JCAT Airman and Mission Featured on Air Force Website

By: Eric Edwards

Figure 1. 1st Lt. Collin Dart Inspects a C-130 Hercules Aircraft in 2018 (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Stoltz).

In October 2018, the U.S. Air Force website (www.af.mil) featured an article on Joint Combat Assessment Team (JCAT) member 1st Lt. Collin Dart and his duties in support of the JCAT mission. Lt. Dart is the chief aircraft battle damage and repair engineer for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Robins AFB, GA, as well as a depot liaison engineer for the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group (EMXG).

The article, which was written by Staff Sgt. Christopher Stoltz, began by explaining that although the desired outcome for any military conflict is to achieve victory without injury or damage, many lessons can be learned by studying combat outcomes that aren’t desirable (such as an aircraft shootdown or other sustained damage). And that’s where JCAT comes in.

The article went on to detail some of Lt. Dart’s background, responsibilities, and approaches, while also highlighting the overall roles of JCAT personnel to evaluate aviation combat damage incidents, assess the threat environment for operational commanders, and collect data through combat forensics to support aircraft survivability research and development.

Furthermore, the article explained that having JCAT members such as Lt. Dart deployed as part of a military unit can often provide a unique force multiplier to the unit (and even the entire theater). For example, Col. Lindsay Droz, commander of the 386th EMXG, noted that having Lt. Dart’s cross-airframe engineering knowledge and communication skills on site has greatly expedited the unit’s ability to support virtually any repair, incident, or mishap anywhere in theater.

“Rather than going back and forth with engineers in the states,” Col. Droz said, “we can work directly with Lt. Dart to capture our needs. This often cuts the number of iterations we have to go through to get an approved engineering solution. With the time differences, weekends, and amount of time engineers need to work through a solution, cutting down on even a single iteration can save us two to five days on any given repair.”

And, the article noted, the benefits go both ways. Although Lt. Dart admitted the work can be mentally and physically exhausting at times, he is proud of what he does and continues to be excited by its “puzzle-solving” challenges.

“Looking at the evidence and piecing together the story from the tiniest details is intriguing and rewarding,” he said. “It is also comforting knowing that the evidence I collect ensures our aircraft are stronger in the future.”

To read the full article on Lt. Dart and his JCAT work, visit www.af.mil/News/ Article-Display/Article/1675378/ jcat-airman-uses-combat-forensics-to-evolve-the-afcent-mission/.