Friday, May 03, 2013

Eglin munitions unit creates ammo linker for AFSOC

by Samuel King Jr.
Team Eglin Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A new lighter, mobile 30mm ammo linker system is set for delivery to Air Force Special Operations Command units in May.

The 89-pound apparatus that feeds 15 unattached 30mm rounds into MK-15 links via a crank system was created and designed by Eglin's Munitions Materiel Handling Equipment Airmen. The MMHE Focal Point, a section under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Armament Directorate, specializes in developing locally manufactured equipment for the Air Force ammo and weapons communities.

"The MMHE receives taskings via the major commands as well as through customer support visits," said Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Tangney, the MMHE focal point chief. "Our Airmen and engineers visit ammo and weapons sections and talk with maintainers and weapons crews. We explain to them how we can develop support equipment and tools that could make their jobs easier."

Those ideas and concerns are defined and passed up the chain of command for approval. If the idea is feasible, cost-effective and to the benefit of the Air Force, a design team begins the creation process on the product.

The initial AFSOC request was for a hand-held de-linker to easily and safely remove the 30mm ammunition rounds from the links.

"The previous method of using the force of your hands was slow and potentially dangerous," said Tech. Sgt. Mike Stratton, the linker project manager.

Engineers and drafters went to work creating a new product to meet the specific requirements to accomplish the task.

The result became a seven-pound de-linker tool that resembles a very large set of plyers, but fit the 30mm round perfectly. The de-linker reduces the amount of force to remove the ammo to a minimum.

After trying out the de-linker prototype, Stratton and his team received feedback that AFSOC Airmen could use a quicker, deployable way of connecting the ammo into the MK-15 belts.

"We evaluated the linking process at Hurlburt Field, and the ammo troops told us the current machine is too large, expensive , complex and not very mobile," said Ben Chambliss, the linker project engineer.

Again the MMHE developers began designing to meet this new requirement.

MMHE created a new linker that weighed and cost one-tenth of that of the current linker in use. The linker requires no electricity with the use of a hand crank, but it can also be controlled with an electric drill for faster speed. It is 58 inches long and 18 inches wide.

"(The linker) can be tossed in the back of a truck or on an aircraft and taken to wherever it's needed," said Chambliss.

An MMHE project goes through two main phases, the prototype phase and first article phase. The prototype phase is the creation by MMHE and the testing of the designed product by the customer. In the first article phase, another product is created with the changes and corrections provided from the customer testing. The new (first article) product goes back to the customer for final validation. Once it's cleared by the customer and approved by an Air Force safety board for operational use, the blueprints become available to DOD personnel via a secure website.

The linker/de-linker prototypes are already in use by the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

"These tools allow AFSOC munitions personnel to support AC-130W and future AC-130J Gunship 30mm operations in a safe and rapid manner at home station or deployed to austere locations world-wide providing outstanding munitions support to the special operations force mission, 'Any Time, Any Place,'" said Richard McDonald, AFSOC armament systems section chief. "Both tools can stand up to the wear and tear of daily operations at home station or in the field, be locally manufactured and parts can be easily and rapidly replaced as needed."

At any time, the MMHE Airmen have as many as 25 new pieces of equipment in development for Air Force warfighters.

U.S., Britain Look to Strengthen Already Strong Alliance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013 – The United States and the United Kingdom are looking for ways to deepen an already close military-to-military relationship, American and British defense leaders said following a Pentagon meeting today.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond told Pentagon reporters that they discussed the situations in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

The two men also discussed shared acquisition programs and ways to operate in fiscally constrained times.
With respect to Syria, the U.S. military continues to examine all options, including arming those opposed to the regime of Bashar Assad. “That’s an option,” Hagel said.

The international community’s objective in Syria is to stop the violence, promote stability and help the Syrian people transition to a post-Assad government, Hagel noted.

“Any country, any power, any international coalition, any partnership is going to continue to look at options, how best to accomplish those objectives,” he said. “This is not a static situation.”

U.S. officials constantly are evaluating the fast-changing situation in Syria and one of those options -- among many -- is arming the rebels, Hagel said.

The two men agreed that a diplomatic solution in Syria is preferred.

“We continue to believe that a diplomatic solution is needed to end the bloodshed and that Assad and his close associates can have no place in the future of Syria,” Hammond said. “We in the U.K. are stepping up our support to the national coalition and remind the regime that nothing has been taken off the table in the light of the continuing bloodshed.”

There is some evidence that someone in Syria used a nerve agent, and both men said they are concerned about this.

“We remain increasingly concerned at the emerging evidence of the use of chemical weapons, and we demand that the regime allow the U.N. to investigate these allegations,” Hammond said. “Assad should be in no doubt that the world is watching and will hold him … and anyone else to account who is found responsible for the use of chemical weapons.”

Hagel voiced his sympathy to the British people for the loss of three soldiers in Afghanistan’s Helmand province yesterday. He and Hammond discussed the ways the United States and the United Kingdom will work together through the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014 and the way the two countries will support Afghanistan after that.

Hammond got a chance yesterday to see a British pilot flying the F-35B joint strike fighter being tested at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.

“The United Kingdom’s continued commitment to this program, and our growing cooperation in new priority areas like cyber, is helping ensure this alliance has the kind of [cutting-edge] capabilities needed for the future,” Hagel said.

“The U.K. and the U.S. remain in lock step on these projects, and as we take them forward, we will ensure the continuity of those vital capabilities,” Hammond said.

The two men will continue discussions here tonight and will meet at NATO next month.

AF awards KC-46A Aircrew Training System contract

88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

5/1/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- The Air Force today awarded a contract to FlightSafety Services Corporation, taking a major step forward in achieving the service's top acquisition priority - delivering a new aerial refueling capability to the warfighter.

The contract, a Fixed Price Incentive Firm (FPIF) and Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contract of $78,369,818 which includes an initial obligation of $1 million, is for engineering, manufacturing, and development of the KC-46A Aircrew Training System (ATS). The remaining amount will be incrementally funded. The contract contains options for production, training, operations and sustainment that if exercised will increase the value of the contract. The aircrew training devices and courseware are scheduled to begin arriving at the formal training unit and operational air bases in 2016 and will be used to prepare flight crews to operate the new tanker. Work under this contract is expected to be completed by 2026 if options are exercised.

"This is a vital step in the development of KC-46A," said Maj. Gen. John Thompson, Program Executive Officer for Tankers. "We have reached an award that is the product of a disciplined, meticulous and transparent source selection and delivers real value for the warfighter."

Like the KC-46A contract itself, this contract is the product of robust competition and uses fixed pricing and incentives to share risk between the Air Force and industry.

"Everyone recognizes the need to get value for our money," General Thompson said. "Strong competition clearly benefits the taxpayer and, I think, benefits our industry partners as well. Effectively managing costs and schedule puts everyone in a winning situation."

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 for 179 KC-46A tankers to begin recapitalizing the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet by 2028. The program is working toward completion of the critical design review later this year, setting the stage to build and fly the first KC-46A Tanker in 2015.

The first aircrew training device delivery, as required by the contract, is anticipated for February 2016.