By Mr. Anthony Ricchiazzi (CECOM)April 16, 2013
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Australia now benefits from a unique radar test capability at Tobyhanna Army Depot. Eight Australian Defence Force (ADF) communications-electronics technicians recently spent two weeks here to learn repair and maintenance of a radar system used to track enemy mortar rounds.
AN/TPQ--49 Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar (LCMR) systems sense enemy fire and warn the force so they can respond. Personnel here test and repair LCMRs using a first-of-its-kind mechanical live-fire test simulator (MLFTS). The test simulator is the only one in the Army.
The Australian Army is using the system operationally. "The trained operators have been using the LCMRs for more than two years, and have an evolved understanding of its performance and functionality," said ADF member Sam Banks. "We've been getting good results with it [in] theater. It has good reliability; it's highly maneuverable and highly maintainable."
As part of the ADF's training regime, trade qualified maintainers with specific skill sets in radars, were selected to attend a U.S.-based instructor-led maintenance course.
"The PM (Product Manager) Radars at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., contacted Tobyhanna and asked if we could conduct the training," explained Dean Georgiades, an electronics technician in the Production Engineering Directorate. "This is not the first class we have had, but it is the first for training foreign military customers."
Georgiades and two depot technicians from the Lightweight Counter Fire Radars Systems Branch, Mark Dolph and Eric Allison, who worked previously in theater with Australians, developed a training plan. The Australian contingent arrived and underwent training by Georgiades, Dolph and Allison. The branch is part of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Directorate's Counter Fire Division.
"Tobyhanna's extensive experience and capability in Counter Fire Radar sustainment is evident in the highly effective training we provided for our Australian allies," said ISR Director Bob Katulka. "Tobyhanna engineers and technicians routinely demonstrate exceptional support to our Warfighters, the latest training for our allies being a prime example."
"They (technicians) have already had an introduction to fault finding and physical repair," said Radar Tech Advisor Chris Olsson of Australia's Combat Support System Project Office. "We've also established a supply chain link between us and Tobyhanna, so we can contact the depot if we need maintenance and repair assistance."
Georgiades noted that because the soldiers already had electronics training, they quickly grasped the maintenance and operational theory portion of the training. Coupled with the hands-on training, he said the Australians will have no problem maintaining their fleet of LCMRs.
"They have reach--back to Tobyhanna that includes shop and engineering support," he said. "We have also provided site support in the past."
The Australians' goal is to provide field support and maintenance of their systems without the use of a Field Service Representative (FSR). FSRs provided by the original equipment manufacturer can be costly in the long term in maintaining their fleet of LCMRs, Georgiades said. In teaming with the Australians, Tobyhanna will still provide major repairs and Reset of the Australians' LCMR systems and technical support.
"The instructors have made it really easy for us; they have been very accommodating," said ADF member Mitch Reeves. "Most of us have previous electronics experience with radars, so to transfer to the LCMR is not difficult."
The technicians will return to units that use the LCMR.
"It's good to know that we can get help here," Olsson said. "We have that established link, but coming here gives better rapport; coupled with an in depth knowledge of how the maintenance facility at Tobyhanna works. Certainly the opportunity to have that face-to-face interaction is invaluable."
"Tobyhanna's Radar Center of Excellence is the largest and most comprehensive capability in the organic industrial base for all types of radar," Katulka noted. "We are able to provide sustainment support like the LCMR training we just conducted which allows operators and maintainers the best possible scenario to learn and become highly effective at their job tasks."
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 5,100 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.
Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., 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.