Automated Test System for the Navy Begins Production
Without ground support, there is no air support. Every time a Sailor or Marine has flown a mission over the past 20 years, the Consolidated Automated Support System (CASS) has validated that the aircraft is combat ready.
Now, the U.S. Navy is replacing CASS with a new version, called the electronic CASS (eCASS), which will further simplify testing and accommodate new weapons systems for the next 30 years. Maintainers will use eCASS to troubleshoot and repair aircraft assemblies at sea or ashore, allowing them to return equipment to readiness status quickly and efficiently.
“eCASS will be the workhorse for avionics repair across the Naval Aviation Enterprise,” said Chris Giggey, deputy program manager for Automatic Test Systems, of the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command’s Aviation Support Equipment Program Office (PMA-260). “This system provides us with capabilities critical to support of naval aircraft and gives us the ability to launch combat-ready aircraft from carriers anytime and anywhere in support of the nation.”
Recently, Lockheed Martin completed development of the eCASS architecture, paving the way for initial production to begin. With a recent $103 million contract from the Navy, Lockheed Martin will produce 36 eCASS stations and associated support equipment. The first station will be delivered in November 2014.
While CASS has been a successful program – saving the Navy more than $2 billion through standardized training and test programs – it was designed more than two decades ago and would be more costly to maintain for decades more than to replace it with an open architecture system.
“eCASS runs 20 percent faster, is even more reliable, and is highly compatible with legacy CASS stations,” said Randy Core, director of Enterprise Test Solutions at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. “This speed and reliability will ultimately help the Navy increase aircraft availability.”
Another eCASS benefit is that its architecture is based on the LM-STAR® commercial automated testing system. LM-STAR features open software and hardware architectures that will provide eCASS with the long-range upgrade capabilities that are a Navy requirement.
Also, LM-STAR is the cornerstone of the F-35 harmonization plan, which is allowing manufacturers of the aircraft’s avionics systems to develop tests that will seamlessly transition from the factory floor to fleet maintenance depots.
Lockheed Martin was awarded the eCASS development contract in 2010. Ultimately, the Navy expects to deploy eCASS on every aircraft carrier and at many of its Fleet Readiness Centers.
For more news on eCASS, please visit the Naval Air Systems Command website.