• Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    ‘Army to the Corps’
    Electrical engineer helps change the face of aviation

     

    By Steve Stark

     

    The Army’s Ground-Based Sense-and-Avoid System (GBSAA) is the first system of its kind and it’s changing the face of unmanned aviation—and as its deputy product director Mary Ottman is at the heart of the development effort.

    It’s a DOD system that the Army has taken the lead on, specifically within the Army’s Project Management Office for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS), and eventually, it’s intended to enable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly without visual observers in commercial airspace controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    Deputy product director for GBSAA is just one of many jobs that Ottman has held over nearly 25 years working with the Army as a DA civilian. In some respects, the job is a testament to her curiosity and talent, but in another sense, it’s a tribute to the excellent cooperative education program that got Ottman’s foot in the door at the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center in Redstone Arsenal, Ala., in the first place.

    At a time when September 11 was merely another date, Ottman went to work for the Army on that day in 1989 as a cooperative education student. At the time, she thought that she’d work for the Army for a couple of years before going on to industry, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Indeed, she will celebrate her 25th anniversary as an Army civilian this September.

    “My father and my uncles were all in the military and I know the sacrifices that they made to serve our country.”

    Ottman is, by degree, an electrical engineer with a family legacy of service. Her father served in the Army in Vietnam, and then in the reserves, eventually retiring as a major. He studied nuclear physics and worked in that field in industry, and all the time she was growing up, Ottman said, her dad emphasized education, particularly math and science.

    Initially, “a friend of mine talked to me about pursuing electrical engineering and it sounded interesting—I was waffling between computer science and electrical engineering, but went with electrical engineering,” she said. She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in electrical and computer engineering.

    When Ottman started working for the Army as a college student in the co-op program, she worked on projects such as transistor-based video electronics design, soldering connections on circuit boards used in the Advanced Kinetic Energy Missile, and then went on to work in software development.

    Viva Kelley, PdD USAIC product director, speaks with Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, highlighting the features of the GBSAA prototype system on display during the PM UAS 2 Million Flight Hour Celebration at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. on March 18, 2014. (From the left: Viva Kelly, Rep. Brooks, Lt. Col. Nick Kioutas, Small Unmanned Aerial Systems product manager, Mary Ottman PdD USAIC deputy product director, and Larry Herbek, PdD USAIC systems engineer). (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Johnson)

    “Literally, as a co-op student, you start getting exposure to real-world applications while you’re in school. [The co-op program] is a great way for students to ‘try before you buy,’ so to speak, to get exposure to all the different projects that are going on. They’ve got computers, software simulation, trainers, propulsion—there are many different areas you can get exposure to at the R&D [research and development] center before you decide what kind of job you want to pursue as a career. It’s a win-win for both the student and the Army. For the student, they can figure out what they want to do. As for the Army, they are building that next generation [of talent], and they’re also getting that student labor to work those tasks and free up engineers to do more complex things.”

    “A lot of people think that electrical engineering is home wiring,” she said, laughing. “That’s not it at all. Basically, it’s such a broad field—it’s one of those fields that, in school, you learn a lot of different things, and it depends on what job you get and what you’re interested in” as to where you end up. “So you could end up working at power companies, cell phone companies, in power transmission or you could end up working on circuit boards or semiconductor devices. It’s a versatile degree,” she said. It’s almost like a business degree in the sense that you have a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can go with it. “It really just depends on your interest area.”

    Her timing was excellent—using her training and her curiosity, she found her way into writing software, sometimes at the 1’s and 0’s level, and developed just as the standards and the industry were beginning to mature.

    Ottman attributes the longevity of her career with the Army to the variety of opportunities the Army has provided. Each time she wanted to advance, the chance to compete for interesting job openings was available. “It seemed like when the time was right, a new opportunity came along.” The Army also provided educational opportunities. Through the Army, she earned her master’s in business administration from Auburn University, and a master’s in management and leadership from Webster University while simultaneously completing a Senior Service Fellowship at Defense Acquisition University.

    “It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to be part of a program that is changing the face of aviation.”

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    OTTMAN: Currently I am co-managing Ground-Based-Sense-and-Avoid System Development as a Deputy Product Director. Simply put, this system helps an unmanned aircraft detect and avoid other traffic in the sky. For example, when you fly to Orlando, Fla. on your way to Disney World, you fly through the National Airspace System. If your pilot sees other aircraft, he will avoid them. Unmanned aircraft don’t have pilots onboard, and GBSAA allows them to sense and avoid other traffic in the sky. Putting this system in place enables unmanned aircraft to avoid other traffic just like a manned aircraft does in the airspace.

    In a nutshell, current FAA regulations require that aircraft be able to see and avoid other aircraft. Since unmanned aircraft systems do not have a pilot on board, they cannot comply with these regulations without additional mitigations. Currently, unmanned aircraft are required to fly with either ground observers watching them from the ground, or they can be followed by chase aircraft such as a Cessna or military aircraft. The purpose is for the observer to alert the unmanned aircraft pilot of potential traffic conflicts with other aircraft such that they can avoid them. GBSAA will allow unmanned aircraft to sense (with the use of ground sensors) other aircraft in the sky and maneuver around them as manned aircraft would.

    The more technical answer is that, as Deputy Product Director, I co-manage the development and fielding of the GBSAA. It is the first system of its kind and is changing the face of unmanned aviation. The Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Concepts Product Directorate serves as the DOD lead for GBSAA. While serving as lead, the Army fielded and flew the first prototype GBSAA system at El Mirage, Calif. in 2011. Based on that success, the Army is moving forward to conduct operations with the first DO-178C compliant GBSAA system in 2015.

    A team player, in the office and on the diamond, Ottman plays for the PM UAS Unmanned and Unafraid softball team. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Johnson)

    FOTF: Why did you choose the Army for your career? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    OTTMAN: I began my career with the Army on Sept. 11, 1989 as a cooperative education student. I enjoyed the job immensely and remained with the Army upon graduation from college. I take immense pride and satisfaction in being able to serve the warfighter. My father and my uncles were all in the military and I know the sacrifices that they made to serve our country. It is very rewarding to participate in developing systems that increase our warfighters’ capabilities and their safety so that they can defend our freedoms and return home to their families.

