Jun 27, 2012
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – For more than 35 years, the Harpoon has been the U.S. Navy’s premier over-the-horizon all-weather anti-ship missile. Now, a team at Pax River is working to deliver a new variant that will engage the most modern day surface threats, while still supporting the government’s cost-saving initiatives.
Recognizing a gap between legacy Harpoon capabilities and the warfighter’s needs, the Precision Strike Weapons program office (PMA-201) assembled a team of experts to develop an approach for bridging that gap, known as the Harpoon Block II+ Integrated Product Team (IPT).
The Secretary of the Navy’s office recently recognized the Harpoon Block II+ IPT as the DoN's Innovation Excellence Acquisition Team of the Year for its work in providing product improvement to the fleet inventory of air-launch Harpoon missiles.
“The team employed extraordinarily innovative and creative thinking to conceive of the basic framework for how the program would work and to anticipate and mitigate countless complications, policy implications and potential execution pitfalls,” said Capt. Carl Chebi, PMA-201 program manager.
Under Chebi’s direction, team members Chuck Adams, Mike Battaglia, Dave Berche, John Boberg, Iris Brambila, Gabrielle Forte, Justin Gallagher, Cmdr. Brian Genton, Mick Haskins, Steve Lucianetti, Cliff Pierce, Dave Rivera, and Abigail Stokes embraced the challenge of developing an improvement to the inventory of air- launch Harpoon missiles.
After many months of planning, establishing requirements and cost estimating, the team developed the Harpoon Block II+ program, a very innovative recapitalization program, executed at a scale never seen before at NAVAIR, that will increase target selectivity, accuracy, reliability and survivability of the weapon, without expending appropriated funds.
“The suggestion that this could be done without requesting funds was of great interest and it was agreed that this concept should go forward to become an actual program of record,” said Justin Gallagher, PMA-201 Harpoon Block II+ IPT lead.
If pursued with a conventional acquisition strategy, the Harpoon Block II+ program would cost the taxpayer approximately $140 million. Instead, the program is funded through a sales exchange agreement with the Boeing Company that provides a trade-in value for government-owned missile parts in exchange for the parts needed to upgrade missiles to the Block II+ configuration. PMA-201 has used small-scale sales exchange agreements with Boeing in support of existing programs for nearly a decade. This was the inspiration for a much larger scale Harpoon Block II+ program.
When the team realized they had developed a viable concept for product improvement without expending appropriated funds, the team briefed PMA-201 leadership on the findings. Chebi and former PMA-201 Principal Deputy Program Manager Tony Manich advised the team to continue their efforts and present the plan to the Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO(U&W)) staff.
“When we presented the concept of ‘exchanging parts for parts’ to the admiral's [Rear Adm. William Shannon] staff, they were supportive of our ‘out-of-the-box’ approach to meet a fleet need,” said Gallagher. “Leaving that meeting, the team sought to gain concurrence for the approach from NAVAIR internal activities and to promulgate the idea to external stakeholders and obtain their buy-in.”
The comptroller and legal departments were the first to approve and deem the plan acceptable from a fundamental acquisition approach. Test and evaluation, engineering, logistics, cost and contracting were also consulted to ensure the plan was solid.
“We had no template. Everything we did was based on a brand new approach inspired by similar smaller-scale sales exchange agreements,” said Gallagher. “That’s why there were so many competencies involved. We needed to make sure this plan was sound.”
After months of intense planning and orchestrating with more than 12 NAVAIR entities, PEO(U&W) approved the Harpoon Block II+ acquisition strategy late 2011.
“The team conducted extensive reviews and collaborated with all stakeholders to achieve clarity of vision and to insure all statutory, regulatory and policy obligations were met,” Chebi added.
Harpoon Block II+ provides a rapid-capability enhancement for the Navy that includes a new GPS guidance kit; reliability and survivability of the weapon; a new data link interface that enables in-flight updates; improved target selectivity; an abort option and enhanced resistance to electronic countermeasures.
PEO(U&W) Public Affairs