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Standard Automotive Tool Set: More Than Just an Improved Common Set

Unit mechanics must have their tools at hand to be able to keep unit vehicles operational. In the past, two tool sets provided most of these tools—Shop Equipment, Automotive, Maintenance and Repair, Organizational Maintenance, Common Number 1 and Common Number 2. These sets were not containerized and could come packaged in as many as 75 crates. Units had to purchase tool chests and cabinets for organizing the tools. The tools often became jumbled in drawers, making it difficult to find the ones needed to perform a task.

Recognizing the problems that the available tool sets presented, the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, under the leadership of Major General Mitchell H. Stevenson (now the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command), initiated the development of an improved, containerized tool set. Developed by the Product Manager, Sets, Kits, Outfits, and Tools (PM SKOT), the resulting set is known as the Standard Automotive Tool Set (SATS).

SATS Description

SATS is a containerized shop set system that consists of a core set and supplemental modules that can be added to support a unit’s specific maintenance mission. It replaces the most common organizational and direct support tool sets. SATS provides a more deployable, mobile, and mission-capable tool load that supports Army transformation and two-level maintenance.

By providing the warfighter with a common tool set, SATS enables maintainers to perform two-level maintenance and repairs on all military vehicles and ground support equipment. It is easier to inventory, transport, and use than were the old tool sets. SATS offers the following improvements—

  • Lifetime warranty on tools.
  • Industrial quality tools.
  • Elimination of 474 redundant and obsolete components (5 sets).
  • Rapid inventory system.
  • Secure, protected container.
  • Rapid deployment capability.
  • Responsive and rapid tool replacement procedures.

SATS Development

PM SKOT worked with users to determine which tools were not used, which ones were essential, and what tools needed to be added to the set. The process of evaluating the tools involved five tool reviews in which each tool in the Common Number 1 and Common Number 2 tool sets, the Mechanical Maintenance Tool Set, and the Automotive Maintenance and Field Repair Basic Tool Set and its supplement were documented and evaluated.

Tool reviews began in June 2000 with the Common Number 1 tool set. A team of technical maintenance specialists, representatives from heavy to light maintenance Army units, the Army Combined Arms Support Command, the Army Ordnance Center and School, the Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center, and PM SKOT conducted the review. The user representatives provided input on which tools they never used, which tools they could not live without, and which tools they wished they had. The evaluation process was by no means a smooth one, and it required concessions from user communities. However, the overall result enabled PM SKOT to develop the core SATS: a tool set comprised of common tools found across the various automotive tool sets. Two field maintenance modules were designed to supplement the base SATS by providing the additional tools needed to perform heavy direct support maintenance missions.

One goal during SATS development was to organize SATS so that it was easier for maintenance Soldiers to inventory, transport, and use. This required reducing the space needed to store the tools and making them easier to find. With SATS, tools come to the user in tool cabinets that include PM SKOT’s standard foam cutout organization system. This makes SATS much more user friendly than the old automotive tool sets.

By creating an organized tool set in a single container, PM SKOT also solved mobility problems. SATS can be transported by a single prime mover. It is more portable than its predecessors and can be deployed quickly with minimal preparation.


Over 40 hours were needed to inventory the old maintenance shop sets. With SATS, that effort has been reduced to 2 hours—a substantial time saving. Because the tools are kept in drawers with foam cutouts that give the tools specific storage locations, inventory is as easy as opening a drawer and looking for empty slots. SATS comes with a laminated tool inventory guide and supply catalog. The supply catalog is organized to mirror the configuration of the SATS drawer and includes color photographs of each item.

SATS is a durable, long-lasting system because the tools and equipment it contains are industrial quality and have lifetime warranties. The industrial-quality tools hold up better to the constant wear of maintenance activities, but, if they happen to break, the warranty ensures their replacement.

Another great feature about SATS is its flexibility. SATS can be tailored to each unit’s specific mission by combining the core SATS and the appropriate version of the two field maintenance modules. The core SATS provides the two-level maintenance capability that units need to maintain their equipment. It consolidates tools from the Common Number 1, Common Number 2, Vehicle Full Tracked Tool Set, and Battalion Maintenance Team Tool Set.

When combined with the core SATS, Field Maintenance Module 1 provides the capabilities for heavy direct support maintenance found in Field Maintenance Sets A31 and A52. Field Maintenance Module 2 adds to the heavy direct support maintenance by adding capabilities found in Field Maintenance Supplement A62.


SATS transportation requirements are far fewer than those of the Common Number 1 or Common Number 2 tool sets, which, with supplemental sets, could require up to five prime movers. Whether transporting SATS by trailer or on a flatrack, only one prime mover is needed—even with the additional modules included.

By eliminating redundancy, PM SKOT made SATS into a streamlined and comparatively lightweight tool set, weighing 13,620 pounds and taking up less than 700 cubic feet of space (compared to a combined total of 39,750 pounds and 2,186 cubic feet for the replaced tool sets). SATS frees up precious space and weight, allowing units to either reduce their total transportation weight and cube requirements or take additional equipment.


When a SATS tool breaks, the unit gets a new one. By using the PM SKOT warranty Web site to request a replacement, the correct tool is replaced, the warranty on that item continues, and the set configuration is not degraded. A unit can submit a warranty claim at http://pmskot.army.mil. Once the claim is validated, the item is immediately sent to the requesting unit’s address.

SATS was released for fielding in November 2005. Fifty-three SATSs have been fielded, and nearly 20 more are scheduled to be fielded by the end of January.

SATS is currently being used in real-world scenarios at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and in Southwest Asia. Soldiers are happy to be receiving new tools that are easily inventoried and transported. The response from the units that have received SATS has been overwhelmingly positive. As constructive feedback comes in, PM SKOT will continue to evaluate the user’s concerns and make appropriate changes.

Charissa Nichole Gray is a technical writer for the Product Manager, Sets, Kits, Outfits, and Tools, at the Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command. She has a B.A. degree in English from New Mexico State University and an M.S. degree in organizational leadership from St. Ambrose University.

The author would like to thank the Standard Automotive Tool Set team for their contributions to this article.