NAVSUP Weapon Systems
Support (NAVSUP WSS) has aligned and modernized core business practices and
introduced a new Operating Model (Op Model) to evolve supply support to the
Three integrated weapon systems teams (IWSTs) piloted the
initial Op Model concept in early 2019, and in April it was established across
all aviation and maritime platforms. The pilot involved physically co-locating
IWSTs with contracting divisions, which allowed for better balancing of
competing priorities and enabled cross-functional collaboration between those
“We are making sure that we are in alignment with the Naval
Sustainment System-Aviation initiative to work more efficiently, and we have
done some internal process improvements to ensure we are mission ready,” said
Rear Adm. Duke Heinz, commander, NAVSUP WSS. “Our new Op Model is enabling us
to be more proactive, collaborative, accountable and action-focused.”
The model provides NAVSUP WSS with a new, more structured
cadence of engagements and a variety of innovative digital tools to complement
these sessions. The model is comprised of three parts: Production Standups
(PSs), Readiness Acceleration Boards (RABs) and Readiness Focused Stand-downs
PSs are daily, action-oriented meetings held with working
level subject matter experts from an IWST, contracting team and Defense
Logistics Agency (DLA). The teams use a PS Tracker tool that combines various
data sources to provide visibility and updated information on priority unfilled
customer orders (UCOs) and purchase requests, enabling a more productive
discussion of high priority parts and contracting status. PS meetings drive
action to the RAB and RFS.
The RAB serves as an escalation path for issues that cannot
be resolved in a PS. It is a forum for NAVSUP WSS and DLA senior leadership to
address the hard issues and overall IWST health using the RAB Dashboard tool,
which combines key performance metrics and action items. The combined PSs and
RABs leads to enhanced business performance by highlighting and solving some of
the oldest and most complex issues.
“Our goal is to increase transparency and velocity in
decision making, and have solution-focused communication at all levels,” said Capt.
Mike York, director of aviation operations, NAVSUP WSS. “Having leadership
involved and engaged in the RABs has empowered our inventory managers and
contracting specialists to become more innovative in their decision making and
think outside the box.”
In addition to PSs and RABs, IWSTs run reoccurring health
checks through RFSs, where stakeholders form a tiger team to brainstorm and
solve specific issues affecting readiness.
Teams have tackled many issues such as reducing ghost
casualty reports (CASREPS), identifying past due vendors and reallocating
retail stock. By getting all the experts in the same room, reoccurring issues
are resolved much quicker. Data analysts are also heavily involved in RFSs to
ensure solutions are actionable and sustainable.
To date, the Op Model has proven to be an effective new
business practice. NAVSUP WSS has realized several improvements in readiness
metrics, to include reductions in high priority backorders, CASREPS, UCOs and
contract administrative lead-time as well as an increase in mission capable
Written by Jenae Jackson, a NAVSUP WSS Public Affairs’ deputy director.
A flight of two F/A-18 Hornets was on a two-fold training
mission: one part dissimilar air combat training (DACT) and the second,
low-altitude training. The day before, the squadron executive officer had
briefed the fliers on the hazards of low-level flights and covered flight
through canyon areas, emphasizing the danger of such flights close to the
One pilot was the lead, under training, while the wingman
was the mission commander. The DACT portion of the mission was completed
without incident. Subsequently, the lead pilot determined the flight did not
have sufficient fuel to return to base as briefed, which meant curtailing the
low-level route. To conserve fuel the leader flew along the initial portion of
the low-level route at 5,000 feet and 250 knots. When the low-level route
intersected the canyon portion of the flight, lead descended into the low-level
The mission commander lost sight of the leader as the flight
commenced the route. Approximately one minute later, the mission commander
observed a bright flash ahead and low on the canyon’s left wall. The flash then
changed to what was perceived as a fireball followed by thick black smoke. The
Hornet had crashed. The pilot was killed, the aircraft destroyed.
Investigators determined that the F/A-18 struck the canyon
wall about 75 feet from the edge of a sloping ridge line in a high-G,
high-angle-of attack, right banked turn. There was no evidence of engine or
systems failure, nor any sign of an ejection attempt.
Grampaw Pettibone says…
Shouldn’ta happened, but it did, so learn from it. The lead pilot’s Hornet was in a hard right-hand turn within the confines of the canyon walls, and he either didn’t see the ridge line approaching or did not realize his flight path was below it. It’s also possible that he became aware of the ridge line too late to avoid it.
Would it have helped if the flight had practiced low-level maneuvers over less hazardous terrain before descending into the canyon environment? Maybe. The investigators did conclude that the lead pilot had insufficient low-level flight experience for operating in a canyon area. Plus, he hadn’t had enough rest before the mission. He was an extremely motivated aviator but considered by some to be overconfident. Not a good combination for pilots flying high-performance aircraft fast and close to Mother Earth.
Seniors in the chain of command, including the mission commander, could have exercised better judgment in handling the preparation for this flight.
EDITOR’S NOTE:As the Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs, Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan serves as the lead for the engineering reform pillar of the Naval Sustainment System-Aviation. In his column below, he summarizes some of the process improvements that are designed to sustain readiness.
By Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan, PEO(T)
A week ahead of the
Secretary of Defense and Air Boss’s deadline, we surpassed an incredible
milestone in Naval Aviation in September exceeding 80-percent mission-capable
(MC) F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. That’s more than 341 Super
Hornets and 93 Growlers ready to fight the fight at a moment’s notice.
We have proven to
ourselves, our nation and our adversaries that we can surge in a time of need.
But our work’s not done.
This feat was achieved by
all hands—from maintainers on the deck plate to senior leaders—working together
to achieve the same goal using the six pillars of the Naval Sustainment
System-Aviation (NSS-A) initiative to identify and swarm the issues that kept our
MC rates lower than 80 percent. With NSS-A, we put the right people in the
right places, equipped with the right parts and the right processes and
empowered them to achieve the mission.
Naval Aviation has always
been focused on readiness, but our Super Hornet MC numbers hovered around
250-260 for nearly a decade. That doesn’t mean we weren’t combat ready, Naval
Aviation always answered our nation’s call, but those numbers were not where we
wanted them to be. With the current increase in readiness numbers, we have
increased our lethality and survivability response.
institutionalized many processes that will continue to improve readiness, and
we are doing things better. NSS-A efforts have been about challenging ourselves
to work more efficiently.
The success of the NSS-A
is a product of years of lessons learned and a culmination of the hard work of
many individuals throughout the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). We brought in
aviation experts with demonstrated proficiency in improving efficiency, effectiveness
and performance from the commercial aircraft industry. By collaborating and
implementing their best practices, we have decreased turnaround times for
maintenance, improved efficiencies at Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) and
delivered parts to the fleet faster.
We also set up an
environment that allowed open communication among the stakeholders, which
allowed everybody to bring the brutal facts necessary to find the root cause of
why we were not getting aircraft in a MC status.
I want to summarize some
of these changes in each of the pillars that will sustain our MC rates for
years to come.
Operations Center (MOC)/Aircraft-On-Ground (AOG) cell: One of the best industry practices we implemented
was establishing an MOC/AOG cell. This cell built strategic partnerships across
Naval Aviation communities, focused on getting aircraft up faster instead of
focusing on departmentalized internal metrics. This single-decision entity had
all the enabling functions and organizations present to make decisions on a
daily basis, and all were focused on the same goal.
Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) reform: Within the FRCs, we’ve created elite-level organic facilities that have adopted proven commercial practices to maximize quality and cost efficiency while minimizing cycle times.
Organization-level reform: The NAE refocused and balanced demand with optimal maintenance performance close to the flight line by empowering petty officers to oversee aircraft throughout the inspection process.
Supply chain reform: We are making sure that the right parts are at the right place at the right time by having various stakeholders form a single accountable entity responsible for the end-to-end material process. Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support continues to improve the supply chain with more responsive contracting, supplier integration, enhanced customer presence and improved collaboration with the Defense Logistics Agency.
Engineering and maintenance reform: We have developed an engineering-driven reliability process that improves how systems are sustained throughout their life cycle. Reliability engineering is another industry best practice applied through the establishment of a Reliability Control Board (RCB). Through the RCB, we identify the top degraders in a single list and strategically align activities throughout the NAE to prioritize and put the right people, parts and processes in place to address them.
Governance, accountability and organization: We have a single point of accountability for sustainment with the infrastructure to better support fundamental changes. The governance pillar identified issues that each pillar was having, and then swarmed, crushed the barriers and moved forward.
These six pillars impact
all aspects of the maintenance process and require the expertise, experience
and support of each and every member of the Naval Aviation team. We have
aligned how we communicate and focus as one on the end game by identifying and
solving the issues that limited our number of MC aircraft.
Keep in mind that while
we were making these changes, we were continuing to fly, deploy and respond to
national tasking. Some of the changes were truly a cultural shift, which took
time to implement fleet-wide, but once the parts and processes were in place,
we saw readiness improve steadily.
These cultural shifts
are becoming the new normal for the fleet and the workforce, all of whom have
bought into industry best practices. Embracing and continuing to improve our
processes remains key to maintaining a MC rate of 80 percent or more.
Achieving the goal for
the Super Hornet and Growler fleets was just the beginning. Now, our focus is
on keeping those readiness numbers where we need them to be while improving
readiness and safety for each type/model/series.
While the initial focus
of the NSS-A was on the Super Hornets, we have already applied it to the E-2D
fleet and have seen an MC rate increase of more than 10 percent in three
months. We will continue to implement the NSS-A best practices across the NAE.
With the best practices
implemented under NSS-A, we have the tools and visibility to gauge our
sustainment efforts daily—so if they aren’t working, we will readjust and swarm
the problem areas to maintain our sustainment levels.
Congratulations to the NAE on exceeding the goal and thank you for getting us there. As we move forward, it’s important to remember that we still have work to do—we now have the equally challenging task of sustaining these efforts.
Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan is a native of North Carolina. He graduated from North Carolina State University and was commissioned in 1986. He was designated a naval flight officer in 1987. Gahagan is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Class 101, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. He graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1997 with a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering.
Gahagan’s fleet assignments include Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One One Five (VAW-115), the Liberty Bells, and the E-2C Hawkeye Fleet Replacement Squadron, VAW-110, the Firebirds.