    FOTF: What has your experience been like? What has surprised you the most?

    OTTMAN: In my 24 years with the Army, it has been both surprising and extremely rewarding that as my interests and desire for professional growth have changed, career opportunities have always been available that have allowed me to stretch personally and professionally. As a result, I have been able to contribute and serve during my civilian career in more ways than I would have ever dreamed possible.

    I began my career as a cooperative education electrical engineering student performing tasks such as wire-wrapping and soldering circuit boards. This led to the pursuit of a career in software development, with activities such as writing assembly code, developing expertise in visual programming, trainer software development, and then tactical software development. Along the way I gained more responsibility. After being recognized for my leadership abilities, the Army sent me to school for an MBA and also to the Senior Service College Fellowship program at the Defense Acquisition University where I also gained my masters in leadership. Following the SSCF program, I took my current position with the GBSAA program. It has been a tremendously rewarding experience to be part of a program that is changing the face of aviation.

    Related Links:

    PEO Aviation

    PM Unmanned Aircraft Systems

    Army celebrates 2 million hours of unmanned aircraft flight

     


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • What Really Matters in Defense Acquisition

    From the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
    Frank Kendall

     

    My first inclination for this issue’s article was to discuss the newly released DoDI 5000.02. We recently implemented this new acquisition policy document as interim guidance. I provided a cover letter explaining why I had done a new version and outlined some of the features of this edition. I do recommend that you look at both the cover letter and the new document, but on reflection I decided to write about something else for this issue. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into designing our processes and implementing them, but at the end of the day it isn’t those processes or policy documents like 5000.02 that really drive our results. What really matters in defense acquisition is our people and their professionalism and leadership—so I thought I would start the new year by writing about that.

    This past year we’ve gone through a lot, and all of our acquisition professionals have been asked to put up with more than any workforce should have to endure. We’ve had continuing budget turmoil and uncertainty, furloughs, continuing resolutions, late-breaking sequestration, and most recently a government shutdown. We’re also living under pay freezes and the prospect of further budget reductions and staff reductions.

    I want to thank the whole workforce for the way you have all coped with these challenges. While other senior leaders and I have been asking you to improve our productivity and achieve ever greater results for our warfighters and the taxpayer, you’ve also had to work in very challenging circumstances. You’ve come through, and it has inspired me and your other senior leaders to see the way you’ve dealt with all these challenges in stride. Thank you. Thank you personally, but also on behalf of the Secretary and all the senior leaders in the Department. Thank you also for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who benefit from your great work as they put themselves at risk for our country.

    Recently, I joined Dr. Carter in one of his last official acts as Deputy Secretary in presenting the Packard Awards to this year’s recipients. As I write this, I’m looking forward to going out to the Defense Acquisition University to present the USD(AT&L) awards for professionalism and developing the work force to some of our outstanding performers. I’m sorry that we can’t recognize more of our exceptional performers—there are so many of you, and you all deserve to be recognized for what you do. During the last few weeks, I also have had occasion to note the departure of some of our most capable people who are retiring or will soon retire from government service. We lose a lot of terrific people every year of course, and these individuals are just examples of the many fine professionals working in defense acquisition, technology and logistics. I decided that for this article I would note the contributions of some of these people with whom over the last few years I’ve had the chance to work. They are just examples, but they are especially powerful examples of what one can accomplish during a career in defense acquisition.

    I’ll start with Charlie Williams, the recently retired Director of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). Charlie led DCMA for the past several years. He started federal service in 1982 in Air Logistics Command in a Mid-Level Management Training Program. Charlie then rose through a series of contracting, program analysis and contract management positions with the Air Force both in the field and at Air Force Headquarters. He became Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Contracting before taking the reins at DCMA. At DCMA, Charlie led the rebuilding of the organization after severe reductions in the 1990s. He kept his team together during the Base Realignment and Closure move from D.C. to Richmond, and he led the effort to ensure that our contracts in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were executed properly.

    “Thank you personally, but also on behalf of the Secretary and all the senior leaders in the Department. Thank you also for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who benefit from your great work as they put themselves at risk for our country.”

    Next I’ll mention MajGen Tim Crosby, the soon-to-retire Army Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Aviation. Tim has led Army aviation programs since 2008. He was commissioned after graduating from the Citadel and started out as a field artillery officer. He moved quickly into aviation as a pilot before following his interest in research and development and flight testing. In acquisition, he worked in logistics, training and simulation, and test and evaluation before becoming a Product Manager, first for the CH-47 F and later Program Manager for the Army’s Armed Scout. His long tenure at PEO Aviation is marked by strong leadership in support of our deployed forces and in building the capability of the Afghan Air Force. Tim embraced the Better Buying Power principles and was implementing them well before Dr. Carter and I gave them a name.

    Rear Admiral Jim Murdoch retired recently after serving as the Navy’s first PEO for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Jim entered the Navy with an ROTC commission after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in mechanical engineering. He moved between surface combatant assignments and acquisition positions. His acquisition assignments included program management for surface weapons and launchers and responsibility for integrated warfare systems as well as program manager for the Littoral Combat Ships. In 2011, Jim was handpicked by Sean Stackley to lead the new Program Executive Office for LCS sea-frames and mission modules. He stabilized and fully integrated one of the Navy’s most complex acquisition endeavors.

    Finally Scott Correll, our retiring Air Force PEO for Space Launch, also started his career as an intern. From the Pacer Intern Contracting Program at Robbins Air Force Base, where he began as a cost analyst and contract negotiator on the F-4 and F-15, Scott rose through the contracting, supply chain management and program management fields. Scott’s diverse positions include leadership positions at Military Sealift Command and TRANSCOM. I was able to take Scott in to meet Secretary Hagel recently so the Secretary could thank him personally for saving the Department billions of dollars in space launch costs—quite an achievement for our taxpayers and warfighters.

