Technicians repair, upgrade cryptographic keys
December 23, 2010
- A new keying device for the Army will replace legacy equipment.
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Technicians here are screening and upgrading new cryptographic devices that are replacing several older devices.
The mission began in November for the AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loader. A new keying device for the Army, it will replace legacy equipment. The Communications Security Logistics Activity at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., assigned the mission to the depot due to Tobyhanna Army Depot's experience with cryptographic devices.
"The PYQ-10 can be used with several communication devices, including SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground and Air Radio System), to secure communications traffic," said [Carbondale resident] Stephen Bucklaw, electronics mechanic leader in the Communications Security Division. "It basically works by enabling COMSEC equipment to scramble communications on the sender end and unscramble it on the receiver end so that even if an enemy intercepts and records the communications traffic, it can't be read or understood."
The new device, which Bucklaw compared to upgrading a computer from a 486 processor to a Pentium 5, uses a Crypto Ignition Key (CIK) similar to a thumb drive that will allow users to use any PYQ-10 to secure communications equipment.
"A Soldier can use the PYQ-10 on a SINCGARS radio and when done, take out the CIK and hand it to another Soldier for a different use," he said. "Not all units scheduled to get the device have it yet, but it's easy to use for multiple jobs."
Teams are sent to units at various locations such as Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Carson, Col., where the devices are picked up and brought to the depot for repair and testing.
Technicians give each PYQ-10 a mechanical inspection to make sure the hardware such as cable connectors and key pads are working, then an electronic check to make sure the device works. Software is checked and upgraded if necessary using laptop computers.
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 5,600 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.