The Air Directorate of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) manages military aviation projects. Its project divisions L3, L4, L5, L6, L7 and L8 are responsible for implementing the projects in accordance with the CPM (Customer Product Management) process and supervising the in-service support management for the fielded products until the end of their life cycle. In addition, Directorate L exercises functional supervision of the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Aircraft and Aeronautical Equipment (WTD 61).
The Directorate’s project portfolio ranges from highly agile fighter jets, transport aircraft as well as special aircraft, all helicopter systems, unmanned aircraft, tactical drones and space-based reconnaissance systems to rescue and protection systems for the crews, simulators and training equipment. Almost all large-scale projects are implemented in the framework of multinational, predominantly European partnerships and management agencies.
The Air Directorate is in charge of ensuring operational viability throughout the entire life cycle of (weapon) systems that have been assigned to it. Prior to implementation, it does so through:
- applied basic research and user-focused defence research and technology (R&T levels 1 and 2) as well as system and solution-oriented studies (level 3),
- partaking in the analysis phase, part I by contributing to the field of planning and
- preparing proposed solutions in the analysis phase, part II;
- and throughout the realisation and in-service support phases through:
- acquisition life cycle management,
- management of all in-service support activities in terms of maintenance of materiel readiness of all manned and unmanned aircraft as well as space-based reconnaissance systems fielded in the Bundeswehr,
- supervision of system engineering and the integration of subsystems, including armament,
- life cycle management including obsolescence management and
- risk management.
This also includes highly prioritised procurement in the context of “fast-track initiatives for operations”.
Division L1 “Economic and Technical Affairs, Policy/Fundamentals of A/C, Aeronautical and Non-Essential Equipment” and Division L2 “Economic and Legal Affairs” as well as the Directorate Staff and Directorate Controlling support the Directorate’s project branches by working on cross-sectional and common tasks.
A significant challenge arises out of the Directorate’s simultaneous management of mission-relevant, tried and trusted systems in the in-service support phase, such as TORNADO or C-160, as well as new weapon systems that are still in the realisation phase, such as A400M, and future projects, e.g. NTH SEA LION, the heavy transport helicopter or the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
In the framework of the new projects it is vital to create efficient project structures that are fit for the future. Thus, Branch L4.4, previously responsible for managing the NH90 weapon system, has been transferred to the new Division L8 which is also in charge of project management for the NTH SEA LION.
In addition, L6.4 is a new branch which pools the activities for implementing the successor systems for the TORNADO multirole combat aircraft and the Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS).
The branches L5.5, L5.6 and L5.7 were established in order to manage new projects in the field of self-protection and electronic warfare of airborne weapon systems.
Apart from managing new projects, the Air Directorate is especially concerned with maintaining the operational viability of fielded systems, which is due to the high mission relevance of many of the weapon systems managed by the Directorate. This is why, in the framework of subproject 3.3 of the In-Service Support Agenda, a significant improvement of availability is required to be achieved on the basis of the work performed by the fixed-wing aircraft task force and the rotary-wing aircraft task force. This improvement is to be effected in a measurable, resource-efficient and future-proof way in cooperation with industry and partner nations. The measures taken in this regard already show positive results and are illustrated by the two examples below.
Performance-Based Logistics for the EUROFIGHTER Weapon System
One of the major causes leading to limited availability of the EUROFIGHTER weapon system was the shortage of EUROFIGHTER spares and replacement parts, coupled with extremely long repair periods as well as inexplicable failure patterns that occurred during the repair of replacement parts.
In addition, the four EUROFIGHTER partner nations agreed to counter the continuously rising maintenance costs of the EUROFIGHTER programme by lowering them on a long-term basis.
When the existing international procurement and repair contracts for spares and replacement parts expired in mid-2016, the four EUROFIGHTER partner nations decided to modify the logistics system of the EUROFIGHTER weapon system in such a way that it meets the necessary requirements. They came to the unanimous understanding to ensure future materiel readiness through an availability contract in accordance with the requirements of a performance-based logistics (PBL) approach. This is intended to be achieved by directly involving the EUROFIGHTER partner companies and creating an incentive system.
