Navy ManTech Program Reduces Costs and Accelerates Development

Huntington Ingalls Industries by Matt Hildreth

By Bobby Cummings


Technological advancement—changing everything we do, from how we communicate to how we fly—is moving at a pace like never before in history. The same can be said in the realm of national defense, where the United States has been the world leader in developing emerging technologies for decades. This nation’s competitors, however, are catching up.

Though it is losing ground on its competitive advantage, the United States remains the world’s leader in the advancement of military technology. The key to remaining the leader is to invest in affordable technologies and accelerate their implementation into the battlespace. Enter the US Navy Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) program. The purpose of the ManTech program is to support affordable manufacturing technologies and processes that will benefit warfighters around the globe, with investments focused on those areas of greatest need and potential benefit for national defense. Along with an emphasis on affordability, the program is designed to accelerate the Department of the Navy’s transition of technology to the fleet through partnerships with industry.

Investment Strategy

The ManTech investment strategy concentrates on reducing the acquisition and life-cycle costs of vital Navy acquisition programs. ManTech transitions manufacturing technologies that, upon implementation, result in a cost reduction or cost avoidance and save taxpayers money.

These transitions provide affordable technology to the fleet by concentrating resources on high-priority acquisition platforms, focusing on reducing costs for platforms, developing new solutions for manufacturing and repair and sustainment obstacles, and engaging with vested industry leaders and companies throughout a platform’s production cycle.

There are two key measures of success for ManTech’s programs: transition, which is the point at which the project is completed and the technology meets customer criteria and goals for implementation; and implementation, the point at which the actual use and application on the factory floor results. The development process of ManTech programs involves multiple players, almost always a combination of government, academia, and industry.

ManTech is managed by the Sea Warfare and Weapons Department within the Office of Naval Research (ONR), with direct oversight from the chief of naval research.

“ManTech is an industrial preparedness program—it improves the manufacturing affordability of key platforms included in the naval investment strategy,” said John Carney, ManTech director. “These platforms are selected by the chief of naval research.”


ManTech projects are executed through centers of excellence (COEs). The COEs were established as focal points for the development and transition of new manufacturing processes and equipment in a cooperative environment with industry, academia, and the Naval Research Enterprise, which comprises ONR, ONR Global and the Naval Research Laboratory.

These COEs are located at various locations throughout the United States and play an integral role in the definition and execution of the program. COEs execute projects; manage project teams; facilitate transfer of developed technologies; collaborate with acquisition program offices and industry to identify and resolve manufacturing issues; and develop and demo manufacturing technology solutions for identified US Navy requirements.

For more than 10 years, the ManTech program, in partnership with the COEs, has focused on affordability improvements for key acquisition platforms such as Arleigh Burke (DDG 51)-class guided-missile destroyers, Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)-class aircraft carriers, the F-35 Lightning II, Virginia (SSN 774)-class submarines, Columbia (SSBN 826)-class ballistic missile submarines, and the CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter.

The future USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), the latest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, returns after successfully completing acceptance trials in May 2018. ManTech has
23 projects implemented or under way with Arleigh Burke destroyers. Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works

Arleigh Burke-Class Guided-Missile Destroyer

ManTech’s Arleigh Burke affordability initiative has 23 projects implemented or in the process of implementation, with savings to date of $18.2 million per hull. Among these projects is a partnership with Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, together developing the Enhanced Task Assignment and Progressing (eTAP) tool in 2017.

The eTAP toolset improved shipbuilding productivity by coordinating daily ship construction tasks for thousands of craftsmen. It also streamlines daily work activities for craftsmen by assigning line item work to crew members; projecting progress and work volumes; assessing, calculating, and reporting progress; and recording workforce data.

This technology will result in the reduction of 8,500 hours of labor and $731,000 in cost savings per hull attributed to hourly productivity from foreman availability.

Also in 2017, ManTech partnered with Bath Iron Works (the other builder of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers) to enhance shipyard capacity through the development of a shipyard-wide capacity planning system. Ship delivery requirements were met more effectively and there was a seven-percent reduction in overtime costs equaling $2.92 million in savings.

Gerald R. Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier

USS Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. Ford-class ships will deliver greater lethality, survivability, and joint interoperability than their predecessors. Technologies are advancing at rapid pace, and the versatility of the Ford class will allow these vessels to adapt more easily to the future.

ManTech’s CVN 78 affordability initiative encompasses 12 projects implemented or in process, with savings of $22.1 million per hull to date.

Recently, ManTech developed a simulation tool that was implemented in 2017. The tool is used to analyze material impact on build strategy decisions. It reduces construction costs by forecasting and reducing logistical delays, linking proposed maintenance strategies to associated material delivery logistics, analyzing material effects on build strategy decisions, and reducing the number of movements of large units and material.

Huntingdon Ingalls estimates a labor reduction of more than 25,000 hours and associated cost savings of $3.08 million per CVN 78 hull.