    The people I mention above have accomplished a great deal for their country during their careers. They’ve also had the opportunity to do exciting and fulfilling work. People who achieve this sort of success over their careers are what give us the best equipped military in the world. All of these people have a lot to be proud of. All of you have a lot to be proud of. I’m looking forward to 2014 with the hope that things will improve—and there are some signs that they will. But mostly I’m just looking forward to another year of working with this terrific team.
    Thank you again for all that you do.



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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Artillery-to-acquisition officer provides innovative technology to Soldiers on the ground

     

    By Tara Clements

     

    BACKGROUND
    For this Army-grown artillery officer, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and he keeps that in mind everyday as he uses his experience as a Soldier, a leader and an innovator to bring the latest technology to Soldiers on the ground and is striving to make it even better in the future.

    The assistant product manager for the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT), Maj. Thomas Jagielski ensures that deploying Soldiers and units are equipped with a valuable capability: “eyes in the sky” to maintain situational awareness. What does that mean? Without the situational awareness that technology can provide, a Soldier on a battlefield won’t know where the enemy is located. They’re out there, but if the Soldier can’t see them, they can’t know what capabilities they might have.

    Now, give that same Soldier a visual, from a screen in his hands, of where the enemy is, what capabilities they might have, and the ability to coordinate with ground and aviation forces to address the threat—that’s tactical overmatch, and invaluable.

    “When a Soldier is able to identify combatants, their position, any potential obstacles or changes in an area of operations prior to arrival at a location it allows for better planning and preparation for operations as well as better resource management,” said Jagielski.

    And Jagielski speaks from direct experience. This Bronze Star Medal recipient’s deployment experience has given him the ability to provide the “Soldier’s perspective” when developing upgrades and requirements for the system.

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    JAGIELSKI: As the assistant product manager for the OSRVT, I ensure that limited OSRVT assets reach Soldiers who are deploying as well as provide training to maximize system effectiveness. Additionally, I manage the OSRVT preplanned product improvement and interoperability with other systems that allows the OSRVT to remain on the cutting edge of technology. OSRVT’s common software can be integrated with any ground vehicle, tracked or wheeled, for comprehensive situational awareness. The user-friendly graphical user interface delivers information in live video or map views, and allows users to easily save, export and analyze data. The OSRVT is a proven combat multiplier for maneuver and aviation units by providing unprecedented situational awareness. This ultimately saves Soldiers as well as civilian lives.

    FOTF: Can you give me a few examples of how this technology has benefited Soldiers on the ground?

    Jagielski and his colleague look over the OSRTV antenna, one of the system components. (Photo by Sofia Bledsoe)

    JAGIELSKI: This system enables Soldiers on the ground to have the most current operational picture. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That is never truer than when Soldiers are conducting operations. When a Soldier is able to identify combatants, their position, any potential obstacles or changes in an area of operations prior to arrival at a location, it allows for better planning and preparation for operations as well as better resource management. The OSRVT is used by intelligence sections to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance that formally had been accomplished by Soldiers. This reduces Soldiers’ exposure to hostile forces without a tactical advantage.

    The OSRVT is also used by convoy commanders to identify danger areas, choke points, or areas of congestion, allowing them to maneuver and avoid those areas. Aviators use the OSRVT to conduct manned-unmanned teaming. In this teaming, an unmanned aircraft flies in front of a manned aircraft, extending the pilot’s range of sight. This allows the pilot to identify threats or objectives at greater ranges and maneuver to engage and or avoid the threats.

    FOTF: What has your experience in the Army been like? What has surprised you the most?

    JAGIELSKI: Transitioning from an artillery officer into Army acquisition has been an eye-opening experience. Learning the acquisition process and working through contract development and implementation has been one of the greatest challenges in my career. I have a great team in the OSRVT product office that works very hard to get equipment to the Soldiers who need it and make them successful. Many people on the team have prior military experience, but the battlefield has changed dramatically over the past few years. I’m able to provide the Soldier’s prospective for determining priorities and development and come to work every day knowing that I will learn something that will make me a better acquisition officer down the road.

    The most surprising thing to me is the amount of effort and hard work by the whole team to maintain interoperability with all of the platforms in the U.S. military. The OSRVT receives data from manned and unmanned aircraft as well as robots across all services. These systems are continually working to provide better information to the end user but in doing so, communications profiles and specifications change making this a complex and challenging process. In order for the OSRVT to maintain communications with all systems, it is vital that interoperability profiles are current and future profiles are considered for future software. The level of effort to do this is far greater than I ever conceived.

    FOTF: Describe the coordination process—how is this attempted across multiple technologies across multiple services?

    “When a Soldier is able to identify combatants, their position, any potential obstacles or changes in an area of operations prior to arrival at a location, it allows for better planning and preparation for operations as well as better resource management.”

    JAGIELSKI: The first step is to maintain interoperability profiles. Common Systems Interrogation works extensively with other branches and industry to ensure that all unmanned aircraft systems are able to communicate with each other as well as not interfere with other battlefield operating systems. They prioritize and control communication spectrums to ensure that the limited spectrum provides maximum coverage.

    FOTF: You mentioned that the battlefield has changed dramatically over the past few years—how does that impact you and your team?

    JAGIELSKI: The first thing we do is prioritize which units will be fielded. We are here to support the warfighter and we make sure that units deploying in support of combat operations are given priority in fielding. Our team also provides forward support to Soldiers, meaning we have teams stationed in theater to provide technical and logistical support. Often, this requires them to travel to forward operating bases to provide that support or to train additional Soldiers on our system. We use these opportunities to learn from the Soldiers as well. The threat on the battlefield continually evolves. Our enemy is innovative and adapts to our tactics, techniques and procedures. Therefore, we are attempting to stay at least one step ahead of them. We take the lessons learned from the battlefield and incorporate them into our new equipment training when we field additional units.

    FOTF: How have your deployments contributed to your job today?

    JAGIELSKI: As an artilleryman it is imperative that I understand how maneuver forces operate and their scheme of maneuver. In the past we have focused on linear operations that emphasized force-on-force action. In my recent deployments [to Iraq in 2003 and 2006], I’ve operated in an asymmetric battlefield. Understanding both of these enabled me to explain how the system would be fought in each environment. The ground Soldiers’ perspective and priorities are vastly different than aviators. I provide the ground Soldiers’ perspective with regard to system upgrade priorities and requirements.

