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This article was Originally Published on Mar 16, 2005 in Volume: 4  Issue: 1

AAI Corp.

Interview with Frederick M. Strader

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Q: What are some of AAI’s key products and services in your various aerospace technology sectors?

A: Our focus is on select military products and services, including unmanned aerial vehicle systems—one of AAI’s most robust business sectors today. Our UAV line is led by Shadow 200 Tactical UAVs, which are agile and adaptive systems that the Army has deployed for more than two years in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an integral piece of its integrated digital battlefield concept.

We also deliver an array of automated aircraft electronic warfare (EW) test and maintenance products, as well as realistic simulation training in integrated “train like you fight” environments for all the services.

We’re expanding our support, sustainment and training systems for weapons, government products and warfighters—everything from battlefield support for UAVs to maintenance of bio-detection systems at key U.S. facilities worldwide.

Our AAI Services sector has excellent product support competencies and proven experience in support of fielded military systems. As a result, AAI was selected recently to provide repair, material acquisition, storage and management support activities for hydraulic components for Navy and Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler and F-14 Tomcat aircraft fleets.

Q: Shadow TUAVs reportedly have flown nearly 30,000 overall program hours, including more than 21,000 hours thus far in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What is your perspective on system performance?

A: We are very pleased with the success the Army is having with Shadow TUAVs. We knew information gained from Shadows would be valuable on the battlefield, but the creativity with which the system is being employed by soldiers truly showcases the inherent flexibility of the system. Shadow is maturing quickly, enabling our engineers to develop new applications and features. The second-generation RQ-7B Shadow has already been introduced into the Army and is in production. We will soon introduce an improved family of multi-channel remote video terminals, and we are actively investigating enhancements to increase Shadow’s ability to target precision guided weapons in direct support of OIF operations.

Q: How does AAI use its experience supporting the high military operational tempo of tactical UAVs to open support solutions in other sectors?

A: From the beginning of Shadow TUAV deployments, we have worked closely with the Army under a unique performance-based logistics contract to provide end-to-end support. Our field service teams support users in the field, who in turn are backed by a logistics and parts supply chain that helps ensure mission readiness.

Looking forward, we’ll combine our experiences with UAV systems and users with our extensive experience designing training systems to develop new training technologies to support additional UAV systems. For example, we’re teamed with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in the Predator Mission Aircrew Training Systems for the Air Force. This type of relationship results in the highest fidelity and most concurrent training solutions for our customers.

Q: What are some of the leading components of your EW Test and Maintenance sector?

A: We’re proud to have a major role in ensuring that aircraft EW and avionics systems are fully functional and mission ready through the use of our sophisticated Joint Service Electronic Combat System Testers (JSECST). We’ve delivered more than 212 JSECST systems to the Air Force, Navy and Army, as well as to several international customers. Also, our Advanced Boresight Equipment program, which reduces the time required to boresight aircraft, recently was selected for use in Joint Strike Fighter production as well as the Navy’s Common Boresight Equipment program, which will support a variety of aircraft.

Q: In training, AAI is fielding and upgrading maintenance trainers for Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. How is that program progressing?

A: Very well. We understand the criticality of well-trained aircraft maintainers in today’s world and have focused our efforts on providing the right amount of training on state-of-the-art equipment to help the Air Force keep C-17 fleet utilization high.

We’ve delivered two initial suites of 11 trainers to Charleston AFB, SC, and McChord AFB, WA, and incorporated four block upgrades during the past three years. We’ve also begun producing two additional suites of three trainers each to accommodate the service’s aircraft basing strategy. Furthermore, we’ve delivered two trainers to the Mississippi Air National Guard, with a third scheduled for March.

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