Shanahan Discusses F/A-18s, Naval Aviation Readiness at Oceana

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer toured the Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic facilities here July 25 to discuss enhancing naval aviation readiness.

“What we were trying to get out is what are the major process changes we would make to get a step function improvement in performance,” Shanahan said in an interview after the tour and a closed-door session with the leadership team.

The deputy secretary said he wants to explore ways of taking a departmental approach to some of the issues and challenges in the maintenance and repair of F/A-18 Super Hornet jet aircraft.

“For the people who are responsible for those facilities, we wanted to get a sense of what are those big constraints where either you need help or a decision,” he said.

Seeking Higher Mission Capacity

The most important part of his visit, he said, was the discussion with the leadership team on ways to drive a higher mission capability. This, he pointed out, supports the National Defense Strategies priorities of creating a more lethal force.

Topics included modernization, service life extensions, managing the supply chain, and working on the DoD-level to better engage the supplier, he said.

“We also talked quite a bit about how to set the priorities for improving the reliability of the airplane,” he said. “We talked quite a bit about how do we want to get the right pool of spare parts [and] how should we rotate spare parts to different depots and different bases where the F/A-18s are based.”

Sailors and civilians assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic perform maintenance and repair, inspections and structural and electronic system modifications on numerous carrier-based aircraft, as well as aircraft launch and recovery equipment on aviation-capable ships.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)