His acquisition assignments include Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, E-2C Hawkeye/C-2 Greyhound class desk officer, AV-8B Harrier Weapon Systems Program Office (PMA-257) integrated product team lead, E-2/C-2 Program Office (PMA-231) integrated product team lead, and Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Missions Programs (PEO(A)) operations officer.
Gahagan has also served at Patuxent River with the Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate and as the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) commander’s flag aide. His ashore command assignments include Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Twenty chief test pilot and commanding officer, PMA-231 program manager, and Air Warfare Mission Area/From the Air Program Office (PMA-298) program manager. His previous assignment was as NAWCAD commander and assistant commander for Research and Engineering, Naval Air Systems Command.
Gahagan’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards).
He is an aerospace engineering duty officer and a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College Advanced Program Management Course and the U.S. Naval War College.
Gahagan assumed responsibilities as Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs in September 2018.
Since the Physiological Episode Action Team (PEAT) has ruled out several causes of physiological episodes (PEs), they are developing tools to improve aircrew awareness and address maintenance-related issues.
Over the past six months, we have had significant success in
driving the rate of PEs down. We have accomplished this by making extensive use
of data analytics to identify sub-performing system components before they fail
thereby preventing PEs in the first place. And when a PE does happen, we have
equipped aircrew with tools to help them recognize onset and then mitigate the
situation, ultimately ensuring safe recovery,” said Rear Adm. Fredrick
Luchtman, Navy lead for the PEAT.
Several types of hypoxia trainers are in development. For
example, the Aviation Survival Training Center (ASTC) Jacksonville (JAX) began
training with a new, mask-off hypoxia trainer in July that will be used for all
Navy and Marine Corps designated aviation personnel flying in multi-place
non-ejection aircraft (story on page 22).
The Aircrew Survival Training Center at Naval Air Station
Pensacola is demonstrating the newest hypoxia-awareness device for Naval
Aviation—the On-Demand Hypoxia Trainer (ODHT) (story on page 23).
Engineers, scientists and medical professionals have ruled
out contamination and other potential factors, such as electromagnetic
exposure, and found no singular gross contributing factor. However, other
factors may play a role in PEs such as maintenance-related issues.
To address this, the Hornet Health and Readiness Tool
(HhART), uses data analytics to examine data points from multiple aircraft
systems to predict when a system could fail. The computer program is already
showing great success in preventing Environmental Control System malfunctions,
predicting potential PE-causing aircraft, and has the potential to improve
maintenance in other systems as well.
Since PEs happen when two very complicated machines—a naval
aircraft and a human body interact asynchronously—teams of engineers are
working on how to improve the aircraft and teams of medical professionals are
studying the human system.
Physiological monitors are being developed and tested to
record and measure what precisely is happening to the human body in different
Researchers across the country are working with aircraft
cabin simulators to study how bodies react at different pressure changes.
Flight surgeons are trained to handle PEs, so when aircrew do experience
significant events, they are treated quickly and effectively.
Since 2017, the phenomenon of PEs has been Naval Aviation’s
No. 1 safety priority.
PEs occur when aircrews experience physiological symptoms,
which may impair their ability to perform cockpit duties, and can result from
many factors, including normal operations in the highly dynamic operating
environment, systems malfunctions and various human factors. Symptoms can range
from dizziness to degradation of cognitive function, and they pose serious risks
to aviators and maintainers.
The PEAT was created in 2017 with personnel and resources
from the Naval Air Systems Command, Commander, Naval Air Forces, the Bureau of
Naval Medicine and Surgery and the fleet. With the support of experts from
industry and NASA, the team coordinates the work of engineers, physiologists
and data analysts to employ a methodical, data-driven approach to devise and
field best practices and procedures that mitigate the problem while developing
Using a rigorous root cause corrective action (RCCA)
analysis process, the core teams for F/A-18 Hornet, Super Hornet, EA-18G
Growler and the T-45 Goshawk training jet determined in 2018 that the onboard
oxygen systems showed no contamination. The air was unaffected by asphyxiates,
carbon monoxide or other contaminants.
The teams reached that conclusion after a 16-month effort
analyzed 21,000 samples taken across 11 sites from aviators’ breathing gas,
ground sampling and blood analysis. An independent panel of aeromedical
professionals evaluated roughly 1,800 compounds and determined that none of the
compounds played a role in any PEs.
While great progress has been made, there are thousands of people from more than 50 organizations including DoD, government, industry, academia, medical and research facilities, along with international partners who continue to focus on keeping aviators safe, so they can focus on the mission.
Written by Andrea Watters, editor of Naval Aviation News magazine.
New Mask-Off Hypoxia Training Delivered
Aviation Survival Training Center (ASTC) Jacksonville (JAX)
began training with a new, mask-off hypoxia trainer in July that will be used
for all Navy and Marine Corps designated aviation personnel flying in
multi-place non-ejection aircraft.
Capt. Theron Toole, then Commanding Officer, Navy Medicine
Operational Training Center, and Capt. Leslie Kindling, officer in charge,
Naval Survival Training Institute in Pensacola, visited ASTC JAX to observe an
initial training session with the newly mission-capable Normobaric Hypoxia
“The NHT provides the most realistic hypoxia training for
these aircrew members,” said Kindling, who oversees the Navy’s eight ASTCs.
