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Marine Corps radar repairs complete, final testing under way

January 7, 2013

By Mr. Justin Eimers, CECOM

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Despite receiving the system weeks later than expected, technicians here recently completed repair of an AN/TPS-59(V)3 Tactical Missile Defense, Early Warning and Situational Awareness Radar System for the Marine Corps. It is now undergoing final testing at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. ahead of the scheduled deadline.

The AN/TPS-59 arrived as an Inspect and Repair Only as Necessary (IROAN) unit on Sep. 7 after depot engineers and technicians met with their Marine Corps counterparts in Virginia Beach, Va., to identify necessary repairs and finalize the Statement of Work (SOW). The SOW determines which repairs need to be made for each system, as well as whether it will come to the depot as an IROAN or for overhaul.

This is the latest phase of a larger workload that was transferred to the depot as a result of the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process. Tobyhanna began its first Marine Corps radar workload in 2009 with the Reset process of AN/TPQ-46 Firefinder systems, radars that track and back plot enemy artillery and rockets. Two other AN/TPS-59 systems are currently undergoing overhaul.

Ron Ewing, chief of the depot's Tactical Air Defense Systems Branch, said the IROAN is a good step in securing more Marine Corps work.

'The IROAN we just sent out will further establish Tobyhanna as the place to do this kind of radar work,' he said. 'As we provide both the value and quality the Marine Corps is looking for, we hope they bring more and more work to the depot.'

Typically, the IROAN repair process is between four and five months, however Tobyhanna received the first system weeks later than its anticipated arrival in July. Despite the delay, the depot met the Dec. 3 deadline, completing the unit in just 90 days.

'The system got here five to six weeks late so we had no room for error,' said Ewing. 'Given the amount of time we had to repair this system, it took cooperation from everyone involved to stay on schedule.'

After final testing concludes, the system will be deployed overseas. The AN/TPS-59(V)3 is a solid-state, three-dimensional defense radar that provides long-range surveillance and ground control intercept capability in tactically mobile environments. The other part of the workload, the AN/TPS-63B, is a tactical, two-dimensional air surveillance radar designed for rapid deployments and is used as an early warning system during the initial deployment stages in a new operating area.

For fiscal 2013, the depot is scheduled to overhaul two AN/TPS-59(V)3 and three AN/TPS-63B systems, with repair cycle times of one year and 10 months, respectively.

The BRAC commission's decision to transfer the Marine Corps radar workload from Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, Calif., was based on several key areas.

'The depot's reputation for excellent, cost--effective radar repair capability and support are what helped bring the workload to Tobyhanna,' said Ewing. 'Adding the two Marine Corps systems diversifies and strengthens the depot's radar portfolio, which has paved the way for new testing facilities.'

One such facility is a 77-foot radome situated on the installation's highest point, Powder Smoke Ridge. Testing of both systems takes place inside the facility. Infrastructure capability increased when another depot building was renovated to accommodate the new workload.

A bay in Building 1B was modernized and the floors covered with a resilient epoxy surface to ease materiel movement. Natural light detecting sensors were installed on fluorescent lights to conserve energy by controlling lighting inside the bay in relation to the amount of ambient daylight available.

In addition, a concrete access ramp was installed to accommodate the Marine Corps assets. The 60,000 square-feet bay houses multiple systems as they are disassembled, repaired and returned to like-new condition.

Employees attest that the renovations have kept the program on schedule while increasing enthusiasm and morale.

'You have a great deal of pride working on a mission like this,' said Electrical Equipment Repairer Mark Swartwood. 'It's such an important workload, not just for the depot but for the warfighter too. These new facilities have made it easier for all of us to work at the highest level possible.'

Ewing said that an integral part of the mission has been the desire to keep bringing additional work to Tobyhanna.

'One of the keys to our success with the Marine Corps radar has been assembling a team that is enthusiastic about what they are working on and helping them realize the potential for the future,' he said. 'That's the kind of atmosphere you want to have and be a part of. That attitude and this new workload are both large steps in helping the depot grow and continue its reputation of excellence.'

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 5,400 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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