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News > BRAC radar relocation yields millions in savings
Radar relocation worked at millions in taxpayer savings
Airmen place a radar atop a new tower at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in this September 2010 photo. BRAC-directed relocation of four Air Force Research Laboratory research radar systems from Rome, N.Y., to Wright-Patterson is now nearly complete. Air National Guard and active-duty engineering installation squadron personnel and active duty RED HORSE squadron engineers teamed to perform the installation for millions of dollars less than contractor estimates for the project. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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 Guardsmen set-up AFRL radar system - 6/1/2011
BRAC radar relocation yields millions in savings

Posted 6/6/2011   Updated 6/6/2011 Email story   Print story


by Derek Kaufman
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/6/2011 - SPRINGFIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- The installation of an experimental radar receiver atop a 100-foot tower here May 20, 2011, marked the near completion of a project started in 2007 to consolidate sensors research capabilities for the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The bi-static radar tower located at Springfield complements three similar towers located at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for C-Band, S-Band and L-Band research radars, along with an elaborate control room. Base Realignment and Closure 2005 decisions directed the radars be dismantled at Rome, N.Y., then transported and re-erected at Area B of Wright-Patt by Sept. 15, 2011.

Engineers with AFRL's Sensors Directorate in Rome then prepared for the entire project to be accomplished under contract, but when bids came in ranging from $25 to $35 million, they determined there had to be a better, cheaper way to get the job done.

Cue in America's Air National Guard.

Rick Shaughnessy, a Sensors Directorate engineer in Rome was convinced that Airmen with Air National Guard engineering installation squadrons possessed the right skills and could accomplish the task for a fraction of the expected contract cost.

He turned to the Guard's 213th Engineering Installation Squadron in nearby Newburgh, N.Y., where electrical engineer Maj. Mark Padrnos mapped out the entire project. Together with Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Thorenz, also of the 213 EIS, they came up with a plan for Guardsman assigned to engineering installation squadrons from across the country to complete the project on schedule for around $4.2 million in man-days, travel, lodging, per-diem and materials.

"It took some convincing of senior Air Force leadership that we could tackle this with uniformed technicians," said Mr. Shaughnessy. "Joe Sciabica, who was then-director of AFRL's Sensors Directorate, said he was willing to assume the risk."

Four years later the nearly completed project has cost the Air Force about $600,000 less than the initially projected $4.2 million.

"I don't think you can overstate how big a deal this was," said Frank Albanese, director of AFRL's BRAC office. "The underlying theme behind BRAC is achieving savings for the taxpayers. This effort is one of our biggest success stories to date implementing BRAC."

How they did it

Chief Thorenz, with the 213 EIS in New York became the engineering installation lead project coordinator. He determined that while several Guard teams would be needed, a single management team would oversee throughout. Maj. David Rasmussen, with the 219th EIS, Tulsa, Okla., became that Air National Guard project manager. Daily on-site AFRL support at Wright-Patterson came from Dave Coates, of the Sensors Directorate.

"If I had to single out just one person who was critical to the success of this project, it would be Chief Thorenz," Mr. Shaughnessy said. "He pulled the manpower together from Guard EI units in six states, worked the MPA days with Personnel, and developed the deployment schedules for the teams that would ultimately complete the radar removals at Rome Research Site, and the reinstallations at WPAFB."

Ultimately, Chief Thorenz and his fellow New York Guardsman were joined by the 219 EIS to lead installation of the S-Band system, the 212th EIS, Milford, Mass., installed the L-Band system, the 219th EIS and the 220 EIS, Zanesville, Ohio, installed the control room system and media room at Wright-Patt, and the 243rd EIS, South Portland, Maine, installed the antenna tower and bi-static antenna system at Springfield.

The 211th EIS, Annville, Penn., is awaiting materials and expects to work final installation of the C-Band system at Wright-Patt in July, Major Rasmussen said.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of these Airmen," Chief Thorenz said. "The Ohio weather hasn't exactly been cooperative, with heat last summer and all of the rain and thunderstorms this spring."

The Air National Guard teams weren't the only Airmen to put their fingerprints on the radar relocation project. Major Rasmussen said the Air Force's only active-duty engineering installation unit, the 85th EIS, Keesler AFB, Miss., also provided manpower, along with combat engineers from the 820th RED HORSE Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

"Ninety-five percent of the Air Force's engineering installation capability exists within the Air National Guard," said Col. Wade Rupper, commander of the 251st Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group during an outbrief on the project. "This was a spectacular example of our Total Force brothers and sisters working together [just] as they do when they're deployed outside the wire with the Army."

AFRL researchers said they soon hope to put the one-of-a-kind in DoD research radars back to work developing new sensing capabilities for small remotely piloted vehicles, fusion of radio frequency and optical sensing, and other related efforts.

"Exploring the limits of radio frequency sensing is what this facility is all about," said Gary Scalzi, an engineer with AFRL's Sensors Directorate. "Not only will be able to do basic research, but we will be able to demonstrate techniques as we develop them to accelerate delivery of new sensing capabilities to the warfighter."

6/8/2011 10:04:14 AM ET
I want to note to everyone that the 219th Tulsa Oklahoma212thMilford Mass 220th Ohio 211th PA was the muscle on this project dating back to 2008. It's a shame the full story was not captured in the interest of keeping the article brief.
Stephen Thorenz, Newburgh New York
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