The NHT simulates the reduced oxygen levels experienced in a
depressurized aircraft at altitude, allowing the aircrew to practice their
emergency procedures while experiencing the signs and symptoms of hypoxia.
Hypoxia is caused by a lack of sufficient oxygen at the
tissue level in the body leading to performance degradation. Symptoms of
hypoxia include light-headedness, dizziness, tingling, euphoria and decreased
visual accuracy. Training aircrew to recognize the symptoms helps ensure they
can take action before progressing to potentially life-threatening situations
while in an aircraft at altitude.
“I really felt the effects more this time around, especially
feelings of disorientation and difficulty breathing,” said Aircrewman
(Mechanical) 2nd Class John Booker, who was taking the hypoxia training
qualification for the third time. Aircrew are required to take a refresher
course every four years.
The NHT at ASTC JAX is the first operational trainer of its
type in the fleet and has replaced the low-pressure chamber that was
decommissioned in February 2017. Sailors assigned to ASTC JAX have been at the
forefront of implementation and operational testing for the new trainer since
its inception in summer 2018.
“As a staff, ASTC JAX became 100-percent qualified in only
18 working days, on top of the already established training schedule,” said
Chief Aircrewman (Avionics) Scott Counselman, ASTC JAX leading chief petty
officer. “Nothing has been dropped or moved. We began operational testing late
last July, and the ASTC staff has been learning new operating procedures,
assisting in writing standard operations and safety procedures, and conducting
risk management analysis.”
Counselman said once the testing was complete and the
procedures validated, the staff qualification process commenced and proceeded
at a rapid pace, leading to the introduction of the device to refresher Naval
Aviation Survival Training Program classes in July.
With the ASTC JAX NHT now fully functional, the staff will work with the remaining seven ASTCs. Located in Norfolk, Virginia; Cherry Point, North Carolina; Whidbey Island, Washington; Miramar, California; Pensacola, Florida; Lemoore, California; and Patuxent River, Maryland, the ASCTCs are scheduled to become fully operation by summer 2020.
Written by MC2 Nick A. Grim with Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs.
Hypoxia Trainer: Breath of Fresh Air at Tailhook
Physiology experts were on hand at the annual Tailhook
Association Convention Sept. 5-7 providing a demonstration of the newest
hypoxia-awareness device for Naval Aviation—the On-Demand Hypoxia Trainer
Hypoxia is a condition in which the body is deprived of
adequate oxygen supply and can adversely affect aircrew if they are not
properly trained to recognize the symptoms of air hunger.
All naval aviators and aircrew must complete refresher
physiology training at least every two years and must familiarize themselves
with potential hazards in flight including decreased levels of oxygen.
“The ODHT is great because it reduces oxygen levels and
gives the user the feeling of difficulty breathing,” said James Netherland, an
electrical engineer for the new system that helps train aircrew.
Lt. Chris Gilg, a naval aerospace physiologist at the
Aircrew Survival Training Center at Naval Air Station Pensacola, said the ODHT
changes the game when it comes to recognizing hypoxia hazards while in flight.
“We expect aircraft to perform in a certain way,” said Gilg.
“When it doesn’t, however, there is a chance that hypoxia can set in; we can
train aircrew to be able to recognize the symptoms in themselves and others.”
At Tailhook, attendees volunteered to breathe through a mask
that delivers reduced oxygen concentrations like those they would expect to
experience at altitude, and then provided feedback that designers will consider
in the continued development of the ODHT.
“Bringing the system to Tailhook, we get to network with the
aviators and to allow them to test this new device,” said Gilg. “It’s important
for them to see there is work being done to make the training more realistic,
with the on-demand system here.
“We’ve also been training students with it and based on the
reliability it’s shown thus far, and the feedback that we’ve gotten, this
system is what it actually feels like to breathe in the aircraft,” he said.
During Tailhook, the team ran hypoxic profiles with 17
aviators to gain feedback on the system. In general, the aviators reported that
the ODHT provided a breathing experience that was similar or slightly smoother
than the inhalation and exhalation feel in their aircraft.
In some instances, the aviators specifically noted that they
could not detect a noticeable difference between the breathing experience on
the device and on the jet.
Several aviators reported that the ODHT provided a better
experience than the current training device, the Reduced Oxygen Breathing
The ODHT is in the testing phase and the Navy is hoping to see it fully implemented in 2021.
Written by Naval Aviation Enterprise Public Affairs.
The Aircrew Systems Program Office delivered, installed and
demonstrated the first two redesigned production MH-60S Seahawk gunner seats to
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 at Naval Air Station North Island on
Sept. 24 and 25.
The gunner seat redesign focused on safety and ergonomics to
improve operator endurance.
In response to reports of chronic injuries to aircrew flying
missions in the MH-60S while sitting in the gunner’s seat, Vice Adm. DeWolfe
Miller III, then Director, Air Warfare, directed the program office to update
the seat to allow crewmembers to perform their missions with increased comfort
Testing on the prototypes was completed earlier this summer
and the seat was manufactured and delivered Sept. 24 to HSC-3. Fleet
installations are underway.
Naval Aircrewman Helicopter (AWS) 1 Amber Barlow, with
HSC-23, reacted positively to the new seat.
