Letterkenny rolls out first vehicle for enhanced radar surveillance
May 22, 2014
LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Tuesday's rollout ceremony for the AN/MPQ-64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar mounted on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle (FMTV) signifies a major accomplishment in providing enhanced surveillance data to shooters in the Integrated Air & Missile Defense Systems (IAMD) architecture, increased Soldier survivability, and proven viability of the Army's agile acquisition.
"Today's ceremony marks a major milestone in the evolution of the Sentinel Radar program and the culmination of several years of hard work and dedication on the part of many people sitting in this audience and located throughout this production facility," said Col. Victor S. Hagan, Letterkenny Army Depot commander.
The rollout showcased the outcome of a 2011 pursuit by the Sentinel Product Office to upgrade a production run of 56 radars to a FMTV based platform from a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) based platform, which had been in use with the radar since 1997.
Hagan shared how the depot became involved in the evolution of the system.
"In July of 2011, as a result of the reputation of our engineers and artisans, the Sentinel Project Office came to LEAD inquiring about our ability to build the new system," he said. "Our participation in the design and development of the vehicle resulted in the Program Office selecting Letterkenny as the Depot Source of Repair (DSOR) for the Improved Sentinel workload in April 2012."
Through the 2012 designation of DSOR, the joint services agreed to accomplish depot maintenance organically at LEAD and Tobyhanna Army Depot for Improved Sentinel workload.
"The new platform is capable of hosting an enhanced armor protection kit that signifies a major step forward in providing increased Soldier survivability against the threats on the modern battlefield, while still meeting the maneuverability and transportability requirements to deploy anywhere in the world," Hagan said.
Pennsylvania Senator Rich Alloway (R-33) turned the audience's attention to the nine Shingo banners hanging from cranes to emphasize both LEAD's past and present success, "congratulations to all the workers on this great achievement."
The AN/MPQ-64A3 Improved Sentinel contributes to the digital battlefield by automatically detecting, classifying, identifying and reporting cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems, and rotary and fixed wing threats. It is the only 360-degree coverage air defense radar in the Army's current inventory and features a 3 D X-Band phased array antenna.
Speaking from first-hand experience, Col. Matthew T. Tedesco, capabilities manager of the Air Defense Artillery Brigade, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command said the Sentinel remains deployed saving lives daily.
"It is the radar that is dedicated to protecting the maneuver commander at the forward edge of the fight," Tedesco said. "Sentinel Radar is a proven capability and is vital to the future of the Air Defense Artillery and the United States Army."
To achieve the goal of upgrading the Sentinel fleet, the Sentinel Product Office formed a unique partnership, integrating commercial industry, military research and development offices, and the Army's organic industrial base.
The commercial partner, Thales-Raytheon Systems of the Raytheon Consolidated Manufacturing Center at Forest, Miss. designed and built the original radars and continues to support the system through development of radar upgrades; the Prototype Integration Facility from the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. designed the common platform upgrade and technical data package; and Letterkenny Army Depot executes that design.
Brig. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, Program Executive Officer, Missiles & Space thanked the workforce for allowing Soldiers to engage the enemy at a distance in which the enemy cannot engage us.
"You came to work to make solder, to make metal, to put in rivets, to fix our equipment so we can get it back to our Soldiers," Thurgood said. "And we need it back. We need it back good, we need it back correctly and we need it back on time. But you really came to work today to save Soldiers' lives."
The culmination of the ceremony occurred as Soldiers from Echo Battery, Third Battalion, Fourth Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C. drove the FMTV based AN/MPQ-64A3 Sentinel Radar into the maintenance facility and emplaced the radar.
The audience comprised of Soldiers, representatives from various organizations such as Cruise Missile Defense Systems, local community officials, and the depot workforce watched as the radar was emplaced.
The narrator explained their steps from separating the truck from the trailer, leveling the trailer, accessing the radar, raising the antenna and running power cables from the truck to gaining initial operations with the radar, dropping the work platforms and completing connections necessary for full operations.
"Here's what they [the Soldiers] know. They aren't going to ever know your name. What they are going to know is this that someone gave them an opportunity to go to a little league game, to go to a piano recital to be home for Christmas, to be home for a birthday, that's what they know," Thurgood said.
The FMTV platform has a larger area for the installation of new equipment that will allow for system growth and future integration with systems such as the IAMD systems.