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GAO: Lessons Learned On VXX  
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4226 times:

Basically, as I read it, the GAO says that the DoD via the WHMO and or NAVAIR, were every bit as culpable as the contractor was; it started off on the wrong note and just dug deeper and deeper until the bottom finally fell out.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11380r.pdf

That said, I still think Boeing will win the next round given that the VH-71 is still the best platform out there.

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12927 posts, RR: 25
Reply 1, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 4053 times:

Yes, the government side needs to take the rap for:

Quote:

Stringent performance requirements (some with no flexibility) were laid out for the system prior to the start of development and did not appear to involve significant consideration of trade-offs of cost, performance, and schedule negotiated between the customer and the developer.

And it goes on to say:


Quote:

While good systems engineering can identify and inform trade-offs, the customer and developer must be willing to make trade-offs to achieve a successful business case. We have found that key to successful developments was the ability to make early trade-offs either in the design of the product or the customer�s expectations to avoid outstripping the resources available for product development. Conversely, as we have found with other programs�such as the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program�an unwillingness to make performance trade-offs can contribute to programs being unexecutable, ultimately resulting in their termination.

The wierd thing to me is how once a DoD project gets off to an incorrect start the only outcome is termination or a massive overrun.

It seem it's just not in anyone's interest to suspend and reorganize a program once it becomes patently obvious that it just isn't hitting the marks.

Everyone seems to have too much tied up in the status quo, and any suspension for reorganization could lead to termination and re-bidding anyway, so they just keep plowing down the same path, trying to pull in as much funding as possible.

Of course they hope that the program is "too big to fail" (tm), and the funds just keep rolling in.

In this case, VH-71 wasn't too big to fail, and somehow POTUS is getting to all his functions just fine.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12178 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3972 times:

Well, the program failure is not only the fault of the DOD. The SS and WH also had a significant influence in the VH-71, as well as LM telling the DOD, WH, and SS "we can do that".

Also, one of the problems with the VXX program is they were trying to replace a heavy lift VH-3D with a medium lift VH-71. Perhaps what is need is the heavy lift and more spacious CH-53K or CH-47F?


User currently offlinertfm From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 442 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3964 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
Also, one of the problems with the VXX program is they were trying to replace a heavy lift VH-3D with a medium lift VH-71.

I'm slightly confused by that - the Merlin is bigger, heavier and (correct me if I'm worng) more powerful than the VH-3; how is the former categorised as 'medium lift' and the latter 'heavy lift'?


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12927 posts, RR: 25
Reply 4, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 3925 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
Well, the program failure is not only the fault of the DOD. The SS and WH also had a significant influence in the VH-71

Indeed, in my comments I used the words "government side" to cover all of the above.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
as well as LM telling the DOD, WH, and SS "we can do that".

According to the report, the contract established performance numbers that had to be met. To do that, they needed larger engines, which of course generates more torque, so you then need a longer tail boom. And the larger engines mean more weight, so the cabin and skids need to be stronger to aid survival of a catastrophic engine or transmission failure. So LM started designing what was in essence a new model of the Merlin on the taxpayer's dime just to meet a performance number they had no wiggle room on, and the costs skyrocked. At least that's the way I read the report.

I'm sure both the gov't and LM knew exactly what was going on. The last gov't let the program survive one critical review, but the new admin didn't. I'm sure LM can cover its ass by saying everything it was doing had gov't approval. The bottom line is they still raked in a ton of money even though the program was canceled. In fact Congress gave them some additional funds to keep some R&D activities going even after VH-71 was canned.

Clearly some compromises need to be made. VH-71 had a flying kitchen and flying TV studio and enough frames to support all kinds of VIPs other than the President. Clearly the budget can't support such things now. Buy fewer frames, let the VIPs eat bagged lunches, and make the mission work within the available technology, instead of having to invent all new technology.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12178 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3861 times:

Quoting rtfm (Reply 3):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
Also, one of the problems with the VXX program is they were trying to replace a heavy lift VH-3D with a medium lift VH-71.

I'm slightly confused by that - the Merlin is bigger, heavier and (correct me if I'm worng) more powerful than the VH-3; how is the former categorised as 'medium lift' and the latter 'heavy lift'?

The CH-3 was the heavy lift copter of its time. That is no longer the case. Yes, the current VH-3D would not even be considered for the VXX program, but I never said it would either.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 4):
. VH-71 had a flying kitchen and flying TV studio and enough frames to support all kinds of VIPs other than the President.

Correct, as well as a shower facility, etc. That is why each VH-71B was going to cost more than each VC-25A costs.

Different models of the VH-3 have been flying the POTUS since the Kennedy Administration, and have always met what the POTUS needed. Why all of a sudden does he need all of these other "facilities" and equipment installed in a helo he will never fly longer than 1 hour in?

We have come a long way since President Eisenhower flew in the first Presidential Heliocopter. It was a single engine, 4 seat UH-13J which first flew the POTUS in 1957.


User currently offlinertfm From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 442 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3766 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 5):

The CH-3 was the heavy lift copter of its time. That is no longer the case. Yes, the current VH-3D would not even be considered for the VXX program, but I never said it would either.

Ah, OK, thanks - I wasn't questioning you on whether the VH-3D would be considered today, just interested in the apparent anomaly of an H-3 being 'heavy lift' and and AW101 being 'medium lift'.....

Sounds to me like the VH71 would have been an entirely suitable replacement if they hadn't spec'd the kitchen, TV studio, etc. Seems the only thing they were missing was the jacuzzi......


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12927 posts, RR: 25
Reply 7, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 3739 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 5):
Quoting Revelation (Reply 4):
. VH-71 had a flying kitchen and flying TV studio and enough frames to support all kinds of VIPs other than the President.

Correct, as well as a shower facility, etc. That is why each VH-71B was going to cost more than each VC-25A costs.

Different models of the VH-3 have been flying the POTUS since the Kennedy Administration, and have always met what the POTUS needed. Why all of a sudden does he need all of these other "facilities" and equipment installed in a helo he will never fly longer than 1 hour in?

My guess is the political contingent (i.e. WHO) just couldn't or wouldn't understand that designing a workable helicopter involves a lot of design tradeoffs. The way the report paints the picture, the contract stipulated a figure for vertical lift that could not be missed, so LM went off and did what they thought had to be done to hit the required figure.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1852 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 3675 times:

Quoting Revelation (Reply 7):
My guess is the political contingent (i.e. WHO) just couldn't or wouldn't understand that designing a workable helicopter involves a lot of design tradeoffs. The way the report paints the picture, the contract stipulated a figure for vertical lift that could not be missed, so LM went off and did what they thought had to be done to hit the required figure.

In short, it's a clear situation of the customer not knowing what they want, and for the company trying to do business with such a customer, it can be nightmare. You keep trying to bend over backwards to meet their needs and the costs just keep piling up as a result...


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12178 posts, RR: 51
Reply 9, posted (3 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3626 times:

Well, there is also the unique status LM would enjoy by providing the POTUS with helio transport. It would be much like what Boeing enjoys with the VC-25s.

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