Maximizing warfighter core capabilities through partnerships

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex has multiple partnerships that support the sustainment mission at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

One of those partnerships is with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Automated Test System Program Office and the WR-ALC 581st Software Engineering Squadron Automated Test Systems Software Integration Lab.

Will Williams, AFLCMC ATS Program Office chief, said the ATS Program Office has a long-standing partnership with the WR-ALC.

“ATS views the WR-ALC as a key customer and partner,” he said. “The ATS Division’s mission is to provide and sustain world class enterprise test solutions that maximize warfighter core capabilities.”

Williams said the ATS Division has cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Management responsibilities for the ATS Product Group.

“The ATS Division is responsible for the development, modernization, production, sustainment, and retirement of ATS capabilities,” he said. “Moreover, the ATS Division provides the warfighter with ATS solutions to check weapon system functions, detect and isolate faults, verify repair actions, and load software and mission data.”

One of the most successful collaborative efforts between the two organizations is the Versatile Diagnostic Automatic Test Station system, Williams said.

“The VDATS was developed in 2007 through a depot transformation project,” he said. “VDATS is the first automated test system in the DoD families-of-testers and is the directed and preferred automatic test solution by the Air Force.” 

Teresa Vogt, AFLCMC ATS Program Office VDATS system new business manager said the system was designed for depot testing capabilities, but is suitable for intermediate level maintenance and production support for multiple aircraft platforms and systems.

“The system is currently built organically at the WR-ALC and in Pennsylvania at the Tobyhanna Army Depot,” she said. “The VDATS is 100% modular, open-architecture, commercially-based automatic test system, and organically designed specifically for depot and intermediate level maintenance and production support.

“The goal of the VDATS system software architecture is to provide a standard development environment that encourages commonality and maintainability across all test program sets hosted on the VDATS as well as providing a common, familiar graphical user interface to operators,” she continued.

Caleb Yawn, 581st SWES ATS Software Integration Lab lead electronics engineer said his shop is responsible for developing and maintaining the Air Force’s VDATS.

“The VDATS system is a highly versatile tester that is capable of multiple configurations that are able to support the warfighter demands,” he said. “By centralizing our focus to maintain a common core tester, we provide the benefits of sustainment cost as well as a well-established supply chain for maintenance assets for fielded testers.

“The common tester approach also allows the testers to be utilized dynamically and tester utilization can be shifted as workload demand shifts throughout the complex,” he continued. “This keeps the warfighter going without creating a backlog in units waiting for repair.”

Kacey Bedingfield, 581st SWES information technology specialist, said the 581st SWES ATS Software Integration Lab and the WR-ALC work very closely together to determine workload requirements for existing configurations and determine gaps for incoming future workloads.

“We do all the software updates, make changes to the operating system and complete continuous cybersecurity requirements to secure the system,” she said. “We also handle the development of augmentation bays and mission equipment support set for different configurations of the VDATS systems to support all electronic testing of aircraft line replaceable units and shop replaceable units.”

Vogt said the VDATS fleet, consists of 130 digital analog core test stations and their associated auxiliary bays and mission equipment support sets.

“The VDATS systems are used to test over 4,250 avionics line replaceable units and shop replaceable units,” she said. “We support more than 60 aircraft platforms and systems in the Air Force, Army, and Navy, at all three Air Logistics Complexes and at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pennsylvania.”

Williams said ATS is an integral piece of the Agile Combat Support Directorate and the ACS mission to acquire and support war-enabling capabilities.

“Our vision is to transform ATS and automated test equipment to a common joint technical architecture across the Air Force Enterprise transportable to the DoD,” he said. “This will offer a state-of-the-art test solution and keeps the warfighters’ equipment mission capable.”

Williams said the ATS systems are used to project combat power and there is no mission success without ATS.

“The work the people do in the Automatic Test Systems Program Office enables one of the Air Force’s largest support structures,” he said. “Their work is vital to the Air Force’s mission of ‘Air Power… Anytime, Anywhere’.”