    The OSRTV’s graphical user interface delivers information in live video or map views, and allows users to easily save, export and analyze data, providing unprecedented situational awareness. U.S. Army photo.

    FOTF: What does the OSRVT’s future look like?

    JAGIELSKI: Our next upgrade will allow OSRVT operators to accomplish interoperability level III. This means the Soldier will be able to control the payload of the unmanned aerial system (UAS) while the pilot of the UAS allows supervised access. The aircraft will fly in a Safe Air Volume (SAV), or the volume of airspace in which it is safe to operate an unmanned air vehicle, using a keep-in algorithm. The software determines and directs the UAS to a location to provide the best images from the angle as specified by the OSRVT operator.

    It is the vision of the commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence to have full-motion video down to the squad level. To do this, we must continue to work to reduce the size and weight of our system. The OSRVT team is looking at ways to leverage emerging technologies to decrease the size and weight while providing all of the capabilities of our current system. The system of the future will be smaller, lightweight, and man-packable. The operating system will be intuitive allowing Soldiers to receive feeds from multiple sources with minimal training.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    JAGIELSKI: The Army offered a career that is mentally and physically challenging. I am always looking for ways to push myself to the limits and see what I can accomplish. Throughout my career, the Army has allowed me to grow as a person and as a leader. I have been able to work with some of the greatest hardworking and dedicated people and together we have been able to impact people and create positive change all over the world.

    For more information, visit PEO Aviation.

    Related articles:
    http://www.ausa.org/publications/armymagazine/archive/2013/02/Documents/SoldierArmed_0213.pdf

    http://www.army.mil/article/67838

    http://www.aaicorp.com/products/uas/isr_osrvt

     


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

    Read more »
  • Shadows provide mission support from the sky

    Specialist Justin Waltho with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, pushes an RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System to a mechanical station to conduct post-flight checks Sept. 12, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan. The aircraft, which is used for aerial reconnaissance and mission communications, must go through a detailed preventative maintenance daily after every mission. (Photos by Spc. Joshua Edwards, Combined Task Force Dragoon Public Affairs)

    By Spc. Joshua Edwards

     
    FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — On a narrow stretch of road fashioned into a runway at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, launch unmanned aircrafts to safely maintain a view of the battlefield from the sky.

    The Soldiers run 24-hour-a-day operations out of the airfield in order to keep situational awareness at all times in support of friendly forces who could be conducting missions anywhere in the area of operations.

    The RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System allows the troops to maintain communications during operations and follows movements through video feed and infrared technology. The team provides intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for the task force’s 1st, 3rd, and 4th Squadrons.

    The shadow system’s maintenance, technical inspections and maintenance quality control are the responsibilities of one person. This person is in charge of handling tasks including pushing the aircraft to the launcher and loading it, conducting pre-flight checks to ensure flight services are in order and aircraft components work correctly, pressurizing the launcher, launching and landing of the aircraft, conducting post-flight inspections to ensure the aircraft has sustained no damage while in flight, making sure the engine is in good working order and changing the fluids.

    Specialist Joseph Anderson (right) and Spc. Nicolas Redondo, both with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, conduct pre-flight checks before launching an RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System Sept. 12, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan. The Soldiers use the aircraft for aerial reconnaissance and mission communications.

    The shadow aircraft is flown every hour and all maintenance performed is logged into a data system that can be tracked in the future.

    Sergeant First Class Brock Niehaus from Smithville, Mo., and platoon sergeant for the team, is responsible for handling administrative data for the platoon, flight schedules, ensuring shifts run properly and acts as a liaison between the platoon and civilians working with them. He assists in the maintenance and launching of the aircraft and implements safety standards.

    Through the use of the aircraft, the team provides support to Soldiers on the ground with a number of resources that continuously give U.S. and coalition forces the edge on today’s modern battlefield.

    “We provide (intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance) coverage for convoys, route surveillance, (points of interest) reconnaissance; provide over-watch for the engineers during route clearance and general surveillance of the area,” said Niehaus. “(The platoon) is consistently performing at a very high standard.”

    Visit Program Executive Office Aviation for more information on unmanned aerial vehicles.
     
     


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  • Mobile Tower System delivers life saving upgrades

    By Sofia Bledsoe

     

    When Soldiers and aircraft deploy in any part of the world, air traffic control operations become one of the most important functions to ensure that all aircraft supporting military operations maintain safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.

    The Mobile Tower System, or MOTS, provides the effective and reliable solution that can be deployed anywhere in the world, in any weather condition and will support both military and civilian air operations. MOTS will also network with other air control and battle-management systems, and complies with Federal Aviation Administration/International Civilian Aviation Organization regulations.

    The Air Traffic Control Product Office, under the Project Office for Aviation Systems, manages the MOTS, and is led by Lt. Col. Michael Rutkowski, Product Manager for ATC. Together with his team, Rutkowski developed a phased strategy to divest and replace the original system, the AN/TSW-7A, which was built in the late 1960s. Just like an old computer system, “It was simply outdated and virtually unsustainable,” said Rutkowski. Everything associated with refurbishing the 7A became very costly, even with its basic maintenance. “Plus all the manufacturers that built the original system are no longer in business,” he added.

    So the Army initiated a requirement for a mobile air traffic control system in 1999. The program passed a Milestone C decision in January 2012, which gave Rutkowski and his team approval to proceed with a Low Rate Initial Production for the first 10 of a 39 system requirement.

    In fall of 2011, a trip to visit the 3rd Infantry Division in Savannah, Georgia, led to important changes and leaps with the program. Rutkowski spoke with the 3rd Infantry Division’s General Support Aviation Battalion Commander and discussed the state of their 7A.

    “The system was having problems, and they couldn’t get parts for it,” said Rutkowski. Using out-of-the-box thinking and knowing he had capable air traffic control tower systems with two Engineering Development Models, Rutkowski felt he could provide an operational system to support their upcoming deployment. He offered the idea of fielding MOTS early so that the unit could take it into theater. “The commander not only loved the idea but saw it was a perfect opportunity to see how it handles in an operational environment.”

