Army Aviation

Army Aviation Sustainment During LSCO

Branch Chief’s Corner / By MG David J. Francis: 

Sustainment will be a core warfighting function for future warfare. Our enterprise has to take a close look at how we execute aviation maintenance and how we design logistical systems that support Large Scale Combat Operations. The Army expects Army Aviation will be capable of generating support to operational maneuver forces with integrated aviation sustainment capability. That capability must be designed to support an agile, adaptive, and modernized expeditionary aviation force capable of winning during Large Scale Combat Operations across multiple domains.

Future aviation maintenance operations require dispersed execution in austere environments, amidst complex terrain, with limited or lengthy lines of communication for extended periods. A reduced logistics footprint requires improving efficiency and minimizing the signature of maintenance operations. Condition-based maintenance systems, with precision prognostics and diagnostics, will lessen the overall maintenance workload reducing the maintenance capacity demands. Modernizing our logistics also includes breaking the phase maintenance paradigm that ties us to large footprints and lengthy supply chains. Optimizing our inspections relevant to operations with accurate component repair and replacement times will afford more fixing forward for combat power.


SSG Dustin Murray, a Quality Control Noncommissioned Officer in charge with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Iowa Army National Guard, inspects the engine of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

Our maintainers are the cornerstone of our sustainment program. The Aviation Maintenance Training Program allows us to track the training sets and reps of our maintainers to capture unit capacity. With an increase in more technically qualified Soldiers capable of diagnosing, assessing, and repairing multiple aircraft and systems, we can fight in austere and dispersed environments. Instead of a robust maintenance company with 300 Soldiers, we may need to disperse 10 teams of 30 Soldiers throughout the battlefield. These teams that can rapidly regenerate combat power forward and keep our systems in the fight without an underlying reliance on stateside depots and contract support. Preparing for LSCO requires we train our Soldiers with the most modern, technically rigorous, and realistic conditions that units expect to operate in during combat.

All of our efforts in modernizing aviation maintenance are to improve and sustain the launch, recover, launch capability that supports Large Scale Combat Operations. For FY 22, we are pursuing sustainment experiments to see where we can improve maintenance operations. Some of the concepts include 3D printing, allowing us to create critical parts and components where and when we need them. While our aviation fleet has numerical objectives and goals for readiness, our ultimate objective is a level of operational availability that allows Army Aviation to conduct Combined Arms Maneuver to defeat and destroy the enemy at the time and place of our choosing. While our new systems are critical, we are continuing our focus on reducing the maintenance burden on our enduring fleet to the smallest level possible without sacrificing safety and using these improvements to inform sustainment requirements for our new FVL systems.

To support the ground force commander and serve as a member of the combined arms maneuver team, Aviation must be able to provide the combat power necessary to mass effects at the time and place of our choosing over expanded areas of operation. Our strength and ability to provide maneuver commanders reliable, lethal and timely support resides in our ability to maintain the readiness of our aircraft. Our enduring fleet along with our FVL aircraft will have robust, adaptable, and interchangeable sustainment strategies to ensure we remain the most lethal option for a division commander. Essential to maintaining lethal and reliable aircraft is to ensure we provide our Soldiers with modern, relevant training and education to sustain our force for Large Scale Combat Operations. All of our modernization efforts, rigorous training, and professional education are designed to keep our Soldiers the best-trained Aviation maintenance force. The superb training, discipline, and equipping of our cohesive maintenance teams are unequaled in scale and quality. I am proud to serve with all of you and am thankful for what our maintenance teams do every day across our branch.

Above the Best!

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MG David J. Francis is the Army Aviation branch chief and commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, AL.