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Unmanned Integrated Weapon Systems Teams
by U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Noel Koenig, Director
NAVSUP WSS Unmanned Aerial Systems Integrated Weapon Systems Team
July 15, 2020

After years of support under the Common Avionics Integrated Weapon Systems Team (IWST), the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) IWST now stands alone to lead the aviation supply chain management of the Navy and Marine Corps’ five largest UAS: MQ-8B Fire Scout, MQ-8C Fire Scout, RQ-21A Blackjack, MQ-4C Triton and MQ-25A Stingray.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Integrated Weapon Systems Team, or UAS IWST, is currently responsible for over 2,000 items, executing $692 million for spares and repair requirements and managing $360 million in inventory for 52 active systems. These systems or platforms ... comprised of air vehicles, control stations and data links ... can be found everywhere from the largest surface combatants to the smallest littoral ships conducting reconnaissance, mine counter-measure, anti-submarine, or in-flight refueling operations.

October 16, 2019 - Electronics Technician 2nd Class Brian Pflanz, from Little Rock, Arkansas, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3, launches the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard MKVI patrol boat during the UAV training exercise provided by Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Training and Evaluation Unit. The Coastal Riverine Force is a core Navy capability that provides port and harbor security, high value asset security, and maritime security operation in the coastal and inland waterways. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nelson Doromal Jr.)
October 16, 2019 - Electronics Technician 2nd Class Brian Pflanz, from Little Rock, Arkansas, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3, launches the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard MKVI patrol boat during the UAV training exercise provided by Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Training and Evaluation Unit. The Coastal Riverine Force is a core Navy capability that provides port and harbor security, high value asset security, and maritime security operation in the coastal and inland waterways. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nelson Doromal Jr.)

They are operated, funded, and maintained differently and are spread across multiple stages of the acquisition life cycle.

NAVSUP WSS established the UAS IWST to support the unique requirements of these systems. We align with Program Executive Office Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, support seven of their Program Management Activities, and interface with Naval Air and Naval Sea Systems Commands.

Each type model has a unique PMA while the squadrons operating these platforms mostly align by mission, MQ-8B/C and H-60, for example. As platforms reach material support date or full operational capability, the larger platforms may require additional unique IWSTs to be established.

The UAS IWST currently has dedicated two or three-person teams assigned to each platform, who work closely with stakeholders to design support for these new unique weapon systems. Comprised of some of the best in their field, the equipment specialists, logistics element managers and logistics management specialists push themselves to find new and more efficient ways to support the fleet, working closely with the Systems Commands to leverage existing maintenance and supply processes where these platforms do not readily fit.

The UAS team is on the forefront of naval aviation. Our supported platforms are seeing increased visibility across the NAVSUP Enterprise and are working diligently to meet the demands of the ever-changing technology that unmanned systems provide. This constant change is allowing swift application of lessons learned, shared while still relevant and by those that discovered what works best.

They are witnessing a shift in interim support, as they know it; it is looking more operational and requiring us to meet warfighters needs now. We are moving faster and more efficiently to get the right parts to the right place at the right time. We are sharing our best practices with our Mechanicsburg counterparts’ Unmanned Maritime & Small Combatant IWST.

On the maritime side, the recently renamed Unmanned Maritime & Small Combatant IWST supports maritime unmanned platforms and systems. Over the past several months, leadership took a step back and strategically assessed the Littoral IWST to ensure the team was organized, postured and positioned to best support the fleet and hardware systems command stakeholders.

A result of this strategic assessment, the decision was made to rename the IWST to better align to our main recipient of program support inventory control point or PSICP: Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants. Another result of this strategic assessment was to reorganize supply planners and program managers by platforms to better support littoral combat ships, mine countermeasures ships, patrol ships and frigates.

This two-phase approach to rebranding the IWST and a shift in organizational alignment best positions the IWST to support the growth in unmanned systems and the new Navy frigate.

The Unmanned Maritime & Small Combatant IWST is responsible for inventory management and PSICP support for all unmanned platforms and systems in the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants, or PEO USC, portfolio. The IWST manages 4,300 stock numbers across 43 ship platforms to include littoral combat ship mission modules.

In February 2020, Lt. Adam Pace, director of the Unmanned Maritime and Small Combatant IWST, briefed the Chief of the U.S. Navy Supply Corps, Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic, on the current support structure at NAVSUP WSS for Unmanned Underwater and Surface Vehicles.

Pace further explained that NAVSUP WSS will continue to work closely with PEO USC to ensure NAVSUP WSS is operationally aligned and ready to support an increase in this domain. This includes engaging early in the acquisition process, prior to material support date to ensure sound decisions are being made that influence sustainment for the lifecycle of the system.

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