Innovative Approaches to Reducing the Complexity and Increasing Sustainability of Linkless Ammunition Loading System III

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-008
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-008 TITLE: Innovative Approaches to Reducing the Complexity and Increasing Sustainability of Linkless Ammunition Loading System III

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Weapons

OBJECTIVE: Identify and demonstrate system innovative approaches to the Linkless Ammunition Loading System III (LALS III) to increase the systemís reliability and availability.

DESCRIPTION: The M61A1 and M61A2 gun systems installed on the legacy and super Hornet F/A-18 are loaded using the LALS III, consisting of a system of gears and conveyors that are complicated to utilize and maintain. There have been several attempts to increase the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF). However, with the incorporated changes the system still has a high-failure rate for several components (e.g., the conveyor assembly, aircraft interchange unit, and chain ladder assembly) as identified by Conventional Ordnance Discrepancy Reports (CODR). This high-failure rate causes mission delays and an increase to the maintenance workload for the fleet. These components are all complex parts of the overall conveyor system that moves ammunition throughout the LALS III. When connected to the aircraft or the ammunition transfer system to load or download ammunition in and out of the LALS III, there are several sequential steps necessary for the system to function properly. Severe damage and timing issues occur to these components if one step is missed or done out of order. Potential improvements include: (a) an internal timing and tension function to remove human error from the equation, and (b) improvements to the conveyor assembly, aircraft interchange unit, and chain ladder assembly to make them more robust to handle the rigors of the aircraft carrier environment, Forward Operating Bases, and decrease maintenance complexity. Any materials considered should be all-weather, corrosion resistant, suffer no adverse effects from contact with solvents, lubricants, or oils, and be compatible in a Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO) environment. The overall goal is to increase the overall availability, sustainability, and readiness.

PHASE I: Define, develop, and demonstrate the feasibility of innovative concepts and procedures increasing the reliability of failed components of the LALS III. Use CODR data to analyze high-failure areas and evaluate failed components of the LALS III. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Refine the conceptual design and develop a prototype. Perform testing of prototype to demonstrate their effectiveness.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Integrate solutions in a LALS III. Support operational assessment of the prototype design solutions by a squadron prior to full-scale fielding.

The improvements to the LALS III could potentially be modified to fit other ammunition conveyor units or commercial conveyor assemblies. The improved solutions could be sold to manufacturing processes to increase their reliability and decrease maintenance requirements.

REFERENCES:

  1. United States Government Accountability Office. (2020, January). Defense acquisitions: Senior leaders should emphasize key practices to improve weapon system reliability (GAO-20-151). United States Government Accountability Office. https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/706781.pdf.
  2. Glowacki, B. (2001). Ammunition loading. NAVEDTRA 14313: Aviation ordnanceman (Ch. 7, pp. 7-1Ė7-24). Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/navy/nrtc/14313_ch7.pdf.

KEYWORDS: Linkless Ammunition Loading System III (LALS III); 20mm Ammunition; Weapons Unloading; Weapons Loading; Weapons Handling; Linkless System

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