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News | Dec. 21, 2020

DCMA San Diego Program Alliance Network energizes EMALS, AAG

By Luis Delgadillo DCMA Western Region Public Affairs

As the lead platform command office for DCMA’s coordination on the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear contracts, DCMA San Diego’s team ensures the Navy’s next generation nuclear carriers get the airpower capability they need.

To provide oversight on the six EMALS and AAG contracts, plus the sustainment contract, DCMA San Diego relies on its Program Alliance Network. Since holding their inaugural PAN meeting in the fall of 2019, representatives from 15 contract management offices have worked together to provide unified effort and communication for the complex aircraft launch and recovery systems.

“Tina Garner, and DCMA San Diego staff had been formulating the PAN idea when I came aboard and I was honored to help push it forward,” said Navy Cdr. Bari Jones, DCMA San Diego commander.

During the kick-off meeting here, Jones said participants focused on developing strategies for enterprise program support methodologies that would be incorporated into a program support commitment between the agency offices working these programs.

The commitments help keep the DCMA team synchronized and provide consistent communication to the program offices; Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Sea System Command. These commands provide material support for aircraft and airborne weapon systems and sustainment for Navy contracts. The sustainment contracts run concurrently with the development and production contracts.

“DCMA personnel were able to share their observations and experiences at their facilities within the supply chain in order to concentrate their surveillance on the highest risk suppliers and processes,” said Rachelle L.R. Munz, quality assurance director for DCMA San Diego.

Munz said this approach has also helped offices stay on track through the pandemic.

The quality assurance letters of instruction contain numerous critical safety items and non-critical items requiring a high degree of surveillance and inspection activities. As a result, she said DCMA San Diego manages more than 120 letters of delegation to supporting offices. This makes communication and coordination critical to successful surveillance of these programs.

Such actions are important because, as with many systems designed under contracts for military use, the components and thousands of parts required to assemble both the EMALs and AAG come from multiple suppliers. These LODs to functional staff across the agency demonstrate that while DCMA San Diego administers the prime contract, the majority of the production efforts takes place at numerous suppliers around the world.

During their second PAN meeting and first virtual mass meet up, held in May, DCMA San Diego invited NAVAIR to present their expectations and priorities to the group. The meeting also helped the team share best practices on how they were confronting life in the midst of the pandemic.

As DCMA San Diego and the rest of the PAN works through the pandemic to support the warfighter, Munz said she looks forward to being able to return to in-person meetings.

“The General Atomics, Tupelo Mississippi location is where most of the quality assurance ‘touch labor’ takes place and we’d want to bring everyone back to be able to get reacquainted,” said Munz. The future meeting would likely be held at the DCMA Huntsville office.

Munz said the team there plays a key role in executing both the PAN and successful oversite of the EMALS and AAG programs. “Modern technology is great for documenting LODs and QALI requirements but there is nothing better than getting all the players together where these hundreds of parts are received, assembled in to final products and kits,” she said.

The first carrier to have the AAG and EMALS installed is the USS Gerald R. Ford, the namesake for the most technologically advanced class of nuclear carriers ever. The next two Ford class carriers to receive the launch and recovery systems will be CVN-79, the USS John F. Kennedy and CVN-80, the USS Enterprise.  

According to the Navy, as of publication of this story, CVN-78 was half way through its post-delivery test trials period and has completed more than 5,200 launches and traps with various types of aircraft.