    To Rutkowski and his team, it was a rare opportunity in Army acquisition to gain an operational assessment straight from the users 20 months ahead of First Unit Equipped (FUE), which will be the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. FUE is scheduled to take place in November 2013.

    “I thought it would help tremendously in creating one production-like standard from taking both EDMs into theater for one complete system,” said Rutkowski. “It helps in flushing out the manuals and spare parts required using the best metric of all — our own Army Aviation Air Traffic Controllers and Maintainers, and it also provides us the confidence that our system is combat certified before production begins.”

    A few months before 3ID’s deployment in 2012, Rutkowski conducted an after action review with Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who had recently returned from deployment and were using the old 7A tower system.

    What the PM ATC team discovered was that when they traveled to Afghanistan in late 2011 to visit the 101st, the unit took a direct hit on their 7A, which destroyed their electrical power unit and rendered the 7A system combat ineffective.

    “It destroyed all the glass in it,” said Rutkowski, “and there was a huge hole on the left hand side due to the attack.” The 7A was classified as ‘battle damaged’ and was not reparable, an occurrence that contributes not only to the shortage of mobile air tower systems but also the need to build newer and better ones.

    The ATC Tower is a valued target for enemy combatants due to the antennas that are placed all around it. The lessons learned from the AAR with the 101st, the PM ATC team applied to the MOTS tower that deployed with the 3ID.

    In addition to the up-armored carrier, PM ATC rapidly up-armored the tower which doesn’t exist in any tower today, in addition to integrating significantly improved capabilities with the system. 3ID deployed with the system in December 2012 and continues to provide valuable feedback to the PM office.

    “The tower has performed well above standard in theater,” said Capt. Evelyn Valesquez, ATC company commander who deployed with the 3ID in 2012. “It’s maintaining an operational readiness rate of above 99%.”

    “The MOTS has provided our Soldiers with a sense of security from the added armor and ballistic windows, along with the additional upgrades, making it easier for maneuver and communication,” Velasquez added.

    The primary difference between the old and new tower is its updated technology, said Velasquez. The system’s digital features make it a ‘user-friendly’ system. “The four different operating positions are capable of monitoring up to 11 different radio frequencies and multiple landline communications,” said Velasquez.

    Among the tower’s other modernized key features are its secure and non-secure digital voice recording system, automated weather information from the Meteorological Measuring System, Environmental Control Units that are attached to the shelter aiding in the systems movement and transportation, which also decreases the number of personnel required for transportation.

    Eddie Spivey, the TRADOC Capability Manager for the MOTS, said that he is very pleased with the system and looks forward to completing the fielding to all the units as planned. “The MOTS has an interface to control pre-existing airfield lighting and although not deployed, comes with an airfield lighting system beginning in second quarter of FY14 when that capability is fielded.” Additionally, an ATC simulator will come with the MOTS that will allow Soldiers to hone and maintain their skills or conduct training when live air traffic is not present.

    Rutkowski and his team also added a few more features such as a ladder to the tower and an M4 gun mount. “We were able to really partner with the unit and get down to exactly what the unit needed. And, we began to receive instant and direct feedback from the users, good, bad or indifferent,” said Rutkowski.

    So what’s next for the team? “Our goal has always been: How do we influence the production line to ensure we capture the lessons learned from Afghanistan and what 3ID has done for the past year with this system, and how do we make positive changes into the current tower,” said Rutkowski.

    The biggest challenge: the PM office can’t field it fast enough.

    “Our greatest hurdle is the number of units out there that have seen MOTS or heard about it,” said Rutkowski. “I’ve received so many questions from unit commanders asking us, ‘When can I have it? What do I need to do to have it faster?’”

    “It’s been a good ‘problem’ to have, and we’re working hard on getting the units’ what they need.”

    The first complete MOTS rolled off the production line in March 2013 from Sierra Nevada Corporation who won the competitive selection for the first 10 LRIP production systems. Additional systems will be fielded beginning this summer. The Army will compete the remaining systems in a competitive source selection that will help to drive the cost further down.


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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Top-Notch staff fuels success for Apache program

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    HAGER: I am the project manager for the Apache, the world’s premier attack helicopter. I’m responsible for the development, production, fielding and sustainment of the entire aircraft system, for the existing aircraft as well as the new platform. We currently have 791 Apaches in our fleet. The Soldiers who fly and maintain these helicopters are constantly in harm’s way, and our work is important because it provides them with the safest and most reliable combat operation platform.

    I’ve been in this position for six months, but I’ve been in this field for awhile. Previously, I was director of modifications for the Utility Helicopters PMO here at Redstone Arsenal, and I was the product director for Foreign Military Sales for the Program Executive Officer Aviation (PEO Aviation). I also worked as the Apache Block III product manager, where I was involved in designing the upgraded Apache (AH-64E) that we’re now fielding.

    FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face?

    HAGER: The combat units that fly the Apache have a very high operational tempo, which translates into a lot of wear and tear on the aircraft and a lot of repairs and maintenance. Additionally, there are a lot of units who are training to fly this aircraft, and they too put a lot of hours on the plane. For us, the challenge is making sure that we have the components and knowledge to keep the aircraft operational to ensure mission success.

    FOTF: How do you overcome that challenge?

    HAGER: We overcome this particular challenge with our exceptional project office personnel or “staff”. The amount of knowledge that our personnel possess is impressive, and their work ethic and their technical expertise keep this office running. I know that for any challenge that comes up — a business issue, a logistics matter, any developmental concerns, a contracting question — we have the people on staff who can handle it.

    We have top-notch logistics and sustainment personnel who provide in-depth knowledge of the aircraft, as well as fleet management personnel who can get equipment and planes to where they need to be. I can count on them to bring to my attention to the big issues, and they keep me apprised of what’s going on. It’s an honor to work with them as we keep the program running.

    In addition to serving as Project Manager for the Apache Attack Helicopter PMO, Col. Hager also served as the Apache Block III product manager, designing the upgraded Apache (AH-64E) that’s shown here and currently being fielded.

    FOTF: How does the new Apache differ from previous models?

