News Release, NAVAIR
NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER AIRCRAFT DIVISION, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.–A common tenet from Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Richardson’s Four Lines of Effort is increasing the speed of getting capability to the fleet. In the current geo-political climate, taking a measured risk approach in order to accelerate capability delivery is imperative to maintaining strategic and tactical superiority over adversaries. The Night Vision Cueing and Display (NVCD) program, managed by the Aircrew Systems program office (PMA-202), is an example of one such program willing to take measured risks in order to accelerate capability.
The history behind the execution of the NVCD program is a testament to the Aircrew Systems program office’s ability to innovate and think outside the box. The NVCD program was first transferred to NAVAIR when the Air Force withdrew from the joint effort in 2013. It is a Rockwell Collins Elbit Vision Systems product that provides nighttime capability for Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System in all F/A-18 variants and the EA-18G.
The improvements provided by the NVCD over the legacy night vision system equate to a fivefold improvement between the target acquisition to engagement component of the Kill Chain. When the Navy assumed full control of the program, NVCD was billed as ready for near-term Full Rate Production. It turns out, it was not. Multiple hardware and reliability issues drove the program to delays, budget reductions and a tenuous execution profile. The Aircrew Systems program office had to flex, and that flexibility involved additional testing, innovative approaches to solutions, and taking on risk to acquire what has become a night vision system highly favored by the fleet today.
The team solved these technical, reliability and funding issues by taking measured risks. And, on January 16, 2019, those measured risks proved to be worthwhile as Capt. David Padula accepted the 500th delivery of the fleet-favored NVCD system on behalf of the government. Padula spoke to the audience, largely made up of the Rockwell Collins Elbit Vision Systems employees at their facility in Merrimack, New Hampshire, “The capability that is provided for our aviators is unprecedented,” Padula told the audience. “We fight our wars today differently from an aviation perspective because of this system, the system you all had a very, very intimate part of.”