Defense Industry Engagement on the Factory Floor

Over the past several years, as resources get tighter and dollars get smaller, the Department of Defense (DoD) has become increasingly reliant on the defense industrial base to support and sustain its major weapons systems. This support from industry extends not only to major defense contractors who build our weapon systems, but also to the “mom and pop” vendors who supply the goods and services for our warfighters. As our need for the defense industrial base to be active participants in warfighter support and sustainment has increased, so has our need for increased engagement with our industry partners.

For over three decades, Lockheed Martin Corporation has been developing, manufacturing, testing and supporting the Navy’s advanced AEGIS Weapons System at its Mission Systems and Training (MST) facility in Moorestown, New Jersey. The AEGIS system is a centralized, automated, command-and-control (C2) and weapons control system currently at sea or part of current new ship construction programs for more than 100 ships as well as onboard 22 ships of our allies in Japan, Spain, Norway, South Korea and Australia. The AEGIS weapon system has constantly evolved over the past 30 years and the Navy and Lockheed Martin continue to adapt the system to meet new and evolving threats from ballistic missiles. Lockheed Martin MST is modernizing existing AEGIS-equipped cruisers and destroyers with a new Baseline 9 upgrade which adds computer hardware and a new Multi-Mission Signal Processor (MMSP) on certain DDGs and CGs, as well as on the AEGIS Ashore ground installation … another Lockheed Martin MST program. This new Baseline will allow ships to alternate between BMD modes and Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) modes depending on the threat, giving commanding officers the enhanced ability to allocate radar assets as they deem necessary. These enhanced Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capabilities, make these ships a key component of the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) global BMD System. AEGIS BMD-capable ships will help defend against ballistic missile threats worldwide – and extended coverage will be realized with the addition of the AEGIS Ashore configuration. So who does Lockheed Martin interact with on a daily basis within DoD as they work to modernize and upgrade our AEGIS fleet?

As the “independent eyes and ears of DoD and its partners, delivering actionable acquisition insight from the factory floor to the frontline … around the world,” DCMA Lockheed Martin Moorestown’s team of contracting professionals, quality assurance specialists, engineers and industrial specialists operate on-site at the Lockheed Martin MST facility, working to ensure the AEGIS Weapons System meets performance requirements and is delivered on time and within cost limits. DCMA professionals serve as in-plant representatives for over $6 billion in AEGIS programs at MST, both during the initial stages of the acquisition cycle and throughout the life of the resulting contracts. For example, DCMA quality assurance specialists located on the MST factory floor are currently performing the final acceptance testing for AEGIS components destined for the USS Thomas Hunder (DDG 116), a new construction AEGIS destroyer. However, DCMA isn’t the only command playing a critical role in the success of the AEGIS program at Moorestown.

Many Supply Corps officers are familiar with the “Cruiser in the Cornfield” which sits off Interstate 295, just east of Philadelphia, but few probably understand exactly what happens inside the Combat Systems Engineering Development Site (CSEDS). At CSEDS, Sailors assigned to AEGIS Technical Representative (TECHREP), a shore activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) reporting to the Program Executive Officer for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS), work closely with system designers and programmers using both live and simulated shipboard equipment in actual shipboard configurations to provide unique, invaluable insight and feedback on the AEGIS system. The command provides on-site technical oversight of Lockheed Martin and contributes to all phases of combat system research, development, production, acceptance, delivery, modernization and in-service support. AEGIS TECHREP is also in the “interim supply support” business, expediting critical parts for emerging Baselines until the supply system takes over responsibility as well as providing support to major system upgrades and new ship construction.

While AEGIS TECHREP and DCMA Lockheed Martin Moorestown play critical roles in providing technical and contractual oversight of Lockheed Martin and the AEGIS weapons system, it’s important to recognize the role Lockheed Martin plays as well. Its motto “We never forget who we’re working for” rings true in Moorestown. Lockheed Martin MST employees take an immense amount of pride in what they do and are committed to delivering the most advanced AEGIS weapons system to the Fleet. The teamwork and daily interaction displayed by Lockheed Martin MST, AEGIS TECHREP and DCMA Lockheed Martin Moorestown is a sterling example of a renewed focus on active engagement between industry and DoD.

By Capt. K. Eric Oettl, SC, USN; Commander, Defense Contract Management Agency Lockheed Martin Moorestown