Technology Today - Home
 
 
The Air Traffic Navigation, Integration and Coordination System (ATNAVICS) real-world mission expanded far beyond its original requirements. How can Raytheon ensure continued mission success?

Raytheon Network Centric Systems' Specialty Systems Engineering faced this challenge when ATNAVICS was deployed in the Middle East.

The System
ATNAVICS (AN/TPN-31) provides air traffic management at temporary airfields in remote locations. This three-surveillance sensor ground control approach system includes a sensor vehicle (containing primary, secondary and precision approach radars, and associated electronics) and an operations vehicle (containing two controller workstations and radar data processing, communications and situation displays). The vehicles can be stationed up to one kilometer apart. For the Middle East mission, ATNAVICS uses the AN/FPN-67 Fixed- Base Precision Approach Radar (FBPAR).

The prime customer is the U.S. Army Product Management Air Traffic Control Systems, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., and the sustainment customer is the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) in Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Mission Support
Under the ATNAVICS/FBPAR National Maintenance Contract, Raytheon provides intermediate and depot-level support to keep operational 46 fielded ATNAVICS systems deployed worldwide at U.S. Army installations.

Raytheon provides 24/7 technical reachback support, primarily by phone. If the initial phone call does not resolve the issue, a field service representative (FSR) travels to the site to perform further troubleshooting and repair.

All of Raytheon's engineering resources are used to resolve ATNAVICS systems issues. For example, senior engineers have been deployed to sites for firsthand data collection and problem solving, and engineering fellows have analyzed performance issues, provided feedback and furnished a road map for system enhancements. The experience that design engineers obtain by dealing with real-world issues also helps them perform upgrades and new systems design.

The Expanded Mission
ATNAVICS was designed to provide 30-day deployments at various locations. When post-deployment refurbishment time is factored in, an ATNAVICS system can be used for about three deployments annually. The real-world application, however, requires 24/7 performance at the same location for several years. The system must also function in an environment quite different from that for which it was designed.

In late 2005, during the Kuwait deployment, ATNAVICS units required support that was inconsistent with the maintenance schedule. The first question was, "Why is this happening?" Then, when it became clear that ATNAVICS was being used far differently than its design requirements had specified, the question became, "How can Raytheon ensure this expanded mission's success?"

Responding to the Challenge
Raytheon, with its CECOM customer, researched these issues and instituted proactive processes to harden ATNAVICS to endure the increased duty cycle and harsh operating environment.
  • To quickly discover and solve problems, Raytheon partnered with the government to find more ways — such as site visits and e-mail — to gather field data and support ATNAVICS.
  • To reduce downtime, Raytheon, with CECOM, developed several engineering and sustainment scenarios that enabled the team to support the changing mission. For these scenarios, Raytheon determined the spares needed for the expanded mission and then worked with the customer to find sources for these components and forward-deploy them.
  • To ensure that mission-specific issues were addressed, Raytheon performed preventive maintenance more often and revised, supplemented or replaced maintenance procedures. Raytheon also worked with the customer to eliminate or reduce environmental wear on the system.
  • To leverage existing solutions, the team sought and applied lessons learned from Raytheon teams supporting other products — such as Patriot — that are used in similar environments.
The Human Factor
To retain the confidence of the diverse ATNAVICS user community, it is important to diagnose and fix problems quickly and completely. The team therefore sought internal criteria that would help meet or exceed customer expectations. It found that the major contributor to a successful customer relationship is a high-quality FSR. Analysis showed that stringent candidate screening profiles revealed the best candidates, so it uses these profiles, tailoring them for contract-unique needs. Candidates hired via this process are significantly more effective as FSRs right away, and they perform exceptionally well — both technically and interpersonally.

Bringing a Raytheon face to end users shows that the team cares about its products and, more importantly, about the people who rely on its products. The team also works with customers to develop and forward-deploy spares stores, most notably to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). These assets have helped reduce system downtime by providing needed spares in days rather than weeks.

Outlook
In this, the fifth year of active operations in this region, the team has achieved exceptional operational availability. This success, however, motivates it to seek even more ways to better support the warfighter. For example, the most recent tour of OIF systems provided invaluable firsthand information from warfighters and Supply Chain personnel that will help the team provide better real-time support.

ATNAVICS Program Manager Jim Bessette reported, "Our hands-on approach and customer partnering have resulted in marked improvements to system availability and improved customer satisfaction." The ongoing government–Raytheon partnering will ensure that the ATNAVICS mission will continue to be accomplished in a timely, cost-effective manner.

Michael P. Maloney