This, however, meant a considerable impact on the Bundeswehr central logistics system. On the German side, the chosen PBL strategy led to a complete transfer of responsibility to Airbus D&S in terms of supply chain management, materiel requirements and stock management, stockholding and transport.
After two years of experience with PBL in the context of the EUROFIGHTER weapon system, the supply shortages have been eliminated almost entirely.
“Standardised Maintenance Services Contract“ (Standardisierter Instandhaltungsleistungsvertrag – SILV) in the NH90 Project
The Bundeswehr intends to further the positive trend of the NH90 fleet availability by employing the standardised maintenance services contract (SILV). Within another performance-based approach, the industry partner yet to be chosen will perform maintenance activities of levels 1 and 2 either periodically, as scheduled, based on flight hours, or as required, and will do so over a contract period of ten years. The associated general management services (such as operations management and material management) also form part of the contractual performance within SILV. The core elements of SILV are standardised inspection packages that are performed for each helicopter within a fixed turnaround time period and at a package price. This standardisation is meant to increase the degree of industrialisation as compared to the existing maintenance contracts. The combination of these requirements, a minimum quantity of inspection packages and planning one year ahead enables the two contracting parties to plan in a more reliable manner, both in terms of time and funding. An office staffed with customer and contractor personnel will control and coordinate all activities of the two contracting parties. This is meant to ensure that the activities in the areas of maintenance planning, material management, operations management and technical support can be performed as seamlessly as possible.
The current Europe-wide award procedure is set to end within the first half of 2019 when the required parliamentary decision has been made and the contract signed.
The HERON Family – a Successful Bundeswehr Operator Model
The Bundeswehr has been operating the HERON 1 unmanned aerial system in Afghanistan since 2010 and in Mali since 2016 in the framework of the Resolute Support Mission and the MINUSMA Mission, respectively. In both mission areas it is used as an interim solution to Imagery Reconnaissance in the Depth of the Area of Operations (SAATEG ZwL, Interim Solution). The HERON TP (TP meaning turbo propeller) is slated to be operated by the Bundeswehr as of 2021, after contract conclusion.
HERON 1 and HERON TP are MALE class (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) reconnaissance drones designed for medium flight altitudes and longer operation periods over the respective mission area. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is the manufacturer of these two drones.
The HERON systems are generally controlled by German Air Force pilots and payload operators in the ground control station.
The HERON systems consist of the airborne platform (remotely piloted aircraft, RPA) with integrated sensors, the communication systems for flight control, aircraft radio and sensor data transmission, and the ground control station.
HERON 1 and, in future, HERON TP will be used under the operator model approach.
This generally means that the customer does not purchase the product, and instead pays for using it. This way, the contractor is comprehensively and actively involved, for a fixed period of time, in providing mission-ready defence materiel.
In the case of the HERON family, the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), which is the customer, has concluded several service contracts with ADAS (Airbus Defence and Space Airborne Solutions in Bremen) as the main contractor; in turn, IAI is a subcontractor of ADAS. The contracts cover the use of HERON 1 and HERON TP in order to be able to execute the public task of imagery reconnaissance, which is ensured by a specified number of flight hours required by the customer in the mission areas or during routine duty.
The customer provides the German Air Force pilots and payload operators that are required for controlling the HERON systems, takes care of furnishing the infrastructure required in theatre and at training sites and ensures satellite communication (SatCom) required for flight control, aircraft radio and sensor data transmission. The customer’s range of government-furnished services also includes individual services from the Bundeswehr logistics system in terms of material and personnel transport as well as the transport of material from Germany to the mission areas and back.
