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NAVAIR Commander’s Award recognizes Aircrew Systems program office Noncombat Survival Radio team

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - Vice Adm. Dean Peters recognized the Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) Noncombat Survival Radio (NCSR) team with a NAVAIR Commander’s Award for procurement with most innovative reduction in cost and cycle time on March 31.

The NCSR Team completed procurement of a new noncombat survival radio, cutting the cycle time by two years, saving $30 million and using 98 percent of the funds for the end-item product. The team identified and assessed commercially available radios using government engineering and test capabilities while simultaneously working with the manufacturer to address test results. The immediate entry into testing, certification, and search and rescue capability demonstrations with operational user partnership enabled improved radio transmission capability for search and rescue use, resulting in a rapid, cost effective fielding of improved capability to locate and recover downed aircrew.

“This was great work done by the Aircrew Systems and Human Systems Engineering team.  They didn’t just run the same acquisition path faster, they figured out how to get to the finish line quicker.  Many thanks to VADM Peters for recognizing the NCSR team with this award,” said Capt. Tom Heck, program manager, PMA-202.

The Navy initiated the NCSR program to replace the legacy non-combat radios currently carried by aircrew that have been in service for over 40 years. As with any product with that much age, parts for the radios became obsolete over time and readiness of every manned platform within naval aviation and the safety of downed aircrew would be adversely affected without a fast solution.

In an effort to drastically reduce procurement cycle time and deliver improved capabilities, the NCSR team developed a strategy to assess radios that required minimal development. The program office conducted market research and identified multiple non-developmental Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) candidate radios that showed potential to meet naval aviation requirements. 

By leveraging the development efforts of industry, the NCSR program reduced cycle time by two years and saved an estimated $12 million in developmental costs with industry partner Elbit Systems C4I and Cyber, Holon, Israel.

Using a COTS product, the team was able to tailor the engineering processes, shortening the cycle time to match the maturity of the beginning product.

The NCSR team took the NAVAIR strategic imperatives of readiness and speed a step further by tailoring an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract which enabling testing to begin much earlier than a standard contract. This innovative contracting strategy along with a fail-fast risk acceptance posture allowed the early discovery and correction of deficiencies in real time.

The unorthodox approach chosen by the NCSR team enabled delivery of NCSR products nearly two years earlier when compared to a traditional contracting approach of completing all test and evaluation prior to procurement and more than one year in advance of adverse readiness impacts from legacy radio obsolescence.

Using organic engineering support, the NCSR team plans to work with operational users to increase capability by improving the transmission ability of what was previously a manually activated NCSR to an automatically activated NCSR while submerged in water, thus mitigating a delay in locating and recovering downed aircrew in the maritime environment.

The Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202) serves as the premiere organization for human performance optimization and enables the Navy and Marine Corps to be combat effective by providing and sustaining Aircrew Systems that work the first time, every time. The program office analyzes, develops, and executes innovative solutions that ensure warfighters are equipped with Aircrew Systems that are ready to fight tonight, through all phases of Naval Aviation, with the capability and capacity to win the future.

To read more about all of the NAVAIR Commander's Award winners, visit: https://www.navair.navy.mil/news/21st-annual-NAVAIR-Commanders-Awards-recognize-readiness-speed-fleet-unprecedented-year/Mon

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