Maverick missile system work increasing
October 8, 2008
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Technicians will see their mission to overhaul, repair and test Maverick missile guidance and control systems (GCS) grow from about 300 to more than 700 per year.
The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps use the missile, which is also sold to foreign nations.
The AGM-65 Maverick is a tactical, air-to-surface guided missile designed for close air support with fire and forget capabilities. It is used against a wide range of tactical targets, including armored vehicles, ships, transportation equipment, and stationary targets such as buildings and bridges.
"There are three versions of the AGM-65 Maverick Missile, and the differences are all related to the guidance and control system," said Steve Janiga, chief of the Maverick Missile Branch.
"There is the first generation electro-optical/television version, the imaging- infrared (IIR) version and the laser. All versions can track a moving target, but the laser has become the weapon of choice for all of the services when pin-point accuracy is needed."
The branch is part of the Command, Control and Computers/Avionics Directorate's Tactical Missile Division. The television version uses a camera to track targets. "It will be replaced by a CCD (charged-coupled device) imager, which uses an integrated circuit like the one in a camcorder," Janiga said. The CCD upgrade will provide greater reliability.
The imaging infrared version can track a target by locking onto the target's heat source to overcome darkness and inclement weather.
The laser version uses ground or airborne laser designators to track a target and has pinpoint accuracy Janiga said.
The Air Force manages the program, but all the services send work to Tobyhanna.
The Navy is sending imaging infrared GCSs to the depot for the first time, contributing to the rise in workload. Janiga said the branch's highest production rate was 100 GCSs per month. "We could do that again, if necessary," he noted.
Imaging infrared GCSs account for 80 percent of the workload, television 15 percent and laser 5 percent. Technicians repair the circuit cards for all three GCS versions to the component level and replace cryo engines, image detectors and torquer motors.
"The cryo engines cool the image detectors to minus 384 degrees Fahrenheit and the torquer motors keep the GCS pointed at the target," explained Kathy Mooney, electronics mechanic. She noted that the entire Maverick shop is a clean room. "The room is filtered of dust and other particulates down to 300,000 parts per million. The laser Mavericks are repaired in another clean room that filters down to 10,000 parts per million," she said.
Once repairs are made, the GCSs are tested using a variety of methods to make sure the missile seeker tracks targets accurately, correcting for pitch, yaw and roll.
The longest test is for the television version, in which hundreds of tests are conducted. The IIR and laser GCSs are tested using automated test systems.
"Every GCS gets a custom alignment," Janiga noted. "If a circuit card is repaired or replaced, the rest of the components are realigned so they function seamlessly together."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the largest full-service Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) maintenance and logistics support facility in the Department of Defense. Employees repair, overhaul and fabricate 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. The depot is the Army Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Communications-Electronics, Avionics, and Missile Guidance and Control Systems and the Air Force Technology Repair Center (TRC) for ground communications and electronics. About 5,800 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.