    HAGER: It’s the first Apache in 30 years to feature a new main transmission, and its engine has incredibly greater horsepower than in the past. It also features composite main rotor blades, and the end result of all those changes is an aircraft that can carry more weight at higher altitudes and operate in higher temperatures. It also includes a new onboard mission processor (computer) system designed with open source architecture, making it easier to add new hardware and software components.

    FOTF: What challenges do you encounter with fielding the new Apache?

    HAGER: The new Apache has 251 new, unique components not found in previous versions of the aircraft. So the biggest challenge is making sure that the components are available and we have the capabilities and equipment to properly sustain that aircraft.

    We overcome this by using contractor logistics support, which means we provide a portion of the required parts to contractors who maintain the aircraft, and we have a good relationship with the Boeing production facility in Mesa, Ariz., to make sure the supply line flows smoothly. We’ll get an even stronger handle on that challenge in October 2014, when we’ll switch to a performance-based logistics operation that will give us a formalized standard operating system for sustaining the aircraft.

    Here too, personnel play a key part. A large portion of our staff is comprised of former military people, and their experience is invaluable. And I know my staff has the expertise to figure out how to fix the new components and obtain replacement parts, all while keeping in mind Better Buying Power initiatives that will ensure that the units get what they need at a cost that’s affordable.

    FOTF: What do you do when you’re not at work? How do your hobbies dovetail with your work?

    HAGER: I love to run, particularly long distances: ultramarathons, or any race longer than 26.2 miles. My favorite distances are the 40- or 50-milers and the 50-Ks. My wife thinks I’m crazy. I’m also a member of a local Harley-Davidson riding club. Running or riding with people I work with provides another way to build relationships and it’s a good way to get work done. The change in scene often leads to discovering different perspectives on a tough issue.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    HAGER: I joined the Army to initially leave the very small hometown I grew up in and to get an education. I was interested in airborne operations and the teamwork the Army builds when grouping individuals together from all over the United States. My greatest satisfaction is the feeling of being a part of something big. Everyone has a place and a mission, and it’s rewarding to make a change in today’s world.

    For more information, visit https://www.peoavn.army.mil/SitePages/Apache.aspx


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Linking unlikely allies for mission success

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    VERGEZ: I am the first Project Manager (PM) for the NSRWA PMO, which was established three years ago. We field, sustain, and support rotary wing aircraft used by the U.S. military that are not in DOD’s inventory. That includes more than 300 helicopters, including the Russian Mi-17 and the MD530F, used in DOD operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and 38 other countries.

    FOTF Editor’s Note: The NSWRA PMO was established by the Under Secretary of Defense (USD) Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ALT) to consolidate all nonstandard rotary wing aircraft under a single program. Among the office’s responsibilities were to address immediate and long-term safety and sustainment issues for the Mi-17, a Russian-made plan flown by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Col. Vergez recently stepped down from this position, and Mr. Kelvin Nunn, his deputy, is now the acting PM.

    FOTF: What were some of the challenges you faced?

    VERGEZ: One of our first priorities was to establish a direct relationship with Russian equipment manufacturers, and to develop and maintain a standard of support for all Mi-17 operations involving U.S. and coalition forces. As we draw down our troops in Afghanistan, leaving behind a well-supported Air Force is a key part of Afghan security, and the Mi-17 will play a big role in that. The warfighters who fly these aircraft need to know that they’re governed by the same set of safety and airworthiness guidelines that govern our standard aircraft.

    In the past, nonstandard rotary wing helicopters were acquired through third-party brokers. That meant dealing with a lot of different entities and numerous pass-throughs that affected cost, quality, and procurement cycle times. Once our PMO was established, we worked directly with the suppliers, and applied the principles for acquiring standard aircraft to the nonstandard fleet. It represented a pretty significant paradigm shift for all of us. But we’re now seeing it pay considerable dividends: We’re no longer paying across multiple layers of suppliers, so our costs have decreased, and by working directly with the manufacturer, we know that the aircraft meets our safety and airworthiness guidelines.

    FOTF: What has surprised you the most? What have you found most rewarding?

    VERGEZ: By far the most rewarding aspect of my work is the strides we’ve made in working with the Russian federation. The relationship is mutually beneficial: we want to ensure that our coalition partners have safe, well-maintained aircraft, and Afghanistan represents a solid market opportunity for Russian aircraft manufacturers. What we shared was a mutual desire to do what was right for our warfighters.

    Throughout the process, what surprised me the most was how similar Russian officials are to us. When I joined the Army, the Cold War mentality was very much alive. But in working with them on this project, I’ve come to see that they have the same pride in their nation and desire to serve their country that we do.

    FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    VERGEZ: My greatest satisfaction is being part of something bigger than myself. I understand that the program we put in place for acquiring nonstandard aircraft will be used to address acquisition and safety problems related to ammunition in Afghanistan. Knowing we’ve left behind that legacy is very rewarding. I’m proud of the work that we did to build this partnership and leave an enduring capability for future generations of Soldiers.

    On a personal level, I’ve been an aviator for 25 years. I love to fly, and like all pilots, I have a passion for safety. So, knowing that our work will ensure the safety of other pilots is also very gratifying.

    For more information, visit https://www.peoavn.army.mil/SitePages/Home2.aspx.

     


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Connecting the dots for aviation mission success

     

    By Susan L. Follett

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

    BECK: I help facilitate all aspects of integrated logistics support (ILS) for the program managers (PMs) and their respective systems and products. Our PMs manage manned and unmanned aviation weapon systems (UAS) and all the enablers that make aviation viable on the battlefield, including air traffic control, aviation ground support, and aircraft maintenance.

    ILS is a process for planning, developing, acquiring, and sustaining well-defined, affordable strategies that meet a Soldier’s requirements for Army materiel throughout its life cycle. Our PMs use ILS as part of the systems engineering process to lower life cycle cost and decrease the logistics footprint, making a system easier to support.

    FOTF: Why is your job important?

    BECK: Our mission is important because we are involved with the total life cycle systems management (TLCSM) of everything fielded and sustained in the aviation community. To give you an idea of the scope of operations, our fleet includes 16 different rotary wing platforms, 29 types of fixed-wing aircraft, and five UAS — more than 4,000 aviation platforms fielded to Army units.

