Tobyhanna, L3Harris Technologies Partner to Sustain Air Force MQ9 Reaper

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Tobyhanna Army Depot has joined forces with defense contractor L3Harris Technologies to repair portions of a critical intelligence collection system for the U.S. Air Force.

The depot is scheduled to repair two types of line repairable units (LRUs) for the MQ-9 Reaper ground control station (GCS), part of a lucrative public-private partnership (P3) agreement between the organizations. 

The Reaper is an armed unmanned aircraft system that performs strike, coordination, and reconnaissance missions.  The asset is designed for long-endurance and high-altitude surveillance, with the ability to carry 15 times more ordnance payload than its predecessor.  The Reaper is monitored and controlled by an aircrew in the GCS.

The acquisition of this new workload is directly aligned with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028. The plan, which focuses on posturing the depot to be competitive in coming years, has lines of effort dedicated to expanding an already diverse portfolio through securing new workload, as well as connecting with community partners. The mission represents further growth for the depot’s support of assets used by the U.S. Air Force.

The workload’s arrival is the culmination of several years of effort, according to Logistics Management Specialist Christopher Volch.  Volch works in the Production Management Directorate.

“We have been working with L3Harris Technologies since 2016 to transition sustainment responsibility incrementally.  This measured approach ensures Tobyhanna is prepared to provide superior support to this program,” he said.

The cross-functional transition team included personnel from the C4ISR, Production Engineering and Production Management Directorates.

Much of the transition has focused on technical requirements, such as the development of test program sets (TPS).  Matthew Rhoades, chief of the Production Engineering Directorate’s Test Engineering Branch, says the TPSs serve an important purpose for the program.

“These TPSs will allow Tobyhanna’s electronics personnel to screen the LRU at the beginning of the process to identify where the asset requires repair.  Once repair is complete, the asset will be tested to validate the repair, ensuring the warfighter receives a quality product – every time.”  Rhoades noted the TPS development was only possible due to the P3’s collaborative working relationship.

“It has been a great experience working with L3Harris Technologies. Their personnel have been extremely good communicators and are willing to help however they can.”

The transition team has also focused on training to close the capability gap between the contractor and Tobyhanna personnel.  A cadre of depot subject matter experts traveled to an L3Harris Technologies facility in Salt Lake City, UT last month for side-by-side training and validation of technical documentation.  Attendees praised the experience, citing it as a valuable opportunity to collaborate and learn from subject matter experts.

Representatives from L3Harris Technologies say they are pleased with the depot’s efforts to prepare for the new workload.

“The entire team has been extremely accommodating.  We are very excited for this workload to come to Tobyhanna,” said Steven King, project manager for the Reaper transition.

Volch is hopeful that the already fruitful partnership will lead to more work for Team Tobyhanna.

“This partnership has been a fantastic experience, and we’ve been able to meet all of their expectations thus far.  I believe we are well postured to work together again in the future, “ adding that P3s allow the Department of Defense to leverage unique capabilities available in the private sector to support operational readiness in the most effective and efficient fashion.  The depot has entered into nearly 300 partnerships since the program began in 1996.