Flight testing U.S. Navy autonomous aerial systems proves to be a team effort.
Members of AVIAN LLC’s prime contract providing aircrew, engineering, operations and scheduling support to the Navy Test Wing Atlantic’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Directorate were recognized for outstanding team achievement at the 13th annual Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Commander’s Award and Innovation Award ceremony Dec. 18.
Rear Adm. Mark W. Darrah, commander, NAWCAD commended award recipients for their performance despite facing adversity in fiscal year 2013. “The people are what make this all work, Darrah said. “We have incredibly talented people doing amazing work for our customers.”
“The MQ-8B integrated test team, or ITT, distinguished itself through outstanding test and evaluation of the integration of the Advance Precision Kill Weapon System II, also known as APKWS II, on the MQ-8B Fire Scout,” the award citation states.
Coordinating the efforts of multiple engineering and test disciplines, the Fire Scout ITT, composed of military, government and contracted support, planned and carried out a test program to meet an 18-month rapid deployment capability.
The Fire Scout ITT safely and efficiently executed 51.6 flight test hours and more than 550 ground test hours towards the developmental testing of the APKWS II rapid deployment capability.
In addition to being acknowledged for their superior testing within a rapid timeline, the Fire Scout ITT was also cited with, “completing the first integration of forward-firing weapons on a naval unmanned aircraft system, providing the world’s first rotary-wing self-designating unmanned strike capability to the warfighter.”
Shawn Healy, AVIAN test pilot and project officer, led the weapons test effort along with Chad McKinley, AVIAN’s mission payload operator.
“Integrating the APKWS II into the Fire Scout presented considerable technical, as well as scheduling challenges, but the test team persevered,” Healy said. “I’m pleased the team is being recognized for its superb performance, but I also know there are several unsung heroes whose hard work, dedication, and technical expertise directly contributed to the success of this effort.”
Led by AVIAN LLC, Fire Scout’s contracted support includes two local sub-contractors and operates at the Navy Outlying Field, Webster Field, St. Inigoes Md.
AVIAN was awarded the prime contract with the test directorate earlier this year, making it the third U.S. government prime award for the company in 2013.
The team provides air vehicle operators and mission payload operators for the Navy’s unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, including small tactical UAVs such as the Shadow and Aerostar, as well as larger systems like the MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter.
The contract is a one year effort, with four option years and is led by AVIAN Senior Program Manager, Freeman Dodsworth and Technical Lead and AVIAN Vice President of Corporate Services, Jeff Danielson, who combined have more than eight years working with the Fire Scout program.
As an operational asset afloat and ashore, the Fire Scout provides critical situational awareness, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting data to forward deployed war fighters. The APKWS II will provide an additional strike capability.
With vehicle endurance greater than six hours, the Fire Scout is capable of 12 continuous hours of operations providing coverage 115 nautical miles from the launch site.
Photo cutline: AVIAN LLC team members received a Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Commander’s Award during this year’s annual ceremony for their support of the MQ-8B Fire Scout integrated test team. From left: (bottom) Shawn Healy, Eric Flagg , Chad McKinley, Mike Kingery and Jeff Danielson.
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Tara N. Strickland
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