On A Mission

Feature

On a Mission

George Prill reports from the recent U.S. Department of Defense Joint Panel on Aviation Support Equipment meeting

By Michelle Garetson/p>

By George Prill

September 2002

On May 21 to 23, 2002, I had the opportunity to attend the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Panel on Aviation Support Equipment (JPAVSE) Quarterly Meeting at the Crestview Aerospace Corp. near Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The mission of the Panel is to serve as a technical and coordinating body under the Joint Program Opportunities Board and the Joint Aeronautical Commanders Group on activities involving aviation support equipment when a common need exists among the Services. The Panel is actively pursuing new joint opportunities to maximize the selection development and introduction of common support equipment and is especially interested in procurement of equipment that is in commercial use - a program known as Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS).

Going Forward
As Ken Sands, the JPAVSE Chair was unable to attend, Mike Flynn from the Naval Air Systems Command acted as Chair of this meeting, which had good Navy participation. Greg Stanley, who heads the Support Equipment and Vehicles Division at Warner Robins Air Logistic Center, led the Air Force contingent. James Richards and Pete Fast represented the Army; Lt. Bob Evans, the Coast Guard; and Stanley Dillon on behalf of the Defense Supply Center at Columbus, OH.

The agenda featured a tour of Crestview Aerospace, a provider of specialized upgrades and conversions to various military aircraft and is involved in some very interesting technology developments.

Tow Tractor News
Of particular interest to the Ground Support community was the work of the Integrated Product Team (IPT) on Tow Tractors and an update on alternative power production. I took particular note of the work of Brent Inman from Warner Robins on his Service Life Assessment Program (SLAP).

The Tow Tractor IPT is led by Lt. Joe Blank from the Navy and Charlene Earles from the Air Force. The Panel appreciated Giliberti, Harlan, Stewart & Stevenson TUG, and Lektro bringing equipment for inspection and demonstration and for making presentations about state-of-the-art technology. The IPT posted a Request for Information (RFI) on the Federal Business Opportunities web site www.fedbizops.gov, as well as on a Web-based GSE clearinghouse, and in an email blast to try to reach as many potential suppliers as possible.

The tractor procurements will be led by different Services depending on their needs for both quantity and delivery and will probably be divided into three, size categories. The one announced on the website is for vehicles with an 80,000-lb. towing capacity. Still wide open is selection of the power source. The RFI lists three possibilities:

  1. Diesel engine with automatic transmission
  2. Hybrid diesel electric
  3. Totally electric

Although they would be a major departure from past practice, towbarless tractors are being considered.

The IPT members are looking forward to the GSE Expo in October as an opportunity to meet with and question potential suppliers. As the Panel envisages a buy of up to 1,650 units over a six-year period, these joint procurements will be a major piece of business for the GSE industry.

Advanced Power Sources
Greg Stanley covered the Air Force's Advanced Power Initiative. He emphasized the Air Force's commitment to this effort and the mission of Carl Perrazola's Advanced Power Technology Office, which is to identify, assess, integrate and transition advanced power sources into Air Force support equipment, vehicles, and bare base acquisitions. The Panel had the opportunity to receive presentations from AeroVironment, Intellimotive, Plug Power, General Dynamics, and CTC — companies that are actively involved in development and use of fuel cell technology.

President Bush announced on February 25, 2002 that "We happen to believe that fuel cells are the way of the future; that fuel cells offer incredible opportunity." He noted that there are a lot of obstacles to making fuel cells economically viable and that is the reason that the government would be promoting more research and development. This leadership from the President provides the best incentive for the Air Force to press ahead with the Common Core Power Production (C2P2) work of both the Expeditionary Force Battlelab at Mountain Home Air Force Base and Greg Stanley's organization at Warner Robins. The effort to move to hydrogen fuel is a reality that the GSE community should recognize.

New Business
Brent Inman, who heads the Warner Robins Munitions Handling Equipment Section, is following the procurement of a new Universal Munitions Trailer, which is being designed to replace both of the two types of trailers now in service. The Air Armament Center (AAC) at Eglin AFB is managing this Air Force buy. It has been of particular interest to some of the GSE OEM's because it called for a maximum of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS). While there are some major differences between a trailer designed to carry the inventory of Air Force weapons, which includes nuclear munitions - and one designed to carry containers or baggage — the GSE community has been given a chance to respond. Award of the contract, which will probably result in a follow-on acquisition by the Navy, is due in September.

Inman, who will inherit the Munitions Trailer when the Logistics Center takes it over from the AAC, will be working it into his Service Life Assessment Program (SLAP). This program is designed to make better use of the Air Force assets by balancing maintenance, refurbishment, and upgrading costs against acquisition of new equipment. With careful assessment of service life, Inman believes that the military can do a better job of forecasting and budgeting for new equipment. Obviously, SLAP has application beyond munitions handling. The GSE community should take note.

Next Meeting
A meeting will be held at the GSE International Expo at the Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1 - 3. Cygnus Expositions is pleased to be able to provide the facilities for the meeting of the Panel and the breakout IPTs. Expo has always been designed to facilitate the free flow of ideas and information between equipment users and providers. The 2001 EXPO had record attendance by the military customers and it is expected that this will be true again in 2002.

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