Munitions tracking going wireless
by Phil Berube
Operations and Sustainment Systems Group Public Affairs
5/4/2005 - GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. (AFPN) -- Officials at the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group headquarters here said they soon will release a software update that will take the guesswork out of ordering munitions online. They also are testing technology that will keep tabs on Air Force munitions.
The revised Combat Ammunitions System software will update the process by integrating previous versions of the software ammo troops use to order munitions with software used by munitions suppliers, said Frank Ruff, program manager.
“Currently, when ammo troops place an order for munitions, they may have to wait up to 48 hours to get confirmation from Ogden Air Logistic Center (in Utah) that (the center) received the order,” he said. “The delay is caused by one system having to wait for an update from the other, and the updates are normally done at night.”
The wait could be longer if there were a problem with the update cycle, he said.
Mr. Ruff said an ammo troop might not know about a problem until two days later. Then he or she would have to troubleshoot the problem, then re-enter the order and wait another two days to see if the order was received. When deployed warfighters order munitions, they need to know immediately if the orders went through and when they can expect to receive them.
Mr. Ruff said that with the update, ammo troops will get order confirmation from the logistic center immediately after placing their orders.
“Also, the base receiving munitions … will be able to see immediately the lot number and condition code of all items being shipped from the moment they are selected by the shipping base, which is critical information for wartime planning,” said Butch Harvey, a program office contractor.
The increased visibility for commanders at all levels to assess their combat capability in real-time enables accurate and timely tasking of the correct units for targeting purposes, said Phil Moulder, the system’s operations chief.
“When this involves search and rescue missions, a few minutes can make the difference between life and death,” he said.
The program accounts for all munitions owned and stored by the Air Force. Officials said it determines appropriate storage locations, assures incompatible munitions are not stored together and tracks net explosive weights to keep storage areas safe. It is used worldwide and uses Web access to the Global Combat Support System where Air Force munitions accountability data reside.
Program officials said they also are exploring the use of automated and wireless technology to keep ammo troops on the flightline and out from behind a desk.
Airmen of the 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., are evaluating a prototype of a wireless personal computer to inventory munitions, officials said.
“Using wireless technology to keep track of munitions has many benefits,” said Master Sgt. Gerald Smith, 27th EMS munitions systems superintendent. “The portability, accessibility and real-time update capability greatly increases production, and there is less chance of errors since we are literally sitting in front of the munitions while updating the database.”
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