By CW4 Mark Chamberlin, Bart Schmidt, and CW3 Paul Olson
In March, a combined Joint Combat Assessment Team (JCAT) Phase I and Phase II training was successfully conducted at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), MD. The training dates, location, and curriculum of this year’s training were adjusted to meet the certification requirements of this multi-Service team due to state COVID and Department of Defense travel restrictions. In all, 10 Navy, 4 Air Force, and 1 Army personnel completed the course and joined the ranks of the JCAT. These students hail from across the country and possess diverse backgrounds in engineering, aircrew, and maintenance specialties.
A gracious thank you is extended to Mr. Tim Grose and his team at the Army Research Laboratory DEVCOM Data & Analysis Center’s Experimental Facility for hosting this year’s training event. An entire collection of aircraft and articles used in previous tests was provided for students to collect and analyze threat weapons effects. These aircraft included multiple AH-1, UH-1, UH-60, and CH-47 helicopters, as well as various fix-winged aircraft.
Phase I, executed by JCAT-Army, introduced the students to a multitude of classes to prepare them for the collection phase. During the first days of training, the students were presented with topics ranging from data recorder recovery, to current and future threat systems, to site management, to interviewing techniques. Next, they were exposed to weapon system signatures and effects, including nonexplosive ballistic, shaped charge, thermobaric, hydrodynamic ram, and high-explosive effects.
To complete Phase I, students executed a full collection and assessment on three test articles (a UH-60, AH-1, and C-130). They then provided team briefings to the rest of the class, leveraging the products and training they received during the first days of instruction.
Phase II, which was an expanded version of Phase I, was run by LCDR Adamek from JCAT-Navy. The students took what they learned from Phase I and performed daily collection, assessment, and briefings on varying aircraft. As in Phase I, the JCAT cadre scrutinized each assessment, but with higher expectations than in their previous training. During this phase, the students also were introduced to night-collection techniques on battle damaged aircraft to experience and overcome the challenges presented during a night collection.
This culminating event at this year’s training came at the conclusion of Phase II, when the students participated in two live fire tests—on a C-12 and a UH-60—conducted by the APG team. Through these tests, students were able to see and assess real-time weapons effects on U.S. military aircraft.
JCAT-Army will be hosting the next Threat Weapons Effects (TWE) event from 17 to 19 August at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The event will include multiple briefers from industry who are experts in current and future threat systems against military aviation systems. Additionally, the Susceptibility Reduction Work Group (SRWG) will be conducted during the third quarter of 2021 as our efforts continue to gain traction and clarity.
Finally, we say a sad farewell to LTC Andrew Roberts, CDR Stephen Bussell, CDR Jim McDonnell, and CDR Matt “Gerbil” Kiefer. LTC Roberts will be retiring from the Air Force and is currently working on his replacement. CDR McDonnell and CDR Bussell have both rotated to new unit assignments and will be replaced by CDR Barry Walden and CDR Joey Walker, respectively. And CDR Kiefer is moving to a new assignment in combat damage repair, with his replacement yet to be named. JCAT would like to acknowledge the expertise and years of service that all of these individuals have brought to the JCAT program. Their significant efforts have not only contributed to the current success of JCAT but have also helped shape its future.