NSWC IHD CAD/PAD Employees Eliminate Risks to Military Aircraft Ejection Seats > Naval Sea Systems Command > Recorded News Module


In April, an ejection seat manufacturer officially notified the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD) Joint Program Office (JPO) and the F-35 JPO of a quality escape that would prevent a CAD fitted to the F-35’s ejection seat from functioning properly. The grade escape was initially discovered by ejection seat technicians performing routine maintenance, who found that the seat initiator cartridge lacked magnesium powder. Magnesium powder, an energetic material, is needed as part of the explosive charge for the crew to prime the ejection seat. The root cause stemmed from a health and occupational health surveillance requirement in the UK, resulting in a change in the manufacturing process, increasing the risk of a production defect.

Working closely with the manufacturer and the F-35 JPO, NSWC IHD CAD/PAD staff developed and validated a non-destructive procedure to quickly verify if suspect devices contained the required energetic ingredients. Additionally, Expeditionary Exploitation Unit ONE has developed a portable radiographic inspection procedure to support on-site testing of aircraft for this particular defect. Using on-duty engineering officers from the NSWC IHD CAD/PAD Division as needed, the strategy was implemented nationwide to support F-35 aviation readiness.

Subsequently, in July, the manufacturer again informed the CAD/PAD JPO of the applicability of this issue to other ejection seats installed in US military aircraft. Production processes were updated to address concerns, but out of an abundance of caution, the Naval Air Systems Command ordered an immediate halt to affected flight operations until suspect components could be inspected. This decision temporarily grounded a number of F/A-18B/C/D Hornets; F/A-18E/F Super Hornets; E/A-18G Growler; F-35B/C Lightning II; and T-45 Goshawk and F-5 Tiger II trainer aircraft. Other F/A-18B/C/D, F/A-18E/F and F-5 aircraft supported by the US Navy’s CAD/PAD Foreign Military Sales program were also affected by this event.

Engineers and technicians from the NSWC IHD Nondestructive Evaluation Branch immediately responded with round-the-clock assistance to inspect identified suspect items in existing stockpiles. Under the direction of Steven Possehl, NSWC IHD Principal Engineer and Official Level III Radiographer, these individuals developed additional non-destructive testing techniques and implemented an aggressive schedule to restore confidence in the energetics of escape systems. of the Navy.

“I have family members who ride in these [ejection] seats,” said Possehl, who personally recognized the importance and urgency of this endeavor.

“This effort is why we work so hard every day to improve our expertise and invest in the ability to respond to calls. We are here to serve the warfighter and the motivation and dedication to do so has never been clearer,” said Samantha Gray, NSWC IHD Testing and Evaluation Division Manager.

Over 4,400 items were examined and validated with no defects found before being returned to serviceable inventory, most of which were quickly packed up at the NSWC IHD Consolidated Storage Point and shipped out of the region by truck, helicopter or plane . With facility temperatures exceeding one hundred degrees combined with shifts of over 12 hours a day for six days a week for nearly a month, embodied the determination of the CAD/PAD team and ensured a steady supply of replacement assets .

“An inspection and validation event of this magnitude has never occurred in the history of the CAD/PAD program,” said Jason Caron, JPO CAD/PAD Program Assistant Manager. “The logistics of locating, packing, and shipping acceptable components while simultaneously leveraging conventional film X-ray, digital X-ray, or CT technologies to screen incoming or available components and return them to inventory “ready to distribute” is unprecedented. Specialists, explosives handlers, engineers, technicians, logisticians and other subject matter experts in civilian and active duty military capabilities have come together to maintain the readiness of aircraft around the world.Most importantly, they helped remove doubt about ejection seats to operate safely and save lives if needed.

The CAD/PAD JPO manages the design, procurement and sustainment of technically complex devices installed in aircrew escape and evacuation systems, life support equipment, fire suppression systems , in-flight refueling capabilities, air cargo operations, destruction of sensitive data, aircrew survival equipment. , and various weapon system(s) functions.

“The safety of our crew is our primary mission and our confidence in the design of the evacuation systems is unwavering. The dedication and urgency with which the CAD/PAD team responded to this monumental task was impressive. The CAD/PAD team exemplifies the best of Indian Head and being a part of it was incredibly humbling. Our engineers, logisticians and technicians are the most dedicated and passionate professionals I have had the privilege of working with,” said Greg Longworth, CAD/PAD JPO Manager.

NSWC IHD – a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Scientific and Technical Establishment – is the leader in munitions, energy and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energy research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, manufacturing and disposal; and provides warfighters with solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, secure, recover, exploit and eliminate explosive ordnance threats.


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