A new way to employ the Army's M1A1 full-up power pack (FUPP) saves time and money and helps ensure a combat-ready tank unit.
A goal of a heavy division is to have as much combat power as possible available for immediate deployment. The M1A1 main battle tank, a centerpiece of that power, is always high on the list of what the combat arms commander needs to be ready to fight. Through its work on the M1A1, the forward support battalion's (FSB's) maintenance company is pivotal in keeping M1A1's ready for combat.
One of the most powerful tools the battalion has to influence combat readiness is the judicious, timely use of the M1A1 full-up power pack (FUPP). The mechanics of B Company, 26th FSB, in Germany, believe they have discovered the optimal way to resource the repair and maintenance of FUPP's.
The concept behind the FUPP program is the quick return of an M1A1 tank to the battlefield by having direct support maintenance repair a fault in its engine or transmission. A FUPP consists of an AGT 1500 turbine engine, which contains four modules, and an X1100-3B transmission. The idea is that instead of fixing just the engine or transmission on site, direct maintenance soldiers can simply remove the faulty FUPP and replace it with an operable one. The unserviceable FUPP is then completely repaired by direct support maintenance personnel further to the rear on the battlefield.
B Company, 26th FSB, provides direct support maintenance to the 3d Brigade, 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), which has a total of 116 M1A1 tanks. B Company has a FUPP repair section, recently created "out of hide," to provide that support. The FUPP repair section currently maintains six FUPP's for the brigade. This repair section enhances the readiness of a key component of the brigade's combat power and saves money, too.
Before B Company created its FUPP repair section, there was very little repair of FUPP's in the FSB's. Each armored battalion's direct support maintenance support team would troubleshoot and diagnose faults on either the engine or the transmission. Faults that could not be corrected quickly would normally result in replacing the entire FUPP. The FUPP would then be repaired, but only by replacing one of the engine's modules. Almost all repairs that involved more than the replacement of a module were completed at a higher echelon.
The direct support-plus (DS+) maintenance concept was instituted immediately following Operation Desert Storm. This plan essentially allowed more than 50 of the maintenance tasks previously permitted only at maintenance depots to be performed at the direct support level. However, the concept provided that DS+ tasks would be performed only in the main support battalion (MSB) in the division rear area.
When the 3d Infantry Division's MSB created a 12-week cross-training program, direct support mechanics were brought in from the FSB's to learn how to do DS+ tasks. The 26th saw an opportunity to do some of these tasks in the FSB, rather than only in the MSB. As a result of the 26th FSB's proposal, DS+ has expanded into the FSB's, bringing support forward and closer to the point where the maintenance and repair request originates. But, simple as the plan seems, it is easier said than done.
A FUPP repair section is not authorized in the FSB's modification table of organization and equipment. That didn't stop B Company. The company commander assigned three energetic sergeants, who were graduates of the DS+ training program, to the FUPP repair section and transferred to it an M750 repair parts van and an M931 tractor from the technical supply section and a 5-ton cargo truck from the base maintenance platoon.
They modified the van by mounting an air compressor to run air tools, mounting a 5 kilowatt generator to supply power, and attaching a ground-hop support set to the tongue of the van. Special tools were stored in the van. The company developed a 250-line stock of repair parts needed to repair M1A1 engine modules. The parts are stored inside the van on flex pallets and in storage cabinets.
Even with the van, parts, and tools, mechanics still had to figure out a way to actually work on FUPP's in a muddy, unlevel field environment. The answer came when a unit supply company commander loaned B Company a 25-ton lowboy trailer. The lowboy is used by parking it perpendicular to the tongue of the M750 van and using it as a solid work stand on which to place the 10,000-pound FUPP. Then, to make the FUPP repair section fully functional, the company M88A1 recovery vehicle was used to move FUPP's out of their containers and onto the lowboy. Finally, a wrecker was provided for basic lift, and a 600-gallon fuel pod was provided on a 1 1/2-ton trailer to collect waste oil.
Although the 26th FSB's FUPP repair section will continue to improve, it accomplished its initial goal and became the first unit to provide FUPP maintenance support forward of the brigade rear boundary. While supporting two heavy armored task forces at the Combat Maneuver Training Center, in Hoenfels, Germany, in the fall of 1994, the FUPP repair section issued and repaired 13 FUPP's to help the 3d Brigade maintain a record number of tanks ready to cross the line of departure for each mission. Consequently, the armored task force commander had what he needed, when it was needed.
This accomplishment can be attributed to the ingenuity and drive of the sergeants assigned to the section, who were motivated to do the best job possible for the task forces they support. Since the 26th FSB FUPP repair section was formed in November 1993, it has swapped-out 83 FUPPS. The net result has been millions of dollars in savings and minimal downtime for the tanks of the Army's Phantom Brigade. ALOG
Captain Jeffrey P. Kelley is pursuing his master's degree from the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida. He commanded B Company, 26th Support Battalion (Forward), 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), when he wrote this article, and thanks Chief Warrant Officer Tim Barker for his instrumental role in developing the FUPP program. Captain Kelley also is a graduate of the Army Logistics Management College's Logistics Executive Development Course.