Redstone Arsenal, Alabama -- For the Program Executive Office for Aviation, 2018 has been a year marked by tremendous change. The organization operationalized, aligned and integrated to support Army Aviation needs. This year the organization collectively delivered approximately 11,000 platforms and systems of critical aviation capability, and deployed close to 1,300 people to support COCOM requirements around the globe.
Key Leadership Changes
• Col. Matt Hannah handed over responsibility of Aviation Systems to Jimmy Downs, who led the office until the arrival of Col. John Frasier.
• Col. Joe Hoecherl moved out of Apache Helicopters to become the Chief of Staff, replacing Kelvin Nunn, who was selected for advanced schooling.
• Fixed Wing changed leadership as Col. Tal Sheppard transitioned to become the Project Manager of Apache Helicopters. Col. James DeBoer assumed responsibility of the Fixed Wing Project Office.
• Col. Calvin Lane departed Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft to attend the Air War College, and was succeeded by Col. John Vannoy as the organization was redesignated the Multinational Aviation Special Project Office.
• Col. Courtney Cote relinquished responsibility of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project to Col. Joe Anderson.
• Sgt. Maj. Woody Sullivan arrived to become the first ever Sgt. Maj. of PEO Aviation.
Apache Attack Helicopters
The Apache Attack Helicopter Project Management Office experienced a challenging but productive year with the AH-64E program. With the safety of our aircraft and crews always a top priority the Army stopped accepting Apaches from the manufacturer in February because of safety risks associated with the main rotor strap pack retention nut. The Army and Boeing worked diligently to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and in June began retrofitting Apaches with a redesigned strap pack fully qualified and airworthy to mitigate the identified issue. As a result of fully returning the Apache fleet quality to the expected level our Soldiers deserve, Army resumed accepting Apaches at the end of August. Nineteen new Apaches have entered the fleet since January and production of 72 aircraft are underway for induction in FY19.
In May work began at the new Apache modification facility at Ft. Riley, Kansas. The facility was developed to carry out post-production modifications and completed work on its first six aircraft in September.
Aviation Systems Project Office
Aviation Systems remained as productive as ever, teaming up with AMRDEC to complete development and testing of the Aircraft Notebook to support the rotary wing fleet. Delivery of the system began in April, and are ongoing with almost 3,300 systems delivered this year.
In all AS has delivered more than 900 Aviation Mission Planning Systems, 2,500 Common Aviation Tool Systems, 190 Blue Force Tracker, 90 AN/ANRC-231 Radios and 450 Improved Data Modems.
Aviation Turbine Engines
The Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office officially restructured in February, creating two new product offices: Improved Turbine Engine and T700/T55. ATE is diligently working on the engine that will replace the current Black Hawk and Apache power plants, closing in on Milestone B. Preliminary engine designs for the Improved Turbine Engine are complete, and the technology has been assessed, and is ready for program initiation. The Source Selection Evaluation Board has begun to determine a program vendor. PM ATE anticipates the achievement of Milestone B and Engineering, Manufacturing and Development contract award taking place in early 2019.
In 2018 38 CH-47F aircraft were fielded across USARPAC and FORSCOM as well as to Army Guard and Reserve units. The CH-47 Final Block I contract worth up to $4.6B was signed in July to buy up to 156 aircraft over five years. Production of the Block II EMD aircraft began in June and the second prototype entered the production in August. In close collaboration with AMRDEC and the vendor, Cargo tested changes to the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade. The tests demonstrated the ACRB performs as well as or better than the current blade, while providing up to 1,750 lbs. of additional lift capability. The blade will complete system level qualification during Chinook Block II EMD flight testing, scheduled for July.
The Fixed Wing project office fielded 12 new Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System aircraft to Military Intelligence units and is on track to complete the fleet fielding by 2020. A newly refurbished C-147A aircraft was delivered to the Golden Knights Parachute team in May. A new Saturn Arch system was delivered to CENTOM in October in response to an urgent operational need. The PM also divested the last RC-12D aircraft from Army inventory.
Future Vertical Lift
FVL has experienced a fast year integrating into the Army Futures Command Cross Functional Team structure. FVL supported efforts to synchronize requirements, development, Science and Technology and acquisition into a deliberate streamlined process, closely integrating all efforts with the war fighter and how best to support their needs. A request for proposals for a "Buy-Try-Decide" Future Tactual Unmanned Aircraft Systems was published in September in support of efforts toward a potential Shadow replacement. In early October the collaborative FVL Team kicked off a major Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft design competition with a $1.9B Other Transactional Authority Prototype solicitation, one of the largest OTAP solicitations in U.S. Army history.
Multinational Aviation Special Project Office
The Multinational Aviation Special Project Office delivered 10 MD-530F Aircraft to Afghanistan in 2018 while preparing to deliver 12 additional MD-530 aircraft to two other countries. The office delivered seven overhauled Mi-17s back to Afghanistan including the first aircraft overhauled in country. MASPO completed installation of 13 Aviation Survivability Equipment kits on Special Mission Wing's Mi-17-V5 aircraft. Partnering with the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and the Prototype Integration Facility, MASPO is scheduled to complete installation on 26 additional aircraft by the end of FY19.
MASPO executed a worldwide logistics support services - contract for five, and up to 10 years, valued up to $25.5B. This contracting vehicle enables the rapid implementation of worldwide logistical services to primarily support US partner nations through the Foreign Military Sales program.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Unmanned Aircraft Systems is currently fielding the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Extended Range (ER) aircraft. The ER completed successful Follow-On Operational Test & Evaluation in August at Edwards Airforce Base, Ca. Gray Eagle-ER demonstrated the ability to provide the loiter time on station at a specified operational range with a significant increase in endurance capability over the baseline Gray Eagle aircraft.
2018 marked the 40th anniversary of the UH-60 Black Hawk platform. Utility Helicopters took delivery of 78 UH-60M US aircraft in support of U.S. Army and FMS cases highlighted by the delivery of 26 Black Hawks to Afghanistan to support Afghan Air Force modernization.
The UH-60V completed Limited User Test in August, followed by the awarding of the A Kit production contract to the Prototype Integration Facility in September. The 60V is scheduled to begin low rate production in early 2019.
Fielding of new UH-72 Lakotas continued in 2018 with contract awards for a total of 51 aircraft to support an increase in the Army Acquisition Objective.
DoD/DA level recognition
• The Fixed Wing EMARSS team received Army Acquisition Executive's Product Management Team of the Year award.
• Cargo Helicopters System Safety Environmental Working Group received the Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition Award.
• Aviation Systems' Lynn Tompkins received the Army Acquisition Executive's Excellence in Leadership Award.
Across the board, PEO Aviation saw a very busy year with a lot of accomplishments, milestone events and ground work laid for the future. In looking towards 2019 and beyond, PEO Aviation's main goal remains steadfast: Reduce the burden on our Soldiers.