Author: Stephen T. Sargeant, Major General, USAF (Ret.)
Company: Marvin Test Solutions, Inc.
Phone: (949) 263-2222
A warfighting armament test gap exists today across many legacy 4th and 5th generation aircraft due to the inability of current O-level armament test equipment to functionally test MIL-STD-1760 based smart weapon systems. The current USAF handheld O-Level test sets (known as “beercans” because of their cylindrical shape) can test continuity of the 1760 bus, but much larger test sets are required to test the full functionality of the bus interface. The beercans were developed for previous generations of aircraft and armament, and are now outdated and inadequate for ensuring full mission readiness.
This armament test gap creates two major issues for armed aircraft sustainment:
1. Readiness uncertainty – while the testing of the aircraft with a beercan usually results in an FMC aircraft, the reality is far from that due to the inability of the beercans to detect armament system digital faults.
2. Costly maintenance – the inability of the beercans to fully test the aircraft necessitates the use of additional O-Level testers. Additionally, there is no commonality as each aircraft has its own beercan and larger O-Level testers, significantly increasing the footprint and cost of sustainment.
Many DOD programs address obsolescence by replacing the legacy item with a new similar item, creating a “new old” solution that addresses the obsolescence, but otherwise provides few or no improvements. Realizing that current handheld O-Level armament test sets lack comprehensive test capabilities, MTS developed a “NEW” new – a handheld, battery-powered test solution that supports all armament systems on all aircraft: the SmartCan™.
The MTS-3060 SmartCan provides maintainers with an affordable, innovative, easy-to-use test solution for today’s aircraft regardless of the armament systems they employ, delivering true FMC aircraft to the warfighter. Initially deployed in 2011, the SmartCan is capable of supporting all legacy and “smart” armament systems on all current and future fighters, bombers, attack helicopters, and UAS across the DOD. The handheld SmartCan weighs under 4 lbs., yet it packs over 30 measurement channels, electronic loads, multiple communications interfaces (MIL-STD-1553, MMSI, Ethernet, CAN Bus, RS-485), video and audio signal generators, and innovative test language that further reduces development and integration costs.
Today, the SmartCan is deployed worldwide with FMS customers on F-15, F-16, TA-50, FA-50, Hawk, F-5, UAS, and F-18 (in 2019) with support for A-10, F-22, and F-35 already available. One customer replaced six flightline test sets used on F-16 and F-15 with the SmartCan, significantly reducing their logistics footprint and benefiting from consistent and common training for all aircraft armament specialists.
The SmartCan’s ability to provide commonality and interoperability across the DOD improves the MXConOps by simplifying logistics and significantly reducing the cost of acquisition, test, maintenance and sustainment.