JPALS “Lands” 2021 NAWCAD Team Award

Teamwork characterized the many accomplishments that earned the Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office (PMA-213) Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) team the top choice for the 2021 NAWCAD Commander’s Award in the Team Category.

Not least among their successes was bringing initial operational capability (IOC) for the new JPALS a year ahead of schedule. IOC certifies the system’s readiness to provide precision approach and landing capabilities to tactical carrier aircraft at sea.

“I think it is a great honor for the team and a reflection on the leadership, teamwork, resilience and courage that this team has demonstrated this past year under unprecedented circumstances,” said Capt. Kevin Watkins, PMA-213 program manager. “This recognition is also shared broadly, as it signifies the culmination of over a decade of work by hundreds of talented individuals collaborating across multiple DOD and Industry organizations to field this critical capability for our warfighters and allies.”

The JPALS team overcame COVID-19 restriction obstacles internationally to support five JPALS installations and five Precision Approach Landing System (PALS) certifications around the globe— two U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs), a Marine Corps amphibious assault ship (LH-class), and aboard two allied partners’ aircraft carriers. Additionally, the team supported a PALS certification extension for USS Wasp (LHD 1).

While increasing capability, the team successfully improved affordability. By refining the JPALS certification process, they reduced costs for recurring safety certifications for ships by nearly 30%. During JPALS certification for USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the team validated new procedures and established technical requirements that reduce certification cost and complexity; instead of the previously required 22 approaches made by uniquely instrumented test F-35s, certification can now be achieved in five approaches using fleet F-35s.

“The team’s focus on promptly moving away from instrumented F-35 aircraft to fleet aircraft not only saved money but freed up limited test resources and flight deck time,” said Carla Jackson, PMA-213’s lead assistant program manager for test and evaluation. “On top of these improvements, the fleet is regularly passing along their love of the JPALS system.”

JPALS is a global positioning system-based system that integrates with shipboard air traffic control and landing system architectures to guide fixed-wing tactical carrier aircraft approach and landings on CVNs and LH-class ships in all weather and sea surface conditions.

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