TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Tobyhanna Army Depot strives to continually reduce repair cycle time. As a result, the Air Force will receive its tactical radar systems faster.

The Air Defense Radar Branch, which overhauls the AN/TPS-75 Radar System, is for the first time able to test three complete systems and a standalone antenna concurrently at the Powder Smoke Ridge Test Facility.

"We built a third test pad last year in the event of elevated workload so we would have the capacity to test an additional system," said Franklin A. Frey, chief of the Surveillance Systems Division, which is part of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Directorate. "So there are now three test pads and a mock-up, which we can use as a fourth test pad. All said and done, we can test four systems simultaneously if needed."

The AN/TPS-75 Radar System is a mobile, tactical radar system capable of providing long-range radar azimuth, range and height information, along with identification friend or foe capability for operations and control of tactical aircraft. The radar is the U.S. Air Force's primary Surveillance Radar System and is deployed worldwide.

Part of the Ground Theater Air Control System, it provides "real time" radar airspace pictures and data in support of the battle commander.

The branch, along with the Systems Integration and Support Directorate, completely overhauls about six systems and two stand alone antennas per year.

"The antennas take the most abuse because they are so exposed," Frey said. "They come to us in very poor condition; we rarely get one that is in relatively good shape. Our technicians and Systems Integration and Support (personnel) make them look and operate like new."

Branch Chief Bill Chupko said they experienced a surge starting in January, receiving six systems in six months.

"The third test pad will make a difference," he said. "We've already shipped a system back to the Air Force two months earlier than usual."

Systems arrive from all over the world and pass through Tobyhanna on a five year rotational Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM) schedule. Normal repair cycle time (RCT) is 10 months from induction to final testing.

The depot earned the 2006 Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing (Public Sector), Bronze level for achieving a 31 percent reduction in its RCT and a 25 percent reduction in repair costs for the AN/TPS-75.

Frey noted that the depot provides worldwide technical assistance and emergency repairs. "We can respond in a few hours or less for parts requests and have a team to answer technical questions," he said.

Parts, usually for the antenna, are shipped the same day or next day.

"We got a call to help with a TPS-75 in Southwest Asia that had shrapnel damage to an antenna," Chupko said. "We responded in less than 24 hours with a repair kit and instructions for the unit on how to properly repair the damage. In addition, we volunteered to have qualified personnel available at the units request for further technical help via a tele-con."

The emergency requests for parts that the branch receives are typically not available through the Supply System. Branch personnel work in conjunction with our Program Office located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to send the unit the requested part.

"In most cases the unit's radar is non Mission Capable and therefore we get the call," Frey said. "We expedite the parts and the unit is back up and running with minimal down time. When requested, we ensure that the unit has what they need for an operational radar, that is one of the most important functions we perform."

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 5,600 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 Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., 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.