The decision to use the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in Charleston, SC, was made at the MRAP program outset based on the previous integration effort with up-armored HMMWVs for the Marine Corps. Through work on HMMWVs, SPAWAR developed facilities, processes, and expertise in rapidly integrating multiple vehicles, thereby offering a unique capability at exactly the time it was needed. As a Navy asset, SPAWAR involvement as a major contributor to a ground combat system program seems unconventional. However, this effort is very much in line with the SPAWAR core mission, which revolves around engineering and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities. As Peter Ward, Industrial Engineer at SPAWAR points out, the organization focuses on those capabilities and how they can be applied on any platform (2008, August
In that respect, the SPAWAR core mission encompasses the
types of systems reflects the recent
focus on “joint-ness” in warfighting and in acquisitions. As embodied in process, the MRAP program brings the best capabilities from across the DoD.
In addition to the prior integration work and engineering capability, SPAWAR offered a number of other advantages that made it the logical choice for the effort. First, the SPAWAR location in Charleston positions it near a railhead, a major Air Force Base with a C-17, wing and a secure seaport, all of which add efficiency in the value stream. Charleston Naval Weapons Station is also home to the Army 841st Transportation Battalion, which would oversee the transportation from the continental U.S. into the CENTCOM AO no matter where the integration occurred. Second, SPAWAR provided precisely the testing capability needed for rapid integration prototyping with its Poseidon Park facility. This facility is one of only a few in the U.S. that enables three critical tests needed for this effort26, reducing timeframes to 30 or fewer days—a process that can sometimes take years (Ward, 2008, August 5).
26 The Poseidon Park facility is used for: (1) co-sight interference testing to determine interference
between GFE components, (2) hazard-to-personnel testing to determine whether GFE combinations created unacceptable levels of radiation for users, and (3) antenna pattern testing. All are necessary to determine safe and effective combinations and positioning of GFE on the vehicles.