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CHIPS Articles: Joint Capability Technology Demonstration at JEB Little Creek–Fort Story Successfully Tests Littoral Logistics

Joint Capability Technology Demonstration at JEB Little Creek–Fort Story Successfully Tests Littoral Logistics
By Gerald P. Tighe, Lou Bernstein, Thomas R. Smith, Daniel J. McCambridge and Sarah G. MacMillan - July-September 2020
Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) successfully demonstrated a joint capability vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology to refuel from a forward-deployed barge as part of the Resilient Expeditionary Agile Littoral Logistics (REALL) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) in July.

The scope of the JCTD at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story included an evaluation of the concept of conducting VTOL operations using an MH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter on an Improved Navy Lighterage System Roll-on/Roll-off Discharge Facility (INLS RRDF). The evaluation collected data points from high-speed cameras and an aircraft data package to capture metrics for analysis to inform suitability of employing the INLS RRDF as a logistics hub.

The structure of the VTOL demonstration, while limited in scope, provided the basis of illustrating the capability to land a VTOL on a platform of opportunity to further advance development of the REALL JCTD to meet warfighter requirements. Additionally, the JCTD included a simulated fuel system composed of nine (9) 20-foot intermodal containers built to ISO standards. The ISO containers were filled with bladders of water to simulate liquid fuel.

NAVFAC EXWC was approved as the Defense Department’s newest Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory to provide research, development, testing and evaluation and in-service engineering to deliver specialized facility and expeditionary solutions to the warfighter in December 2017.

Funded by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OSD Research & Engineering), the JCTD Program addresses Combatant Command and Joint warfighting gaps through prototyping and demonstration of innovative and game-changing technologies.

The REALL JCTD will provide capabilities addressing specific requirements identified in the National Defense Strategy and Integrated Priority Lists of several Combatant Commands. These capabilities will enhance the warfighter’s ability to provide sustained distribution of logistics in an operational environment.

Increasing Resiliency, Reducing Costs

REALL will deliver joint prototype fly-away kits engineered to transform available littoral platforms into sustainable littoral fuel and logistics nodes. Given current and emerging threats, the desired end-state is to produce system components capable of supporting Joint combat, counterinsurgency, and humanitarian Concept of Operations (CONOPs) in sea-based fuel and logistics operations. The resulting effort will reduce dependence on traditional, expensive, high value naval assets for logistics so they can perform a variety of high-end warfighting missions.

REALL will achieve this goal by providing fielding-in-quantity modular system components characteristically simple in shape and resilient in construction to meet a variety of Joint operational requirements. Our partners include: USTRANSCOM, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), U.S. Army Engineering and Research Development Command (ERDC), NAVFAC EXWC, Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office (E2O), Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division – Lakehurst, and others. Customers include the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the Special Operations community.

REALL will enhance the DoD’s capability to distribute logistic supplies in operational environments. Capabilities developed in REALL will allow planners and operators more flexibility and agility by dispersing logistics supply nodes over wider distances. REALL will also increase resiliency by providing these capabilities at relatively low cost.

REALL’s low-cost objective provides an alternative capability for supply distribution in a contested environment. This alternative is low-cost relative to current capacities for supply distribution.

Demonstration Outcomes

There are two types of demonstrations conducted in JCTDs. The first type usually includes a series of Technical Demonstrations, which are hosted and conducted by the Technical Manager, in this case NAVFAC EXWC. They are focused on testing a performance capability (or capabilities) to aid in the further development of technologies aimed at meeting stated Operational Requirements. The Little Creek demonstration was one of these events.

Conversely, Operational Demonstrations are hosted and conducted by a warfighter sponsor, USCENTCOM, in the case of REALL. These demonstrations provide a venue for the Technical Manager to test the results of the analysis, development and integration of a technology or several technologies. Independent Assessors (IA) evaluate these demonstrations to render a military utility determination.

At the conclusion of the JCTD there is one final Operational Demonstration that typically includes a showcase of all developed technologies integrated and working in unison. The IA produces a Military Utility Assessment (MUA) report chronicling findings and a final military utility recommendation for USCENTCOM and OSD’s JCTD Office as to whether or not the REALL JCTD should transition to the military as a program of record for use by U.S. Joint Forces.

Next Steps

The REALL Team will continue performing technical demonstrations to provide engineering design and capabilities for various components of the different systems. When these systems form an operational prototype, they will be evaluated in an Operational Demonstration to determine the level of utility provided to the warfighter.

The next technical demonstration will include more components of REALL to continue building the system to the point where it will be ready for the Operational Demonstration.

REALL will transition to the Expeditionary Program Office (ExPO) at the NAVFAC Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center at Port Hueneme, California. ExPO fulfills the NAVFAC System Command mission of supporting the Navy Expeditionary Combat Enterprise.

The Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC) is a command of more than 1,300 dedicated men and women who provide specialized facilities engineering, technology solutions, and life-cycle management of expeditionary equipment to the Navy, Marine Corps, federal agencies, and other Department of Defense supported commands. NAVFAC’s Warfare Center was established in September 2012 and represents the consolidation of the NAVFAC Engineering Service Center, the NAVFAC Expeditionary Logistics Center, the Specialty Center Acquisitions NAVFAC, and the NAVFAC Information Technology Center.

On Dec. 12, 2017, EXWC was approved as the DoD’s newest Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory.

MISSION: Provide research, development, testing and evaluation and in-service engineering to deliver specialized facility and expeditionary solutions to the warfighter.

VISION: Accelerate innovation to enable fleet lethality at sea and ashore.

MOTTO: ANTICIPATE - INNOVATE - ACCELERATE!

Gerald P. Tighe is the REALL JCTD Oversight Executive, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Research & Engineering (R&E) / Office of the Director, Defense (R&E) (Advanced Capabilities) Prototyping & Concept Experimentation.

Lou Bernstein is the Program Director, United States Transportation Command.

Thomas R. Smith is the REALL JCTD Operational Manager, United States Central Command J8-ST/SAC.

Daniel J. McCambridge is the REALL JCTD Technical Manager, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center.

Sarah G. MacMillan is the NAVFAC EXWC Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center.

An SH-60 helicopter approaches a Roll-On Roll-Off Discharge Facility (RRDF) platform during a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) demonstration at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek- Fort Story, VA. July 13, 2020. The VTOL was part of a multi-service logistics exercise which surveys new methods of amphibious warfare operations. (Courtesy U.S. Navy Photo)
An SH-60 helicopter approaches a Roll-On Roll-Off Discharge Facility (RRDF) platform during a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) demonstration at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek- Fort Story, VA. July 13, 2020. The VTOL was part of a multi-service logistics exercise which surveys new methods of amphibious warfare operations. (Courtesy U.S. Navy Photo)
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