HANSCOM AFB, Mass. --- PEO Digital is using all available resources to minimize the risk of delays as it nears acquisition of a new Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar, or 3DELRR.
The program office responsible for acquiring the deployable and expeditionary radar purchased a used trailer from the Raytheon Co. Jan. 8, 2019, for approximately $40,000. Quickly taking possession of the trailer speeds up the testing process for radar and trailer loads on various aircraft and haulers ultimately responsible for delivering the radar to combatant commanders.
Buying the trailer and tapping local 66th Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen to deliver and perform road maintenance on the trailer will save more than $150,000 and up to two years of acquisition time. Directly purchasing the trailer bypasses traditional acquisition processes
The 3DELRR system, also referred to as an AN/TPS-81, will replace the aging AN/TPS-75, or “Tipsy-75,” as the principal Air Force ground-based sensor for long range surveillance, detection and tracking of aerial targets in support of theater commanders. The program office projects replacing “Tipsy-75” with initial fielding in 2023. Staying on schedule requires risk management experts foresee and prevent major delays.
“I was talking to our counterparts at Raytheon about how we were going to need a trailer for early risk reduction testing, and they said they had one they barely used in their parking lot,” said Dan Wissell, engineering lead for hardware in the 3DELRR program office. Raytheon used the trailer to perform less than five drop tests, simulating airdrops and accidental drops.
“I realized we could buy this trailer, inspect it in-house and have something ready for road testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground [Maryland] much faster than we could buy and fabricate a new trailer that was ready to test,” Wissell said.
“We don’t have aircraft, and we don’t have operational units here at Hanscom,” said Anthony Levenson, director of operations at LRS. “The program offices deal with a lot of exotic equipment, and we’re able to work with them on that equipment. It’s good for us to see a lot of the newest technology the Air Force is working on, and it’s good for them because maybe there’s some cost savings available by giving our Airmen a chance to move their projects.”
Purchasing a used trailer, rather than a new piece of equipment to accomplish risk reduction testing is an innovative solution for the program office, which adheres to a goal of identifying 12 opportunities in 2019 to tailor engineering, manufacturing and development of the combat-critical radar. The 3DELRR team also identified an opportunity to use an existing contract with the MITRE Corp. to construct an accurate mockup of the 3DELRR radar, using concrete and wood to simulate the radar’s size and weight characteristics on the trailer.
“We have a sense of urgency to replace the Tipsy-75 with the mobile and transportable Tipsy-81,” said Lt. Col. Michael Alexander, PEO Digital’s materiel leader overseeing 3DELRR acquisition. “When we take delivery of the Tipsy-81, we want to ensure that there will not be any issues with the expeditionary aspects of this radar. By taking advantage of this innovative opportunity, we can reduce the risk to our warfighters.”