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Flightline Armament Test: All Platforms, All Weapons, One Solution

Today’s armament maintainers are tasked with performing flightline (O-Level) maintenance with an assortment of legacy test sets that greatly limit the ability to quickly and efficiently verify armament system readiness, diagnose failures, and ultimately return the aircraft to full mission capable (FMC) status. Legacy test sets are typically utilized on only a single aircraft, or perform a single function supporting multiple aircraft, resulting in increased training and logistics challenges, and longer than necessary test and repair times. This not only impacts armament maintainer effectiveness, but limits the realization of Agile Combat Employment (ACE) and the development of Multi-Mission Airmen.

The need for a universal armament test solution, one that is easy to use, portable and rugged, with rapid test and setup times, and common across all platforms and weapons, has become readily apparent and increasingly in demand on the flightline.  Working closely with armament maintainers from across the global, both DOD and ally, Marvin Test Solutions (MTS) identified key functionality and capabilities essential to supporting legacy, current, and future generation platforms and weapons systems.  The outcome of this effort resulted in the widely deployed and combat proven MTS-3060A SmartCan™ Universal Armament Test Set.

The handheld MTS-3060A SmartCan is capable of testing all Alternate Mission Equipment (AME) and Normally Installed Equipment (NIE) including pylons, launchers, bomb racks, guns, and POD interfaces, as well as supporting 4th, 5th, and 6th generation weapons systems. A standard SmartCan kit, with all associated cables and adaptors contained in a single carry case, can replace the flightline test capabilities of over a dozen test sets across USAF fighters and UASs. It can also support a broader implementation to include bombers and surface-to-air defensive systems as needed. See Table 1 for additional details.

Table 1. O-Level Test Set Replacement Matrix

All fielded aircraft, manned and unmanned, rotary and fixed wing, can be loaded onto a single SmartCan, eliminating the traditional deployment model of using multiple aircraft-specific armament test sets on the flightline. Test results and measurement variances for each weapon are displayed real-time for review, analysis, and fault-isolation. Additionally, test log files can easily be moved or copied via the removable SD card for printing and analysis, supporting emerging predictive maintenance initiatives. 

Unlike legacy handheld test sets that are only capable of performing stray voltage and continuity tests, the SmartCan implements functional MIL-STD-1760 testing to ensure armament systems are ready to support Smart weapons, before they are loaded. Coupled with munitions emulation communication channels supporting all existing weapons protocols, it provides a full system test for all legacy and Smart weapons. It performs both pre-load and functional checkouts through weapons emulation, the simultaneous testing of multiple squib signals, and implements a unique cross-fire algorithm to deliver a comprehensive test process superior to other all O-Level armament test sets in service today.

The rugged design, ergonomic layout, and small footprint (~4 lbs.) enables field operation anywhere in the world, making it the ultimate tool for flightline armament test. It is designed and qualified to operate under extreme environmental conditions, meeting MIL-PRF-28800F Class 1, MIL-STD-810C and MIL-STD-461F requirements. Battery operation further enhances field usability; (6) AA batteries and an innovative power management system enables over (40) hours of test time without the need to replace the batteries.  

Test setup and execution times are also significantly improved, and the results are striking!  F-16 setup times are reduced from 45 minutes to just 4 minutes, representing an impressive 91% decrease. Similarly, test execution times for a pylon utilizing MIL-STD-1760 and a LAU-129, tested for both AIM-120 and AIM-9X, saw substantial reductions from 20 minutes to 3 minutes (85% reduction), and from 35 minutes to 4 minutes (89% reduction) respectively.  See Table 2 for additional details.

Table 2. F-16 Setup / Test Time Comparison

Advanced cybersecurity features and protections further differentiate the SmartCan, making this the most cyber-secure O-Level armament test set. Data encryption, a custom operating system, NIST Certified software for Test Program Set (TPS) development, and a removable secure data (SD) card all contribute to the enhanced cybersecurity of this test set.

The ability to streamline TPS development and release cycles is another unique advantage of the SmartCan. ATEasy™ and SmartCanEasy, a powerful integrated TPS development environment, allows the user to develop and integrate their own test programs to support new weapons entering service. With this capability the USAF can develop test programs in-house, speeding development and release to the field.  

All Platforms, All Weapons, One Solution:  MTS-3060A SmartCan. Currently deployed on 14 platforms, in 19 countries, in Systems Integration Labs, with SERD Certification (#75A77) and cybersecurity ATO, it is the premier O-Level armament test solution: lightweight and rugged, delivering the quickest setup and execution, reduced training time and logistics footprint, enhanced cybersecurity, with superior active armament test capabilities. A model for ACE CONOPS and Multi-Mission Airmen enabling technology.