SOURCE: Westar Aerospace & Defense Group, Inc.

December 18, 2006 08:11 ET

Marine Fighter Squadron Deploys to Iraq With MFOQA Demonstration Tools From SimAuthor

MIRAMAR, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 18, 2006 -- In August of this year, the "Bats" of Marine All-Weather Fighter-Attack Squadron 242 -- VMFA(AW)-242 -- deployed to Iraq with prototype software tools developed under the Department of the Navy's Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance (MFOQA) demonstration project. The tools are currently being used in combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

The "Bats" used the tools during air-to-air training at MCAF Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and air-to-ground training at MCAS Yuma, Ariz., in preparation for deployment to Iraq. The tools provided notable improvements in the aircrews' debriefs of air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties, as well as more timely visualization of aircraft systems data to support maintenance.

"Though the demonstration project is still in progress and uses for the tools continue to be refined, they provided significant improvements during our tactical and maintenance debrief sessions and were convincing enough for us to request their use during our deployment to OIF," said Major "Drowsy" Reed, Director of Safety and Standardization for VMFA(AW)-242.

The tools include FlightAnalyst™ and FlightViz™, modified commercial off-the-shelf software programs developed by SimAuthor, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Westar Aerospace & Defense Group, Inc. as well as a separate software tool developed by the Navy.

Maj. Reed said several squadron members were convinced of the value of the MFOQA demonstration prototype tools, and described them as a "force multiplier" during the unit's preparation for deployment.

The SimAuthor tools provide an analytical presentation of a flight based on operational data from the aircraft, a graphical and animated representation of a flight, and a post-flight replay of aircraft systems data in a format similar to multi-function displays available to the aircrew in-flight. The analytical and data visualization capabilities enable squadron aircrews to improve the quality of their missions in terms of performance and safety, and assist maintenance personnel with systems troubleshooting and repair.

"The 'Bats' were selected as the lead fixed-wing squadron for the MFOQA demonstration, which was established to involve the warfighter in the development of MFOQA requirements and concepts of operations. MFOQA is a knowledge management process being developed to improve operational readiness and reduce risks in Navy and Marine Corps aviation squadrons.

"Throughout the demonstration we evaluated and evolved the prototype tools for potential use in a combat environment," said Dr. David Haas, the technical lead for the MFOQA Demonstration Project.

The "Bats" are using the tools in Iraq on a daily basis. Typical applications include aircrew debriefs of missions with the capability to depict spatial relationships of multiple aircraft during simultaneous flights. The tools also provide the capability to validate discrepancies during daily maintenance operations, and possibly eliminate "troubleshooting" steps or maintenance actions, as allowed within the provisions of the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program.

The capabilities provided by the prototype tools are being used to help define MFOQA fleet requirements for to the Naval Air Command (NAVAIR), which is responsibility for the Navy's MFOQA Program Acquisition.

The history of the Marine All-Weather Fighter-Attack Squadron 242 dates back to 1943 when it was activated as Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 242. The Squadron has a long combat history. It flew anti-submarine patrols in the South Pacific until the end of World War II, was deployed to Key West during the Cuban Missile Crisis, participated in combat operations in Vietnam, and was part of the Marine Air Group-70 in Operation Desert Shield. The Squadron is currently based at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif.

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