(Photo Credit: Robert Stein/AvMC Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – It was a year of challenges – maximum telework, a pandemic – but the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s support for the Soldier did not waver in 2020.

Warfighter-focused reorganization

To ensure it is best postured to meet the emerging requirements of Army modernization and maximize readiness, AvMC reorganized from five directorates to three in January.

“The AvMC reorganization will deliver better warfighting solutions faster, with greater return on investment by streamlining activities in a way that best supports unity of command and unity of effort, thereby ensuring an enduring source of competitive advantage that adversaries cannot replicate,” AvMC Executive Director Dr. Juanita M. Christensen told the workforce.

The Technology Development Directorate, led by Barry Pike, who retires at the end of 2020, facilitates the center’s science and technology core competencies. The Systems Readiness Directorate, led by Keith Darrow, provides readiness- and sustainment-based services, to include airworthiness. Finally, the Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate provides product-based services, and is led by Dr. James Kirsch.

With the AvMC reorganization also came several leadership changes for the center. Carol Holcomb was selected as the principal deputy for SRD; Christi Dolbeer was named the principal deputy for TDD.

Modernization and readiness achievements

AvMC personnel played a role in the Army’s new campaign of learning, Project Convergence, as they joined more than 100 of CCDC’s scientists, engineers, technicians and analysts “in the dirt” at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. The center had lead involvement with demos and capabilities related to Air Launched Effects; Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated, Unmanned System Air Launched Effect; Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft; Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft and Tactical Intelligence Targeting.

The PC20 event brought together "the different types of technologies and capabilities that are being developed within the labs to show that the future battlefield is possible and to be able to bring that information together quickly to share it across the different platforms and the different domains - air, cyber, ground. So that we can leverage the advances in technology that are happening across the board that will make us more capable in the future fight,” said Steve Stilwell, AvMC branch chief.

Earlier in 2020, a team from Boeing, GE Aviation and AvMC completed another successful ground test, furthering the demonstration of higher-power T408-GE-400 engines on an H-47 Chinook. On March 26 the team successfully progressed to dual-engine flight idle and opened the full rotor speed envelope while also verifying engine control fault modes and alternate shutdown procedures.

Also in March, dozens of sets of eyes looked skyward at Yuma Proving Ground, to watch the forward launch of an unmanned aircraft system from a helicopter and from a moving vehicle on the ground. TDD led the demonstration that highlighted the forward air launch of Area-I Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated, Unmanned System, or ALTIUS, 600. The demo was the culmination of over a year of buildup, planning and testing and is in line with the Army’s pursuit of leap-ahead technological advances aimed at dominating its adversaries and reaching its Multi-Domain Operations goal.

AvMC opened the doors on its Additive Manufacturing facility in 2020. The center-wide asset not only enhances AvMC’s science and technology core competencies, but also supports modernization priorities established by the Army Futures Command. The facility’s equipment includes the DMG Mori Lasertec 4300 3D, the 3DSystems ProX DMP 320, Stratasys Fortus 450MC, Object 350 Connex3 and the nScrypt 3Dn-1000. In-house capabilities now include material jetting, the ability to print conductive traces on the inside of tubular structures, laser powder bed technology and blown-powder deposition inside of a traditional multi-axis turning/milling center.

“Having an additive manufacturing facility and capability at the center provides AvMC yet another tool with which to deliver life cycle engineering solutions to our customers and ultimately the Warfighter, both from a readiness and a modernization perspective,” said Kathy Olson, AvMC additive manufacturing lead.

Science and technology driven

AvMC’s vision is to be a Warfighter-focused valued team of world leaders in aviation and missile technologies and life cycle engineering, and 2020 was a year of great achievement for the Army senior research scientists who call AvMC home. The center kicked off those accomplishments Jan. 21 with an appointment ceremony for Dr. Donna Joyce, who became the senior technologist for protective technologies, a new ST position for the Army.

Effective Oct. 25, Dr. Mahendra Bhagwat became the new Army ST for Airvehicle Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design. Just months after reaching the pinnacle of his career – the Vertical Flight Society’s 2020 Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship – Dr. Mark Tischler, ST for Flight Control Technology, celebrated his retirement. He will close out his 30-plus year career Jan. 1.

COVID-19 response

AvMC Prototype Integration Facility employees were part of the Global Center for Medical Innovation's Rapid Innovation 3D Printing Task Force, a national task force that brought together stakeholders from across the country, to include physicians, engineers, universities, financiers and government agencies, such as NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency and FBI. Acting as the task force’s technical subject matter expert, Jones assembled a team from AvMC consisting of Marc Roth, Josh Williams, Wyatt Walsh and Dr. Phillip Farrington to assist in designing a face shield and replaceable filter cartridge for a respirator with the ultimate goal of getting as much PPE to the frontlines as quickly as possible.


The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.