Aviation Ground Support Equipment: The Forgotten Enabler

The Army's stock of aviation ground support equipment is aging and falling into disrepair.


SINCE ITS ESTABLISHMENT IN DECEMBER 2003, PM AGSE has taken a number of steps to improve the condition of the Army's aviation ground support equipment. Aviation ground support equipment (AGSE) includes a variety of items needed to support Army aircraft before and after flight. Unfortunately, the Army's stock of this equipment is aging and falling into disrepair. To address this issue, Program Executive Office, Aviation, converted the Weapon Systems Manager Office, AGSE, to a Product Manager Office (PM), AGSE, in December 2003 and charged it with correcting the AGSE problems. With this change, the organization transitioned from providing sustainment to providing total life-cycle management.

PM AGSE's challenges include matching AGSE with capabilities-based unit designs, meeting across-the-board requirements for all aviation assets and reducing the aviation footprint for logistics and maintenance. With finite resources, PM AGSE is looking to create a balance among current requirements, transformation and future needs.

TACKLING THE PROBLEMS

To ensure they have a true picture of the current state of AGSE, the PM and his logistics chief personally have visited every Army aviation maintenance support activity participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Kuwait. In meetings on their home turf, tactical commanders, maintenance officers, maintenance noncommissioned officers and the soldiers using the equipment raised several common issues to the PM?

  • Units do not have dedicated AGSE maintainers.

  • Units want the capability to wash aircraft in tactical situations.

  • Units want a standard towing system for moving aircraft.

  • Units want updated aviation intermediate maintenance (AVIM) and aviation unit maintenance (AVUM)-level shop sets and transports.

PM AGSE is pursuing solutions to the issues of transformation and two-level maintenance requirements that balance the needs identified in the field with available resources. PM AGSE is determined to meet the needs of the soldier, accelerate the fielding of mature technology, enhance readiness and meet designated military objectives. The PM shop is working on several products that are designed to accomplish these goals.

SHOP EQUIPMENT CONTACT MAINTENANCE

Shop equipment contact maintenance (SECM) is a vehicle- mounted maintenance platform with compartments that can hold mission-essential equipment, including expendable supplies, spares, tools and repair parts. The modular design of SECM allows for adding modules. Currently, 65 SECMs have been issued to units for test and evaluation. A full-rate production decision review is scheduled for the third quarter of fiscal year 2005. Procurement should begin during the same time period, with the first unit equipped late in fiscal year 2005.

AVIATION GROUND POWER UNIT

The aviation ground power unit (AGPU) is designed to provide electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic servicing of rotary-wing aircraft. Modifications to the unit include improving the hydraulic filtration, exhaust, battery, forklift slots and power source. Another modification is designed to increase the alternating current continuous output and overload performance of the current power unit in order to meet the ground servicing requirements of the AH?64D Apache Longbow helicopter. This modification introduces improvements to the electrical system, control panel, gas turbine engine exhaust ejector assembly and pneumatic system on the power unit. The AGPU will also undergo a complete turbine engine refurbishment. Procurement of the modified unit began in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2003.

AVIATION TURBINE ENGINE DIAGNOSTICS SYSTEM

The Aviation Turbine Engine Diagnostics System (ATEDS) is software hosted on a portable computer with an electronic interface device that uses artificial intelligence, an export system and an interactive electronic technical manual with detailed instructions for performing required diagnostic testing and electronic troubleshooting. The system provides an effective, accurate and reliable means of performing on-aircraft turbine engine fault analysis in a field environment. It will undergo systems integration through fiscal year 2005 and will be ready for production beginning in the first quarter of fiscal year 2006.

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