Role of The Experimental Test Pilot in The Combat Aviation Brigade

Chief Warrant Officer Four Clint Logwood, Aviation Technical Test Center

“Blackdeath 28 this is Wings 06, I know you are in contact but out of station time and crew day. I have a Scout Weapons Team armed with Rocket, .50 Cal and Hellfire postured 2 miles east of Biaj requesting a SITREP and battle handover.”

Sounds like an ordinary radio call from a scout weapons team in combat; however, the crew was a unique mix from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Multi National Division – North. The crew was composed of the 25th CAB Commander, Col. A.T. Ball, Wings 06, and Chief Warrant Officer Four Clint Logwood from the Aviation Technical Test Center (ATTC), unique due to the fact that both aviators are Experimental Test Pilots (XPs). An all XP crew, performing multiple combat missions together – this was a first in Army Aviation.

25th Combat Aviation Brigade successful testing of the Hunter Viper Strike Package.
Images of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade’s (CAB) successful testing of the Hunter Viper Strike Package on Contingency Operating Base Speicher. The Viper Strike package is a Hunter modified into a lethal configuration through the addition of precision guided munitions. The Viper Strike was a significant project undertaken by the 25th CAB Experimental Test Pilot (XP), and is one example of the innovative capabilities the XP program provides to a deployed CAB. The success of the Viper Strike program has helped lay the foundation for the future use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Army Aviation.

Mr. Clint Logwood is embedded with the 25th CAB as part of the Army Test and Evaluation Command’s Forward Operational Assessment Team. ATTC sends XPs for combat rotations to offer near and long term benefits for the development and fielding of combat systems supporting our aviation war fighters in support of the Global War on Terrorism. XPs have provided significant direct support to their hosting units. They are primarily an in-house liaison representing the testing and acquisition communities, but in the 25th CAB, also serve as the force modification officer. In their primary capacity, they serve as a direct link to facilitate communications with Aviation Program Managers, the Aviation Engineering Directorate, and equipment manufactures.

Embedded XPs in combat formations have existed since January 2005 when an ATTC XP deployed to OIF as part of the AH-64D Lot 8, Common Missile Warning System (CMWS), Blue Force Tracker and Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight (MTADS) fielding. XPs represent a low density, highly skilled resource within the testing community and offer unique benefits to the unit and Army Aviation when made available to a CAB Commander. The value added of having an XP to the CAB is not only possessing a subject matter expert armed with multiple tools in his kit bag, they are also highly experienced aviators as well. Some of them are senior Warrant Officers, with a background as Standardization Instructor Pilots (SIP) or Maintenance Officers. Some are Commissioned Officers with a distinguished operational or maintenance background and knowledge of Army level processes which are not normally resident at the Brigade level. They depart the testing community for six months periods from programs like the UH-60M, CH-47F or AH-64D Block III in an effort to ensure newly designed aircraft, weapons and systems are best tailored to meet the war fighter’s collective needs for the current fight and for future operations.

25th Combat Aviation Brigade Experimental Test Pilot Chief Warrant Officer Four Clint Logwood reviews enhancements made to the OH 58 Kiowa with the 25th CAB Commander Col. A. Thomas Ball, before take off.
25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) Experimental Test Pilot (XP) Chief Warrant Officer Four Clint Logwood reviews enhancements made to the OH58 Kiowa with the 25th CAB Commander Col. A. Thomas Ball, before take off. The 25th CAB has leveraged the XP position as an indispensable member of the team. Through this partnership the XP has created innovative opportunities that enhanced the overall lethality of the equipment and war fighting abilities of the organization.

XPs have provided significant direct support to their hosting units while serving the CAB as a special staff officer. A primary task of the Combat Aviation Brigade XP position is to conduct detailed formal interviews with operational crews and maintainers on a non-intrusive basis to provide effective feedback to product managers and Aviation Engineering Directorate. They must be the resident expert and conduit for all acquisition and airworthiness issues. They should progress and fly as an experienced crewmember to assist the CAB and gain first-hand knowledge of combat employment tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). Assigned XPs often collect data on evaluated systems for use in the Army’s test and evaluation processes. They will provide formal feedback and recommendations to product managers for modifications and procurements of subsequent aircraft and subsystem variants while also assisting the CAB in their overall mission accomplishment. Additionally, they will communicate findings and TTPs to the Aviation Technical Test Center for relativity within test methodology. When not performing these specified duties, they may augment the Aviation Brigade in additional capacities as dictated by the Commander.

