Employees from Letterkenny Army Depot’s (LEAD) Directorate of Supply and Transportation were challenged with a unique mission starting on Aug. 12. The crew was tasked with loading 10 PATRIOT Semitrailer Mounted Launching Stations that were produced at LEAD as part of a Public Private Partnership with an industry partner onto Antonov 124-100 transport planes that were contracted by the partner to expedite delivery to its customer. The launchers were transported and loaded in three installments, taking place on Aug. 12, Aug. 17, Aug. 20, at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
“Our team of professionals are dedicated to delivering our customers superior products, service and support, said Jerod Weilacher, director of the Directorate of Supply and Transportation at LEAD. “Their expertise and ability to adapt in complex environments allows LEAD to meet any mission objective.”
Letterkenny has multiple public private partnerships, however the new build PATRIOT launcher contract dates back to 2010. LEAD provides the facilities, equipment, data, materials and services to manufacture and verify the PATRIOT launching stations in support of the contract.
“Letterkenny Army Depot is engaged in multiple partnerships, this particular case was for the new build of PATRIOT launchers,” said Jesse Myers, Letterkenny Army Depot Business Development Office. “The industry partner approached LEAD for support in loading the launchers onto the Antonov due to the size and specialized equipment needed to load the launchers properly. We utilized the Directorate of Industrial Operations and the Directorate of Supply and Transportation at LEAD to get the right personnel and the right equipment on site to get the plane loaded.”
The crew from LEAD utilized multiple pieces of equipment, including a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT), to load the 10 PATRIOT Semitrailer Mounted Launching Stations onto the Antonov 124-100 being mindful of load balance. “We proceeded slowly – like we should,” said Ralph Noll, who operated the HEMTT for the loading. The ground guides would give Noll constant reports to let him know how much space he had overhead and between assets. “When you’re backing something up as big as the HEMTT, you can’t see something taking a bad turn until it’s too late,” remarked Noll. “That’s why good communication from your guides is so important.”
Some of the challenges faced by the team included overhead clearance in the plane, ground clearance and clearance between the launchers – only eight inches of space between the assets once loaded. “We relied on our teamwork to complete the mission,” said Chad Hoffmann, the team leader of the mission. “Good communication from our ground guides to our driver allowed us to get the launchers loaded safely.”
Although this particular load had its own set of unique challenges, the team was able to adjust and quickly solve problems on the fly. “The specific curvature of the plane was unique to this mission, but our team deals with these kinds of situations on a daily basis,” said Richard Hurley, division chief of the Major End Item Receiving and Shipping Division at LEAD. “If you see some of the tight confined spaces our team is able to put trucks in, you’ll understand their level of skill and expertise.”
“I absolutely respect the professionalism of our team,” said David Pollock, deputy director for the Directorate of Supply and Transportation at LEAD. “Their ability to think outside of the box and their good communication allowed them to get the job done safely and get it done right.”
“You have a crew you can trust and work together with, that’s the best thing,” remarked Noll. “Your team has to trust one another.”
The team successfully concluded their mission on Aug. 20, loading the last of the launchers and thereby enabling their industry partner to deliver the product to their customer. “I am extremely proud of our team and their accomplishments throughout our partnership,” remarked Weilacher.
Letterkenny Army Depot is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense and space systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 and is a government-owned and operated industrial installation located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.