    TLCSM establishes a single point of accountability and oversight — in this case, the PM — for cradle to grave weapon system acquisition and sustainment. We think of our work as connecting the dots to get the right people together when PMs have concerns they’re trying to address.

    For example, we have a great deal of experience in helping PMs translate requirements into program milestones, or refining budget requests. We also have a lot of contact with subject matter experts who have combat experience and we facilitate conversations so that their hands-on experiences in the field can help PMs resolve any issues they’re facing with their systems.

    FOTF: What has your work experience been like?

    BECK: I’ve been on the job for two years now, and have done a lot of work on an assessment of the impact of the post-9/11 environment on our aviation fleets. We’ve been able to quantify the accelerated or activity-based age of all the deployed fleets by comparing the pre- and post-9/11 operational tempo and damage levels.

    That information can be used by those who develop investment strategies and funding allocations to shed light on how potential cuts could impact aviation fleets. We’ve been able to help reduce the level of some budget cuts by showing the condition of the current fleet and how those conditions might change over time with investments in modernization and sustainment.

    FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?

    BECK: I served with the Military Police Corps and the Aviation Branch. I joined the Army to try and make a difference. My greatest satisfaction is knowing that the mission we perform here at PEO Aviation is helping units in combat by ensuring that they have the best equipment and support possible.

    For more information, visit https://www.peoavn.army.mil/SitePages/Home2.aspx.

     


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • Ground Based Sense and Avoid Demonstration Is a Success

    In one vignette of the GBSAA demonstration June 20 at Dugway Proving Ground, UT, two Shadow UAS were flown toward one another. One was participating as a noncooperative aircraft and unaware of the traffic situation, while the other Shadow used the GBSAA system to recommend maneuvers to separate safely. Here, VIPs watch as a Shadow UAS receives course correction information from GBSAA. (Photo by Ryan Sims, Media Fusion)

    Mary Ottman

    The Army’s Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Product Directorate, one of eight offices within the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office of Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, has conducted a successful demonstration of current Ground Based Sense and Avoid (GBSAA) capabilities at Dugway Proving Ground, UT. The June 20 demonstration was successful beyond expectations, clearing a major hurdle for testing the capability before the certification process begins. The Army will begin fielding these systems to Gray Eagle UAS training sites in early 2014.

    In every case, the GBSAA system exceeded expectations. The system proved to be capable of providing safe separation and collision avoidance to all aircraft in every vignette. Although some technology growth and improvements remain, this demonstration provided many lessons learned that can lead to advancing GBSAA technologies.

    In 2008, the Army, designated as the lead service by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense UAS Task Force, began developing technology to allow for UAS access to the National Airspace System (NAS). The GBSAA system uses ground-based sensors (existing air traffic control and supplemental, 3-D radar) and associated technology to fuse, classify, and track air traffic for maneuver algorithms that calculate and evaluate threats, before providing the information needed to safely separate the UAS from other traffic. Many years of research and technology development have been dedicated to developing a system that provides the much-needed operational capability and has the pedigree associated with safety-critical hardware and software.

    The Army first demonstrated a system in 2011 at El Mirage, CA. Development efforts were then moved to restricted airspace in Utah, which allowed a shift in focus to developing a more operationally capable system. The June 20 demonstration followed two weeks of intense testing on the system and subsystems. Specific objectives included:
    • Demonstrate technology out of the laboratory in actual flight operations.
    • Demonstrate the functionality and adaptability of the GBSAA system by conducting operations targeting multiple service sites.
    • Highlight open-architecture, plug-and-play functionality of the GBSAA system.
    • Demonstrate the ability to fuse data from 3-D and air traffic control radar (Airport Surveillance Radar-9) in real time.
    • Early validation of common (cross-service) GBSAA requirements.

    Seven vignettes were used to achieve the objectives. Three used live flights with unmanned systems, and four included synthetic aircraft and terrain. Sister service locations and flights against live traffic in Salt Lake City, UT, and recorded traffic from Boston, MA, were used to demonstrate the capability of the system. To show the versatility of GBSAA, two different types of radar were fused, and three different UAS—Sky Warrior-A, Hunter, and Shadow—were used for the live flights. In the third vignette, two Shadow UAS were flown toward one another. One was participating as a noncooperative aircraft and unaware of the traffic situation, while the other Shadow used the GBSAA system to recommend maneuvers to separate safely.

    One of two radars used at Dugway Proving Ground’s test bed. The GBSAA system uses ground-based sensors (existing air traffic control and supplemental, 3-D radar) and associated technology to fuse, classify, and track air traffic for maneuver algorithms that calculate and evaluate threats, (U.S. Army photo by Sofia Bledsoe)

    In every case, the GBSAA system exceeded expectations. The system proved to be capable of providing safe separation and collision avoidance to all aircraft in every vignette. Although some technology growth and improvements remain, this demonstration provided many lessons learned that can lead to advancing GBSAA technologies.

    For instance, the tests enlightened users to possible human factors that will be considered when designing the GBSAA display. An example: A mathematically correct maneuver from the algorithm advises the most efficient and safe maneuver, but in some cases this may seem to contradict the mitigating actions an operator might take. In those cases, additional research will be done to explore how the algorithm can be tuned to take into account common convention without affecting the safety of the system.

    The results of the GBSAA demonstration have significant implications for opening the NAS to UAS. Large numbers of unmanned aircraft are returning from overseas contingency operational support and need to continue operating and training to maintain proficiency. First responders, DoD, the U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are providing critical support to the Nation at home by using unmanned systems. This system will complement those missions while ensuring that the airspace remains safe for other users.

    Several years of research and development have culminated in a successful demonstration of GBSAA capabilities, leaving observers and developers excited about the way ahead. The system certification effort is underway and on track to be operational at Fort Hood, TX, in early 2014, with continued fielding to the next Gray Eagle locations. It’s an ambitious goal, but an achievable one in the hands of an ambitious GBSAA Team.

