A great video of US Air Force instuctors flying the MD 530F Military helicopter. REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Safety, airworthiness and responsive support of all the non-standard rotary wing platforms are the core functions of the Army’s Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft Project Management Office.
Since its inception in January 2010, the Army’s Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft project management office has grown in its scope of responsibilities and number of non-standard platforms that it manages.
Today, one of its product offices managed by Lt. Col. Shawn Powell, is responsible for almost $1 billion in Foreign Military Sales. Powell is the Army’s product director for all non-standard scout, attack, utility and cargo platforms – “non-standard” essentially meaning, any rotary wing aircraft procured and/or supported by the U.S. military that is not currently in the U.S. Department of Defense inventory.
Powell’s ultimate mission is to support the Department of Defense and the State Department in implementing their security assistance and defense cooperation goals. A more specific mission requirement, Powell said, is “to make sure that we bring our programmatic and acquisition rigor to the process to ensure that all of the country customers are consistently getting the best value for their money, and getting safe, flyable, supportable, and airworthy platforms.”
Because there is always a potential for U.S. uniformed personnel or government contracted personnel to either ride in these aircraft or sometimes even fly them, “often we have to go beyond what some countries would normally do when procuring non-military aircraft,” said Powell. “This requires the Army to certify the safety and airworthiness of a civilian platform to our high military standards, and in doing it through this single non-standard PM office, we’re ensuring the standards and requirements are implemented accurately and consistently across all of the platforms procured for our international partners.”
Most cases in the non-standard product office begin with allied countries contacting the U.S. government and asking for help either through security assistance or defense cooperation channels. Currently, all the Original Equipment Manufacturers that build and provide support to these aircraft that Powell and his team work with are U.S. or U.S. based companies. “We are very happy that, to date, we’ve been able to focus solely on contracting with U.S. based companies to facilitate putting their products and/or support in a foreign country.”
Currently, Powell and his team are working with various partner nations such as El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Costa Rica, Colombia, Indonesia, and Mexico, just to name a few. A given country may have a single case or multiple cases in the works for completely different internal government organizations. “Our foreign allies have varying government and military organizational structures. Just like where we have a separate Army, Air Force and Navy, a partner country might have a Ministry of Interior, a Ministry of Defense, or a National Guard that we would work with as separate and unique entities,” said Powell. “They each have their own command and approval chains, so they often each have their own cases.”
His office is responsible not just for procuring the aircraft but also for the support, repair and supply cases that are associated with these aircraft. Sometimes, the work – or cases as they are called – deal with countries that already have aircraft and just need some help in areas such as supply line, maintenance and support, or repair. “In some cases we’ve gone in and just identified tools and training that they might need to help fix or enhance their aviation maintenance capabilities.”
Powell has recently fielded MD Helicopter, Inc. MD 530Fs to Afghanistan and will soon be fielding the same model aircraft to Saudi Arabia. The MD 530F was selected to be used as a primary trainer for rotary wing flight schools in both countries. The product office is currently on contract to deliver MD 500E aircraft to El Salvador, as well as a Bell Huey II to Columbia. “We’ve recently taken over some cases with Egypt working with Agusta-Westland out of Philadelphia providing both AW-139 aircraft and training. We’re also working with Bell Helicopter on a few pending cases to procure more of their Huey II helicopters. We definitely get to spread the work around.”
Video Description Credit: Sofia Bledsoe Edited by ArmedForcesUpdate
Video Credits: Staff Sgt. John McRell, Airman 1st Class Eric Mann and Gunnery Sgt. Robert Brown
Video Thumbnail Credit: Staff Sgt. Perry Aston (USAF) Modified by ArmedForcesUpdate