Mission-readiness starts and ends on the flight line – what we like to call, the Center of Gravity.
Charles Bailey and Feron Epiphane are two of four Fixed Wing Lockheed Martin field service representatives on international assignments who, alongside domestic support from the Fixed Wing Targeting Depot at Warner Robins Air Force Base with the team at Lockheed Martin, provide 24/7 Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) on-call support to our U.S. Air Force and international customers.
“The customer satisfaction portion is most important to me," Charles said. "To be able to go into a meeting and help customers resolve their problem is extremely gratifying.”
While every day offers its own exciting challenges for Charles, a senior field engineer with Missiles and Fire Control, his primary responsibilities are providing training and sustainment services to an array of programs, including LANTIRN Navigation, Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems and Sniper ATP.
“My favorite part about the job is showing that I'm dependable to the customer."
Though Charles and Feron service the same system, their assignments have sent them to different countries.
Feron joined Lockheed Martin in 2008 as a test engineer but now serves as a senior systems engineer with Missiles and Fire Control, preserving the health of Lockheed Martin’s Sniper ATP fleet for our customer and troubleshooting new issues in systematic processes that may arise to keep the fleet flying in a moment’s notice.
“Hearing all of the great stories from the pilots of how our product enhanced the accomplishment of a critical mission or task is the best part of the job,” Feron said. “It means a great deal that they rely on me to execute their missions. Just to get them to where they need to be is important.”
At Lockheed Martin, fleet success revolves around the flight line. Here, field service representatives (FSRs) deliver integrated sustainment capabilities, including predictive health, high velocity supply chain, and condition-based maintenance, to ensure that our customers’ aircraft are mission-ready anytime and anywhere.
In 2019, the Sniper ATP team was awarded the Department of Defense’s annual Performance-Based Logistics Subsystem Level Award for creating a $91.7 million cost avoidance and outperforming the mean time between maintenance events by 46 percent. Charles and Feron are only two of our reliable team of customer representatives and sustainment engineers who help Lockheed Martin provide the best support possible to customers. Another way we’re able to achieve an availability rate surpassing 98% on Sniper ATP is by adopting the most advanced technology throughout the system’s lifecycle.
Our sustainment program starts with an innovative design where we use data as a strategic asset to anticipate and mitigate future maintenance needs. From there, we continue to explore new tools, like augmented, virtual and mixed reality, artificial intelligence and digital twins, to improve product reliability.
A central piece of technology for Charles’s team is an aircraft pod tester. Functioning as an aircraft simulator, it is a powerful tool that enables customers to test and repair Sniper and LANTIRN Navigation pods off aircraft to reduce the downtime of our critical systems and the associated aircraft.
Feron said his team leans on Global Scope and is eagerly anticipating the integration of Rely3D. Global Scope is a ground support application that allows pilots seated in the cockpit to record video data of areas they are flying over for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes. Rely3D is a mobile, Lockheed Martin interactive suite of applications that supports aircraft maintainers with virtual guides, 3-D animations, wiring diagrams and more. These sensor technologies support Sniper ATP in handling the most challenging precision targeting across multiple domains to enhance survivability for the warfighter.
“My team is all focused on mission success. We work collectively to find the best and most cost-effective solutions.”
But Lockheed Martin’s commitment to sustainment is not only about ensuring product reliability but cultivating lifelong partnerships with our customers as well.
Charles has lived abroad for 10 years and during that time has embraced the opportunity to build relationships and immerse himself in a new culture.
“The customer has certain traditions they follow for gratification,” Charles said. “They've invited me to their family's weddings - which I have attended, and they’ll invite you to eat with them. That’s a big thing in American culture, but doing that here is different, especially when it's a big meal in the dessert.”
Feron serves in another country but shared similar experiences.
“Hospitality is a big part of the culture here. I've been invited to weddings and into people's homes, historical sites and more,” he said. “The first year I was here was difficult because you don't know what to expect for trying something the first time. After that, it's been great.”
Charles and Feron said that being a field service representative has encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones and more easily adapt to new challenges. In turn, their roles have made them both better people and engineers.
From development at home to out on the flight line, field service representatives collaborate with our customers to guarantee that the warfighter is ready for whatever comes their way.