LAKEHURST, N.J. –
During flight operations on an aircraft carrier, everything from the lighting to the readability of the monitors to the size of the work center matters, with no room for error. The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) Technology Integration Center (A-TIC) at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst, New Jersey, is the only lab with ALRE shipboard representative equipment, including replica workspaces and shipboard Delta power.
These capabilities allow the engineers at NAWCAD Lakehurst to address technical and human factor considerations before installing the equipment on a ship. The lab also plays a pivotal role by recreating in-service issues reported by the fleet during deployments. In fact, every ALRE system must be qualified in the ATIC lab with production-level ALRE systems before installation on an aircraft carrier.
Established in 2019, the lab’s personnel evaluate how everything from technology to new capabilities will fit in the ship’s most critical and tightly crammed spaces. The lab recreates various work centers with several connected rooms, including Air Operations, Carrier Control Approach, Flight Deck Control and Primary Flight Control. These spaces all include production-level ALRE systems, including Aviation Data Management and Control System (ADMACS), Landing Signal Officer Display System (LSODS), Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (IFLOLS), Integrated Launch and Recovery Television Surveillance (ILARTS) and MORIAH Wind System, as well as a fiber connection to the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) test sites.
“We’re finding new uses all the time. Just having this kind of space we never had before, we’re able to do things cheaper, faster, and get things out to the fleet quicker because we can do the work here,” said Bob Meseroll, branch head for software and system-level test engineering. “The goal is to have as much as we can from the ALRE perspective fully verified and ready to go by the time we do the install on the ship.”
Part of integrating the technology into the new ships and updating older ships is keeping the systems safe from cyber and physical threats. Meseroll said with patches constantly being developed for new threats, his team is running periodic tests to ensure that critical system updates do not negatively impact required system functionality.
Mechanical engineer Chris Brocco said staff can do human factor testing for everything from the video displays to the chairs and computer equipment. The lab staff also installed a pole similar to one found on a ship, presenting the real-life obstacle for the Sailors who need to see the various screens in the room.
The lab also has large video screens that replicate the windows of primary flight control on a ship. Brocco said this allows them to do simulations for various aircraft. Having the ability to replicate “real life” situations from the lab, he said, is beneficial for the people using the system on an actual ship or training before going out to sea.
“It’s nice to see what you do here out there on the ship to see who’s actually going to use it, see the Sailors that have to actually sit at the workstations and look at the MORIAH displays and to actually understand what they need to do every single day and hopefully make their lives a little bit easier,” Brocco said. “You can get lost just doing drawings and everything here when you’re building whatever. But to see it on the ship and know the Sailors actually use it is a much different thing.”
Another critical component of A-TIC is its cyber unit. Thanks to the lab’s addition of the Joint Mission Environment Test Capability Multiple Independent Levels of Security Network (JMN), the lab can connect ALRE and Support Equipment systems at Lakehurst to DoD locations nationwide, allowing for various tests without losing equipment or personnel. Last year, the lab was used for the joint cyber test event USS Secure 22-3, allowing for direct communication between the Aviation Land and Launch Enclave at Lakehurst and the SYY-1 Radar System at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The technology has also been used to train pentesters, or penetration testers, and the cyber security workforce at Lakehurst.
Key customers for the lab include the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office, the Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office, the Unmanned Carrier Aviation Program Office and Tactical Afloat Networks.
A-TIC was designed and built by Brocco and Michael Rosso and eventually handed over to the Prototype, Manufacturing and Test Department. Under the direction of SE & ALRE Test & Evaluation Division Head Robert DiGirolamo, the lab is also guided by Meseroll and lab manager Gene Rossi. They work closely with the Lakehurst ALRE programs to address all their testing, training and troubleshooting needs.
Adam Hochron is a communications specialist with Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey.