By Jacqueline BoucherDecember 13, 2018
History came to life at Tobyhanna Army Depot as technicians put finishing touches on a decades-old radar set scheduled for static display in the new National Museum of the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Establishing a partnership with the museum to restore the AN/FPN-40 radar set sparked a memory of shared history between the depot and the ground control approach systems that dates back to the 1960s-1970s. During that time, Tobyhanna was the original source of repair for the assets.
More than 40 years later, a new generation of employees, who've never seen the military relics, successfully navigated a steep learning curve to rebuild the battered system that arrived here. . . in pieces.
Museum officials asked Team Tobyhanna to conduct a realistic restoration, so the radar set would appear as visually authentic as possible to its original configuration of 1980.
"I would like to thank everyone who played a part in the restoration project," said Logistics Management Specialist George Sheppard. Sheppard works in the Production Management Directorate's ATCALS Range Threat Project Management Branch. He noted that employees had to rely on obsolete documentation and old photos to disassemble, paint and reassemble the asset. One team member was able to use existing technology to recreate labels that mirrored the original ones. "It was a unique request and the end result was on point."
The Army began using the AN/FPN-40 radar set at airfields in the 1950s. Air traffic controllers were able to guide pilots to a safe landing on a ground-controlled approach, using radar images when weather conditions were bad and visibility was limited. The vertical antenna gave the operator information on an approaching plane's altitude while the horizontal antenna provided the direction. This solid state radar has been replaced by a more advanced radar the AN/FPN-63, which can perform the same functions and is more dependable on the airfield.
The museum will be located on 84 acres at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, less than 30 minutes south of the capital in Washington, D.C. The main building will be approximately 185,000 square feet and display selections from the Army Art Collection, artifacts, documents, and images. The vast majority of these rare and priceless artifacts have never been seen by the American people. The museum will welcome an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 visitors every year.