October 2020 | Content by Christian Borchardt, NAPMA Programme Management Division Head

Building FLEP’s Foundation

As NAPMA rapidly steams toward one of the most critical FLEP milestones – the programme’s Critical Design Review (CDR) – some smaller, and less glamorous, activities are often overlooked and underappreciated. Within the Agency’s current portfolio, the Mission Training Center 2 (MTC2) and Flight Simulator Training Devices (FSTD) projects fall into this category. However, without the successful execution of these two smaller efforts, the FLEP will not get off on the right foot and the entire programme could suffer. Recently, both the MTC2 and FSTD projects marked their own – albeit much smaller – milestones en route to project completion.

On 6 Oct 2020, the MTC2 project completed its Test Readiness Review with Acceptance Test & Evaluation (AT&E) activities starting the next day. With the support of the NAEW&C Force and its contractors from CAE, successfully completed the majority of the test steps. As with the rest of the NATO AWACS team, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presented some programmatic challenges when contractors who were supporting the effort found themselves in quarantine for 14 days. These contractors got back in the saddle on 12 Oct 2020 to help complete test cases related to Information Assurance and Electronic Support Measures in order to help the team complete AT&E and move one important step closer toward providing the Component a second MTC.

Successful completion of the MTC2 project plays a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for FLEP. MTC2 will provide the NE-3A Component a second NATO Midterm (NMT) configured mission simulator thereby enabling Boeing to reconfigure the current Mission Simulator 2 into a FLEP System Integration Lab (SIL). With much of FLEP’s development activity taking place at Geilenkirchen Air Base, the FLEP SIL will provide a capability critical to the successful completion of the FLEP Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) Phase.

While not directly related to FLEP, the successful upgrade of the FSTD – both the Full Flight Simulator (FFS) and static Flight Training Device (FTD) – remain a top priority for NAPMA in order to conclude the CNS/ATM project. Currently, the FSTD run software loads that do not entirely match the CNS/ATM modified fleet – they’re close, but not close enough. Before NAPMA can synchronize the software in the FSTD with the aircraft, one more updated software version must be fielded throughout the NE-3A fleet. Testing of this next software upgrade will begin in early 2021 with fielding expected by the middle of next year. In the meantime, NAPMA’s prime contractor for the FSTD software, CAE Germany, will incorporate the changes planned for the aircraft into the FSTD software. If and when Venus aligns with Mars, which is often a challenge in the acquisition business, the new FSTD software will be installed in conjunction with the fielding of the software upgrade to the NE-3A fleet.

Like a house, the FLEP must be built on a solid foundation and every brick counts. With the inevitable successful completion of both the MTC2 and FSTD projects, the foundation for FLEP will be in good shape.

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