Improving Readiness Through Enhanced Inventory Visibility

The Defense Logistics Agency is partnering with U.S. Transportation Command and the F-35 Joint Program Office to establish processes aimed at expanding parts support for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

By Beth Reece, DLA

From NP&FP, Annual 2020 Issue

The effort will leverage DLA’s global supply chain capabilities to improve F-35 readiness as it assumes storage responsibility in January. The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) designated DLA in December as the Product Support Provider (PSP) for North American Regional Warehousing, as well as PSP for Global Transportation and Distribution in partnership with U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).

DLA’s new role in F-35 support will increase the Defense Department’s visibility of F-35 spare parts inventory as DoD works to decrease sustainment costs and improve readiness, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of DLA Logistics Operations’ Sustainment Solutions Division. “We’re working closely with the JPO, USTRANSCOM, and Lockheed Martin to improve sustainment support for the F-35 by moving inventory into DLA warehouses located closer to the point of demand inside the fence line of DoD aviation maintenance facilities. The goal is to accelerate maintenance through closer coordination with maintenance facilities,” he said.

Navy and Air Force Life Cycle Support

Sustainment for the F-35 differs from traditional weapons systems support where the military services determine what’s needed where, then look to organizations like the Naval Supply Systems Command and Air Force Materiel Command for support. F-35 sustainment instead applies an approach known as Contractor Logistics Support in which Lockheed Martin provides all supply support for aeronautics and software, and Pratt & Whitney supports engine and lift fan modules.

As the newly designated PSP for warehousing in the United States and Canada, DLA will provide storage and management support for the Joint Spares Pool made up of all F-35 program spares jointly owned by international partners. The spares are packaged to meet the needs of specific customers. The Base Spares Package, for example, contains repair parts needed to support aircraft operating on a given military installation. The Afloat Spares Package includes items commonly needed to support F-35 operations aboard a ship, and the Deployment Spares Package provides parts units need to sustain aircraft operating away from home base or supporting contingency operations.

“The F-35 Joint Program Office Hybrid Product Support Integrator, comprising of JPO, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt & Whitney staff, determines what’s needed in each package and makes decisions about where the material needs to be positioned and how much is needed. DLA’s responsibility is to store that material and work with USTRANSCOM, which will leverage its network of contracts and carriers to move items to customers as we receive supply shipping orders from the JPO,” Davis said.

Recent Milestones and Goals

DLA and USTRANSCOM stood up a PSP Transition Cell in February to outline requirements for warehousing and transportation. Teams are working to tailor F-35 program financial, contracting and information technology processes to leverage existing DLA and USTRANSCOM capabilities. DLA expects to reach full operating capability in 2021 when inventory is migrated from contractor-owned systems into DLA business systems.

“Then we’ll have what’s called an accountable property system of record that provides the type of accountability required for managing government property,” Davis said, adding that JPO would still retain ownership of the inventory.

“Migration of F-35 inventory will be accomplished using existing DLA infrastructure, eliminating duplication of inventory in commercial facilities,” Davis said. Spares packages have already been moved to DLA Distribution facilities in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Proof of principle demonstrations with USTRANSCOM have also tested the transportation process.

“We’ve done test shipments to DoD entities overseas in the Middle East and U.S. Pacific Command areas of operation, and we’ve bested our own time-definite delivery metrics,” said Navy Capt. Justin Lewis, a member of the PSP integration team. Davis said he believes the agency will help make the F-35 program more efficient as it streamlines warehousing. “In many cases, inventory is currently being held in contractor warehouses located close to DLA warehouses. Using DLA warehouses positioned on the base with customers we’re already supporting just makes sense and eliminates costly supply system duplication while maximizing the use of facilities already available to customers,” Davis said.

DLA Disposition Services is also awaiting an official designation by the Joint Strike Fighter Joint Executive Steering Board as the Global Disposition PSP, through which it will provide disposal services for F-35 parts. The assignment of National Stock Numbers is the first step in the identification of F-35 material and will enable material management, demilitarization and disposal. DLA’s support to the F-35 JPO Global Support Solution is in alignment with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment objectives to improve mission readiness while optimizing inventory accountability and sustainment affordability. DLA does this by focusing on strong partnerships with DoD entities and industry and leveraging Joint Logistics Enterprise opportunities.