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Aerial combat CONOPS has evolved over the last hundred years, responding to modernizing threats, to better prepare operators and maintainers to have the highest chances of success in combat. Often times it becomes a balance of capability, capacity and speed, where speed normally is the most critical component. In moments of high operating tempo, when problems begin occurring, capability or capacity sometimes are compromised in the effort to preserve a unit’s speed of attack.

Over the years, diagnosing a faulty aircraft during the day while combat operations are in process has been difficult due to the limitations or speed of the support equipment required for the task. In the arena of armament test equipment, this is very much the case. For example, all USAF combat code aircraft today require the use of multiple unique test sets for armament test, some of which have a very large footprint and test performance limitations (either speed or test fidelity). So how can a combat coded unit meet mission needs during the highest of operating tempos while still maintaining their combat capability?

To do this the USAF has developed many new maintenance and deployment CONOPS over the past few years to ensure the combat coded units around the world can answer the nations call when placed. Concepts like Agile Combat Employment (ACE) and Multi-Capable Airman (MCA) have begun to take shape, but have met many challenges due to the sheer complexity and number of legacy systems.

To meet the ACE support vision, equipment needs to have a small, if not micro footprint, and the ability to be transported and operated by a single person preferably. Also, ACE puts a premium on speed - speed to deploy, speed to use, and speed to redeploy. To allow MCA to succeed, support equipment needs to be simple to operate so any maintenance career field could use the device with limited or no training. Finally, for both ACE and MCA to achieve ultimate success, support equipment must be common across all types of aircraft. Small, fast, easy to operate, and common across aircraft is a necessity.

Fortunately, the MTS-3060A SmartCan™ was designed with just that vision. SmartCan has incorporated test and measurement channels and capability which was once reserved for extremely large test sets, some weighing more that 100lbs. The SmartCan team solved many of the slow test time problems by using active testing, increasing the number of measurement channels, and implementing parallel test capabilities. Additionally, the high resolution sunlight readable LCD screen provides users with step-by-step procedures, including on-screen prompts and color coded results (green screen= pass, red screen fail).

SmartCan test sets are found around the globe in over 19 countries, supporting nearly every armed platform. Not only is the SmartCan common to the USAF aircraft, but to any aircraft partner. This has unlocked new CONOPS which could allow for partner nation sharing of the needed armament support equipment thanks to the SmartCan’s ease of use and common operation across platforms. Test times which normally have taken 20-45 mins are now being accomplished in 2-5 mins, with the most extreme case reducing a single test from 4-6 hours to just 45 minutes.

Capabilities possessed within SmartCan could result in diagnosing a faulty aircraft, and potentially repairing it, during a hot pit refueling operation. Getting our combat aircraft operators back into the fight rapidly should be the sole focus.