Aberdeen Proving Ground

Tobyhanna offers array of Firefinder services to foreign customers

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Story by Jacqueline Boucher on 11/22/2017
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. Interest in excess defense articles (EDA) continues to bolster relationships between Tobyhanna Army Depot and many of the Army's international partners through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program.

As excess Army AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radars are being made available, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) officials will work with foreign countries to determine equipment needs and services to help strengthen their defense capabilities. An advantage of using FMS as an EDA divesture tool is the opportunity for Team Tobyhanna to provide its services for refurbishment, modernization, and repair and return. The sales are conducted through formal contracts or agreements between the U.S. government and an authorized foreign purchaser.

Garry Cooper is a sheet metal mechanic who fixes the Antenna Transceiver Group (ATG) tub and antenna structures alongside coworkers in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate's Structural Repair Branch. He remembers volunteering to help the Portugal Army with a radar system that needed ATG structural repairs.

"The host country was courteous and appreciated the assistance Tobyhanna was able to provide," Cooper said. "Given the opportunity, I would travel for FMS again. I found the experience satisfying and rewarding knowing we were providing assistance to our allies."

Firefinders are used by the Army, Marines, National Guard, and many FMS customers. The radar systems locate the position of hostile mortars, rockets and artillery. The AN/TPQ-36 is composed of an ATG, shelter mounted on a Humvee, generator power group and an auxiliary trailer-mounted generator.

According to the logistics management specialist who oversees Tobyhanna's global support of the counter fire radars, the scope of work includes in-country and in-house repairs, training and site surveys. Subject matter experts here repair, overhaul, test and upgrade the radar systems, she said.

Thailand officials once asked the depot to apply upgrades and overhaul AN/TPQ-36 systems in their inventory.

"We use site surveys to inspect, evaluate and assess the radars, then give our recommendation for the best path forward," said Tim Higgins, chief of the Production Management Directorate's Air Defense and Counter Fire Systems Project Management Branch.

"The health assessment of the radar helps us determine if the system needs to be sent to Tobyhanna or if we should dispatch a team to do the work on-site."

There are six FMS Firefinder systems on the depot at different stages of work. The projected completion date for the first radar is in January, followed by one system each month until all are completed.

The Army sent two AN/TPQ-36 radars to Ukraine in 2015 as part of the presidential drawdown, according to officials in the Army Communications-Electronics Command's (CECOM) Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD). That sales agreement outlines how Tobyhanna's all-volunteer force will provide in-country maintenance for two years. In 2016, depot technicians followed four more counter fire radars to the Eastern European country to repair and field the assets as part of a foreign aid agreement.

Just a few weeks ago, members of the Jordan Armed Forces visited the depot and conducted a Joint Visual Inspection of stock Firefinder radars available for purchase through FMS. The assets are stored in DLA Distribution-Tobyhanna facilities.

"Jordan has existing Firefinder radars and is purchasing more," said Higgins. "They wanted to visit the depot to inspect the available assets and be briefed on our capabilities and services."

Nearly every depot organization plays a role in the FMS mission. Tobyhanna's success can be attributed to the skills and expertise of production management specialists, engineers, C4ISR technicians and Systems Integration Support experts who manage and execute work, Higgins said, adding that employees who work in the Technical Publications Branch help rewrite the maintenance and user manuals.

Brian Novak prioritizes work that comes through the trailer shop located in Building 10B. As a capacity controller it's his job to make sure the Firefinder mission stays on schedule and meets customer requirements.

"I look at all the work coming to our shop and create a weekly schedule to follow," Novak said. "Everyone here works hard to keep the assets moving through the depot to meet scheduled completion dates."

Craig Lonsiak is a supply technician who supports the Firefinder FMS mission by releasing the repair parts requested by the cost center to support production.

"If repair parts aren't in stock, I place the request through the Complex Assembly Manufacturing Solution, or CAMS, then contact the material planner to expedite the order," Lonsiak said. "I know mine is only a small piece of the puzzle, but I feel honored to be able to support this effort."

CECOM executes foreign military sales under the direction and guidance of USASAC by supporting allies and strengthening relationships through foreign military sales. CECOM's Integrated Logistics Support Center (ILSC) provides Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment in support of Afghanistan, Iraq, Thailand and Pakistan, among others.

These military partnerships promote compatibility and interoperability in equipment and training, which are crucial to the National Defense Strategy.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our Joint Warfighters.

About 3,200 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 Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 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.

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