     


    • MARY OTTMAN is Deputy Product Manager of the Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Concepts Product Office in PEO Aviation’s UAS Program Management Office. She holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, an M.B.A. from Auburn University, and an M.A. in management and leadership from Webster University. She is also a graduate of the Senior Service College Fellowship program. Ottman is Level III certified in systems planning, research, development, and engineering (SPRDE) – systems engineering I, Level II certified in SPRDE – program systems engineering, and Level II certified in program management tools.

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  • Army Retires Last ‘A’ Model Apache Helicopter

    COL Shane Openshaw (right), Project Manager for Apache Attack Helicopters, accepts the logbook and keys of Apache aircraft 451 from LTC Derrek Hryhorchuk, 1/149 ARB Commander, during the July 15 ceremony in Houston commemorating the retirement of the last A model. (Photos by Sofia Bledsoe, Program Executive Office Aviation Public Affairs)

    Sofia Bledsoe

    It was a proud, historic, and emotional moment for the Army—especially for the Soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack/Reconnaissance) (1/149 ARB).

    The last AH-64A Apache helicopter, Aircraft 451, was retired from the Army and handed over to the Project Office for Apache Helicopters during a ceremony July 15 at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, TX. The event was hosted by the Texas Army National Guard’s 1/149 ARB, the 36th Infantry Division unit that had the last A-model Apache in its fleet.

    The aircraft was flown to San Angelo, TX, by CW5 Jim Sandberg, 1/149 ARB Standardization Pilot, and CW2 Adrian Domonoski, Maintenance Test Officer. There, it is being disassembled, to be taken to the Boeing facility in Mesa, AZ, and reconfigured into the next generation AH-64D Apache Longbow.

    “As the Project Manager for the Apache attack helicopter, I’m really proud to take custody of the 451,” said COL Shane Openshaw. “In about a year from now, you’ll see 451 come out of the production line as the latest and last AH-64D.”

    Aircraft 451 has a long and proud history with the 1/149 ARB, which was nominated recently for the Valorous Unit Award. Four of its aviators were recognized with the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroism and extraordinary achievements in Ramadi, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Aircraft 451 took heavy ballistic damage, but the aircraft, crew, and the Soldiers they protected always came home safely.

    “It’s like losing an old friend,” said CPT Stacy James Rostorfer, Bravo Company Commander. “That aircraft has saved my life; it has saved many lives. It’s armored in all the right places, so you can go in, protect others, and protect yourself. We always brought everybody home.” Rostorfer, a longtime fan of the Apache, recalled playing with Apache models when he was 10 years old. “They’re still in the basement of my parents’ house. I’ll never part with it.”

    During the ceremony, LTC Derrek Hryhorchuk, 1/149 ARB Commander, recounted the unit’s heroism, remembering that Aircraft 451 kept them safe and alive. “We’re going to make sure that aircraft goes out in style,” he said. Hryhorchuk had flown the Apache’s predecessor, the AH-1 Cobra, and noted that things needing improvement in the Cobra were improved in the A-model Apache. “I’m looking forward to the capabilities that needed to be improved in the A model that are now in the D-model Longbow.”

    CW5 Jim Sandberg, 1/149 ARB Standardization Pilot, who flew the very first
    A-model Apache, holds a photo of himself
    as a young pilot. Sandberg is obtaining his
    certification as an instructor pilot for the
    AH-64D Apache Longbow.

    MG William “Tim” Crosby, Program Executive Officer Aviation, said during his ceremonial remarks that “these types of ceremonies, and in the company of Soldiers, are the constant reminders of why we do what we do, and why we strive to do it better every day. To all the Soldiers, God bless you.”

    Although the spotlight was on the aircraft, Crosby said, “I’m not here to talk about the aircraft. I’m here to talk about you—you, the Soldiers of the Texas National Guard, who have stood up and said, ‘I want to make a difference, I want to give back to my country.’ ” And it’s your pride, your courage, your passion that make that aircraft special. Because aircraft don’t fly—aviators fly. And they fly because of the mechanics and the crew chiefs who make them ready to fly.”

    “It’s like losing an old friend. That aircraft has saved my life; it has saved many lives. It’s armored in all the right places, so you can go in, protect others, and protect yourself. We always brought everybody home.”

    MG James K. “Red” Brown, Commanding General of the 36th Infantry Division, echoed Crosby’s remarks. “Never in the history of the United States has there been a better integration between the active component and the reserve component,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what uniform you put on. You add concrete to the foundation that this Nation was built upon—our volunteer Soldiers. Apaches give us the capability to prevent those who wish to harm us, and enable us to protect the values and freedoms that make this country great.”

    Remarking on the “end of an era,” David Koopersmith, Vice President of Boeing’s Attack Helicopter Programs, said, “It’s the Soldiers that inspire the Apache team. We’re fortunate to have the honor of providing Apache helicopters to help ensure that no fight is ever a fair fight.”

    Based on combat reports, the 1/149 ARB was responsible for 26 enemy killed in action and two enemy wounded in action in Ramadi. During one mission while providing a local area orientation of Ramadi at night with the 2/159 ARB, the 1/149 was called to support. Due to “danger close” proximity with friendly units in the area, one of the 1/149 aircrews slowed to 30 knots airspeed to engage the enemy position. The aircraft received battle damage, but the crew was able to hit the tractor-trailers, resulting in a massive explosion. The aircrew was awarded the Air Medal with “V” Device for Valor.

    Later in the firefight, a Soldier from 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment was seriously wounded, and traditional MEDEVAC assets were not able to respond. The 1/149 ARB aircrew in Apache 451 decided to extract this wounded Soldier. They landed, and the wounded Soldier was placed in the front seat; the co-pilot gunner attached himself to the aircraft by the wing and fuselage holds. The wounded Soldier was quickly treated and received the advanced care he needed. In the end, he recovered fully from his wounds. For this action, the crew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    “After you get through a couple of weeks in combat, you strap yourself into an Apache, you feel a sense of invincibility,” said COL Richard Adams, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade Commander. “There are a lot of sons and daughters in America who are alive because of that aircraft.”

    Because situational awareness is always key in combat, “the ground guys always requested us,” said Adams. “When Apache flies, nobody dies. I’m very privileged to lead these bunch of guys.”

     


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