F-35 Lightning II

The multirole F-35 was designed to dominate airspace for decades. Each variant of the airframe is equipped with the newest technologies, including a state-of–the-art helmet worn by pilots. Each helmet is equipped with a Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS), which provides a multitude of advantages, including 360-degree visibility, visual targeting, increased comfort, a display of flight information, night vision, and more.

ManTech is working with the HMDS designers (Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems) on the manufacturing processes for a new version of the F-35 helmet with the goals of saving power, weight, and cost.

An issue pilots have pointed out in reference to the current helmet is a distinctive green glow from the cockpit display that could potentially distract pilots during night landings. The new ManTech and Rockwell Collins helmet has been tested and evaluated in a carrier environment for night landings, and feedback from pilots has been encouraging. This project is on pace for a new helmet to be delivered to the Navy by the end of 2018, and is expected to result in $6,000 in cost savings per aircraft.

In total, all ManTech projects associated with the F-35 program save an estimated $430,000 per aircraft, which equates to a projected $800 million in savings for the Department of Defense.

Virginia-Class Submarine

ManTech’s Virginia-class submarine affordability initiative has drastically reduced expenses through various production improvements. To date, ManTech has implemented 46 projects per vessel, with a recognized cost savings of $37.4 million per hull.

“The affordability initiative has been a major success for both ManTech and PMS 450 [the Virginia-class program office] and was a key contributor to the Navy’s ‘2 for 4 in 12’ cost reduction initiative,” said Carney, referring to the Navy’s desire to purchase two boats for $4 billion in fiscal year 2012.

As a result of the two-per-year build rate, cost savings are greater than $70 million per year. The annual ManTech budget is returned with Virginia-class cost savings alone.

ManTech enhanced the production line capability of the upgraded acoustic sensor designed initially for USS South Dakota (SSN 790) and all subsequent hulls in the class. The demand for the sensors—developed by Naval Underwater Weapons Center Newport—required a higher production capacity, and ManTech demonstrated a production line capable of manufacturing 10,000 units per year—resulting in a cost reduction of $4.5 million per hull. The project began in 2017. The sensor also will be used by the Columbia (SSBN 826)-class ballistic missile submarine program.

In addition, ManTech partnered with General Dynamics-Electric Boat to develop a new thermal spray coating solution that prevents damaging buildup on the Virginia class’ retractable bow-planes. Calcareous deposits led to premature failure of bow-plane equipment, and the continuous repairs hindered operational readiness.

The thermal spray coating solution prevents the damaging buildup, extending the service life of the affected parts and reducing the need for unscheduled maintenance. The refined coating was first applied to USS Vermont (SSN 792), with a projected savings of $9.2 million per hull over the life of the platform. The project team was awarded the 2017 Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award for Readiness Improvement.

Columbia-Class Ballistic-Missile Submarine

The Navy plans to build 12 Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines to replace the aging fleet of Ohio-class submarines. Since 2014 ManTech has incorporated the Columbia class into its investment strategy.

As a cost saving measure, Columbia-class designs will incorporate technology and components from both the Ohio and Virginia classes.

ManTech has developed the Self-Locating/Self-Fixtured (SLSF) structures project. The development uses notched beams that interlock allowing ship deck structures to conjoin. The SLSF project will simplify ship deck construction, reduce labor costs and save an estimated $2.19 million on the first Columbia hull. Thus far ManTech has completed seven projects for Columbia subs, with $10.9 million in savings per hull.

A CH-53K King Stallion helicopter demonstrates its capabilities at the 2018 Berlin Air Show. The CH-53K King Stallion is a replacement for the CH-53E, the Marine Corps’ main heavy-lift helicopter since the 1980s. The first aircraft was delivered in May 2018. Photo by Cpl. Hailey D. Clay

CH-53K King Stallion

The Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter is the Marine Corps’ heavy lift replacement for the CH-53E. The helicopter is slated to provide an initial operating capability in 2019.

ManTech and the CH-53K program office (PMA-261) have been working with industry on a 3D data exchange project that was selected in March 2018 as the Naval Air System Command Commander’s Award Business Innovation runner-up.

The combined government and industry team is working on simplifying a process that will reduce the amount of reverse engineering required for the creation, verification, and validation of 3D technical data management for PMA-261. This program will create a secure 3D data exchange system for non-engineers working on the CH-53K platform. In addition, the system will result in $9 million in annual cost savings for the CH-53K program.

The Time to Accelerate Is Now

In conjunction with affordability is a focus on acceleration. Many of the manufacturing technology programs ManTech is involved in are increasing the pace of implementation. Various countries around the world, such as China and Russia, have modernized their military and manufacturing processes. Competitors of the United States are gaining ground. But ManTech and similar programs are here to reestablish technological separation and deliver the assets required for Sailors and Marines to accomplish their missions.

“Leaders within the DoD, US Navy, and US Marine Corps have adamantly made clear their priority to accelerate the development of capabilities intended for warfighters,” said Carney. “The most important asset within the DoD, is its men and women in uniform defending the United States and its allies’ interests abroad. Navy ManTech takes great pride in hastening delivery of technologies that will help them accomplish their mission.”

About the author:

Bobby Cummings is a writer with the Office of Naval Research.

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