The Maverick Missile team at NAWCWD China Lake, Calif., teamed with Naval Air Systems Command to create two new processes to preserve the Maverick Air-to-Ground Missile 65-E and save money by keeping it operational in the fleet.
NAWCWD scientists and engineers re-engineered the seeker dome grey-seal repair procedures, and the dome cover for Maverick during the past three years to save the Navy time and money when the missile is in need of repair.
In 2011, during a weapons readiness review, a weapons officer asked if there was a way to get the missile turned around quicker when needing repair.
Paul Nickel, assistant program manager for logistics at NAVAIR’s Logistics Department had an answer.
“China Lake has an elaborate engineering team and prototype facility that can reverse engineer and do a lot of climatic testing out there,” he said. “Let’s have them come up with a solution for the seal. They can also reverse engineer the current dome cover and design something that is more durable.”
Until now, decommissioning the missile, repairing the seal and returning it to the fleet took a lot of time and resources.
“From when the Sailor in the fleet realizes he or she has a problem with the missile, to sending it to Maverick Depot, then to the repair facility, and getting the missile back to the fleet; in worst case scenario it’s a three year turn around and best case scenario is still 18 months,” Nickel said. “That is way too long for the warfighter to be without a fleet asset. We knew if we put our best scientists on it at China Lake, we could come up with an efficient solution.”
NAWCWD developed a technique for Sailors to inspect and repair the seal in the fleet allowing for the missile to return active after it hardens in just a few days.
The new dome cover is an affordable replacement to aging, broken, and weathered dome covers that protect the seeker prior to flight operations.
“Our goal for the grey-seal and the dome cover was to try and reduce the need for maintenance or re-servicing and have the capability to repair in the field without decommissioning the missile,” said Barry Olson Jr., Maverick’s deputy assistant program manager for logistics at NAWCWD. “We have worked with the fleet in Miramar and have been successful. We are to the point of getting a factory quality seal in a deployed environment.”
Cmdr. Dion Edon, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, is one of the fleet commanders who has been directly affected by the changes to Maverick.
“The swift engagement by the Maverick Program had a direct impact on fleet operations,” Edon said. “The Carrier Air Wing was on station in a combat zone afloat, and all her Mavericks were affected. The repair procedures generated by the program allowed repair of these highly constrained and critical weapons on board and on station. Visibility of this effort was tracked at the highest level and the affected Strike Group Commander sent appreciative words for the repair efforts of these highly needed assets. In addition, the relieving aircraft carrier in route to the combat zone also benefitted from repair procedures prior to arriving on station due to the outstanding support from the Maverick Program team.”