By Benjamin Newell
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. —The Office of the Secretary of Defense singled out the COBRA DANE System Sustainment Team at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, for an award for maintaining, sustaining and repairing the stationary COBRA DANE radar.
The team won the 2017 Secretary of Defense Performance Based Logistics Award at the system level. Their efforts to incentivize the prime contractor resulted in operational dependability and availability, and decreased overall maintenance cost.
“This is a big award for a small team,” said Maj. Daniel Barker, COBRA DANE program manager. “The 35 people on this team have worked extremely hard, and you can see that in the results. This asset’s credibility and reliability is the proof of their efforts.”
The secretary’s award is divided into three levels; system, subsystem and component. The U.S. Navy won subsystem and component level awards for management of fighter aircraft computer subsystems and management of tires, which are considered components.
According to the award package, the Air Force’s whole system award reflects the success of an incentive-based contract approach that prodded the prime contractor to research, plan and propose replacements for aging subsystems and components on the massive radar complex.
“Our team stepped back and looked at this as a multi-level problem,” said Col. Todd Wiest, senior materiel leader for surveillance systems, who oversees COBRA DANE at Peterson. “All of this requires advocacy and funding and this team worked closely with AFSPC (Air Force Space Command) and MDA (Missile Defense Agency) to secure the funding that made this high level of dependability possible.”
The team collected data on the performance of each individual component and planned for appropriate replacements. It also set up on-location maintenance depots specializing in COBRA DANE’s specific technology, speeding up repairs. Lastly, they set up the contract to incentivize the Raytheon Co. to find and fix issues before they reached the critical stage, which they achieved at 10 percent less than the projected cost.
“We have initiated sustainment and modernization projects for COBRA DANE,” said Barker. “We’ve earned this award today, but this capability must work tomorrow, and we’re doing our level best to sustain this capability going forward.”
The team also collects fine-grain data on how the system performs. Reliability and dependability is how the team measures total functional time in a given period. Thanks to the efforts of the team at Peterson, the radar is accomplishing its mission. Now the team is focused on continuing to meet these high expectations.