Coordinating all of the moving parts to sustain a system as complex as the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system is no small feat. It takes teamwork and someone to synchronize that effort –that someone is Lori Harris, an AMCOM Logistics Center logistics management specialist and AN/TPY-2 project lead.
The AN/TPY-2 systems, commonly referred to as “Tippy-two,” have been in the field supporting the warfighter for about 10 years. With that much wear and tear, the major components need to be refurbished and upgraded.
Harris, as a member of the AN/TPY-2 Depot Sustainment team, is responsible for logistical support for one of those major components, the Electronic Equipment Unit. Harris tracks the requirements and ensures the supply chain is in place to support EEU modernization once the units are delivered to Letterkenny Army Depot, Pennsylvania. According to Harris, the complex process is very important.
“We have to get these units modernized and back in the hands of the warfighter, so they can continue with their mission,” said Harris, who started her career as an Army intern more than 30 years ago. “The complexity of these units is one of the biggest challenges. The depot needs up to 1,200 replacement parts on hand to complete each unit.”
The challenges don’t stop with simply ordering parts. Harris must identify the most cost-effective way to acquire some of the unique parts and long-lead material needed to accomplish the EEU depot modernization program.
“Sometimes the depot technicians fabricate parts because it is more cost effective and efficient for the program. Other times we have to look for new sources to ensure we are as efficient as possible while securing sufficient parts for the workload,” she said.
Long before the refurbishment and repairs start, the logistics must be worked out to make sure these large, complex units get through the depot as quickly as possible.
“We looked at every aspect of the sustainment process, to include how the units were shipped to Letterkenny,” Harris said.
The logistics team found several processes in need of streamlining. The EEUs were flown to a military installation more than five hours away and transported to the depot via truck. Now, the units are flown directly from the deployed location to an airfield just 40 miles from the depot. The new shipping process reduces risks associated with transportation and saves $5,000 per unit.
The team also reduced the number of spare parts required to be purchased from the manufacturer from 193 to just 28. This reduces the repair-cycle time and provides a significant cost savings to the government.
The Depot Sustainment team charged with working through all the logistical challenges came together thanks to a direct partnership between Letterkenny Army Depot, AMCOM Logistics Center and the Missile Defense Agency. MDA manages the entire AN/TPY-2 program for the Army and the Navy.
The partnership started in 2015 to improve the timeliness of depot-level repairs and maintenance. The time and money saved each year is substantial, and as the MDA project lead for AN/TPY-2 depot sustainment, Harris is pivotal to the program’s success, according to Jeff Flint, the director for the Army’s AN/TPY-2 service cell.
“Ms. Harris was recognized one of AMCOM’s 2019 Most Valuable Players for her contributions in support of the AN/TPY-2’s depot management,” Flint said. “She led the establishment of (Letterkenny Army Depot) as the organic depot for the radar system’s EEU, saving MDA an estimated $11 million annually while dramatically improving the repair-cycle time.”
The improvements to depot planning and management also bring the TPY-2’s maintenance in-line with other major Army systems.
“This move also helps make the overall system more supportable and brings it in-line with a standard Army support structure as we move more and more functions away from the previous contractor-led logistics’ support model,” Flint said.
The long and complex road to supporting the TPY-2 radar surveillance system is not without continued challenges. Harris plans to continue tackling those challenges.
“I want to make sure our capabilities keep pace with changing technology and the ever-changing threats,” Harris said. “It is all about supporting the warfighter and making sure these systems get the maintenance and upgrades needed to keep our Soldiers and our nation safe.”
Editor’s note: The AN/TPY-2 is a missile defense radar that can detect, classify and track ballistic missiles. It has two modes – one to detect ballistic missiles just after launch, and another that can guide interceptors toward a descending warhead. The AN/TPY-2 system is used by the Army in concert with the Patriot missiles to protect Soldiers from incoming threats.