25th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers install the Army Airborne Command and Control System into a UH 60 airframe.
25th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) Soldiers install the Army Airborne Command and Control System (A2C2S) into a UH60 airframe. The 25th CAB Experimental Test Pilot’s (XP) oversight of programs such as the A2C2S ensures rapid fielding tailored to the needs of the unit in the field. The A2CS2 is a significant upgrade to legacy A2C2 platforms. The A2C2S allows commanders in the 25th Infantry Division an innovative method to command and control their formations through linking Army Battlefield Command Systems (ABCS), Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) platform feeds and communications systems to ground units in the fight.

The rapid fielding of Mission Equipment Packages and constant Modification Work Orders applied to our aircraft necessitate having XPs assigned to the CAB to insure all acquisition and airworthiness issues within CAB are resolved quickly for continued combat effectiveness. They will ensure deficiencies are corrected and improvements are made to subsequent aircraft and subsystems based on combat experience and feedback from direct involvement with the supported unit. Thanks to their reach back into the test community, they can inform ATTC with results from the testing and development of new systems which better represent the concerns of operational pilots, especially regarding TTP and operational employment considerations. Their tasks, when successfully completed, can greatly accelerate product development and product improvement.

Since our deployment to OIF 06-08, there have been three XPs attached to the 25th CAB: MAJ Todd Buhr, MAJ Dan Bailey and CW4 Clint Logwood. While attached, they have accumulated over 750 combat flight hours while flying multiple aircraft and their accomplishments have assisted the 25th CAB in our overall mission success. They also provided the Department of the Army a way to conduct developmental testing within the combat theater. For example, they worked to add Viper Strike and the communication relay package to the Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), new starting procedures for the UH-60 Aircraft and the addition of the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) to the Airborne Command and Control System. Their work indirectly affects ground commanders as well. The OSRVT for instance allows the ground commander to receive a direct UAV feed displayed on console monitors, helping the ground commander improve his situational awareness while conducting combat missions. Additionally, the CAB XPs have been instrumental in assisting and identifying operational needs not only for the CAB, but for the Corps and MNF-I as well. Aircraft systems upgrades which these dedicated professionals assisted in the 25th CAB include the following:

  • UH-60L
  • A2C2 OSRVT Strap On and Integrated UAV Feed
  • UH-60L Fiber Optic Gyro System
  • CH-47D
  • Ballistic Armor Protection System Modification
  • Gunners Seat M240 Gun Mounts and Ramp Mounts Modifications
  • AH-64D
  • Aviation Survivability Product Improvements
  • Gun Cradle Reliability
  • Infrared Zoom Laser Illuminator/Designator Boresight Improvement
  • MTADS Training and Anti-Fogging Improvements
  • CMWS Improvements Leading to the 5th Sensor Development
  • Identifying the Operational Need for Level Four UAV Control and Drafting an Operational Needs Statement
  • OH-58D
  • Operational Need for the Pimca Card Video Data Transfer System
  • Organero Seat Cushions Surveys and Air Worthiness Release Data Collection
  • Fixed Wing (C12, UC-35, C23, Shorts 360)
  • Sensor to Shooter TTPs
  • PRC-117 Antenna Improvements
  • CMWS Data Collection
  • Other activities included serving as a Class A accident investigation Subject Mater Expert, Ultra High Frequency interference testing, and Concept of Operations development for TF ODIN and UAV assets.

    While not all Combat Aviation Brigades will desire or need an XP, the 25th CAB was certainly well served by the outstanding accomplishments of these aviators. When engaged correctly, an XP on the CAB staff serves as a true combat multiplier. He provides the organization additional capacity to improve its aircraft, systems and techniques of employment in combat without detracting from the duties of other staff officers. The integration of an XP at the Brigade level is a novel concept, one that leverages their unique skill sets in an innovative manner to produce tangible results for the warfighting formation.

    By Col. A.T. Ball

  • Military Friends of NewsBlaze originated these stories, sending them directly to us from Iraq, some from Afghanistan and some in the USA.