Jan 9, 2013
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — After more than two decades supporting the CH-46 helicopter, the Navy’s Specialized and Proven Aircraft Program Office (PMA-226) recently marked the first anniversary of its broadened mission and expanding portfolio.
Under its new mission, which was amplified in November 2011, PMA-226 assumed programmatic responsibilities for several aircraft in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and out-of-inventory Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft.
The office now has team members at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
“Our outstanding reputation earned by supporting the U.S. Marines’ CH-46 ‘Phrog’ remains a priority,” said Lt. Col. David Walsh, program manager for PMA-226. “However, we’re extending our unrivaled support across all areas of responsibility.”
PMA-226 now maintains five of the 13 different types of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft at the Test Pilot School, including T-38 Talons, UH-72 Lakotas, U-6A Beavers, an NU-1-B Otter and X-26 Frigates. More than 50 years old, the fixed wing T-38C Talon is one of the oldest trainers in the U.S. Navy’s aircraft inventory and serves as the primary fixed-wing instructional platform at the Test Pilot School.
"The program office supports 10 T-38s, all with new glass cockpits and ejections seats," said Brent Johnson, an integrated product team lead for PMA-226. "The students start flying the T-38 as part of their pre-arrival training and eventually learn flight-testing and data-recording techniques in the aircraft. For rotary wing instructional asset support, the H-72 aircraft are of particular note because we hope to equip two of the H-72s with Variable Stability Systems, thus enhancing the quantity and quality of training to students.”
The Naval Postgraduate School is reaping the benefits of PMA-226’s new mission as well. In support of the school’s Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies, the program office manages O-2A Pelicans, UV-18A Twin Otters and the newly acquired Sentry Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which launched their first flight Oct. 19.
PMA-226 also supports FMS for out-of-U.S. Navy inventory aircraft, managing six aircraft types for eight countries.
“PMA-226’s H-2 and H-3 FMS programs are perfect examples of the U.S. Navy providing support for out-of-U.S. Navy inventory excess defense articles to facilitate relationships and cooperation among our allies and partners,” Walsh said.
With an initial order for 10 SH-2G(E) aircraft in 1994 with the primary mission of anti-submarine warfare, the Navy has maintained a partnership with the Egyptian air force for nearly 17 years. Today, PMA-226 has four active H-2 cases with the country’s air force involving Egyptian depot-level maintenance upgrades.
Another example is the recent completion of a standard depot-level maintenance effort on a UH-3H aircraft for the Argentine navy, culminating in a successful functional check flight and an acceptance check flight, which included the Argentine Navy’s squadron commander as the co-pilot. Upon final delivery of this aircraft, the program office will have provided four flyable and two additional aircraft that will be used for spare parts to help sustain the Argentine navy’s fleet of H-3s.
Current H-46 FMS efforts are focused on providing a rapid response to queries from interested countries. With its proven operational track record, the H-46 offers a cost-effective option for countries requiring a medium-lift helicopter well suited for multiple roles in the maritime environment. In addition, investments made by the Marine Corps to improve the safety, reliability, affordability and capability of the Phrog ensure it will be viable well into the future.
“The PMA-226 team has been flexible as its mission has evolved over the past year,” said Keith Sanders, the assistant commander for Acquisition, which has oversight of the program office. “While the team remains focused on maintaining the mission readiness of the CH-46E until the USMC assault support force has fully transitioned to the MV-22, this name change has afforded PMA-226 the opportunity to re-brand itself showcasing the diverse talents and expertise of its team across several platforms now, not solely the H-46/T58 platform.”
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