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Managing 5,000 Pods of data for the USAF

A crew chief with the 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., conduct pre-flight checks on a targeting pod attached to an A-10 Thunderbolt II during the Green Flag West 11-2 exercise at Nellis Air Force Base Nev. (Courtesy USAF)

In late September of 2013, S&K Global Solutions was awarded a new contract with the U.S. Air Force on a project called RAMPOD, which stands for Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability for Pods. Since 2000, RAMPOD has been an official Air Force system of record for pods. A “pod” is a device that is externally mounted on a fixed wing or rotary winged aircraft. These devices are what provide the aircraft enhanced war fighting capabilities. The pod types reported in RAMPOD are Electronic Warfare, Precision Attack and Targeting, Training, Test, and RADAR pods.

Our primary responsibility is to capture maintenance, status, and inventory of both pods and avionics systems and their respective support, test, and display equipment. Financial data on these assets is also collected in RAMPOD through the Department of Defense (DOD) critical financial feeder known as CFO (G100A database) and maintains data on over 5,000 pods with an acquisition cost of over $7.2 billion dollars.

S&K Global Solutions partnered with Air Logistics and Engineering (ALAE) for this effort. ALAE is headquartered in Warner Robins, GA and provides engineering, consulting, and technical services to the U.S. Government and private industry. S&K Global Solutions is primarily responsible for all of the logistical and help desk support; while ALAE provides the software, database/systems administration, and CFO compliance tracking. Both companies work in tandem leading to a “badgeless” environment for employees.

SrA Steven Rucker, an electronic warfare technician with 169th Maintenance Squadron’s Electronic Warfare shop at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., loads an ALQ-184 electronic countermeasure (ECM) pod on a lift to be moved to the testing equipment area for a120-day Preventative Maintenance Inspection (PMI) on January 6, 2012. PMI’s are conducted every 120 and a major inspection at 360 days, where a specific series of tests are performed on various components at pre-set frequencies, ensuring the ECM pod is receiving and correctly responding to threat signals. Electronic Warfare provides safety to our pilots and F-16’s in combat and training missions by providing total structural and electronic maintenance and repairs to the ALQ-184 ECM pod. The ALQ-184 ECM pod is equipped with forward and aft antennas, which receive radar signals and allows the pod to manipulate those and send back false information making it difficult for the enemy to lock-in on our jets. (SCANG photo by TSgt. Caycee Cook)

An electronic warfare technician with 169th Maintenance Squadron’s Electronic Warfare shop at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., loads an ALQ-184 electronic countermeasure (ECM) pod on a lift to be moved to the testing equipment area for a120-day Preventative Maintenance Inspection (PMI) on January 6, 2012. (Courtesy USAF)

RAMPOD was developed in 1982 as a result of the SEEK ICE initiative, which was a pod procurement program. That program identified the need to have a maintenance data collection system that would capture all aspects of pod scheduled and unscheduled events and provide users with usable performance metrics. RAMPOD’s first iteration of software was a client system loaded on each user’s computer; the program has since matured into a web-based system that integrates with other Air Force databases.

Since inception, other pods have been included in the RAMPOD database and RAMPOD’s scope has expanded to include integrated aircraft avionics systems such as the B-1B Lancer to the F-15 Tactical Electronic Warfare System. As the popularity of the RAMPOD system continued to grow, it became the maintenance data collection system of choice, serving over 2,000 users at 114 locations within the continental United States and 12 locations outside the U.S.

RAMPOD is truly a multi-service program that provides data to not only the Air Force, but to Army, Navy, and Marine units as well. This multi-service utilization is most evident in the Electronic Warfare and Training pods, but will be even more evident when the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS – pronounced “Chris”) pods are fielded in late 2014. The CRIIS Program office has mandated that RAMPOD will be the system of record for all CRIIS pod maintenance activities regardless of military branch, ensuring uniformity of data and making the task of collecting metrics simpler. In an environment of drawing down and mission consolidation, it will become more the rule, rather than the exception, that all of the DOD services will utilize common platforms thus making RAMPOD a common fixture on military bases throughout the world.

The uniqueness of the RAMPOD program is self-evident when assessing other DOD programs used to collect maintenance data. This will no doubt be a challenge to the S&K Global Solutions team, but with seasoned members in place the team will continue to provide the level of support the field users, Major Command staff, and Program Offices are accustomed. Our management staff is actively looking at ways to enhance RAMPOD support and take the program to the next level. In doing so, S&K Global Solutions will position itself apart from the other SBA 8(a) competition.

SKGS RAMPOD Crew in Georgia

The S&K Global Solutions RAMPOD crew gathers at their office in Warner Robins, GA. They are joined by Ian Rufe, VP of Operations, pictured on the left.

Knowledge of The Past. Vision for The Future.

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