By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher (U.S. Army CommunicationsElectronics Command (CECOM))September 5, 2018
An electronics integrated systems mechanic at one of Tobyhanna Army Depot's Forward Repair Activities plays an integral role in repairing the Army's primary medium-lift, rotary-wing helicopter.
For several years, Santiago "Jim" Gonzales has joined forces with Corpus Christi Army Depot, to provide specialized services that help keep the UH-60 Black Hawk variants of the Sikorsky H-60 family of military helicopters mission capable. He supports the facility's aircraft production line, which includes all versions of the Black Hawk undergoing recapitalization (recap) and crash battle damage aircraft. Gonzales who works at the Texas location is assigned to the C4ISR Directorate's Avionics Division.
Recapitalization, or "recap" for short, is part of the Army's effort to reduce platform sustainment costs and contain the expense of replacing aging helicopters with new ones. Overhauling and upgrading structural, engine, and airframe components provides the Army with an asset that is equal to or better than a new one, according to CCAD leadership.
Gonzales repairs avionics systems and serviceable items that don't function correctly when in the aircraft. He also oversees the movement of assets to and from the depot.
In Army aviation there are three levels of maintenance -- aviation unit maintenance, which is conducted at the unit level, aviation intermediate maintenance, also referred to as direct-level maintenance, and depot-level maintenance. On average, 34 to 89 line replaceable units (LRUs) come through the shop every month, according to Gonzales.
"I'm trained to conduct direct-level maintenance and perform depot-level repairs on avionics systems," Gonzales said, explaining that he works on communications, navigation, flight control, altimeters, transponders and vertical instrument display systems for the Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Air Force rotary wing aircraft. "In addition, I perform operational tests and troubleshoot avionics systems on the aircraft."
Gonzales is able to expedite avionics component repairs by following processes outlined in a repair and return contract. He orchestrates mission requirements with officials at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, CCAD and Tobyhanna.
"Some of the components are fixed locally at CCAD while others are shipped back to the depot for more in-depth repairs," said Jahna Fulton, H-60 Aircraft Supercell Branch chief, Planning and Supply Management Directorate. "This effort reduces costs to our customer by having a repairable asset vice a new asset with the same form, fit and function. The Tobyhanna repair and return contract is instrumental to CCAD and the warfighter."
According to the contract Tobyhanna will provide aviation intermediate maintenance and depot repair support for avionics LRUs not repairable at the Texas location, technical data, training and administrative assistance. Meanwhile, Corpus Christi is tasked with providing on-site support that includes test equipment, work benches, and shipping and receiving.
Corpus Christi Army Depot recently rolled out their 15,000th aircraft -- a UH-60 Black Hawk designed to provide infantry squad delivery anywhere on the battlefield. This helicopter also marked their 500th recap.
The UH-60L Black Hawk represents an upgrade to the original UH-60A, which entered service with the Army in 1978. Production of the UH-60L began in 1989 with the conversion of existing UH-60A aircraft to the L standard as well as the production of new airframes. Hundreds have been delivered since 2006, and production is expected to continue until the UH-60L line is replaced by new production UH-60M aircraft.