“What I liked about what I saw today is you have the ability
to lean forward, and forward and down actually, which gives someone like me,
who has a very short reach, the ability to get closer to the weapon and still
be able to shoot it from a seated position,” Barlow said.
She also noticed there was adjustability with the new gunner
seat, including having a better range of motion when using the weaponry while
remaining securely and comfortably strapped into the aircraft thanks to the
redesigned restraint system.
The ability to adjust the seat’s height was a welcomed
feature for AWS1 Patrick Boedeker, who is a tall gunner.
“Just being able to move my legs and be more mobile in the
cabin helps. Usually, I can’t sit in a normal sitting position, because then my
knees are so close to the window,” Boedeker said. “It’s more than I expected.
It’s surprising and I like it.”
Hospital corpsman with the wing were pleased with the speed
“I think that the engineers have done a fantastic job
creating and implementing this new seat. This project has moved at break-neck
speed. This is one of the fastest projects I have seen in the 16 years I have
been in the Navy,” said HM1 Mark Skaggs, aeromedical safety corpsman with
Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific (HSCWP).
The program office used an innovative approach and formed a
Gunner Seat Task Force (GSTF) to allow the fleet to provide real-time input
during each step of the prototype’s development, said Fillip Behrman,
integrated product team lead.
Throughout the design phase, the team used the GSTF as a
resource to vet ideas, support fit checks and provide a conduit into the
“The gunner seat redesign is a great example of how taking
measured risks for an urgent fleet need and incorporating direct fleet input
allowed us to deliver capability with far greater speed. The result will be
increased aircrew endurance and mission performance,” said Vice Adm. Dean
Peters, commander, Naval Air Systems Command.
Redesign Focuses on Safety, Endurance
Improvements to the gunner seat focused on three areas, said
Capt. Tom Heck, Air Crew Systems program manager.
“First of all, we want our aircrew to be safe. We deliver
safe things that work the first time, every time. And second, we need them to
be able to do their mission as effectively as they can because that’s why
they’re out there—to accomplish the mission. Third, when they’re done with
their mission and with their career, we want them to go on with the rest of
life without having to suffer any kind of chronic injury.”
Since funding was received in May 2017, it has been a team
effort to redesign a new gunner seat in-house to improve ergonomics and
endurance to ensure mission success, said Fillip Behrman, Gunner Seat
Integrated Production Team Lead with the Aircrew Systems Program Office.
For example, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft
Division’s (NAWCAD) AIRWorks office provided rapid prototyping to bring the
redesign to life in six months.
“The success of the gunner seat redesign comes down to the power of relationships, using the direct input and collaboration with the fleet, coupled with a tailored approach using AIRWorks and organic prototyping allowed the team to go fast and deliver this capability with speed,” said Gary Kurtz, Program Executive Officer, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services.
In May 2018, the program office debuted its second prototype
at the Naval Helicopter Association Symposium in Norfolk, Virginia. That same
week, flight and ground testing began at HSC-2.
The design team relied on fleet feedback throughout the redesign
process, culminating in production representative test article seats.
Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons (HX) 21, VX-1 and the
NAWCAD Crashworthy and Escape Systems Branch conducted flight, ground and lab
testing at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, all of which were completed this
Based on fleet feedback, the current redesigned gunner seat
includes the following features:
Height adjustment, allowing for improved
ergonomics and visibility
Fabric seat back with embedded lumbar cushion
for comfort on longer missions
Seat pan designed to reduce pressure points on
buttocks/legs while seated; seat pan folds up for greater mobility
Seat position adjustable toward center of
helicopter (center seat eliminated) to increase seated position leg room
Increased webbing length to harness/restraint to
improve gunner mobility
Rear-facing seating option for port gunner seat
Weight adjustable energy absorbers for greater
Endurance was not the only concern during the
redesign—safety remains a top priority. The redesign had to meet rigorous
standards necessary to protect aircrew should a crash occur.
Lindley Bark, branch head of the Crashworthy and Escape
Systems explained that the crash testing is extensive to ensure as many
scenarios as possible are addressed.
“We don’t know which direction we’re going to crash. But we
have years of mishap data, and it’s taught us where our highest probable crash
scenarios are, what severities are, what the angle and orientations are,” Bark
Production is fully underway, with a total of 12 Gunner Seat
Mission Equipment Sets (GSMES), which include two seats plus a floor and
ceiling mount, delivered to HSC-3, Behrman said.
Approximately 50 GSMES’s will be delivered per month until
the entire H-60S fleet has been outfitted with the new seats.
Written by Rob Perry, a staff writer with Naval Aviation News and Andrea Watters, the editor. Also contributing to the article were Mikel Lauren Proulx, lead for NAVAIR’s Visual Information team, and Amie Blade, Common Systems and Commercial Services public affairs officer.
In June, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 became the first East Coast squadron to sail with both type/model/series on the Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) platform during USS Milwaukee’s (LCS 5) first underway with MH-60S Seahawk and MQ-8B Fire Scout aircraft.
