out the restructured program to match up with the budget.

Q: You said technical and manufacturing aspects were more important than cost?

A: Yes.

Q: What exactly is included in technical and manufacturing? What specific factors do you look at there?

A: The two critical factors we looked at in technical, for example, was operational utility, was the first factor we looked at; and crew accommodations was the second factor. There were approximately four other factors in the technical area. Manufacturing basically was dealt with, production and quality assurance.

Press: Thank you.

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