Rotary WIng / By Mr. Jimmy E. Downs, Mr. William J. Petree, and Ms. Christian Sumner: In its last year as a project-level organization, the Armed Scout Helicopter (ASH) Project Directorate focused on its final mission sets – divesting the Army’s remaining single engine rotary wing platforms, providing safety-critical sustainment for aircraft remaining in service through the end of divestment, and preparing to draw down the project-level organization into a product office by mid-2016.
U.S. ARMY 2ND SQUADRON, 6TH CAVALRY REGIMENT PHOTO
The 2013 Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI) calls for the divestment of the OH-58A/C and TH-67 training helicopters over fiscal years 2014 – 2019 (FY14-19) and the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior (KW) over FY14-17. PM ASH will divest ~340 Kiowa Warriors in 2014-2017, ~215 OH-58A/Cs in 2014-2019, and ~180 TH-67s in 2015-2019.
Success Depends on the Team
In 2014, the first divestment year, PM ASH faced the unique challenges of tight timelines to develop and implement the Army’s Armed Scout Helicopter divestment program, coordinating stakeholder support and participation in the divestment process, and securing funding to support mission execution. Success ultimately rested on the leadership and expertise of the core ASH divestment team.
U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY JAMES BAMBURG, PM ASH
The mission required extensive coordination with operational KW units, the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE), transport partners, and demilitarization (DEMIL)/storage facilities. Within weeks of the initial execution order (EXORD) authorizing divestment of the first unit, the team implemented an efficient process to conduct aircraft and Peculiar Ground Support Equipment (PGSE) inventories, property transfer, transport, and DEMIL/storage induction – completing a full unit divestment in less than three weeks.
The ASH divestment team continued honing the process throughout each mission iteration and began completing non-weather dependent stages within one week, which allowed the divestment team to end FY15 ahead of schedule.
Critical Stakeholder Support
The decision to implement ARI-related divestment occurred mid-budget cycle, rendering the mission an unfunded requirement (UFR) in the first two years of execution (FY14-15), when the majority of OH-58D KW divestment was scheduled to occur. PM ASH immediately began coordination with Army leadership to develop a solution – because no mission occurs without funding.
Although full-year funding was not available, key stakeholders immediately stepped up to assist with incremental resources: the Army Materiel Command (AMC), Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), Acquisition Support Center (ASC), Program Executive Office-Aviation (PEO AVN), and Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA) G-4 and G-8.
Kiowa Warriors first arrived at Fort Drum, New York in 1994; 21 years later, the 6th Cavalry Regiment’s 6th Squadron flew the KWs for the final time, performing the “Missing Man Formation” above Memorial Park, Fort Drum as part of ceremonies honoring the retirement of the cherished workhorse./PHOTO BY CPT PETER SMEDBERG
AMCOM provided initial FY14-15 divestment funding, while ASC provided unit-by-unit funding throughout calendar year 2015, and G-4 ensured Second Destination Transportation (SDT) funding was available throughout the entire process. Altogether, the stakeholder coalition secured incremental Supply Depot Operations (SDO), SDT, and DEMIL-prep funding in time to execute each divestment event as scheduled, enabling PM ASH to meet all FY14-15 ARI divestment requirements.
By the end of 2015, ASH retired nearly 260 Kiowa Warriors from eight Active Component and National Guard cavalry squadrons and USAACE; nearly 50 OH-58A/Cs from the National Guard Bureau (NGB); and over 20 TH-67s from USAACE.
A critical element of divestment is screening all aircraft for reutilization potential IAW the ASH Aircraft Disposal Plan. Generally, aircraft identified for reutilization induct into non-flyable storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), Davis-Monthan, Air Force Base (AFB), Tucson, Arizona, or flyable storage at Redstone Arsenal (RSA), Huntsville, Alabama. When schedules permit, aircraft can transfer directly from an original owner to a new owner.
Suitable aircraft transfer to the Center for Military History (CMH) for use as historical artifacts and static display. CMH is working closely with PM ASH and the divesting units and organizations to preserve the history of the Army’s single engine rotary wing aircraft. Some OH-58A/C/D KWs and TH-67 aircraft have transferred from operational squadrons and owning organizations to the CMH inventory to become educational and memorial displays at military bases, training sites, test centers, and museums across the country.
Aircraft deemed non-economically repairable induct into DEMIL for parts harvest at either the Regional Aviation Sustainment Maintenance (RASM) West, Fort Hood, Texas; Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD), Corpus Christi, Texas; or AMARG to support the remaining fleets through their scheduled retirement.
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Divestment
From May 2014 through December 2015, ASH divested KWs from the 6-17th Cavalry (CAV) Squadron, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; 7-17th and 2-17th CAV, Fort Campbell, Kentucky; 2-6th CAV, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; 3-17th CAV, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia; 1-6th CAV, Fort Riley, Kansas; 6-6th CAV, Fort Drum, New York, 1-230th Tennessee Army National Guard (TN ARNG) Air Cavalry Squadron (ACS) Louisville and Jackson, Tennessee; and USAACE.
To honor the retirement of the 45-year old Attack Scout, units proudly flew their colors in commemorative final flights before casing the colors to mark unit deactivation and mission transition.
Flying Below the Radar
The ASH divestment team includes former OH-58 series operators and maintainers – experienced professionals who have managed the bittersweet retirement mission with the same dedicated excellence they brought to each mission and duty they performed while in uniform. While divestment missions conditions have varied, one element has held constant – the accolades offered to the ASH divestment team by each owning unit and organization commander. This recognition and appreciation extends to the highest levels of Department of Defense (DoD) leadership.
In August 2015, the Honorable Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD (AT&L)) and Defense Acquisition Executive (DAE) presented PM ASH with a Spotlight Award for Outstanding Acquisition Performance in developing and executing the OH-58 series and TH-67 divestment mission while simultaneously sustaining the ASH fielded fleets in a fiscally constrained environment. The DAE Spotlight award recognizes the performance of those in the DoD that may not be in the spotlight on a daily basis. In presenting this award, Mr. Kendall spoke to the value of ASH divestment team’s performance, “Few offices have been asked to do so much with so little… Just two years ago, one of the Army’s biggest concerns in executing ARI was the divestment piece. This team has done so well, executing the divestment process so smoothly, that the effort is almost going below the radar.”
The decisions to include the Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) requirement in the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program and divest the OH-58 series and TH-67 fleets led to the May 2015 deactivation of the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Product Office, and the guidance to reorganize the remaining ASH mission sets into a product-level organization. ASH will continue OH-58D KW fleet sustainment and ASH portfolio divestment operations as a project directorate through mid-year 2016, and then transition the mission set and remaining staff as a product office within another project office.
Mr. Jimmy E. Downs is the acting Armed Scout Helicopter Project Director, Mr. William J. Petree is the Armed Scout Helicopter Operations Officer, Ms. Christian Sumner is the Kiowa Warrior Helicopter Operations Officer. All are assigned to Redstone Arsenal, AL.