looking at multiple different alternatives inside that study.
Obviously, we want to go after
something that’s mature and
affordable. We’ll eventually get to
the RFP [Request for Proposals]
stage of the normal acquisition
process, but we’re not there yet.
Under the TACAIR Integration Plan, is the Marine Corps
back on track to supply five
strike fighter squadrons to
MORAN: That’s the goal. It varies
month to month, year to year,
depending on their requirements
to support the COCOMS [combat-ant commanders]. In the last 10
years, with as much combat support we, as a nation, had to do, that
number has gone up and down.
We’re in agreement to obtain five at
some point, but, right now, we’re
roughly averaging about three
squadrons across the fleet.
How rapidly will the P- 8 replace the P- 3 in the
fleet? What about the Littoral Surveillance
Radar System (LSRS) in some P-3s?
MORAN: We started with our first P- 8 transition this
year and, in subsequent years, it will be two squadron
transitions per year until about 2018, given that acquisition profiles and procurements stay on track. There’s
[an LSRS] replacement capability built into the P- 8
program and that capability shows up at the end of this
FYDP [Future Years Defense Plan], but the numbers
are on par with what we currently have in the fleet. We
may have to extend some [P-3s with LSRS] for a couple years until we have the full production capability of
its replacement onboard the P- 8.
What new aerial weapons are in development?
MORAN: There’s always something new. I can’t talk
about some of it because we’re still very much in the
early stages, but we are introducing new capability to
counter swarming boats. We’re introducing APKWS
[Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System] to the air
wing; it should IOC in about 2015. It is already out
there with the Marine Corps for land-based targets.
Today, we’ve integrated 2.75-inch rockets into the
Sierra MH-60S to be able to put a little volume [of fire]
out there, but they’re unguided [and] not as precise as
APKWS. We’ve also outfitted the Sierra with a fixed
forward-firing [20mm] gun that is going to be very
effective to go after the same threat profile.
Are any next-generation trainer aircraft in the
MORAN: No. The T- 6 has finished out its transition in
Pensacola, [Fla.,] and has started the transition at
Corpus Christi, [Texas,] to replace the venerable T-34s.
The rest of [the training aircraft] are all in steady state,
but we’re making significant upgrades on all those
platforms, going from analog to digital cockpits and
displays because all of our future capabilities are digital
and we need to train to that. ■