OH-58D(R) System/Safety Enhancement Program [SSEP]
The Army is fielding the new OH-58D(R) Kiowa Warrior, which incorporates many safety, electronic and power plant improvements. These improvements include crashworthy seating, cockpit airbags, the R3 engine (FADEC), a moving map display, a video cross link (VIXL) and a digitized Mission Equipment Package. The System Safety Enhancement Program (SSEP) began in 1997 and seeks to update the entire Kiowa Warrior fleet to the OH-58D(R) model fleet standard. For the purposes of maintaining flight crew currency, the OH-58D(R) is considered to be in the same grouping as the OH-58D and the OH-58D(I). Currency in one series aircraft will satisfy the requirement for all aircraft within the series or group.
All fielded OH-58D(I) aircraft will cycle thru Bell Helicopter for System/Safety Enhancement Program [SSEP] retrofit to the OH-58D(R) configuration. The Kiowa Warrior fleet will be OH-58D(R) pure by 2006. These improvements are identical to the improved production aircraft, including the improved Rolls-Royce Allison C30R/3 engine, but also add new energy attenuating cockpit seats. The Army plans to modify all 310 OH-58D helicopters in the fleet with this retrofit kit, at a rate of up to 48 helicopters per year, from 2000-2006. The Kiowa Warrior SSEP incorporates safety enhancements such as the Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) R/3 engine, crashworthy seats and cockpit airbags. Digitization enhancements include Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI), Video Image Crosslink (VIXL), Improved Master Controller Processor Units (IMCPU), Improved Data Modem (IDM), Improved Mast Mounted Sight Sensor Processor (IMSP) and Digital Map.
On February 27, 1998 Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded an $8,061,000 firm-fixed-price undefinitized letter contract for Lot 1 of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior System Safety Enhancement Program, for the modification of 28 aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and was expected to be completed by December 31, 1999. In 1998 Bell Helicopter Textron began retrofit of an initial 28 OH-58D Kiowa Warriors with system/safety upgrades. The first upgraded aircraft was delivered December 22, 1998.
The robust sensor capabilities of the KW in its mission as an armed reconnaissance aircraft, would be greatly enhanced by more effective communications within today's digitized battlefield. By using the highly integrated avionics already on the aircraft, this capability can be added with only minor hardware and software changes. Video Image Crosslink (VIXL) provides the KW with the capability to send and receive still frame images over one of the FM radios. The VIXL consists of a circuit card installed in the IMCPU. In 1996 the KW Product Manager's Office (PMO) developed four VIXL ground stations, which consist of an Aviation Mission Planning Station (AMPS) with a Tactical Communication Interface Modules (TCIM) and a SINCGARS radio. The ground stations are used to transfer VIXL images on the ground.
Digital source collectors have proven themselves over and over to be valuable maintenance and safety tools. The OH-58D (R) Kiowa Warrior's digital source collector is the data transfer module (DTM). Data recovered from the DTM has been used for engine salvage and replacement decisions. Data recovered from the DTM has also been used to investigate numerous Class E through A accidents. The DTM, however, is useless if not installed on the aircraft. The Army has experienced several occasions in which the opportunity to record valuable maintenance and safety data was lost because the flight crew did not install the DTM before flight. Therefore, flight crews should never fly without a DTM installed on their aircraft. Further, if a flight crew experiences an in-flight mishap, accident or system malfunction, the crew should remove the DTM as soon as possible to avoid overwriting the event data.
The AH-1 Cobra Helicopter Armament/Missile System utilized Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 68J as the Aircraft Armament/Missile System Repairer. MOS 68F Electrical System Repairer and MOS 68N is designated as the Avionics System Repairer for all Army aircraft. With the development of the AH-64 and the OH-58D(R), advanced technologies incorporated in the aircraft systems required soldiers in MOS 68 J, F, and N to receive additional training.
The Aviation Proponency Office developed ASI X1 for soldiers in MOS 68F and 68N who had received training on the AH-64 helicopter. MOS 68J was exclusively designed to facilitate maintenance of the armament/missile system on the AH-1 Cobra helicopter. The OH-58D (R) helicopter fielding required maintenance personnel to maintain the aircraft armament and missile system. MOS 68J already possessed many of the skills needed to maintain the new systems on the OH-58D (R). Soldiers would only need additional training on the major technological changes built into the new aircraft armament systems.
A Personnel Support Plan was devised to ensure that soldiers in the field received training on the OH-58D (R) helicopter as they transitioned from the AH-1 Cobra to the AH-58D (R). At the same time, the plan allowed Army Aviation to use the current pool of experienced soldiers in MOS 68J to maintain the newly fielded aircraft fleet. As AH-1 Cobra's were turned-in for new OH-58D (R) aircraft, the soldiers would return to school and receive ASI W5 training. ASI W5 would identify the OH-58D (R) system repairer. The ASI would be used as a means to track all trained soldiers.
As the AH-1 Cobra fleet was being replaced by OH-58D's the demand for ASI W5 trained soldiers increased and assignments became a burden to the Personnel Management System. PERSCOM assigned soldiers with ASI W5 to Major Army Command (MACOMs) that had requirements for both ASI qualified and non-ASI qualified soldiers. The MACOMs based their assignments on the first three characters of an MOS. Personnel assignment procedures caused soldiers with ASI W5 to be mal-assigned to units that did not require ASI W5 qualification. After a review of training skills, United States Army Aviation Center (USAAVNC) and United States Army Aviation Logistics School (USAALS) formulated and approved a new plan of action. The review revealed MOS 68F, 68N and 68J shared numerous tasks. The MOS ASI assignment dilemma could be corrected through consolidation of all ASI W5 skills and the creation of a new MOS.
In October 1999, a Notification of Future Change (NOFC) was posted to DA Pam 611-21 establishing MOS 68S (Aircraft Armament/Electrical/Avionics System Repairer). The new 68S MOS merged skills from MOS 68J, 68F, 68N and ASI W5. The most significant impact of the new MOS will be that soldiers with MOS 68J will be involuntarily reclassified to MOS 68S. Soldiers in MOS 68 F and 68N who hold ASI W5 will also be involuntarily reclassified to MOS 68S. All soldiers promotable to the grade of E7 in MOS 68F W5 and 68N W5 continue to be eligible for promotion in their old capper MOS 68K, and are not affected by the reclassification.
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