At Autotestcon last week (as I report here), Steve Sargeant, Major General, USAF (Ret.), and CEO, Marvin Test Solutions, discussed the armament test gap as part of a panel discussion titled “Automatic Testing for the Next Decade—Keeping Pace with the New Military.” This week, Marvin Test Solutions released additional information on bridging the gap.
In a statement, the company said it “…is bridging the critical test gap that exists in 4th generation aircraft with its MTS-3060 SmartCan, a universal O-level aircraft armament test set for legacy aircraft employing smart weapons. Today's aircraft, equipped with smart armament and associated aircraft interfaces, demand rapid, on-aircraft troubleshooting, a simplified test process, and a smaller test footprint on the flightline to ensure efficient operation. With the compact test set, Marvin Test Solutions aims to standardize and consolidate armament test equipment across 4th generation aircraft, including the A-10, F-15, F-16, and F-18.”
The statement continues, “Today, 4th generation aircraft, from the A-10 to the F-18, are equipped with smart (MIL-STD 1553 and 1760) weapons technology and enhanced legacy weapons. Yet, maintainers are still required to use the same or similar armament circuits preload test sets (ACPTS) combined with big-box test equipment fielded to verify that these sophisticated armament and munitions systems are full mission-capable (FMC). This test approach falls short in delivering the capabilities needed to support today's smart weapons because existing test equipment can't fully or accurately test the armament and aircraft interfaces. The testing shortfall creates an armament test gap.”
The statement quotes Steve Sargeant as saying, “Using reliable, MIL-STD 1760-capable test equipment bridges the armament test gap, ensuring higher levels of mission readiness and reduced sustainment costs for the US and other nations who operate the same aircraft. At Marvin Test Solutions, we have spent 25 years dedicated to creating test solutions that result in efficient and precise armament and munitions testing for a wide variety of aircraft – starting on the flightline. The MTS-3060 SmartCanTM makes it possible for today's aircraft and smart armament interfaces to be thoroughly tested before weapons are loaded.”
The company states that the SmartCan is the only flight-line test set capable of fully emulating smart weapons such as JDAM, and it allows technicians to test the MIL-STD 1760 bus interface between the armament and aircraft. The handheld, AA-battery-operated SmartCan weighs less than three pounds and packs the capability to conduct full pre- and post-load operations as well as possessing pre- and post-flight audio and video channels for troubleshooting legacy systems such as AIM-9 and AGM-65.
The SmartCan can be tailored and expanded to accommodate armament loaded on any A-10, F-15, F-16, or F-18 aircraft, and it can assist in the troubleshooting of specific issues with the aircraft. In addition, Marvin Test Solutions engineers can load specific maintenance fault codes into the SmartCan when requested by customers. The company reports the MTS-3060 SmartCan is successfully qualified and deployed today on TA-50, FA-50, F-16 Block 15 and Block 50, and F-15C aircraft as well as other legacy aircraft such as the F-5. The company states it also plans to deploy the SmartCan on 5th generation aircraft.