Before getting underway, Detachment (DET) 3 traveled to
Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California to test the Fire Scout’s
capabilities over water and land. This was the first time the DET operated the
on-board ZPY-4 radar successfully in conjunction with the BriteStar II Modular
Mission Payload to find and identify surface contacts. The DET also conducted
its first night operation of the Fire Scout and employed the air vehicle’s
voice relay ability to communicate over the horizon with both ground forces and
“The experience gained by maintenance personnel and aircrew
was essential in determining how both aircraft would be best utilized in the
shipboard maritime environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. A.J. Castro, DET 3 officer in
“Once we were on board ship, we had the opportunity to
practice procedures and communications in a unique maritime environment that
proved to be more challenging than at a shore-based facility,” said Lt.
Cassandra Gettinger, DET 3 H-60S/MQ-8B pilot.
Fire Scout crews used its surface radar sytems to track and
classify contacts while coordinating actions with the ship’s combat center. The
DET could see and identify surface ships from hundreds of miles along the coast
without detection, demonstrating the Fire Scout’s integral future as the Navy’s
newest and most lethal resource for operational reconnaissance and intelligence
“It means a lot to be able to provide the ship with an
improved maritime picture using our radar systems. The capabilities we can
bring to the table make us an invaluable resource,” said Aviation Warfare
Systems Operator 2nd class Justin McCrary, DET 3 H-60S aircrew member and
mission payload operator (MPO).
While underway, members of the Coast Guard’s Airborne Use of
Force (AUF) Tactical Law Enforcement and their ship boarding teams executed a
full mission profile, using both the MH-60S and Fire Scout to find and identify
their target, ultimately disabling and taking command of the suspect vessel.
Their forces combined, the ship qualified in the multi-service AUF mission they
will be primarily focused on during their upcoming deployment in 4th Fleet.
Embedded in the mission and operational training period,
ship’s personnel and DET 3 learned how to collaborate.
“It was always easy to find the people and resources I
needed because of the smaller crew and the quality of Sailors on board,” said
Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st class Nicholas Liddle, DET 3 H-60S/MQ-8B
Because of limited manning on the LCS, teamwork proved to be
of utmost importance, with DET 3 enlisted maintainers helping with flight deck
readiness, and LCS sailors switching from galley duty to manning flight
quarters in an instant.
“At times, being the first has been an uphill battle. We had
to learn how to effectively operate and maintain two different platforms at the
same time. It hasn’t been easy, but we are a stronger DET because of our
experience. I am excited to see what the MQ-8B and MH-60S team will be able to
accomplish when paired in the maritime environment,” Castro said.
In the two years since HSC-22’s safe-to-operate date for the
Fire Scout, the squadron went from unqualified to deployment ready, explained
Cmdr. Matt Persiani, HSC-22 Commanding Officer. “All of our maintainers, pilots
and aircrew have worked incredibly hard to get us to this point, and it is due
to their dedication that the DET 3 is ready to deploy with manned and unmanned
aircraft,” he said.
Next, to prepare for deployment this fall, HSC-22 DET 3 conducted
a successful initial ship-aviation team training period and advanced phase with
crew members from USS Milwaukee and USS Detroit (LCS-7) off the coast of
Mayport, Florida. The squadron, with a crew of only 25 personnel, flew 40 hours
in the MH-60S and 27 hours in the Fire Scout over a three-week period,
practicing ship’s procedures and integrating for operational missions.
“For such a small crew to handle simultaneous manned and
unmanned operations, teamwork was crucial, and we learned what works best. We
relied on Detroit’s personnel to help facilitate flight quarters and ensure we
were able to carry out all of our operational missions,” said Lt. Cmdr. A.J.
Castro, DET 3 officer in charge.
DET 3 also conducted the first dual ship flight from a sea-based
platform, where the air vehicle operators and MPOs communicated directly with
the pilots and aircrew members for tactical employment of both aircraft.
“This accomplishment is redefining the HSC maritime presence
worldwide and leading the way for developing tactics, techniques and procedures
for manned/unmanned teaming,” Castro said.
Written by Lt. Rebecca Atkinson, DET public
affairs officer for HSC-22.
The Training Department at Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3, the West Coast’s fleet replacement squadron (FRS), recently redesigned its ground-training syllabus using videos to modernize the materials and increase speed.
We applaud this innovation, and we strive to grow further as
technology advances,” said Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Dan Dwyer.
“Modernizing the flight training curriculum from initial entry through
undergraduate training, FRS and into the fleet, will allow students greater opportunity
to excel faster.”
Starting with a fleet replacement pilot’s first day at the
FRS and continuing throughout the “Seawolf” training program, videos now
introduce each system and guide students through basic operation and key study
points, explained Lt. Cmdr. Robin Dirickson, HSC-3’s training lead. Engaging,
instructional videos can direct a student through challenging material the same
way, for example, a video can guide a do-it-yourselfer through a home repair,
The videos feature active-duty instructors introducing a
system and demonstrating the standard for briefing. They use linear diagrams
and animated graphics side-by-side with aircraft photos to break down complex
topics and include handwritten notes to highlight important information.
Students then reference a study guide with required reading from source
documents with a personnel qualification standard style outline of learning
objectives. Open and closed book tests for each lesson further direct students
to study and evaluate the information that is most critical to commit to
This “flipped classroom” strategy helps better accommodate
individual study time, because in-person instructional time is now spent
answering questions, having discussions, testing comprehension and practicing
Lt. j.g. Richard Wheeler, an FRS student pilot, praised the
new courseware. “The videos help break the system down to general concepts of
why and how it works, then build it back up for how it works in the helicopter.
