RRAD heads up MET production
May 28, 2009
- RRAD is the only producer of the MRAP Egress Trainer or MET.
- The MET is a simulator designed to teach Soldiers how to safely egress a MET in event of a rollover.
A new rollover simulator has hit the scene to help save the lives of Soldiers in the field.
Red River Army Depot is the only producer of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Egress Trainer or MET.
With the MRAP being the most sought after vehicle in combat zones, the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO-STRI) was tasked to develop a trainer to teach Soldiers how to get out of a MRAP in the event of a rollover. The MET is very similar to the HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) that RRAD also produces.
"I feel very fortunate to be part of the RRAD team that is providing equipment that our Warfighters need to survive and succeed in their missions," said Pam York, depot program manager for MET. "Their success is our success."
Working in collaboration with RRAD and the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), PEO-STRI created the engineering and manufacturing capabilities for the MET.
Like the HEAT, the MET is a simulator designed to provide Soldiers the confidence needed to safely egress an MRAP involved in a rollover.
According to Army statistics, there were 119 non-hostile related MRAP rollover incidents in the military between Nov. 1, 2007 and Mar. 31, 2008. Since April 2007, the military has fielded approximately 12,000 MRAP vehicles.
RRAD employees working on the METs are currently working seven days a week to meet the need of the Soldier.
"Of course we get tired but we know who we support so we will continue to work just as hard for as long as it takes," said Billy Sikes, MET production supervisor. "Just this past week, our production was moved to the left so we lost a few days to produce a set amount of trainers. In the end, we all pulled together and they are all ready to go right now."
Initially MET production was not set to begin until 2009 but due to more frequent MRAP rollover casualties, Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, made it top priority to produce the simulators.
Five variants of the MRAP, including the RG-33L, RG-31, MaxxPro, Caiman and Cougar configurations, arrived at Red River in Sept. 2008 and were completed by March 2009.
According to York, current MET production requirement is for 25 trainers and funding is available for an additional 99. In April 2009, seven objective trainers were shipped from RRAD and are currently being fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of June 2009 there will be 20 MET simulators at various camps in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sikes, York and Shawn Coleman, MET and HEAT electrician participated in the first fielding of the Expedient METs (EMET) at Camp Buehring in Kuwait during March 2009. Lt. Col. Charles Stein, program manager for Ground Combat Tactical Trainers and Frank Schlemmer, PEO-STRI project director for MET, were also members of the fielding team.
Camp Buehring was selected as the initial location for fielding due to it serving as the gateway to the Iraq theater. The camp provides maximum opportunity for soldiers to receive training prior to operating MRAP vehicles in the theater of combat operations.
The MET initiative began only dealing with Army requirements but now all four services are looking to Red River to produce METs for their training needs.
"It's amazing to be flipped in a MET," said York. "A Solider really has to think quickly about what to do. We were flipped at a slow pace and we were not wearing any gear as a real Soldier would or dealing with any other situations at the time of being flipped."
A team of Red River members will return to help field more MET systems this summer.
"It's really gratifying to know that you're doing something to save a Soldier's life," said Coleman. "It makes you feel like you do something that makes a difference. Don't get me wrong, no one else's job is less important here at the depot but we do get see what we're working on be used more quickly. To save one Soldier's life makes all the difference."