TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Tobyhanna Army Depot has established a new radar test capability that will improve readiness and save the Army materiel and money. On May 7, the ribbon was cut to officially open the Mechanical Live Fire Test Simulator. The $2.5 million simulator tests the AN/TPQ-48 Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar system, which is used to back plot the location of enemy mortars and other indirect weapons.

Fielded in 2006, the LCMR is considered a life saver, says James Pochas, Tobyhanna's Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar project lead. Pochas is a logistics management specialist in the Production Engineering Directorate. "The system is much more portable than a Firefinder radar, so it can be set up in places a Firefinder can't," he said. "The problem was it had to be tested using live fire at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. The Army wanted something that would eliminate that need."

He noted that Tobyhanna FRAs support the radar in Southwest Asia. Tobyhanna, working with personnel from the Product Manager Radars office at Fort Monmouth, N.J., and contractors, developed and began building the anechoic chamber to house a Live Fire Test Simulator in May last year. The chamber was completed in January and the simulator equipment was installed in February.

The live fire test system simulates the exact problem scenarios performed at the Yuma Proving Ground by actual mortar fire. In Yuma, the radar is currently tested by 11 problems of varying distances, shot directions and mortar sizes. "In other words, the simulator mirrors various types of mortar fire from different angles and distances," Pochas said. "The radar has to accurately and reliably detect and back plot the simulated attacks.

"We've been testing the system on actual radars since then and have completed 14 as of May 13," he added. "Our goal is to test 60 LCMRs and compare the data to Yuma's live fire test data to prove that the simulator is a valid substitute for live fire tests.

The simulator has worked so well that we've returned the tested radars to their units." The testing is expected to be completed by the end of August. "Testing with live fire ammunition was a slow, costly process," commented Lt. Col. Al Visconti, Product Manager Radars, at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "This simulator is a strategic tool for the future. It will save the Army money and is truly significant for the Lightweight Counterfire Mortar Radar program."

Visconti said that Tobyhanna's performance in working with the Product Manager and contractor personnel was outstanding. "We started with an idea, a vision, to relieve some cost to the Army and get the radars to the warfighter quicker," he said. "Government and private resources worked together from the start for one common goal. What a great team effort."

Participating in the program were SRCTec, Inc.; Technology Services Corp.; Mitre Corp.; KESK Corp.; Georgia Tech Research Institute; and Cummings Microwave Corp. 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.