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January 10, 2014

Navy’s next-gen test equipment achieves Milestone C acquisition approval

From left, Petty Officers Third Class Ira Schwartz and Devin Riley, both aviation electronics technicians, perform diagnostic tests on the Navyís Electronic Consolidated Automated Support System (eCASS) recently at defense contractor Lockheed Martinís Mission Systems and Training site in Orlando, Fla. The eCASS received its Milestone C acquisition approval Dec. 16, paving the way for limited production and installation of the next-generation device used to test avionics for Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.

The Navys Electronic Consolidated Automated Support System recently received Milestone C acquisition approval, paving the way for limited production and installation of the next-generation device used to test aircraft avionics, the service announced Jan. 8.

The Milestone C decision, approved Dec. 16, awards $103 million to defense contractor Lockheed Martin and initiates low-rate initial production of eCASS, with the first stations being used to migrate existing Consolidated Automated Support System test program sets to eCASS, a crucial step toward eventual fleet introduction.

Managed by Naval Air Systems Commands Common Aviation Support Equipment Program Office (PMA-260), Sailors and Marines will use eCASS to troubleshoot and repair aircraft at sea or ashore, allowing them to quickly and efficiently return equipment to readiness status. The new support system will replace the current CASS test equipment the Navys standard automatic test equipment family supporting naval aircraft electronics from the 1990s.

More than two decades old, the legacy CASS are becoming difficult to support and are technologically obsolete, said Dennis Albrecht, principal deputy program manager for PMA-260, which is based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Replacement with eCASS is critical to continuing optimal and affordable aircraft readiness. eCASS will become the backbone of avionics repair across the Naval Aviation Enterprise.

With eCASS, the Department of the Navy will enable a cost avoidance of more than $1 billion annually by averting the repair of avionics at the next level of maintenance or sending the parts back to the original equipment manufacturer, said Chris Giggey, PMA-260s deputy program manager for Automatic Test Systems, who manages the eCASS effort.

The next-generation eCASS is technologically advanced and capable of supporting the Navy and Marine Corps current and future aircraft, such as the P-8A and F-35, which are undergoing level-of-repair analysis, Giggey said.

Six hundred and thirteen CASS stations are used by the Department of the Navy and its foreign allies for testing of aircraft electronics, including flight controls, navigation tracking and electronic-warfare support measures.

From midrange tow tractors and mobile hydraulic power supplies to jet-engine test instrumentation, PMA-260 manages the procurement, development and fielding of common, ground-support equipment and automatic test equipment that support every type, model and series of aircraft within the Naval Aviation Enterprise.




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