Maintainers assigned to the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion work to install equipment on a UH-60 Black Hawk assigned to 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C. Nov 16. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army
By December, U.S. Army Aviation expects to open its new Combat Aviation Brigade Architecture Integration Lab (CAB AIL) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, to integrate government and industry prototyping and improve planning for the entire rotorcraft fleet.
Several labs will ultimately be consolidated into the CAB AIL, including the rotary wing aviation software integration lab (RWA-SIL), the joint software integration lab (JSIL), the S3I aviation integration lab (SAIL), the distributed test control center (DTCC), and the advanced prototyping experimentation (APEX) facility.
Streamlining innovation development within Army aviation is also expected to engage and align a wider range of contractors on military aviation prototyping and expose troops and pilots to new technologies before they field.
“With the next two years, we hope to have consolidated all relevant assets and linked them together, through an open systems architecture, in a single facility for military and industry use,” said Paul J. Stevenson, a spokesman for the Army's Aviation Program Executive Office. “If system products of [original equipment manufacturers] are built within our open systems architecture guidelines, we can more rapidly explore potential technical and operational impacts.”
End users will participate virtually and their feedback will generate first-hand usability insights from a “maneuver force perspective,” Stevenson added. The new lab will enable rapid, repeatable back-to-back comparisons of current and future operations. In turn, the comparisons will accelerate the shaping, application and fielding of highly effective capabilities that can be scaled to the larger force.
The lab will be staffed with software and systems engineering personnel from Army aviation, Aviation & Missile Research, Development & Engineering Center (AMRDEC) and Redstone Test Center.
Integration is the Army Aviation’s top strategic objective. According to the office’s 2018 strategic plan, “CAB AIL will enable us to work with the defense community to prototype capabilities across multiple platforms in a simulated operational environment to deliver capabilities faster.”
Advancing degraded visual environment (DVE) and optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) technologies are initial priorities of the CAB AIL, according to Stevenson. The CAB AIL’s progress and effectiveness will be measured by the affordability, reliability and sustainability of its initiatives, he said.