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Soto Cano approach radar replaced

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – Staff Sgt. Donald Hester, 612th Air Base Squadron, lines up the ground position navigation radar antenna assembly with the reference reflector at the end of the runway.  The Army/Navy GPN 22 provides precision guidance for aircraft within 20 miles of the base.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – Staff Sgt. Donald Hester, 612th Air Base Squadron, lines up the ground position navigation radar antenna assembly with the reference reflector at the end of the runway. The Army/Navy GPN 22 provides precision guidance for aircraft within 20 miles of the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – Mike Moran, a Department of Defense civilian here from Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa., checks the precision of the antenna beam position control unit after replacing the base’s ground position navigation radar system.  The Army/Navy GPN 22 provides precision guidance for aircraft within 20 miles of the base.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – Mike Moran, a Department of Defense civilian here from Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa., checks the precision of the antenna beam position control unit after replacing the base’s ground position navigation radar system. The Army/Navy GPN 22 provides precision guidance for aircraft within 20 miles of the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras --  A new Army Navy Ground Position Navigation radar, or ANGPN 22, system was installed here recently, replacing a 10-year-old system with one that has been refurbished inside and out. 

Three technicians from Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa., deployed here for 17 days for the installation. 

The system was completely overhauled at Tobyhanna and the antenna was overhauled at Raytheon, according to Dan Kalina, one of the depot's electronic mechanics. 

With the installation of this new system, Soto Cano's old ANGPN 22 will be taken back to Tobyhanna for refurbishment before being shipped to another location. 

"Currently we're working on one to go to Aviano," Mr. Kalina added. "Tobyhanna has been working on these (systems) since 2000, and we learned from the ground up." 

The refurbishment, rather than replacement, of the ANGPN systems saves countless dollars for the Department of Defense. The shelter for the radar costs around $8 million and the antenna is an additional $4 million, according to Mr. Kalina. 

The equipment is part of the base's Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems, said Staff Sgt. Donald Hester, who works in the ATCALS maintenance section for the 612th Air Base Squadron. 

"Without this system, it would be instrument and sight landing only," Sergeant Hester said. "This is a weather-critical radar." 

All aircraft on approach to Soto Cano, located in a valley between two mountains near Comayagua, Honduras, will benefit from this new upgrade, said Sergeant Hester.
The radar provides precision guidance for aircraft within 20 miles of the base. The system works by providing the radar scope information used by 612th Air Base Wing air traffic controllers, who in turn give instructions to the pilots. 

It tracks "anything from a helicopter to a C-5," said Mr. Kalina. "They don't even have to see the runway to land with this radar." 

With an average life expectancy of about seven years, the Soto Cano system was due to be replaced last year. However, a last-minute requirement for the ANGPN diverted it to support the war on terrorism. 

"I had to paint it at the last minute," said Mr. Kalina. "It was orange and white and on the forklift. I had to tell the driver to take it back to the paint booth so we could paint it brown because it was going to Iraq." 

Although the system replacement can typically take in excess of three weeks, the team was able to complete the job in just 17 days. 

"(Soto Cano) is by far the best crew I've worked with," said Mike Moran, a technician who is also from Tobyhanna. "Their coordination and planning was great. They really helped us out a lot."

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