By Justin Eimers
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy have named Tobyhanna the Depot Source of Repair (DSOR) for the Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Ground Control Stations (GCSs).
The decision by the four services’ Maintenance Interservice Support Management Offices recognizes the depot as the installation best suited for these repairs.
“Through the acquisition process, there is a lot of assessment that takes place, including core logistics analyses that look at our capabilities,” said Nick Caprioli, chief of the Business Development Division. “Tobyhanna was selected based on infrastructure, training and technical expertise for this type of work.”
Repair work will begin in FY16 with 19 GCSs scheduled per year, totaling more than 75 systems through FY18.
The Gray Eagle system is a long-range, high-altitude UAS that provides the capability to perform wide-area reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. It is also capable of relaying communications and can be equipped for attack missions. The system consists of the aircraft, GCS, data terminals and data links. Each GCS controls one Gray Eagle aircraft and is used by the operator to perform command and control, payload control and weapon launch operations.
Because of their complexity, Gray Eagle systems and components are currently replaced rather than repaired, exhausting money and resources. Depot personnel are developing cost-effective solutions to repair GCSes and increase capability. Tobyhanna recognizes that the assignment of this DSOR will enable the depot to be selected for additional DSORs for UAS equipment.
Katlin Edmunds, business development specialist, noted that revamping the DSOR decision process will also help substantially reduce costs and bring more UAS work to the depot.
“DSOR selection helps ensure effective use of commercial and organic depot maintenance resources,” she said. “We have been aggressively trying to streamline processes, find inefficiencies and figure out the best way to accommodate new UAS workloads.”
Based on trends in the market, business management analysts anticipate that UAS will be the depot’s largest commodity in the future. As the only Army depot involved in the integrated product team (IPT) for Air Force and Army UAS, Tobyhanna is well positioned to receive workloads for additional UAS component repairs. The IPT is working with Tobyhanna to identify the need for any new test equipment, facilitation or training necessary for additional UAS work.
“Part of the planning process to bring in this workload is to have our engineers work with the program offices to make sure our capabilities are sufficient to provide the best solution for everybody involved,” said Caprioli. “The depot’s all-hands-on-deck approach to secure this DSOR selection has helped to increase our marketability and should open doors for future UAS workloads.”
By Spc. Joshua Edwards
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — On a narrow stretch of road fashioned into a runway at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Combined Task Force Dragoon, launch unmanned aircrafts to safely maintain a view of the battlefield from the sky.
The Soldiers run 24-hour-a-day operations out of the airfield in order to keep situational awareness at all times in support of friendly forces who could be conducting missions anywhere in the area of operations.
The RQ7B Shadow Technical Unmanned Aircraft System allows the troops to maintain communications during operations and follows movements through video feed and infrared technology. The team provides intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for the task force’s 1st, 3rd, and 4th Squadrons.
The shadow system’s maintenance, technical inspections and maintenance quality control are the responsibilities of one person. This person is in charge of handling tasks including pushing the aircraft to the launcher and loading it, conducting pre-flight checks to ensure flight services are in order and aircraft components work correctly, pressurizing the launcher, launching and landing of the aircraft, conducting post-flight inspections to ensure the aircraft has sustained no damage while in flight, making sure the engine is in good working order and changing the fluids.
The shadow aircraft is flown every hour and all maintenance performed is logged into a data system that can be tracked in the future.
Sergeant First Class Brock Niehaus from Smithville, Mo., and platoon sergeant for the team, is responsible for handling administrative data for the platoon, flight schedules, ensuring shifts run properly and acts as a liaison between the platoon and civilians working with them. He assists in the maintenance and launching of the aircraft and implements safety standards.
Through the use of the aircraft, the team provides support to Soldiers on the ground with a number of resources that continuously give U.S. and coalition forces the edge on today’s modern battlefield.
“We provide (intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance) coverage for convoys, route surveillance, (points of interest) reconnaissance; provide over-watch for the engineers during route clearance and general surveillance of the area,” said Niehaus. “(The platoon) is consistently performing at a very high standard.”
Visit Program Executive Office Aviation for more information on unmanned aerial vehicles.