The Program Executive Office for Simulations, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) has been around since 1950. Currently, there are over 335,000 training devices available to Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines worldwide providing more than 90% training availability of fielded systems. The PEO STRI mission is simple, providing the warfighter with the most relevant and realistic training while optimizing human performance. Training is so important that when one system is compromised it could impact mission success. The U.S. Army is working with industry through the CTMA Program to quickly replace an antenna mount on the Chinook 47 helicopter that simulates several battle scenarios.
The Aviation Tactical Engagement Simulation System (AV TESS) is an advanced training system used on the Chinook (CH-47) aircraft to support force-on-force and force-on-target live training at the Command Training Center’s aviation home stations and ranges. AV TESS consists of components provisioned on the aircraft and components appended to the aircraft that interface with an Instrumentation System (IS). The CH-47 TESS is tracked using a telemetry network, repeaters, and ground station. AV TESS displays live training events in real-time and enables trainers to capture live training exercises for after-action review. AV TESS simulates Chinook situational awareness, location, and the ability to be acquired by weaponry to be shot and/or shot down during a weapons engagement. This is achieved using a blend of virtual, constructive, and gaming products.
“Our primary mission is Engineering support for the Army Aviation Maintenance Community; having the depth and breadth of capability and resources to support PEO STRI has been very humbling,” says Robert Peter, Cargo Team Lead for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Systems Readiness Directorate. “It has been a tremendous pleasure to be part of this project; bringing TESS capability to the CH-47F.”
The CH-47F is an integral part of the Army’s rotary wing fleet, which is larger than all other Services helicopter fleets combined. With that many air assets, training Soldiers is critical. But an issue became apparent when the CH-47 cockpit flooring was redesigned. The external antenna mount that housed the antenna on the trainer could no longer be placed where it had been historically. The mount needed to be situated in a different location, due to the addition of COOLS to the CH-47F (COOLS flooring eliminated the antenna cable routing path). A new length of cable and mounting kit needed to be a temporary, easily installed, and then removed for each new training session without any modification to the aircraft.
“To not be allowed to drill a single hole was quite a challenge, but Scott Gray, Elevan LLC dba Elevate Systems, and Mark Anthony Gonzales, Torch Technologies, were up to the task with an outstanding implementation plan,” says Peter. Plus, the mounts for the training CH-47F needed to be universal for continental U.S. training and overseas training sessions.
The Army utilized the CTMA Program through the NCMS consortium as their contracting vehicle for its speed to contract and agility to be flexible within the scope of work. Working with Dana Ellis of NCMS ensured a professional and timely process as the liaison between the Army and Elevate Systems. Choosing Elevate Systems as their industry partner, the Army was pleased at how quickly an external location was identified for the temporary antenna mount satisfying all aspects of the project. The identified and substantiated tie down assembly was a perfect location that would not only be temporary but would facilitate a clear path to the interior of the aircraft where the antenna cable connected to the electronics onboard the helicopter.
The mount and bolt models were designed, 3D modeled, created digitally, and then fabricated utilizing additive manufacturing for prototype testing. With slight modifications, the assets were a perfect match for the desired outcome.
“In under 18 months we were able to execute the contract, design the parts, complete design review, fit check, validate and verify production, perform airworthiness certification process and other required steps to achieve technology transition. That is unparalleled,” says Scott Gray, President of Elevate Systems.
So far Elevate Systems is prepared to deliver 27 antenna mounts with capability to do much more. “The project has gone as smooth as glass,” says Gray. “It’s because of our Chief Engineer Alex Villareal, partners Rob Peter with the Army and Mark Gonzales with Torch Technologies. We’ve encountered zero roadblocks.”
Peter couldn’t have been more pleased with the performance of CTMA, Elevate Systems, and AMCOM Express contracting to bring a much–needed solution for Soldiers by providing access to the training needed to assist Army combat readiness. Also, he could not overlook the tremendous support from Cargo PM Publications, SRD Cargo Airworthiness and the Structures Divisions. This was truly an exceptional team effort across the board!
“I’ve been wowed at the speed and efficiency of the CTMA Program. Now that PEO STRI has the new antenna mount and associated hardware, all TESS related issues impeding combat training are resolved.” says Peter.