'd like to start off today by talking about our efforts out at Fort Irwin, California. Fort Irwin, as many of you know, is the U.S. Army's premier training site. And we were very fortunate to again be selected by our Army customer to continue our mission support contract in late July of this year. We've supported the training for the U.S. brigade combat teams, Marines, and many other allies at Fort Irwin for the past 14 years.
In addition to that, we're also responsible for a same-capability, same-type of contract over at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
It's this activity that really allows us to go well beyond just the operational readiness of the wheeled and tracked vehicles. It really provides, us as a corporation, some keen insight into our customers' challenges of today while we're anticipating some of their future requirements.
Along with the activities that we've done at Fort Polk and at Fort Irwin over the years, we've also been very instrumental in many of the U.S. Army critical training programs, including the mission command training program. As many of you may recall, this was at one time called the battle command training program at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where we've been involved in training battalion III Corps commanders and their staffs since the original Desert Shield and Desert Storm back in 1990.
We're also involved in the mission command training center down at Fort Hood, Texas; again, supporting the U.S. Army III Corps in their six associated posts throughout the country, including Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.
We're also involved with the Army National Guard, with their mission command training and support program.
And then finally, we've been supporting the Joint War Fighting Center down in Suffolk, Virginia, for a number of years, where we train the joint command staffs.
So what we've done is really tried to take all this knowledge to gain better insight into our customers. And we've been able to design some very unique innovations for affordability, both at Fort Irwin and some other areas as well.
At Fort Irwin, we've developed a fleet readiness status, which we'll be glad to show you in some detail. The program is called ReadyBlueTM, and as you can see, it runs on an iPad. It's really giving the opportunity to greatly increase some of the efficiencies at Fort Irwin. And we've just started to deploy that under our new contract.
In addition to that, the other thing that we're involved with at both Fort Irwin and at Fort Polk is Northrop Grumman has put in a brand new training network—the advanced cellular network—across both facilities that will provide real-time voice, data and video to greatly improve the situational awareness of the battle spaces when we're going through these major training exercises.
The other thing that we've done, based on all the sustainment operations that we've done, is really started to look at vehicle modernization, and asking, “How could we take that knowledge that we've gained over the years in sustaining and keeping the fleet readiness up to date—how could we do that to work on some new vehicle modernization activities?”
I'd like to talk a little bit now about the HMMWV (Humvee). Many of you saw the poster as we came into the meeting room today. We believe that HMMWV—which, as you know, has had an enduring role with the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, and many other international militaries—will again have a role for us for at least the next 25 years.
But what's happened to the HMMWV is a natural reaction to the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and the roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. We basically had to, as you know, greatly increase the armor—i.e., up-armor the HMMWV—putting that on the original chassis, as it was designed.
What this did was it greatly degraded or limited the capabilities of the HMMWV. In addition, it also provided for a significant decrease in fuel economy. This decrease in fuel economy led to the need for increased tankers; i.e., convoys. And you can see where this really becomes a spiral effect.
So, what the Northrop Grumman solution provides is we're actually able to, through the use of a new chassis for the HMMWV, to regain the HMMWV back to its original performance and payload capability while maintaining the up-armor, or the protection. So it's this balance, this triangle that we're really looking for in this balanced approach that we have.
I invite many of you to come join us next week at the AUSA convention, right here in DC. We will have our HMMWV solution on display, and there's also a press briefing, I believe, next Tuesday as well on that. So please come see us.
The last area I'd like to talk about is some of the work that we've done from an international standpoint. As you know, we are an international corporation, and we've been working some of the same challenges that I've described over in Saudi Arabia for the last 40 years, working specifically with the ministry of the National Guard. During this period, our team has provided continuous training, logistics, sustainment services and operational support to the National Guard.
Over the last two years, Northrop Grumman and our joint venture, Vinnell Arabia, has significantly expanded the effort into rotary wing assets. In 2012, we began supporting the introduction of rotary wing assets into the National Guard with the integration and support of 12 MD-530 aircraft. The fourth brigade or the training brigade was established at that time, in May of 2013, as the aircraft were delivered for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
Since then, we've supported the guard in reading several important milestones. Over the last 18 months, we've had more than 2,000 flights, 20,000 aircraft maneuvers, and 4,000 flight hours with zero safety incidents. At the same time, our operational readiness of this aircraft has consistently been above 90 percet. We've also trained 24 Ministry of the National Guard pilots and three instructor pilots for the MD-530 aircraft over that period of time.
As we move forward with the National Guard, we're looking forward to working with them in providing comprehensive airfield management and operations starting on January first of 2015. And this is for the first brigade, the first aviation brigade, which will be stood up at that time. And that will consist of 12 Apache helicopters, 24 Black Hawks, and 24 Little Birds.