Intelligent Aerospace Chief Editor Courtney E. Howard interviewed Sargeant, who revealed the following insights about FIA 2016 and beyond.
Retired U.S. Air Force Major General and Marvin Test Solutions’ CEO Steve Sargeant explains:
“I am really excited to see the F-35 being displayed and flying at Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) this week. The U.S. Air Force will have three aircraft at RIAT; and the USMC will be flying their IOC F-35s at FIA.
“The Air Force has ordered more of the F-35 than any other U.S., Partner Nation, or Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer – 1,763 aircraft – and is on track to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) between August and December of this year. F-35s from Hill AFB just completed a demanding deployment exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) [in Idaho] involving seven F-35 aircraft, nearly 200 pilots and maintenance technicians, and close to 90 sorties. They scheduled for and flew 88, with no losses in the air-to-air arena versus the very capable F-15E aircraft. In addition, the F-35s dropped 16 GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs.
“Marvin Test Solutions is looking forward to when the F-35 completes the System Design and Development phase (SDD) and users [have all reached] initial operational capability across the board.” The USMC declared IOC in July of 2015.
The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, prime contractor Lockheed Martin, and companies in the F-35 supply chain, including Marvin Engineering Company and Marvin Test Solutions “have a great story to tell. Prepare to see a lot more buzz around the F-35, with people making and taking orders, and training in full swing at Eglin AFB in Florida and Luke AFB in Arizona.”
Marvin Engineering Company (MEC) is the managing partner for Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program for the production of Alternate Mission Equipment (AME), including “bomb racks, launchers, and pylons. MEC works with five companies in five partner nations participating in the AME builds. All those companies will be at Farnborough, and I have no doubt they’ll be excited to see the equipment they are building on display and flying.
“Lockheed Martin is meeting all the F-35 armament test requirements as they are written today during SDD. We at Marvin Test Solutions are looking ahead, in the event that at some point in future there might be demand for additional test capabilities related to armament testing beyond two levels of maintenance. We call these warfighting test enhancements and they can be used on the flight line or back shop maintenance for the F-35. Lockheed Martin and the Joint Program Office (JPO) are working hand in hand, and meeting all SDD armament requirements. In the future, if warfighters want to have more levels of maintenance, we have proven equipment on aircraft today that will be able to meet their needs. At Marvin Test Solutions, we are always looking forward to see how we can meet warfighter needs that may emerge.
“Marvin Test Solutions will have on display at Farnborough Airshow equipment that address most current aircraft armament and munitions test requirements, including our Maverick test equipment. We are the only producers of state of the art test equipment for the Maverick missile by Raytheon, and we have the complete suite of Maverick test equipment across all variants of the Maverick missile.
“Marvin Test Solutions is the exclusive producer of test sets for the Maverick Missile and the launchers that support them. The MTS-206, Maverick Field Test Set, performs on all variants of the Maverick Missile (including the latest AGM- 65L Laser Maverick) and its system components, LAU-117 and LAU-88 Maverick Launchers (all versions), and launcher/missile clusters. In addition, Marvin Test Solutions offers the MTS-916 Modular Target Simulator family featuring target simulators for E/O, TV/ CCD, infrared, and laser-guided Maverick Missiles. These systems are deployed in 17 countries today. The MT-1888 eye-safe laser simulator rounds out our Maverick test equipment offerings.
“The MTS-3060 SmartCan handheld flight-line test set fully tests the functionality of the MIL-STD-1760 bus used to communicate and employ smart weapons, which are in wide use throughout the world. We recently deployed the MTS-3060 to a country that had TA-50s and combined F-16 and TA-50 test capability into one SmartCan to use across a variety of platforms. It’s a cost-effective solution for [aircraft maintenance personnel] as they maintain a wide variety of aircraft today.
“We’ll have our ultra-rugged military specification (Mil-Spec) chassis [at FIA] that underpins many of our test sets, including the MTS-235 production-level/depot -level test set for the armament on the F-35. It is being used to test armament being produced by Marvin Test and the other companies producing F-35 AME – at our production facility in Inglewood.
“You want to ensure armament is going to work – it’s what makes it possible for fighters and bombers to deliver weapons on target. That’s where SmartCan comes into play – checking aircraft on the flight line before you load all the munitions, making sure the MIL STD 1760 bus is capable of performing the communication functions required for smart weapons to be employed.
“In the aerospace arena for the companies that produce aircraft, satellites, and other high-tech equipment, we have GENASYS, a high-end automated test equipment (ATE) platform capable of overcoming legacy problems or obsolescence with ATE deployed over the past couple of decades. Several defense primes are already using GENASYS and others are interested; it helps customers seamlessly transition their TPSs from expensive or impossible to maintain ATE to a platform that will be supported well into the future.
“When we return from Farnborough, we will follow up with all the customers and potential customers we come in contact with at FIA. In a case like FIA, the best you’re going to get is an hour with someone – and that’s with a planned meeting; usually it’s a 20-minute-or-less encounter, so follow-up is the most important thing.
“We will continue to improve upon our MTS-3060 SmartCan based on customer input and requests, which continue to evolve. We are always listening to customers; if a customer wants a different type of cables or expanded test options, we find ways to do that for them. The combined capabilities, the ability to test three different aircraft in one SmartCan, came from a customer request. We will continue to provide the best flight-line test equipment possible with a footprint amazingly reduced from legacy test equipment.
“We are very excited about FIA, where we are displaying F-35 armament – and our test equipment providing legacy and future aircraft support – at our booth this year. F-35 bomb racks, launchers, and pylons – you can see them on display and I know the F-35 AME partners will be very proud of it.”
Steve Sargeant is the CEO of Marvin Test Solutions having joined the company in June of 2012 after retiring from the USAF with the rank of Major General. Steve also serves as the Vice President of Strategic Development for The Marvin Group. With over 20 years of senior executive experience in all aspects of aerospace operations and testing in organizations ranging in size from 200 to 160,000 personnel, Steve’s experience and background is leading Marvin Test Solutions’ growth and expansion as a world leader in the global mil-aero and commercial test and measurement industries.
Steve brings an extensive background in operational test and evaluation, and the ability to assist customers in meeting their test equipment and instrumentation requirements. An innovative manager, leader, and team builder, he saved millions managing $2B to $4B in assets and testing 76 major acquisition programs valued at over $650B. Steve created the Joint and Coalition Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Executive Committee, ensuring cohesive test planning and execution for the largest defense acquisition program in history. Due to his extensive experience with the JSF, the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force selected him to assist Air Education and Training Command as a senior advisor establishing the first F-35 Joint flying training wing for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines at Eglin AFB, Florida.
Previously, he served as commandant of the US Air Force Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nevada, and commanded the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona. He served in numerous joint and coalition assignments including deputy chief of staff of Strategy for Combined Joint Task Force 7 and deputy chief of staff, Strategy, Plans, and Assessment for Multi-National Force – Iraq in Baghdad.
A command pilot with over 3,100 flying hours primarily in the A-10A and F-16A/B/C/D, Sargeant has received dozens of awards and decorations including the Air Force Distinguished Service and Bronze Star Medals, 2006 People to People–Korea Outstanding Service Award, and 2009 General Thomas D. White Air Force Space Trophy.