A Boeing P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T-1 conducts a test flight April 25, 2009 before landing at Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash. DLA Aviation is in talks with the Navy to become a provider of choice for material support. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)
Defense Logistics Agency Aviation is making its case to the Navy that, as an integrated materiel manager, DLA is an ideal source of support for the service's new anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.
"When I found out the Navy was exploring avenues of support for the aircraft beyond that being provided by Boeing, the original equipment manufacturer, I knew it was time to let the Navy know that we were willing and able to support this new system," said Tony Kemp, who works in DLA Aviation's Strategic Customer Engagement Branch. "DLA wants to become a provider of choice for material support for the Poseidon."
Kemp said he began "aggressively" pursuing contact with program management offices at Naval Air Systems Command and Boeing last summer. NAVAIR is conducting a business case analysis on how to best support the 117 aircraft Boeing is projected to build.
The P-8A is intended to replace the Navy's P-3C Orion, which dates back to the 1960s.
In November, Kemp met with Josh Orraca, NAVAIR's deputy assistant program manager for logistics for the P-8A program. During the meeting at DLA Aviation in Richmond, Orraca gave Kemp an overview of the P-8A program, an interim support item list and a timeline for fielding. In return, Kemp laid out a variety of reasons why DLA Aviation is well-positioned to support the P-8A, highlighting current support to more than 50 existing Navy weapon systems and the agency's supply, storage and distribution management capabilities.
"We talked about our existing contracts, stock on hand, and DLA's transportation network and distribution facilities," Kemp said. "Mr. Orraca is very aware of our track record."
In fiscal 2010, DLA Aviation reported that nearly 30 percent of all its business was with Navy aviation, accounting for just over $4 billion in acquisition demand.
Mario Beckles works in DLA Aviation's Navy Customer Facing Division as the weapon system support manager for the 98 aircraft in the P-3C fleet – the same role he will perform for the P-8A. Beckles said he hopes DLA Aviation will manage support for the new P-8A engine and its airframe, which is based on the Boeing 737.
"We have managed consumable spare parts for the P-3 for over 40 years," he said. "Our material availability rate has consistently been 90 percent or better."
"DLA currently manages approximately 1,909 items that the P-8A will use with an annual demand sales value of almost $12 million. I provided NAVAIR with the list of items before Christmas and they are reviewing it," Kemp said, adding that the common items on the list are already under contract or on the shelves at maintenance depots.
Kemp said DLA Aviation is also aligning a new weapon systems designation code with items for the P-8A. He said he's asked NAVAIR to provide a demand forecast for items on the Navy's list of required parts, 68 of which are critical safety items. Kemp said he's working to establish a performance-based logistics strategy that will further demonstrate DLA's capabilities for managing support to the weapon system.
"While we await NAVAIR's decision, we are continuing to proactively position ourselves to support the system and also trying to initiate conversations with Boeing to become a provider of consumable parts for them," he said.
Kemp said DLA Aviation has existing business relationship with several major OEMs, including strategic supplier alliances, and awards thousands of additional contracts each month.
"Buying from DLA is very easy," Kemp said. "With partnership agreements, the military services and OEMs have access to all of DLA capabilities and parts are competitively priced."
According to a Navy fact sheet, the first Poseidon squadron is planned to be operational in 2013.