WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense – on Wednesday discussed Wichita and Wichita State University’s contributions to the U.S. Navy and to the nation’s defense with Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer during a subcommittee hearing to examine the U.S. Navy’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request.
“Secretary, we are an aerospace manufacturing capital and engineering expertise abounds in Wichita, Kansas, known as the Air Capital of the World,” said Sen. Moran. “You and I have had several conversations about the talent, particularly at Wichita State University, to support Fleet Readiness in the Navy and the Marine Corps. The University is the number one industry funded university for aerospace research and development in the country . . . I would ask you, Mr. Secretary, can you describe the partnership with Wichita State University and how will the Navy and Marine Corps benefit from this private sector assistance?”
“Senator, it’s interesting you bring that up because I actually use Wichita State University as a venue to really present how we are doing things differently in Navy,” responded Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer.
Click Here to Watch Sen. Moran’s Full Questioning
Remarks as delivered:
Sen. Moran: “Chairman Shelby, thank you. General Neller and Admiral Richardson, first, I want to join my colleagues in thanking you both for your service – tremendous, impeccable service – to our country. Extend my congratulations and best wishes to you and your family upon your retirements.
“General Neller, you have an impressive 44 years of service to our nation – I think that sets a record for the Marine Corps. I again wish you well and the first time we met you spent a lot of time talking about your tomatoes, and I hope they now get your attention in this stage of your life.
“Admiral Richardson, you and I were together on a forum panel at the Reagan Defense Forum several years ago, and I want to remind you and thank you for assisting me in calling a young Kansan, Dawson Podlena, from Topeka, and we congratulated him on his nomination by me and his acceptance by the Naval Academy. It was great. I’m not sure he knew what ‘The Chief’ was at the time, but I assume he now knows the significance of your notifying him of his acceptance to the Naval Academy. I’m proud of those folks we get to nominate and I know they will serve the country well.
“Mr. Secretary, you gave me a great honor. The opportunity to be in Florida and to help dedicate, to preside over the commissioning of the USS Wichita in January. I was reluctant, not knowing what I might say. It was a great ceremony and instilled in me, reminded me, of the great patriotism and service to our country of you and those who serve in the Navy. And, it was a great day to recognize Wichita, Kansas, the ‘Keeper of the Plains,’ and the Navy honored the USS Wichita – now the ‘Keeper of the Seas’ and again, thank you for that great opportunity.
“Speaking of Wichita, Mr. Secretary, we are an aerospace manufacturing capital, and engineering expertise abounds in Wichita, Kansas – known as the Air Capital of the World. You and I have had several conversations about the talent particularly at Wichita State University to support Fleet Readiness in the Navy and the Marine Corps. The University is the number one industry funded university for aerospace research and development of the country.
“Your F-18 fleet has been characterized as the ‘backbone of the Navy.’ You’ve taken steps to address unacceptably low readiness rates and maintenance of that fleet. This time last year, I think 74% of the Marine Corps F-18’s were not ready for combat, but I understand that mission-capable rates have improved and maintenance remains a top priority. I’m pleased that one way the Marine Corps is tackling this issue is partnering with Wichita State. I would ask you, Mr. Secretary, can you describe the partnership with Wichita State University but how will the Navy and Marine Corps benefit from this private sector assistance?”
Sec. Richard Spencer (3:04): “Senator, it’s interesting you bring that up because I actually use Wichita State University as a venue to really present how we are doing things differently in Navy.
“Through the DoD Strategic Capabilities Office, which we call the SCO office, Marine Corps is working with Wichita State in a program called Paladin. Where it is primarily that the front-runner is data analytics, to do predictive analytics. And, what I mean by that is studying the wear the tear of parts so we can predetermine through data analysis what parts will be needed and we have them ready in the bin, and it sounds simple, it really is cutting-edge technology.
“They’re also working with the University on the whole concept of a ‘digital twin’ for the F-18. This is a model where we don’t have to physically destruct anything anymore. We create the actual airframe in a digital environment, putting stresses on it. With the algorithms we know from past histories, we can test out and find out where the limits are in certain areas of the plane. And then, the automatic robotic scanning and drilling. At the end of the day we still assemble aircraft. It is still science but a lot of art. And the ability to but the hole in the right place to put it simply is very important. So, three areas that we’re working with Wichita State on – ten years ago probably not traditional – now this is the way we want to think and work with our academic institutions.”
Sen. Moran (4:35): “Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for that. A couple years ago I would not of understood much of what you just said and now I do, and it is the future. It is the way that we can sustain and improve our readiness.”
Click here to watch Sen. Moran’s full questioning.
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