By air and sea, military shows off hardware at Sea-Air-Space Expo

Friday - 4/11/2014, 3:59pm EDT

Two military services took advantage of the proximity of nearby bases to show off some innovative vehicles to those attending the 2014 Sea-Air-Space Exposition taking place April 8-10 at National Harbor, Md.

On Monday, the Marine Corps brought members of the media on a ride-along on one of its V-22 Ospreys. The vertical takeoff vehicle is part of Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) stationed at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, Va.

"We're in the midst of a transition," said Brig. Gen. Matthew Glavy, assistant deputy commandant for aviation at the Marine Corps. "HMX-1, in the past, has been a CH-53E/CH-46 'Greenside' squadron. We're in the final phase of doing that transition to V-22s. V-22, now, will take the place of those two type model series airplanes and really, again, provide a unique capability for that squadron."

The HMX-1 squadron provides direct support to the White House military office, performing tasks such as transporting the President and other VIPs. It also supports the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development and Education Command.

"In that capacity, they're out flying our young lieutenants out of basic school and the infantry officer course, getting key, critical training," Glavy said. "Additionally, they support the Commandant of the Marine Corps and his mission set up at the headquarters of the Marine Corps."

The final part of its mission concerns the "X" in its name, which is to execute tasking and support of the Commander of Operational Test & Evaluation Forces.

HMX-1 added eight V-22s to its squadron last August and it will reach its full complement of 12 this summer. Recently, the V-22s flew support on a presidential trip to Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Riding in a Stiletto

On Tuesday, NAVSEA Warfare Centers - Carderock Division took its Stiletto Maritime Demonstration Platform out for a spin on the Potomac River.

"One of our goals is to develop in-the-field capabilities faster than the normal DoD acquisition process," said Glenn Fogg, director of the Rapid Reaction Technology Office in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rapid Fielding (ODASD(RF)).

Based in Little Creek, Va., the Stiletto operates as a test facility for industry, government and academic systems developers, who are looking for a place to try out their new technology in a military maritime environment.

"We give them access to bring it aboard and do the demonstrations, whatever the schedule is that Stiletto happens to be doing," Fogg said. "The benefits for the companies is there are generally operators looking and touching and feeling the gear during the demonstration, so the company gets feedback and, eventually, if it's a good piece of gear, we are able to move it to the operational user."

Last year, 56 technologies were tested aboard Stiletto, eight of which went on to operational use.

"The main goal of this program is to increase the technology readiness level," said Rob Tutton, Stiletto program manager. "That's a NASA-type term that basically describes how appropriate technologies are for their intended environment. We've taken that and sort of morphed in a way to say, 'How can we, in an ethical way, get systems developers from all these companies on board with the warfighter in a relevant and operational environment to create a space where people can discuss things openly?'"

To facilitate that process, Tutton's office issues Requests for Information describing the parameters of the operational experiments it will be conducting. They then sign cooperative research and development agreements with the responding vendors.

"If you have a piece of gear and you want to bring it aboard a U.S. Navy ship, there's a long and drawn-out process because the Navy wants — and they should — make sure that whatever you bring aboard doesn't interfere with the weapons systems of the ship," Fogg said. "If you want to bring something aboard Stiletto, it is an incredibly lot shorter process. ... We've had things come aboard in as little as two weeks."

Click here to view photos and listen to interviews from the 2014 Sea-Air-Space Expo.