It helps cue students toward what matters for the system in plain English,” he
“The redesigned training also aligns with the Navy’s Ready,
Relevant Learning initiative,” said Capt. Ed Weiler, HSC-3 Commanding Officer,
“because it makes learning accessible at the right time, at the right level and
in the right format, and it aligns with the recommendations released in a
report this year from a Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division
review of current FRS instructional methods.”
Beyond systems basics, explanatory and walk-though videos
will also be available for topics that either require repetition for
comprehension or combined audio-visual instruction, Dirickson said.
At the Production Alignment Conference in August, HSC-3 proposed extending the training videos to cover mine countermeasures, unmanned aerial systems and aircraft maintenance operations. To do that, a cloud-based server and site dedicated to aircrew training will need to be established so students can access the content on their phones, tablets or home computers in addition to computers in the learning center. HSC-3 has completed multiple “prototype” videos and plans to bring this initiative to the HSC community starting in January 2020.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is an expanded version of a recent Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) podcast with Col. Rich “Chachi” Marigliano, Commodore, Naval Test Wing Atlantic (NTWL). In this question-and-answer feature, Marigliano explains the importance of the Wing and advantages the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) gives the fleet.
What is the mission and squadron make-up of NTWL? Why is it so diverse?
In Navy/Marine Corps developmental test and
evaluation, there are two test wings. One on the West Coast, which focuses on
weapons testing and one on the East Coast that focuses on aircraft testing and
supporting the training of new test pilots at USNTPS. Our primary mission is to
conduct research, development, test and evaluation of manned and unmanned fixed
and rotary wing aircraft to strengthen the fleet’s lethal warfighting
capability. The five commands (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, VX-20,
HX-21, UX-24 and USNTPS) accomplish this with a diverse assignment of
approximately 260 manned and unmanned aircraft that represent Naval Aviation.
Why is NTWL such a valuable asset?
All of the squadron commands here are testing the
most modern technologies which will provide additional lethality to the fleet.
Today, as we look at the environment we are living in, there is a lot of
importance in increasing the lethality of our fleet. The threats are real, and
our squadrons are responsible and accountable to test those new capabilities to
ensure we provide reliable, proven effective technologies as quickly as
possible to the warfighters.
What aspects of your career led to your current command?
During my first tour as a Marine First Lieutenant,
then Captain, I didn’t know anything about acquisition, testing or test pilots.
In my first fleet aircraft, I saw a system that was antiquated. I couldn’t
figure out why my car had this great GPS that could get me places, but my
aircraft that cost millions of dollars didn’t have it. When I learned about USNTPS,
I realized there was an entire world out there that buys and develops this
technology for our warfighters. Once I became aware of the role of acquisition
in Naval Aviation, it became a passion of mine.
How does the career path of a Marine Corps test pilot compare to that of a Navy test pilot?
It’s very similar. The career path hinges on a
successful first tour. My advice to anyone who wants to attend test pilot
school is to do the best you can during your first tour. Show that you can be a
good pilot. You don’t have to be the ace-of-the-base pilot to be a test pilot.
You have to be competent and prove you are able to fly your aircraft and do it
well. Also, seek leadership qualifications, become an expert in the tactical
deployment of your aircraft and its weapons. You must establish that you are a
high performer with credibility in your community.
What does the career path for a test pilot/naval flight officer (NFO) look like?
Those selected as pilots, NFOs or flight test
engineers that complete USNTPS training will be responsible for shaping the
future of Naval Aviation. Once they finish with USNTPS, they will go to one of
the developmental test squadrons. They go to USNTPS with the most recent fleet
experience and learn the disciplines of engineering and testing so they can
communicate the needs of the fleet with the engineers. When they arrive at the
test squadrons, they get into the aircraft to test capabilities that were paper
designs and are now actual hardware. They are looking at it from an operator’s
perspective by applying their fleet knowledge and asking, “Does this system
work the way it’s intended to? How else can I use this system to be more
lethal? What is the mission relation?” all while they are executing
developmental engineering flight test.
Can attending USNTPS have a detrimental effect on the traditional career path of an aviator?
No, attending USNTPS is a unique path that provides
tremendous insight into Naval Aviation that has served many senior leaders well
in both the Navy and Marine Corps. We have many testers that return to the
fleet and lead commands in deployed operations progressing to senior levels of
What separates a test pilot from other aviators?
We’re all aviators first. Test pilots receive special
training and gain unique experiences during a test tour that provides skills
beneficial to any organization, fleet or acquisition. At USNTPS, one critical
skill they learn is how to translate fleet experience to engineering speak and
vice versa. Many testers head back to the fleet where they can explain to the
young lieutenants or captains who might see an antiquated system the reason why
it’s there and what new technology is coming.
What would you say is the greatest thing about being a test pilot?
The greatest thing about being a test pilot is the
reward you get after you have successfully completed a test and then see that
capability fielded. You know you contributed to getting that capability to the
I’ve done a lot of
great stuff including work on the first presidential replacement helicopter,
the VH-71. I was one of the first fliers of that aircraft. But the test effort
that I value the most was when a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) needed to
expand a limited launch/recovery envelop for the CH-53D on a landing helicopter
dock amphibious assault ship. The MEU could not execute 53D flight operations
due to high wind conditions outside the approved limits. A small team of us
developed a test plan, executed it within a planned 10-day test window,
successfully expanded the envelope and released the new envelop message. Within
24 hours of the message being released, the MEU was using it. That was the most
rewarding test effort of my career.
