Letterkenny honored for missile system maintenance

February 23, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Letterkenny Army Depot received a pair of awards Thursday to add to its trophy case, this time for its partnership with Lockheed Martin in maintaining the Javelin anti-armor missile system.

"These award ceremonies are starting to become a habit at Letterkenny," Depot Commander Col. Robert Swenson said before the installation was presented the U.S. Department of Defense 2006 Defense Logistics Award for the contractor and military collaboration of the year.

On the depot's behalf, Swenson also accepted the Lockheed Martin Logistics Facility of Excellence Award from the defense contractor.

"You all are so used to excellence, I'm not sure what the next level is ... but you'll figure it out," Maj. Gen. James Pillsbury, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, told depot officials and workers. In the past two years, the depot has received a public sector Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing for its Patriot missile and Humvee programs.


Developed in a joint venture by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, the Javelin is a portable shoulder-fired anti-armor missile that one soldier can operate. With "fire-and-forget" technology, the weapon can lock onto and guide itself to the target after being fired.

The Javelin has a 98 percent operational readiness record in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Louis Kratz, vice president of Focused Logistics for Lockheed Martin.

The depot has 10 workers on its Javelin Joint Venture Logistics Support Team, testing circuitry for the system, said Howard E. Weaver, program director for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. The contractor is in the third year of a five-year contract with Letterkenny on the Javelin program, he said.

Javelins are serviced after about 500 hours of operational use, Weaver said. According to the awards program, the turn-around time for the missiles to be shipped from the front, serviced and returned to the field is 18 days.

Pillsbury said the Javelin has a 97 percent "first hit" rate, and he got a chance to fire one at a test range in Alabama about a year ago - but missed the target, an old Soviet tank.

"It was defective," the general said.

In the field, however, troops have come to rely on the Javelin and other weapon systems repaired and refitted at Letterkenny, Pillsbury said.

"Everything you touch has turned to gold," Pillsbury told the workers.

Letterkenny recently began another partnership with Lockheed Martin, servicing the parts of the Arrowhead, a targeting system for attack helicopters.

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