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    Inspiring Acquisition Excellence to Achieve Success at F-35

    Inspiring Acquisition Excellence at F-35

    Photo By Michael ODay | Leigh Anne Bierstine, F-35 Combat Data Systems (CDS) Program Management Officer, poses...... read more read more



    Story by F-35 Joint Program Office Digital Media 

    F-35 Joint Program Office

    CRYSTAL CITY, VA. (Aug 31, 2021) – Leigh Anne 'L.A.' Bierstine believes that owning your skillset, coupled with ingenuity and perseverance, are critical to working at the F-35 Joint Program Office (F-35 JPO). Having individuals with the right mindset is vital as the F-35 JPO looks to become the Department of Defense's benchmark for cost-effective capability, development, delivery, and sustainment.

    Bierstine joined the F-35 JPO as chief of staff in January 2019. She then became program manager for the Combat Data Systems (CDS) Program Management Office (PMO) following the F-35 JPO's Organizational Pivot in February 2020. She leads the team focused on "bringing data to the fight."

    "Today, our Combat Data Systems team works to deliver the capabilities that matter and will ensure the F-35 can fight and win against future threats, which continue to evolve in complexity," explained Bierstine. "Across the F-35 enterprise, our workforce is leaning forward to get new warfighting capabilities out the door while building sound acquisition strategies for our new development programs, so the challenge of delivering, modernizing, and sustaining is not unique to the CDS team – all must get done."

    The CDS PMO's primary focus is to provide essential information to the F-35 family of aircraft. Mission Data Files (MDFs) instruct the F-35 aircraft's mission systems to identify, locate, counter, and survive against threat systems in the electromagnetic environment. At the same time, they are identifying, locating, and operating with other friendly weapon systems. The mission-specific data gives our warfighters a distinct advantage by acting as the 'brains' of the F-35.

    "Our mission planning enterprise integrates the MDFs with additional data required for the F-35 aircraft to perform in combat operations, including threats, targets, terrain, weather, jamming, deception, countermeasures, employment tactics, navigation, and asset coordination. Without a mission data load, the F-35 doesn't know where it's going and doesn't know what to do when it gets there. MDFs, used for test, training, exercises or combat operations, are essentially the brains of the F-35 air system and are critical to operational mission success," said Bierstine.

    The CDS PMO also concentrates on developing, delivering, and sustaining the F-35's mission planning enterprise and joint reprogramming enterprise made up of infrastructure, tools, and labs that produce the mission data. This data enables joint air dominance for U.S. services, partner nations, and foreign military sales customers involved in the F-35 program. The mission planning enterprise integrates the products built by the joint reprogramming enterprise and other sources to orchestrate the data required for the F-35 aircraft to perform in combat operations successfully. This includes threats, targets, terrain, weather, jamming, deception, countermeasures, communications, sensors, weapons, employment tactics, navigation, routes, and asset coordination.

    CDS "delivers that last mile that leads to a combat-ready aircraft for the F-35 warfighter," said Bierstine.

    Bierstine believes that the 'Organizational Pivot' created flexibility and efficiency within the F-35 JPO through the realignment to five PMOs. However, Bierstine stresses that everyone needs to find innovative and streamlined ways to get the job done and reach out to others to make it happen. For example, the teams in CDS could not accomplish their mission without coordination with the other PMOs and staff. "My group has a much greater level of visibility and interconnection with other PMOs and functional areas," said Bierstine. "In the previous organizational structure, the reprogramming and mission planning teams were relatively obscured by the number of organizational layers which sat on top of the capability provided by these groups."

    It is essential to have a conversation and share different perspectives that can lead to creative solutions.

    "Our modernization team works with the F-35 JPO Mission Systems team and Lockheed Martin to ensure we all understand the upgrades to the aircraft's electronic warfare suite," said Bierstine. "This teamwork is vitally important. In addition, Combat Data Systems is responsible for ensuring our F-35 reprogramming laboratories, which generate and test MDFs, can replicate modern threats. In the end, new mission systems upgrades rely on corresponding mission data files to effectively enable them. You cannot have one without the other. In addition, CDS has to be tightly tied into the Training Systems PMO to ensure the mission planning and mission data files align to the unique training requirements. After all, to be effective in combat, pilots and maintainers need the best possible training, and they must train the way they fight."

    While the F-35 JPO continues to mature as the F-35 global fleet grows, Bierstine believes that the F-35 program's future success depends on its workforce's various skillsets. Bierstine encourages her staff, whether they are newcomers or seasoned personnel, to "embrace their time here as there's no other assignment like it. Know how you are personally connected to your team's mission, and don't get too far away from it. There's so much activity in a dynamic organization like this, so take time to understand why what you do is important and then do it to the absolute best of your ability. That clarity of mission is what will continue to make the F-35 a game-changer."

    Bierstine's leadership philosophy at the CDS PMO is rooted in modeling a solid sense of acquisition excellence. "There is no substitute for sound acquisition fundamentals and professionalism. The acquisition professionals who are the most effective at thinking and executing out-of-the-box, game-changing strategies know what the inside of that box looks like," she said.



    Date Taken: 08.31.2021
    Date Posted: 09.01.2021 16:19
    Story ID: 404296
    Location: ARLINGTON, VA, US
    Hometown: ATHENS, OH, US
    Hometown: POMEROY, OH, US

    Web Views: 825
    Downloads: 1