Tobyhanna Army Depot: Center of Radar Excellence
July 1, 2011
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. " A large, white radome dominates the high ground at Tobyhanna Army Depot in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It symbolizes the growing number of radars and sensors, including Air Defense, Air Traffic Control, Ground Surveillance, Airborne, Shipborne, Range Threat systems and critical Counter Fire systems, which Tobyhanna personnel maintain and support for the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
“Tobyhanna has been repairing and testing radars since the 1960s,” says Col. Charles Gibson, commander of Tobyhanna Army Depot, “so we have extensive capability and experience in this critical commodity.”
Tobyhanna has flexible and modern facilities to effectively handle today’s radars and accommodate additional systems. The depot’s Antenna and Radar Range Campus offers 12 distinct radar test sites comprised of multiple test pads and specialized support facilities and equipment. Indoor testing includes several anechoic chambers, Near Field Probes, an elevated temperature burn facility and rain testing. Outdoor testing includes modified Munson Road facilities (used to ensure systems will function after being driven over rough terrain) and a Tower Track calibration range.
“The Antenna and Radar Range Campus provides clean air volume and free-space testing that offers interference-free, unobstructed vectors in azimuth and elevation,” said George Galaydick, electronics engineer, Production Engineering Directorate. “The campus is electromagnetically quiet and allows us to perform live target, full-power testing with high energy radar systems without disruption or compromise by radio frequency interference.
“Our location and terrain also facilitate the construct of outdoor radar testing solutions that minimize unwanted phenomenon such as multipath and point clutter, commonly called radar echoes, while maximizing availability of air volume for omni-directional scanning at the depot’s higher elevations,” Galaydick said.
The indoor and outdoor facilities were designed and installed with flexibility in mind to rapidly adjust to changing missions and meet technical advancements. These facilities enable the depot to support not only current repair and overhaul missions, but upgrades, modifications and technical insertions as well. “We do not need to take the radars to any another facility, we can do it all here,” Galaydick said.
The latest additions to the depot’s 50 years of radar support are the Marine Corps’ AN/TPQ-46 Firefinder Radar, the AN/TPS-59 Tactical Ballistic Missile Detection and Tracking Radar and the AN/TPS-63 Air Surveillance Radar. These radars transferred to Tobyhanna from the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., as a result of a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision.
“The Marine Corps AN/TPQ-46 Counter-Fire Radar was a natural fit for Tobyhanna, since it is essentially a version of the Army’s AN/TPQ-36 system, which are already fully supported by the depot with existing facilities and highly"trained personnel,” said Deputy Commander Frank Zardecki.
The surveillance radars are supported with new testing facilities and repair capabilities, such as the 77"foot diameter protective radome, a signal source and target tower, and a Far"Field Antenna Pattern Range complex capable of supporting a broad range of frequencies (UHF through K"band).
“These resources represent the latest addition to the depot’s vast array of radar repair and overhaul capabilities, which are unmatched in the Defense Departments industrial base,” Zardecki said.
The depot supports over 20 major radar systems, including the Firefinder family of radars, the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, Air Force Air Defense Radars, Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems, and Electronic Warfare Range Threat simulators. In fiscal year 2010, the depot completed the repair and overhaul of more than 100 major radar systems and countless secondary radar items for both Defense Department and Foreign Military Sales customers.
“So whether it’s air defense, counter-fire, air traffic control, navigation, long range surveillance, threat simulators, mine detectors or even interrogators and transponders, Tobyhanna has the tools, skills and facilities to support mission"essential tasks,” said Mark Viola, chief of the C4ISR Maintenance Division, Production Engineering Directorate.
Tobyhanna has more than 500 employees dedicated to radar systems support, including the largest concentration of electronics mechanics with radar skills in the Defense Department. More than 30 engineering personnel are dedicated to continuously improving the depot’s radar repair processes and developing capabilities to take on new and emerging technologies.
Engineers and electronics mechanics work with mechanical technicians, quality control and supply chain management personnel in more than 450,000 square feet of maintenance, test and other facilities to ensure that radar systems are back in warfighter hands as quickly as possible.
Engineers also work regularly with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to develop and test system upgrades and modifications to improve the performance and reliability of the many systems.
One recent example of this is the installation of a new $2.5 million Live Fire Test Simulator, which is used to test the AN/TPQ-48 Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar (LCMR). This chamber accurately simulates mortar and artillery fire in an electronic environment, eliminating the need to perform actual live-fire testing. Each test saves the warfighter $25,000 compared to actual live-fire testing.
Another example of the depot’s engineering capabilities is the successful completion and shipment of the first AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder Reliability, Maintainability, and Improvement (RMI) systems for the Army. The RMI systems underwent extensive redesign of the radar processor, radio frequency power generation and cooling subsystems, and received new shelter configurations and remote operating capabilities.
Tobyhanna is also tackling the re-sheltering of the Air Force AN/MPN-14K Mobile Air Traffic Control and the AN/TPN-19 Transportable Air Traffic Control radars. These systems are used by the Air National Guard and the active duty Air Force for controlling air traffic during deployments.
Engineers work closely with program managers and OEMs to provide technical solutions to real-world problems. When antenna pedestals on the AN/TPS-75 surveillance radars were failing in the field, depot engineers worked with the program office to identify a repair solution to return the radars to full mission capability. Engineers were able to perform stress analysis on the radar’s mechanical structures using a computer aided engineering system and its Finite Element Analysis software.
Similar tests were also performed to address structural cracking occurring in the Air Force’s aging AN/TPN-19 radar control shelters.
Facilities, experience and personnel make Tobyhanna the Defense Department’s one"stop"shop for radar sustainment, engineering, redesign and environmental testing. The depot’s reach is global, operating a number of Forward Repair Activities throughout the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting counter battery radars such as Firefinder and Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, said Joe Salamido, chief of the ISR Engineering Branch, Production Engineering Directorate.
“In fact, more than 600 personnel are in the field every day keeping the warfighter’s C4ISR systems up and running,” he added.
Tobyhanna is always looking to the future, Viola said. “On the horizon are some of the latest Defense Department radars, including the Firefinder EQ"36,Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G"ATOR), AN/TPY-2 Ballistic Missile Defense Radar, Deployable Radar Approach Control (D"RAPCON), and the new Joint Threat Emitter systems and sensor suites onboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”
“As new systems like these move from manufacturer support to organic, Tobyhanna will be there to ensure that the nation’s Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines continue to see in new and better ways and survive the challenges of tomorrow’s battlefield,” Gibson said.