By Ms. Kelly Morris (U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence)July 27, 2018
Fort Rucker brought together Aviation industry representatives and Army Aviation experts at its annual Aviation Industry Day event focused on building a more lethal force here July 25-26.
Part of the mission of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence is to determine what capabilities are required, and serve as the user (or Soldier) representative in the acquisition process for current and future Aviation platforms and related systems. To do this, the Center must shape science and technology for the Aviation branch.
The two-day event, which provided industry a chance to hear directly from Army Aviation leaders and requirements developers through guest speaker and panel sessions, was intended to shrink the timeline between the initial concept and a physical capability in the hands of Soldiers.
Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general in his opening remarks Wednesday thanked attendees for participating.
"What we're doing here is important, and it couldn't happen without you, industry," Gayler said.
"I think everybody would agree this is a time in our Army where there is a lot of change--globally, domestically, and some organizational changes that are going on as well…to expedite capabilities to the warfight," he said.
Gayler explained the next fight will be contested in multiple domains.
"When you look at this world scene, look in any direction, you can see potential conflict--and when we say conflict it's not small scale. It's a massive peer on peer competition that could turn to conflict pretty rapidly, which means we've got to move quickly to be postured to be successful," he said.
The event's focus, in keeping with the Army priority of making Soldiers and units more lethal, addressed the future warfighting challenge of a level of lethality "unseen ever in the history of mankind," not only in terms of range but also in effects and integration, according to Gayler.
Lethality is not just about munitions: The ability to detect, identify, locate, report and share, and ultimately target and kill requires a network, according to Gayler.
"It's not just something to shoot with, (or) something that has a bigger boom," he said. "It's a fires capability, and it is a protection capability that enables us to stay there and do what we need to do. It's also about maximizing autonomous capabilities, not as a replacement, but to augment the manned platforms and capabilities.
"It's about being rapid to stay ahead of technology," Gayler added.
Gayler called for modular open systems architecture--plug-and-play capability, on a reduced acquisition timeline where industry members are all "on the same playing field."
"That is how you increase competition, and that is also how you expedite capability to a warfighter," he said.
The Army is looking at leap-ahead technology, which is nested with the National Defense Strategy of building a more lethal force optimized for large scale combat operations, according to Brig. Gen. Walter T. Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team.
Continuing a long-established strategy for Army Aviation, Rugen said his priorities include Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Capability Set 1, Future and Advanced Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft Capability Set 3 and Modular Open Systems Architecture.
"I call it an ecosystem, when we talk about the deep interoperability that we're building, because that's what it is-- it's not one thing, it's a number of things in these lines of effort," Rugen said.
Rugen called for Aviation industries' help to achieve critical Army Aviation capabilities within 10 years.
"Industry, the Army's moving this fast and we need you to move as fast as we're moving. We're going to challenge you guys. It's a challenge for all of us," Rugen said.
Despite the Aviation challenges on the horizon, the Army has no intention of yielding the air domain, according to Rugen.
"Aviators have always provided that asymmetric advantage to the ground force. We'll never lose faith with the ground force, and we're not quitting because there are peer threats out there that are tough to find and kill. We're going to build this ecosystem that's going to find them and kill them. It's as simple as that," he said.
The exchange of information with industry is vital, according to Col. Tom von Eschenbach, director of the Capability Development and Integration Directorate here.
"I always like to say it's transactional--you give us something on what technology bears, what you're working on, what we can understand to be in the realm of the possible, and we give you back the way the Army's thinking and how we're building from a concept to a capability," he said.
The measure of success ultimately is a change in behavior regarding processes and time tables required to achieve capabilities Soldiers need, according to von Eschenbach.
"The Army being relevant, Army Aviation being relevant is at stake," he said. "We have an opportunity, a unique opportunity to do things differently and win. So let's take advantage of that."
The event included updates on Aviation modernization priorities and Army Aviation Concept 2035, as well as panel sessions with TRADOC Capability Managers and experts across the Aviation enterprise for updates on reconnaissance and attack in Multi-Domain Operations, and expeditionary sustainment.