TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — The U.S. Air Force Depot Maintenance mission, a function of the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command with depot maintenance, is managed by three Air Logistics Centers. The Ogden Air Logistics Center, at Hill Air Force Base, is responsible for range threat systems, air defense radars, ground theater air control systems, Maverick Missile guidance systems and communications systems.
Tobyhanna Army Depot works repairs on these critical systems and considers these to be a significant part of its workload.
"Our support to the Air Force is another venue for Tobyhanna to provide excellent support to the warfighter," said Patrick Esposito, director of the depot's Production Management Directorate. "While Tobyhanna is a subordinate organization within the United States Army, we truly provide joint support to all of the services. The Air Force is a large portion of that support, and it is a portion that we are proud of."
Air Force-level awards have gone to Tobyhanna for improvements in the repair of two systems in particular, the AN/TYQ-23 and the AN/TPS-75.
The AN/TYQ-23 is a mobile command, control and communications facility providing the ability to plan, direct and execute airspace management activities. A system such as this can interface with up to four AN/TPS-75 Air Defense Radar Systems.
Tobyhanna technicians have repaired and tested the AN/TYQ-23 since 1998 and repair and test power supplies and other individual components sent from the field, in addition to the entire systems.
The AN/TYQ-23 — also used by the Army and Navy — has seen repair cycle times reduced from 150 to 115 days for the Air Force systems at the depot. Along with other planned reductions in repair cycle time, this will translate to about 11 systems per year, up from the previous three per year.
"We have reduced the unit funded cost from $435,000 in 2006 to $406,000 in 2007," said Jerry Dougher, chief of the Command, Control and Computers Systems Division.
"Tobyhanna Army Depot and Ogden (Air Logistics Center) have been able to work together resulting in continuous improvements to processes, communication and quality," said Nate Wallwork, operations lead, Integrated Product Team, Hill AFB. "Today's end product demonstrates the dedication and teamwork efforts that Tobyhanna Army Depot has developed, grown and implemented."
Tobyhanna technicians also achieved a 31 percent reduction in the TPS-75 repair cycle time and a 25 percent reduction in overhaul repair costs for the AN/TPS-75.
The TPS-75 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.
Recently, a third test pad was installed to reduce the repair cycle time further. Now technicians can test three complete systems and a stand-alone antenna concurrently at another of its test facilities.
The continuous effort to reduce repair cycle time has led Michael Corley, an AN/TPS-75 program manager, to characterize Tobyhanna's support as "extremely satisfactory." He said that Tobyhanna's strength is that leadership understands and communicates to their team that the mission of the AN/TPS-75 is to provide a detailed air picture over specific and carefully selected areas of operation, to provide real-time surveillance of airspace in support of high value ground assets, and to ensure flight safety of U.S. and coalition aircraft flying in the theater of operations.
"They understand that mission crews from the Control and Reporting Center rely on this radar picture in order to conduct specific mission tasking from the Joint Forces Air Component Commander," he continued. "Because of their thorough understanding of the mission, they realize that the loss of even one of these radars constitutes a critical mission failure and has a direct impact on both flight safety and protecting ground forces in direct contact with the enemy.
"The knowledge of this critical mission is the impetus behind the continued sense of urgency displayed by the entire team whenever a unit needs parts or technical assistance," Corley said.
"Our relationship has certainly evolved over the years," Esposito said. "We have experienced a tremendous improvement in our communications with our Air Force customers which, as simple as it sounds, has provided us with faster, more accurate sharing of information resulting in a much better understanding of each other's business processes. This understanding has helped us improve our overall support to the end-user."
Corley said that the Tobyhanna team can be counted on to continually provide expeditious support whenever it is required, mentioning an incident in which an antenna could not be folded. Tobyhanna and Ogden personnel worked together to create an in-field fix to remove and replace the antenna gearbox and jackscrew assemblies.
"Continuous improvement is what this business is all about, and it is no different with our support to Air Force customers," Esposito said.
Esposito also said the depot continues to work with Air Force Program Offices to establish new capabilities and bring in new workloads. The Air Force Range Threat Systems Program Office has recently approached Tobyhanna about developing additional capabilities for the Unmanned Threat Emitter System. The depot submitted a proposal for support of the Joint Threat Emitter.
Michael Barnes, the director of the 415th Supply Chain Management Squadron at Hill AFB, said that Tobyhanna has made continuous progress in improving support to the Air Force over the last five years.
"Today, I consider them one of the premier maintenance and repair organizations for support of Air Force items," he said.