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Over the past few years, I’ve heard a lot with regard to making systems more “agile”, with much of the focus placed on the software. When an agile system is broken into its major components this enterprise focus on software makes sense, given the complexity of developing, testing, integrating and fielding new software and version updates.<Read More> Understandably, most of the focus has been on the major platform, i.e., the aircraft, due to the combat capabilities they deliver, but over the same time limited resources have been applied to the support equipment.

The goal discussed throughout many DoD organizations is to streamline aircraft software release cycles toward enabling updates on a regular six-month basis. This goal seems reasonable given that many current devices have release fixes and software updates within this cycle.  However, what happens when the aircraft test sets take one to two years for the software releases or updates? That’s the challenge we face today. I’m sure this scenario doesn’t need explaining, because software releases need to be synced. Otherwise, major issues or test gaps will arise which may jeopardize the missions’ effectiveness or delay the fielding of needed capability. From my experience, this is a solvable problem. There are companies building solutions today that address these problems, which provide the open, and simplified software architecture the DoD seeks.

Marvin Test Solutions has created test executive software with this issue in mind. Specifically, ATEasy® and SmartCanEasy allow the user to develop, create and integrate their own test programs. With this capability under the users’ control, a service can choose to have the task of maintaining and creating test set programs at the program-office level without the need for contractor support.

Other advantages to employing this level of solution include:

  • The timeline in which these test programs would be released would then be in line with the aircraft which they support, or faster if needed.
  • Software corrections or updates could be released out-of-cycle without a laborious funds request and transfer to support, which can delay the release of needed updates.
  • Owning the test executive software provides the ability to support classified programs without giving up the required sensitive information to create the test programs. This can be highly advantageous to organizations like AFSOC, who quite often have a one-off need which not only contains sensitive information, but also might have a condensed employment timeline needed for a high-value mission set.
  • The adoption of test set programs brings the added cost-savings benefit to any organization or service who may choose to utilize this capability. No longer would that organization be limited by yearly allocated contractor support funds or cycles. These limitations can trickle down into delays during Developmental Test & Evaluation or Operational Test & Evaluation, ultimately delaying the fielding of much needed capabilities.

Bottom line: Unlock the agility needed to advance at the speed of relevance, rather than playing catch-up with test equipment.