MECHANICSBURG, Pa. –
The Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support’s (NAVSUP WSS) Aviation Support Equipment (SE) Integrated Weapon Support Team (IWST) is what the Navy refers to as a “super-IWST” when it comes to logistical support. Uniquely positioned, the Support Equipment IWST provides support across the maritime, aviation and expeditionary domains, leveraging a comprehensive global organic and commercial industrial base to “keep ‘em flying.”
The landscape of the Aviation Support Equipment IWST contains a broad customer base which spans operations across the entire product life cycle, a life cycle that begins with research and development and ends with disposal. This landscape supports 6,659 total systems, fixed wing and rotary aircraft, various platforms of air-capable ships, and 20 Program Offices—three of which are unique to SE IWST. These unique programs include Naval Aircrew Systems, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment and Common Aviation Support Equipment program offices.
Utilizing a top-down approach, the Aviation Support Equipment IWST is a complex organization comprised of five unique teams, each managing diverse business lines. These five teams encompass Automated Test Equipment (ATE), Common Support Equipment (CSE), Peculiar Support Equipment (PSE), Aviation Life Support Systems (ALSS), Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE), Interim Support, and Technical Support. These teams manage 21,000 national stock numbers (NSNs), or items, which makes up 23 percent of the NAVSUP WSS’s aviation supply chain, and their portfolio continues to grow.
“We are a unique IWST in the aviation world because our work expands past the aviation-centric business parameters. Where most of the command remains focused on non-mission capable supply/partial mission capable supply and funding aviation procurements, the SE team also tracks casualty reports (CASREPs) and other procurements covered under OPN-8 budget lines, which adds the surface Type Commands (TYCOMs) and program offices to our customer base,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dessi Rabell, NAVSUP WSS Aviation Support Equipment IWST Director.
A typical day within Aviation SE IWST is not so typical, as each day faces a new set of challenges.
“When it comes to daily business in the Aviation SE IWST world, there really isn’t a typical day because there are some unique challenges that we face,” Rabell said. “While we have our regularly scheduled daily and weekly drumbeats to cover basic business, our mission is to look past the daily business and instead focus on how we can make things better. Something that we always say within the support equipment realm is to start with ‘why.’ Why are we doing something? Is there a better way to do it? Does the process need to change?
“We have the privilege to work with 20 different program offices across the spectrum, which is a different dynamic compared to a standard Type/Model/Series IWST. While that is sometimes challenging, it also gives us an opportunity to build partnerships and leverage from each other to see how we can make things better,” Rabell said.
The Aviation Support Equipment IWST has an ever-growing portfolio with no endpoint in sight. New systems are constantly being added to the growing list of NSNs. New generations of equipment are being received, causing an overlap with legacy systems before those legacy systems are fielded out. While the SE planners across CSE/PSE/ALRE branches support fielded systems, all new systems coming to life fall on the shoulders of the small group of Logistics Elements Managers (LEMs) who make up the Interim Support branch. It is the LEMs who lay the solid foundation for life cycle sustainment success, currently supporting 51 active and 89 pending new systems.
“The LEMs are critically important because they bring in any new or modified systems and provide Interim Supply Support from Initial Operational Capability (IOC) to Material Support Date (MSD). From the Baseline Assessment Memorandum (BAM) budget reviews for APN-6/OPN-8, to spares procurement, repairs initiation and allowance determination, the LEMs initialize all the support that SE planners will need to properly take over system management at MSD. With the vast amount of throughput, the entire team is very heavily involved in making sure the process happens right,” Rabell said.
Another aspect that makes the Aviation Support Equipment IWST unique, is the heavy reliance on the support of the technical branch, which is comprised of equipment specialists.
“Just by the virtue and size of our portfolio, our equipment specialists have a very high and challenging workload, often processing over 1,000 Design Change Notices (DCNs) annually,” Rabell said.
The primary mission of equipment specialists is to ensure all Navy and DOD files, regardless of cognizant agency, reflect proper Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Sea Systems Command approved configuration, sources and usage data. Examples of “daily business” for equipment specialists include provisioning, procurement support, configuration management, data integrity, market research and quality assurance. Equipment specialists can be referred to as the command sustainer, supporting all codes through all acquisition phases.
As NAVSUP WSS continues to operate as arguably the most important piece of the Navy’s logistical puzzle, Aviation SE IWST is an essential piece to that puzzle which completes the picture. From test benches on CVNs, to lifesaving and crew survival equipment (survival radios/oxygen generating systems/mission-configurable life rafts), to laser-focused efforts to “make Ford ready,” the Aviation SE IWST continues to align with mission partners in driving and strengthening cost-wise and agile supply chains across the Naval Aviation Enterprise.
“If you look at anything we do in Aviation SE IWST, nothing is in isolation. We support every Type/Model/Series, we support the equipment that’s needed to launch and recover aircraft, and we work across all the program offices,” Rabell said. “I will use one of my favorite quotes from a former NAVSUP WSS Commander, who often reminds us that ‘relationships build readiness.’ With the vast amount of customers we sustain, and the vast amount of stakeholders that we interact with, investing in and building good relationships is what makes the business successful. If we don’t have those relationships across the entire enterprise, we would not be able to do our job properly.”
Asya Parker is a public affairs specialist with Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support.