The Navy is working on a new 10-year effort to revitalize its aviation infrastructure, the service’s senior official told Congress on Tuesday.
The service is pursuing what it calls the Naval Aviation Fleet Infrastructure Optimization Plan (FIOP) to reorganize aviation maintenance facilities so that they can better maintain aircraft, said Chief of Naval Operations Mike Gilday to the Senate Armed Services Committee in written testimony.
“We are also recapitalizing the infrastructure of our aeronautical depot. Through our Naval Aviation Fleet Infrastructure Optimization Plan (FIOP), we are developing a 10-year master plan that provides our aviation depots with the ability to maintain and modernize our aircraft, engines , components and support equipment, ”Gilday wrote. “In the meantime, we are also transforming our Navy corporate ground network infrastructure into a secure and resilient digital platform.”
During today’s hearing, Gilday told Senator Thom Tillis (RN.C.) that he would provide lawmakers with possible timelines for the FIOP initiative and more information on how it is ‘will incorporate into the Navy’s fiscal planning for fiscal 2023. Gilday compared the FIOP to the Navy’s ongoing Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP), a $ 21 billion effort to modernize the aging infrastructure of the four public worksites.
“Similar to the SIOP for shipyards, we have the FIOP for fleet repair facilities,” Gilday told lawmakers during the hearing. “And we’ve just started this effort and we’re prioritizing these projects. “
Tillis, whose state includes Fleet Readiness Center East, called the depots “outdated.”
“It’s like a Rubik’s Cube when you move equipment around to perform maintenance, and so much so that I think Lockheed Martin is talking about, or considering, its own depot maintenance center,” Tillis said.
While SIOP and FIOP are both focused on updating infrastructure, the Navy has also put in place two separate initiatives focused on sustaining and increasing readiness by developing best practices and processes for work in aviation depots and shipyards. The service modeled its Naval Sustainment System-Shipyards effort after its Naval Sustainment System-Aviation initiative.
In an exchange with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Gilday also advocated for the Navy’s plans to expand the Fallon Range training complex in Nevada.
“We haven’t done this since the mid-1980s,” Gilday said of the modernization of the range.
“We are two generations behind when it comes to airplanes. We are now faced with a problem where if we do not modernize this range, the first time that the F-35 will be able to use all their capabilities, it will be in combat, ”he added. “We’re building wind farms off the California coast that, again, have carved out training fields. And so we run out of space to train. But we have been using precision weapons for a few years now, GPS guided weapons with longer ranges with sophisticated airplanes and we cannot train our pilots and crews to their full capacity.
The Navy first announced plans to expand and modernize the training fields at Fallon in 2016, USNI News reported at the time.
“The speed and scale of a potential struggle for control of the seas has changed. The size of our first Carrier Air Wing and SEAL training center – the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) – is no longer sufficient. Within the limits of existing capabilities, our sailors cannot train sufficiently with longer-range weapons or practice the tactics and techniques they will need to employ against a close-to-peer threat, ”Gilday told the committee at the meeting. a written testimony today. “We will continue to work with Congress, tribal leaders, local communities and key stakeholders over the coming year to modernize the FRTC and ensure our sailors have the infrastructure they need to operate. train to win in battle. “
Much of the land the Navy wants to use is managed by the federal government. In accordance with a provision of the Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Policy Bill, the service participates in an Intergovernmental Executive Committee (IEC) process to seek feedback from various stakeholders on the potential expansion.