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New Mission: Missile warning System

Jan 25, 2010

By Anthony Ricchiazzi

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Employees recently completed the first phase of a two-phase program to test and repair components of a system that is replacing the AN/ALQ-144 Countermeasure System.

Aircraft Survivability Equipment Branch technicians now test the Electronic Control Unit of the AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System's detection component using a Reconfigurable Core Test Station (RCTS) and repair it to the circuit card level.

After training for the second phase, scheduled for January, technicians will be able to test and repair down to the circuit card component level.

The Common Missile Warning System, currently being fielded to Army helicopters, functions differently than the AN/ALQ-144 it is replacing. Depot technicians repair and test the AN/ALQ-144.

"The ALQ-144 is an active system, meaning it's always on; the CMWS is passive," says Jim Kessell, branch chief. "The CMWS works with another system to defeat enemy threats."

The branch is part of the Command, Control and Computers/Avionics Directorate's Avionics Division.

The training, provided to shop electronics technicians and to quality assurance specialists, involved how to test the circuit cards, processors, control units and antennas.

Each ECU must be taken apart and rebuilt to like new condition, said Frank Prendergast, lead technician. "Even scratches are repaired," he noted.

After taking an ECU apart and performing a mechanical inspection and repair, technicians plug it into the test station and run it in operation mode. The test takes about one hour.

"If we find a malfunctioning component, we replace it," said Connie Kyle, co-lead technician. "That includes standard replacement guidance to prevent probable failures of certain components. For example, if we find a fan not working right, we'll replace both fans in the component."

The shop will have full repair capability after Phase Two training is completed.

"We are fully ready for this new mission," Kessell said. "ESD (electrostatic discharge) procedures and equipment were installed, along with temperature and humidity controls. After Phase Two training, we will be able to offer full organic support."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

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