The Fixed Wing Project Office held its inaugural Industry Day on June 12. Representatives from government and industry participated in this event.
In attendance were more than 130 industry partners, representing 77 aviation-related companies. The Industry Day provided an opportunity for government and defense industry members to interact in an open forum to discuss the objectives and goals of the project office.
Program executive officer for aviation Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby delivered the opening remarks and spoke about the Army budget for the upcoming fiscal years and its effect on Army aviation.
“The easiest thing to do in this budget environment is to cut our investment programs,” Crosby said. “A decade from now when we need a new airplane, we won’t find what we need. We have got to maintain some balance in investments in research and development, a well as science and technology, and we can ill-afford to be duplicating that with limited resources. I encourage all of you to stay engaged, maintain that balance, and communicate across the board.”
Following Crosby’s remarks, fixed wing project manager Col. Brian Tachias addressed the audience, giving them an update on the project. Tachias spoke about the project office’s management of the acquisition, sustainment, modifications and divestiture actions of the Army’s fixed wing fleet which consists of 382 aircraft.
Within this fleet there are 40 different airplane designs and 73 series. Tachias included in his brief a chart detailing the age of the FW fleet. The oldest C-12 the Army flies is 40 years old. Trailing close behind is a 33-year-old EO-5 aircraft. These aircraft, and others, are fast approaching the end of their life cycle and will need to be replaced. One of the topics discussed at the event was the Fixed Wing Utility Aircraft program being considered as the retirement and replacement program for the aging C-12 and C-26 fleets.
“Opportunities like the one we have today, where government and industry can come together to discuss the path ahead for fixed wing, are beneficial for both parties. We all know that federal budget cuts are coming and we will have to do some ‘outside the box’ thinking in an attempt to compensate for the funding shortfalls,” Tachias said.
Current and future opportunities within the project office were laid out in briefs given by the product managers and directors of Special Electronic Mission Aircraft, Transport Aircraft, and Mission Support Aircraft. Each brief was followed by a question and answer session.
“By hosting events such as this, industry members are able to gauge the direction in which Army fixed wing aviation is headed,” Tachias said.
Lyn Roberts, director of sales for Beechcraft Corporation based out of Wichita, Kan., said the Fixed Wing Industry Day was a welcomed event.
“This Industry Day gave us, the company representatives, a chance to hear where the Army’s fixed wing program is now and where it’s headed in the future,” Roberts said. “Being able to ask questions of the leadership and getting a direct response allows us to pinpoint solutions to the challenges they may be facing. The information we received at this event will allow us to better develop our proposals and tailor them to meet specific needs.”