U.S. Navy pilots can land safely thanks to Tobyhanna upgrades

Korea: U.S. Navy pilots can land safely thanks to Tobyhanna upgrades

Michele Yeager

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — Depot technicians played a key role in making life easier for the airmen involved in radar system maintenance at an air base in Korea.

Tobyhanna refurbished an AN/GPN-22 Precision Approach Radar (PAR) system here, shipped it to members of the 8th Communications and Civil Engineer Squadron in Korea and provided on-site support.

The project went well, confirmed John Glatz and Frank Savaro, the two depot electronic mechanics who traveled to Kunsan Air Force Base in May to set up and test the system.

“Once we got it set up and tested, we also completed the final FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] flight check. Everything passed with flying colors,” Savaro said.

He and Glatz work in the Air Traffic Control Division, Surveillance Systems Directorate. When the system came into the depot from another unit about nine months earlier, they performed a complete overhaul on it.

Their work included all mechanical and electrical repairs on the line replaceable units and all associated equipment, such as ladders, canopies and the maintenance stand.

“We also worked closely with personnel in the Sheet Metal Structural Repair Division, who worked on the shelter that houses the PAR,” Glatz said.

“It was my first time in Korea,” said Savaro, adding that it’s a beautiful country with very friendly people. “I learned a lot working with the Squadron members and the Raytheon crew. It was interesting to see the system in operation between the PAR shelter on the runway and the RAPCON [radar approach control] operations center.”

Tobyhanna Army Depot

The PAR is a fixed, ground-based approach control system used to recover all types of aircraft during inclement weather. “The system is used to guide primarily Navy and Republic of Korea Air Force flyers to a safe touchdown on the runway during periods of low visibility,” said MSG Stephen VanStee, 8th Communications Squadron air traffic control and landing systems branch chief.

The old system had been in place 15 years and the replacement couldn’t have come at a better time, said VanStee. “This swap out was part of the programmed depot maintenance program where every so often, we’ll swap out a major system like this and put a fresh one in place.”

The price tag on maintaining the old system was high, nearly $220,000 a year.

The members of the radar maintenance flight were spending 10 to 12 hour days, weekends and holidays trying to keep the old one running, according to an article in the air base’s newspaper.

Now, according to Tech SGT Susan Faus, noncommissioned officer in charge of radar maintenance, the members of her team have the opportunity to focus on training and their other duties around the base because the radar shop’s workload was reduced by 60 percent following this replacement, VanStee said.

Faus and Tech SGT Charlie Hyman, chief of plans and implementation for the PAR replacement project, knew the old system had to go, but replacing that system with a new one was a big project all in itself.

“It wasn’t one big thing that was the challenge,” said Hyman. “It was managing the project–making sure all the bits and pieces came together.”

“The installation was completely smooth and uneventful,” said VanStee, who noted that it was the fastest installation of this type of system that they had participated in within the Pacific Air Forces.

The physical implementation of the PAR began on May 3 and ended just 15 days later, but Hyman began the preparation for the swap six months earlier, Faus said.

The radar maintenance personnel are quick to point out they were not alone in the effort to replace this system. They acknowledge many people, from civil engineering to transportation to the Tobyhanna personnel and civilian contractors who made the special trip to Kunsan, for making it happen.

Glatz and Savaro spent three weeks in Korea. “It could have been a much longer trip, if not for the very knowledgeable and supportive Squadron members and contractors we worked with,” Glatz said. “It was a strong team effort that allowed us to complete the installation so quickly,” Savaro added.

Editor’s Note: Excerpts from this article were written by 1LT Heather Healy, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, and appeared in the May 30 WolfPack Warrior, the installation newspaper at Kunsan Air Base, Korea.

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Army Signal Center

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group