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NEWS | May 3, 2024

Army aviation leaders seek transition to the future of warfighting

By Nicholas Janeway

Leaders from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command attended the 2024 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit, April 24-26 in Aurora, Colorado.

The annual event, hosted by the Army Aviation Association of America, is the only opportunity for the entire Army aviation community to gather in one place, at one time, to focus solely on Army aviation issues. This year’s theme was "Transforming Aviation Warfighting - Strengthening our Sacred Trust."

The three-day event included professional sessions hosted by Army leaders, including Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo, and media roundtables and working groups. Most of the discussions centered around future initiatives, artificial intelligence, maintenance and warfighting. 

Maj. Gen. Tom O’Connor, AMCOM commander, was a key participant in numerous forums throughout the event. 

During his professional session presentation, he opened by recognizing and thanking all military veterans who previously wore the uniform. 

“We owe our freedoms to those that have come before us and have served, and I just want to say thank you for your service. Thank you for making our nation great,” he said.

O’Connor highlighted some of the initiatives and challenges the Army is currently navigating. He stressed the meaning and importance of delivering ready combat formations to the Army.

“Our Army exists to fight and win our nation's wars. We must focus on warfighting,” he said. “We must be experts at our warfighting tasks at AMCOM. This command stays ready to support and enable our warfighters to ensure they have the readiness to do that.”

O’Connor explained the importance of the organic industrial base and its effect on readiness. He said the turnaround time to repair damaged aircraft is always a top priority.

“There is no doubt that our ability to repair and return that capability forward surely enables the warfighter to have the readiness and the material needed to fight and win with the combat systems that are out there,” he said.

Parts availability is an issue that continues to affect warfighters as conditions have changed over the years. Previous warfighting environments allowed for excess parts, fuel and ammunition. That is no longer the case, O’Connor said.

“In a contested logistics environment, we will not have the luxury to allow the massive buildup of parts or allow the massive buildup of ammunition and fuel. We've got to really think through how we can be smarter and set the conditions for successful supporting of operations based off the demand.”

O’Connor said the impact of COVID-19 still weighs heavily on the supply chain. Other challenges include high demand for raw materials, the reduction of vendors on the market and competition from the aerospace industry. 

“We've transitioned to a data-centric decision-making process associated with our supply chain management systems,” he said. We’re able to forecast better, and this process allows for more predictability across the board. 

O’Connor also discussed the multiple approaches AMCOM is taking to assist tactical units throughout the Army. Smart engineering and decision-making reduce the maintenance intervals for units and can lead to more timely repairs.

Technologies such as blue light scanning and laser alignment allow units to conduct many repairs on-location versus shipping the aircraft out for maintenance. These save the unit money and time while still receiving world-class repairs.

“We started doing tele-maintenance years ago, and we’re doing it very successfully,” O’Connor said. “Figuring out how we can leverage technology like augmented reality and artificial intelligence has reduced maintenance time to fix an aircraft and get it back in flight.”

O’Connor said the Army tasked AMCOM with continuously transforming to meet the mission while remaining reliable, sustainable and affordable. Trend analysis and data-driven analytics help predict where failure rates may occur, allowing units to anticipate repairs before the aircraft takes flight. 

“If we understand where our faults are coming from, we can predict where our failure rates will occur,” he said. “We're using data to really see and understand our fleet. It’s more than just the number of hours flown or the age of the aircraft.”

O’Connor stressed the importance of public-private partnerships that help leverage supply and support to the Army. He thanked the organic industrial base for continuing to find ways to upgrade and enhance their capabilities. He assured them they are making a difference every day.

“Keep innovating, keep producing and keep developing. These products are going to keep our Soldiers safe and enable us to fight and win our nation's wars.”