AMRDEC 2016 year in review: a year of strategic initiatives
The U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center is the Army’s focal point for providing research, development and engineering technology and services for aviation and missile platforms across the lifecycle. AMRDEC has a long history of providing unparalleled service to its aviation and missile customers, and this year was no exception.
For aviation advancement, AMRDEC’s Aviation Development Directorate led the NATO Flight Trials for the Degraded Visual Environment Mitigation Program Sept. 15 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz. This program is designed to increase the capability and safety of the aviation fleet. The dust and brownout testing was the first time the program integrated cueing, sensor and flight control solution in a relevant operational environment.
On the missile front, AMRDEC successfully launched three modular open systems architecture test missiles Sept. 21 at Redstone Test Center. The System Simulation and Development Directorate designed and developed the test missiles under the Modular Missile Technologies Project. The tests proved the performance of the low-cost composite rocket motor case and the ability of the missile guidance electronics to function during flight. MMT’s highly adaptable modular open systems architecture allows the missile system to evolve faster than the threat can change.
-Operationalize Readiness at the Point of Need-
AMRDEC’s Aviation Engineering Directorate conducted testing to ensure carry-on medical devices on 600 UH-60 Medical Evacuation Black Hawk helicopters met or exceed Army airworthiness requirements.
More than 75 PMI devices have been authorized for use on the UH-60 fleet through AED’s airworthiness efforts. Emerging medical technological advancements will be required to meet the same stringent requirements. Overseeing that all devices meet evaluation criteria increases air craft’s and air crew’s safety.
To develop the Army’s new Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer, Utility Helicopter Project Office used AMRDEC’s SSDD’s capabilities, resources and expertise to reduce costs, create efficiencies and streamline schedules. The BAT is a highly immersive home-station flight training device for the UH-60M aircraft. In less than three years, the team designed and assembled the first prototype BAT device ready for government accreditation and acceptance.
-Support to Allies-
In 2016, AMRDEC strengthened partnerships with allies, supported customers and collaborated with other government agencies to provide advancements for the DOD enterprise as a whole. Two major advancements this year involved providing support to allies through Foreign Military Sales cases.
AMRDEC’s Quality Assurance team inspected AH-64 Apache helicopters provided to the Republic of South Korea through the FMS program. When an international customer purchases something from the U.S. government, quality assurance plays an important role in ensuring the equipment or service provided meets exceptional standards. The Quality Assurance teams inspected the aircraft for serviceability and to ensure the weapons system is operational prior to sending it to the FMS customer. The sale of these helicopters demonstrates the confidence that the South Korean government has in the quality of these aircraft systems.
AMRDEC was also leveraged the Aviation Engineering Directorate’s expertise and airworthiness processes when the directorate accepted a role as the Independent Technical Evaluator for the United Kingdom. The U.K. purchased 50 Apache AH-64E aircraft through a new FMS case signed in June 2016, with first delivery scheduled for 2020.
An important consideration for the program was technical data, which will include a combination of both USG data and U.K. unique data. This effort will allow the U.K. to take advantage of a large amount of cost savings and benefit from AED’s technical knowledge of the Apache. While the initial FMS case funded by the U.K. includes nine years of support from AED as the ITE, the certification approach will involve AED providing recommendations as the ITE through the life of the aircraft.
-Future Force Requirements-
As in years past, AMRDEC continued to prepare the Warfighter for the future fight through advancements in technologies and program successes throughout 2016.
The Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine program is a 3,000-horsepower engine demonstrator program that provides advanced propulsion capability for future Army rotorcraft platforms. AATE focuses on developing a new, advanced turboshaft engine, which will support modernization requirements and ensure the Apache and Black Hawk remain operationally effective well into the future.
AMRDEC’s ADD led the engineering oversight and contract monitoring functions for the design, fabrication and testing of the AATE technologies. The engine provides 50 percent more power at the same weight as the current fielded engine. Significant effort was expended to ensure robust operation in austere environments, including the use of advanced inlet particle separation technologies, erosion resistant coatings and ruggedized blading.
Optical metrology was also an important, emergent technology for AMRDEC in 2016. The Weapons Development and Integration Directorate Metrology Team incorporated 3-D scanning systems to rapidly capture the shapes of objects for reverse engineering and quality control. If a Soldier in theater needs a part that is no longer manufactured, the Metrology Team can make a 3-D scan of the part, reverse engineer a computer aided design package, manufacture the part and deliver it to the men and women on the ground. Optical metrology can shorten production cycles and lead to greater cost efficiency.
WDI is also working to reduce the operator workload by creating a robust tracker to destroy combatant enemies such as snipers, as well as improvised explosive devices. The Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System — a small, Soldier-launched loitering precision weapons system — not only allows Soldiers on the ground to engage with targets they cannot see, but can potentially be used to counter threat unmanned aircraft systems.
As an innovative workforce, AMRDEC adapts to ever-changing conditions and provides comprehensive solutions to the ultimate customer, the Warfighter, ensuring victory on the battlefield. AMRDEC continues to uphold a reputation for finding creative solutions, rapidly transitioning technologies and providing synergistic expertise to customers and stakeholders.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.