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
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
• 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
equipment contact maintenance platform that mounts
on a high-mobility, multipurpose, wheeled vehicle
has compartments for supplies, tools, and spare parts.
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.
Multipurpose Aircraft Support System
The multipurpose aircraft support system (MASS) will be used to reposition fixed-
and rotary-winged aircraft and AGSE in hangars and maintenance areas. This equipment
will provide a standard towing system for soldiers in the field. It will be logistically
supportable and capable of on- and off-road convoy operations without being a
secondary load. System development began late in fiscal year 2004 and will continue
through fiscal year 2005. Several towing systems will be purchased from vendors
who can meet the performance specifications. These systems will be rotated through
selected aviation units, and the best system will be selected for fielding. Procurement
of the selected system will begin by the second quarter of fiscal year 2006.
Unit Maintenance Aerial Recovery Kit
The unit maintenance aerial recovery kit (UMARK), which replaces the aerial recovery
kit (ARK), provides an aerial recovery capability for Army aircraft. The initial
urgent need statement allowed for the procurement of 11 kits in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom. By the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2005, the 240-kit
fielding should be complete.
Battle Damage Assessment and Repair
Battle damage assessment and repair (BDAR) kits include electrical repair tool
and consumable kits, high- and low-pressure fluid-line repair kits, and fuel
cell or skin repair kits. Eleven sets were procured, assembled, and shipped within
30 days to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sixteen kits for unit-level maintainers
were procured during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2004. A full-rate production
review with decision authority is scheduled for the first quarter of fiscal year
Cleaning and Deicing System is safe for all aircraft
and can use virtually any type of water, including
Aircraft Cleaning and Deicing System
The aircraft cleaning and deicing system (ACDS) is a self-contained, stand-alone,
portable, lightweight, low-pressure aircraft and engine cleaning and deicing
system. It is designed to collect and filter water runoff as required by the
Environmental Protection Agency. The system operates at 4 gallons per minute
and 300 pounds per square inch, making it safe for all aircraft, and can use
virtually any water source, including salt water. Testing was conducted in
fiscal year 2004. Production is scheduled to begin during the second quarter
of fiscal year 2005.
Aviation Vibration Analyzer II
The aviation vibration analyzer (AVA) II will provide a rugged, portable, and
safe means of performing helicopter maintenance for both main and tail rotors.
It will measure, record, and process vibration and blade position information
to diagnose and correct rotor vibration-related faults. Procurement of a new
aviation vibration analyzer is based on vibration management enhancement program
technology. The circuit card assembly of the current system is outdated. Procurement
of the new system will begin in the third quarter of fiscal year 2005.
Digital Aircraft Weight Scales
The digital aircraft weight scale (DAWS) is a nondevelopmental, commercial off-the-shelf
item available through the General Services Administration. It is structured
to provide a lightweight, man-portable scale that gives aviation unit maintenance
and aviation intermediate maintenance organizations the capability to weigh Army
helicopters without first leveling the aircraft. This speeds weighing and deployment
operations. Production and fielding of the DAWS was completed in fiscal year
Nondestructive Test Equipment
Nondestructive test equipment (NDTE) is a set of four electronic test instruments
that can be used to inspect aircraft components and structures for defects, corrosion,
or the presence of foreign objects without having to completely disassemble or
remove components from the aircraft. Each set consists of one industrial X ray,
two eddy current testers, two harmonic bond testers, and two ultrasonic testers.
The NDTE is a commercial off-the-shelf item procured either through an Air Force-Navy
contract or directly from the manufacturer. Because of obsolescence, the eddy
current testers, harmonic bond testers, and ultrasonic testers were replaced
between fiscal years 2003 and 2004.
push a helicopter onto digital aircraft weight scales.
Centers of Excellence
The PM AGSE maintains both the Nondestructive Test Center of Excellence and the
Corrosion Prevention Control Center of Excellence. The Nondestructive Test
Center of Excellence provides technical support to the Army engineering community
as well as to the warfighter in the field. It also provides technical support
to all current weapon platforms by developing inspection procedures, conducting
onsite technical assistance visits, and training the Army National Guard on
nondestructive testing. The Corrosion Prevention Control Center of Excellence
provides a unified approach to corrosion prevention control by standardizing
procedures and corrosion prevention compounds, providing technical expertise
and coordination, maintaining a clearinghouse for depot maintenance work requests
and technical manual updates, and supporting the Army Materiel Command’s
To alleviate immediate operational support shortfalls, PM AGSE has—
• Procured, assembled, and shipped battle damage assessment and repair
directly to deployed units.
• Push-issued unit maintenance aerial recovery kits to Operations Enduring
Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
• Fielded shop equipment contact maintenance platforms to AVIM units.
• Overhauled the current aviation vibration analyzers for direct return
to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, with a 24-hour depot turnaround.
• Begun reset of aviation ground power units and established theater repair
cycle float for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. [Resetting the
power units takes the equipment as it returns from an operation and conducts
the maintenance needed to bring it back to a fully operational state. A theater
repair cycle float is a pool of equipment that can be loaned to a unit in place
of equipment being repaired.]
The path ahead for PM AGSE is changing with Army aviation. PM AGSE has designated
several internal focus areas for meeting the challenge of change—
• Finding a maintainer for AGSE.
• Reprioritizing AGSE products to meet soldier and mission needs.
• Developing evolutionary acquisition strategies with a goal to “field
a Chevy, not a Cadillac.”
• Developing multipurpose systems that are configurable and reconfigurable.
• Pursuing modularization, flexibility, and interoperability in the design,
procurement, and support of AGSE.
• Improving diagnostic and prognostic capabilities.
• Reassessing the level of repair analysis.
• Conducting a complete sets, kits, outfits, and tools onsite review for
AGSE in the first and second quarters of fiscal year 2005.
• Ensuring that designs of new AGSE systems support a two-level maintenance
PM AGSE continues to look at families of systems and systems of systems to fill
capability gaps. Its top priority is providing the logistics soldier with the
best equipment, reducing his workload, and enhancing readiness in support of
a diverse range of missions. Aviation logistics’ keystone enabler—AGSE—is
no longer forgotten. ALOG
Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. (Chip) Lunn is the Product Manager for the UH–60M
Helicopter in Huntsville, Alabama. He was the Product Manager for Aviation Ground
Support Equipment when this article was written. He has a B.S. degree from Texas
Tech University and an M.S. degree in information technology management from
the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General
Roderick A. Bellows, a contractor with BAE Systems, Analytical Solutions, in
Huntsville, Alabama, works in the Office of the Product Manager for Aviation
Ground Support Equipment. He is a retired Army aviator and has a B.S. degree
from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas and an M.S. degree from Central