REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Dec. 7, 2021) – When Brad Easterwood’s recent work trip to New Mexico for a PAC-2 FSP Firing Mission test was successful, he made a phone call to his dad.
Sharing a professional win with a parent is hardly out of the ordinary, except when that parent was once the production chief for PATRIOT, as was the case for Larry Easterwood. Both Easterwoods have spent their careers with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, although the senior Easterwood matrixed to the Missile Defense Agency before retiring in 2020 and returning to MDA as a contractor.
The Short and Intermediate Effectors for Layered Defense Project Office conducted the PAC-2 FSP Firing Mission at McGregor Range, New Mexico with the PATRIOT Configuration-3 Plus Fire Unit, using a shoot-look-shoot method of fire in launching a PAC-2 Guidance Enhanced Missile interceptor equipped with a DEVCOM AvMC-developed Dual Channel Telemetry Kit to support inflight missile data collection.
It was a hard-earned win for the AvMC team who had several issues of obsolescence to overcome. The younger Easterwood gave credit to teammates Katie Bush, Luis Rodriquez, Britt Perry and their perseverance to accomplish the mission.
For Brad, who was a baby when his father went to work for the Army research organization that is now AvMC, following in his father’s footsteps was not his plan.
“He wanted to be a pilot,” Larry said.
And even though Brad had a natural affinity for engineering, he still held out – at first.
“I wasn’t going to Auburn (University), I wasn’t going to be an industrial engineer and I wasn’t going to work for the Army. I am so rebellious that I did all three,” Brad said with a laugh.
He switched over to industrial and systems engineering – Larry’s major – after recognizing that he was drawn more to “the big picture” of engineering, and the interconnectedness of different systems working together -- and how to fix them when they didn’t.
Larry is the typical proud papa when speaking about their professional accomplishments, he was quick to mention Brad’s patent for a lithium ion battery fire containment systems for unmanned vehicles.
Looking over the documents from the 1980s and 90s and knowing that his father was working on that same project was particularly poignant for the younger Easterwood. Brad said that the culture hasn’t changed from his father’s time there – it is still an organization of smart minds, solving difficult challenges.
“They did everything on paper and a lot of the source data was lost over the years because engineers aren’t always the best at documenting,” Brad said. “Today, we have it modeled and in CAD (computer-aided design).”
While “the thought process of the engineers has evolved over time,” Brad said, the mission has remained the same for both Easterwoods.
“We are Americans,” Larry added. “We tackle hard problems. It is part of our heritage.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.