Why is it valuable to have the test pilot school located at the center of test and evaluation?
USNTPS is the gateway for testers in so many facets.
The schoolhouse is more than just formulas, science and engineering. It is
establishing the culture, the mindset, the critical thinking required to look
at and analyze a problem. We have to think critically to identify the risks and
ways to mitigate those risks.
That’s an important point because we’re always talking
about the need to take more risk to speed the delivery of these products to the
fleet. How do test pilots play into that equation? What do they bring to it?
The test pilots and flight test engineers work hand-in-hand to get the most out
of the limited program resources. Testers help the program manager figure out
what capabilities they can deliver to the fleet.
Another huge advantage for our test squadrons is the
collaboration with the operational testers and weapons schools. There is
nothing more powerful then when these stakeholders gain alignment and jointly
provide the decision makers with the information needed to make the right
decision on taking calculated risks to get critical capability to the fleet.
What platforms or communities have the greatest need for pilots?
The community that needs the most attention is our
NFOs. We are just not seeing as many applicants as we would like. For the pilot
side, it’s fairly populated and it ebbs and flows. That said we value all
applications to USNTPS from aviators that had a successful first tour and
demonstrated they are able to fly the aircraft, have leadership capabilities and
understand their mission and platform.
What is the importance of the relationship between the test pilot and the flight test engineer? What do they offer each other?
The exchange of
information is so valuable between the test pilot and the flight test engineer.
Our pilots have the recent fleet experience and our engineers have the flight
test experience; together they learn from each other about the capability we
are testing and methods in which we can safely plan and execute flight test.
I have never observed
such a strong relationship between military and civilians then in flight test.
I personally have worked with numerous engineers who taught me so much about
flight test. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed a synergy develop between the
engineering smarts and the fleet knowledge, which I continue to encourage
throughout the wing.
In your opinion, do test pilots make great astronauts?
Absolutely. Teaching fleet pilots to speak the language of engineering is a skillset that translates to many opportunities, whether it’s as an astronaut or in civilian industry. It’s the combination of the technical knowledge you learn at USNTPS—the critical thinking, the risk management plus the experience of working with civilians in a complex and challenging environment—that’s what NASA recognizes as the value in the testers that have come through here.
A student naval aviator awoke at 0325 for a 0500 course
rules brief before a carrier qualification flight in a T-45 Goshawk aboard a
carrier off the coast. The primary divert field assigned was the naval air
station (NAS) from which the flight would depart. The secondary was a Navy
field on the coast.
After a flight briefing at 0600, the aircraft departed for
the carrier. Due to marginal weather, however, it had to return to the NAS,
arriving at 1015. The student later attended an impromptu all officers meeting
to discuss safety issues relating to a T-45 mishap that occurred in another
squadron. After the meeting and lunch, the student briefed for a second launch
to the boat, and at 1500 took off once again for the carrier.
The student received a “Charlie” signal on arrival at the
carrier and let down into the pattern where he made two touch and goes.
Subsequently, he made two hook-down passes, waving off both times. At this
point he was at bingo fuel and was directed by the tower to divert to shore and
proceed with an emergency bingo divert profile. A lead/safe instructor was
assigned to join the student and escort him to a land base.
Because of bad weather and radio and tactical aid to
navigation problems, the join-up was delayed. When they had rendezvoused, the
instructor assumed the “communications lead” but not the actual flight lead as
required by a Chief of Naval Air Training instruction. The instructor told the
student to land at the Navy facility on the coast, even though the student had
sufficient fuel to safely execute a divert to the NAS launch point with which
he was more familiar.
The flight descended and broke out of the weather and into the clear at 2,600 feet, over water, with the runway visible 10 miles in the distance. The instructor reminded the student to drop his gear and flaps at 7 miles. The student had failed to perform his feet-dry checks prior to the approach, however, and didn’t complete his landing checklist on final. Although he verified that his gear and flaps were down and speed brakes extended, he had omitted the aircraft anti-skid from the checklist and the system was not actuated. Also, the student was surprised to note the field did not have a Fresnel lens for landing. He touched down nearly 2,000 feet from the approach end and hit the brakes while rolling out at 115 knots. Because anti-skid was deselected, the starboard main landing tire blew. The student was unable to counter the T-45’s swerve to the right. The Goshawk departed the runway and flipped over. The student struck the instrument panel but suffered only minor lacerations and abrasions from the impact and from the shattered canopy. A physical exam revealed the student was fatigued dehydrated and poorly nourished at the time of the accident.
Grampaw Pettibone says…
Light a blow torch and singe my whiskers one more time! What can ole Gramps say about checklists but USE THEM! Blowin’ a tire on a fast rollout is absolutely no fun. And it can be disastrous when you’re exhausted, hungry and badly need a drink of water. The lead/safe pilot wasn‘t a lot of help here. “Task saturated” is the term used nowadays to describe a situation where a flier has too much to do and not enough time to do It. Add the stress factor, lack of sleep, food and water and the recipe produces trouble with a capital “T.”