Firefinder processor tests successful - Verification exercise preps radar for rollout of new equipme
January 13, 2009
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Testing conducted here last month may soon give warfighters even more reliable Firefinder radar systems.
Tobyhanna personnel helped to test and verify new, state of the art common processors for the AN/TPQ -36 and - 37 Firefinder radar systems here.
On Dec. 8, personnel from Product Manager Radars headed a fault insertion and technical manual verification at the depot. The verification employed the expertise of Soldiers and Marines from Fort Sill, Okla., and members of various organizations, including the Logistics Readiness Center, Fire Software Engineering Division, and Tobyhanna.
The four-day verification exercise, which prepared the radar for the rollout of the new common processor, was successful, stated Joe Raymer, who monitored and provided assistance with the verification and validation. He is an electronics engineer in the Production Engineering Directorate's Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Engineering Branch.
The processor computes data from the radar and determines which targets to display to the warfighter.
The project began in 2006 when personnel from PM Radars identified the need to upgrade the current processor.
The new processors will make the radar systems more reliable. It reduces the logistic footprint of the radars by replacing a 128-circuit card radar processor in the AN/TPQ-37 and a nine-circuit card RP in the AN/TPQ-36, with a four-circuit card RP in each. The upgrade will significantly reduce the time spent by depot technicians in troubleshooting and repairing the processor, explained Raymer.
Also included in the upgrades are improvements to the processor to address parts obsolescence, false targets reductions and cost issues.
"The new radar processor is less expensive so we're able to provide two processors to the user. If one fails, they can swap it out with a new one in about 15 minutes," Raymer noted. Processors in need of repair are sent to the depot.
PM Radars personnel received positive feedback from the preliminary in-theater testing that took place in December 2007, noted Mark Vizthum, an electronics engineer from PM Radars who participated in the exercise. The new processor also extends the mean time between failures and system lock-ups which was confirmed during the in-theater testing. The current processor MTBF is about 1,000 hours, whereas the new processor MTBF is projected to be more than 12,000 hours.
The radar systems, which are deployed to locations that include Southwest Asia, Germany and throughout the Continental United States, locate the position of hostile mortars, rockets and artillery. The TPQ-36 is composed of an operation shelter mounted on a HMMWV and a trailer that houses a radar Antenna Transceiver Group. The TPQ-37 consists of an operation shelter mounted on a HMMWV, a 5-ton truck and a trailer-mounted ATG System.
The purpose of the verification was to ensure that the processor and manuals were ready or worthy of fielding, explained Victor Rodriguez, PM Radars TPQ -36 assistant product manager.
Personnel from Fort Sill represented the users in the field who verify that the radar works as well as or better than the current processor. "Our job is to make sure that the system is worthy for fielding," noted Raymer.
Depot personnel began testing in May by performing comparison tests between the new and old processor, and software.
The analysis of the testing will confirm the operational and self-testing capability of the processor, explained Chief Warrant Officer 4 Vincent Noel, Fort Sill. He observed during the week and will take part in the final decision to field the new processor.
Rodriguez and Raymer describe Noel's team of military members from Fort Sill as the best of the best, based on their technical background.
"We completed a preliminary radar performance test each morning," said Noel. "Software tests must be done before we begin the fault insertion test."
A test plan and manuals help determine which faults to insert. The team verifies that the processor indicates the correct fault and manual listed, along with the correct troubleshooting steps to repair the issues.
Personnel from Fort Sill performed a fault insertion test by reviewing and inserting a list of faults into the common processor. Types of faults that were addressed include receiver, transmitter, antenna positioning and radar control status circuit cards.
Rodriguez believes they were able to focus on issues that needed to be addressed because of the support from the depot's technicians and engineering personnel.
Future plans include implementing a Modification Work Order by removing the old processor and software and replacing it with the new processor, replacing the current Ethernet switch and programming the new processors with the innovative software, added Rodriguez.
"We are working toward the development of the entire processor as a team. Because of our involvement we're able locate problems and solutions faster then we have in the past," Raymer noted.
"All parties were, and will continue to be, involved with development, testing, transition and fielding, and sustainment and supportability of this project," added Vizthum.
Rodriguez said that their objective it to field the new radar to the Army as early as March.
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 for Communications-Electronics, Avionics, and Missile Guidance and Control Systems and the Air Force Technology Repair Center for ground communications and electronics.
About 5,700 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.