The HERON systems have been or will be made available for use to BAAINBw. Through service contracts within the operator model framework, the BAAINBw project manager thus assigns some tasks of the “material manager for operational viability” and of the “in-service and supply manager” in the in-service support phase (defined in the CPM procedure) to ADAS/IAI. However, the project manager is the person who has full responsibility for operational viability and, in this special case, for serviceability and operational readiness.
Thus, his/her tasks in the context of this full responsibility remain the same, i.e. planning, controlling and coordinating all measures that are taken in order to maintain and restore operational viability; he/she is also responsible for ensuring that all measures are taken to maintain the serviceability and operational readiness of the Bundeswehr HERON family.
This involves the following tasks for the project manager and his/her project team (examples):
- planning and reporting the required budget funds,
- risk management,
- coordination with Bundeswehr agencies (e.g. Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command, Bundeswehr Logistics Center, Federal Office of Bundeswehr Infrastructure, Environmental Protection and Services) in the context of the coordination/continuation of the processing of project elements,
- coordination with interconnected projects (SATCOM, data distribution system, etc.),
contract management (e.g. contract amendments in the case of extensions of mandate for theaters of operations)
- harmonizing and monitoring the provision of services on the part of the contractor (e.g. review of equipment history record),
- acquiring the approvals required for operation,
- furnishing equipment, fuels and lubricants, infrastructure, IT connections, transportation services, information, services, military protection,
- operator training (through separate training contracts),
- controlling and coordinating tasks that are relevant for inspection and certification between ADAS/IAI and the Federal Office of the Bundeswehr for Military Aviation.
Within the framework of the tasks of the material manager for operational viability and the in-service and supply manager that BAAINBw has assigned to ADAS/IAI, ADAS and its subcontractor IAI contractually agree to provide technical and logistics personnel, maintenance support facilities and material (airborne platforms, ground control stations, data transmission systems, training simulators, spares, technical documentation, ground support equipment, tools, etc.) as well as ILS management services (Integrated Logistic Support). In addition, ADAS/IAI is responsible for performing all material management activities.
This involves the following tasks for the company (examples):
- controlling the HERON system’s technical operation,
- performing all maintenance and repair activities of all maintenance levels (1-4),
- performing updating services for the technical documentation,
- logistic requirements planning,
- documented technical and logistic demonstration of compliance,
- conducting check flights,
- material management (except fuels and lubricants) and stock management,
- reports and returns as well as recording of failure reports,
- configuration control and obsolescence management,
- type support.
The HERON family service contracts contain provisions that ensure that the project manager can take on full responsibility as material manager for operational viability and in-service and supply manager. If requested, the project manager has access, at any time, to information from the contractor that enables him/her to monitor the provision of services on the part of the contractor. This information is also used to perform the required risk management and to ensure that contract performance is officially supervised and that all project elements are monitored, controlled and managed.
The HERON family operator model (currently of HERON 1) is a success story. Since 2010, more than 40,000 flight hours have been accomplished without any major problems.
The interaction between ADAS/IAI, as operating company, and BAAINBw in conjunction with the German Air Force, as user, is a reasonable alternative in situations where public tasks are performed in the military sector within a fixed in-service support period. When in-service support tasks (maintenance, material management) are performed by an external service provider, the user can focus on his main tasks. At the same time, the user must always be able to transparently access the tasks delegated to the external service provider. This is meant to ensure throughout the entire contract period that the project manager can take on full responsibility as material manager for operational viability and in-service and supply manager. In addition, the user’s ability to make assessments, state requirements and gain knowledge regarding the product vis-à-vis the external contractor must be preserved in the long run so that service contracts within the framework of an operator model can be negotiated on equal terms now and in the future. The above-mentioned principles were also applied in the case of the service contract for the HERON TP operator model on the grounds of the experiences made with the HERON 1 operator model. It can be assumed that a mostly trouble-free performance as well as high availability can be achieved again due to the improved functional capacity (e.g. all-weather ability, speed, flight altitude, loading capacity), despite the increased complexity of the HERON TP system in comparison to HERON 1.
Team of authors BAAINBw.