Radar capabilities earn technology award
April 30, 2012
By Mr Anthony Ricchiazzi (CECOM)
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Wide-ranging and expanding radar missions for the armed forces have earned Tobyhanna Army Depot first place in the 2012 Pennsylvania Technology Awards "Best Application of Technology" category.
The awards, which recognize Pennsylvania's technology leaders and innovators, were presented at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg March 30 by TechQuest, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity. Tobyhanna topped 56 other competitors to win its award.
Tobyhanna's team of design engineers, technicians and support personnel were recognized for their innovative use of modeling, simulation and mapping technologies to transform an available depot mountain ridge into a web of radar test sites. The new sites will optimize the process of radar system repair and testing.
"Tobyhanna has been repairing and testing radars since the 1960s," said Col. Charles C. Gibson, commander of Tobyhanna Army Depot, "so we have extensive capability and experience in this critical commodity."
Depot personnel support a wide variety of radar systems including air defense, air traffic control, ground surveillance, airborne, shipborne, range threat systems and critical counter fire systems for the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
Tobyhanna's flexible and modern facilities effectively handle today's radars and can accommodate additional systems. The depot's Antenna and Radar Range Campus offers 12 distinct radar test sites comprised of multiple test pads and specialized support facilities and equipment.
"Every radar system has its challenges," said Ngoc Dang, the lead electronics engineer assigned to Tobyhanna's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Maintenance Division of the Production Engineering Directorate. "I appreciate the versatility of the radar range. There are always new technologies to learn."
Flexibility is critical to the design of the facilities so engineers can rapidly adjust to changing missions and meet technical advancements. This allows the depot to support not only current mission work, but upgrades, modifications and technical insertions as well.
As a result, sizable savings are realized. According to a 2012 U.S. Army audit for the AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder Radar, the Army saved $31.1 million by moving all AN/TPQ-37 Reset repairs from the original equipment manufacturer to Tobyhanna. Another $46 million in sustainment cost was saved implementing the Live Fire Test Simulator for the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar system. Prior to the establishment of this facility, all LCMRs had to be shipped from Syracuse Research Technology, Syracuse, N.Y., to Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, Ariz., to undergo actual live fire testing. On average, each LCMR had to undergo live fire testing at least twice. Overall testing costs (i.e., range time, gun crew, ammunition, and travel charges) using Yuma averaged $35,000 per system.
Using the simulator, Tobyhanna was able to reduce that cost to about $5,000 per system. In addition, the simulator reduces the Repair Cycle Time (RCT) to 30 days.
"We do not need to take the radars to any another facility, we can do it all here," said George Galaydick, an electronics engineer in the depot's Production Engineering Directorate.
The latest application of technology to the depot's radar campus includes a 77-foot tall radome. The high-tech facility along with a 330-foot communications tower, both part of a recent multi-million dollar construction project, are used to repair, test and calibrate Marine Corps radar systems.
"So whether it's air defense, counter-fire, air traffic control, navigation, long range surveillance, threat simulators, mine detectors or even interrogators and transponders, Tobyhanna has the tools, skills and facilities to support mission--essential tasks," said Mark Viola, chief of the C4ISR Maintenance Division.
Indoor testing includes anechoic chambers, Near Field Probes, an elevated temperature burn facility and rain testing. Outdoor testing includes modified Munson Road facilities (used to ensure systems will function after being driven over rough terrain) and a Tower Track calibration range.
"The Antenna and Radar Range Campus provides clean air volume and free-space testing that offers interference-free, unobstructed vectors in azimuth and elevation," Galaydick said. "The campus is electromagnetically quiet and allows us to perform live target, full-power testing with high energy radar systems without disruption or compromise by radio frequency interference.
"Our location and terrain also facilitate the development of outdoor radar testing solutions that minimize unwanted phenomenon such as multipath and point clutter, commonly called radar echoes, while maximizing availability of air volume for omni-directional scanning at the depot's higher elevations," Galaydick added.
Tobyhanna has more than 500 employees dedicated to radar systems support, including the largest concentration of electronics mechanics with radar skills in the Defense Department.
More than 30 engineering personnel are dedicated to continuously improving the depot's radar repair processes and developing capabilities to take on new and emerging technologies.
"Tobyhanna provides the opportunities to take on the challenges, to improve," Dang said.
Engineers and electronics mechanics work with mechanical technicians, quality control and supply chain management personnel in more than 450,000 square feet of maintenance, test and other facilities to ensure that radar systems are back in warfighter hands as quickly as possible. Overall, Tobyhanna has more than 2.1 million square feet of space in support of C4ISR systems.
Facilities, experience and personnel make Tobyhanna the Defense Department's one--stop--shop for radar sustainment, engineering, redesign and environmental testing. The depot's reach is global, operating a number of Forward Repair Activities throughout the world, supporting counter battery radars such as Firefinder and Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, said Joe Salamido, chief of the ISR Engineering Branch, Production Engineering Directorate.
"In fact, more than 600 personnel are in the field every day keeping the Warfighters C4ISR systems up and running," he added.
Tobyhanna is always looking to the future, Viola said. "On the horizon are some of the latest Defense Department radars, including the AN/TPQ-53 Firefinder; Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G--ATOR), AN/TPY-2 Ballistic Missile Defense Radar, Deployable Radar Approach Control (D--RAPCON),and the new Joint Threat Emitter systems and sensor suites onboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles."
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 5,500 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. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., 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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