COBRA DANE team moves forward with radar’s sustainment plan

July 9, 2015

Hanscom Air Force Base:

The Battle Management program executive officer at Hanscom AFB recently approved a strategy for the sustainment of one of the largest radars in the Air Force’s arsenal.

The COBRA DANE radar located on Shemya Island, Alaska, stands 120 feet tall, has a 95-foot diameter, detects objects 2,000 miles away and was built in the 1970s to serve as an early warning system during the Cold War.

Control of the radar’s operation and maintenance contracts transferred to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Battle Management Directorate from Air Force Space Command in May 2015.

With a short amount of time until the current contract expires, the COBRA DANE program team finalized a sustainment plan to award a new sole-source contract before the existing agreement runs out in December of this year.

A panel of acquisition specialists was able to identify key aspects and challenges associated with maintaining the aging radar system.

“For most of the radar, options for long-term supportability are diminishing and becoming more expensive, as significant portions of the system and its facilities infrastructure are well past the system’s original design lifespan,” said Capt. Daniel Barker, COBRA DANE deputy program manager. “Many of the original 1970s equipment manufacturers no longer exist. As a result, most spare procurements require identification of alternate industry sources to perform expensive and time-consuming re-engineering.”

Part of the sustainment process requires the program team to identify which components have available commercial-off-the-shelf replacements and which parts are in need of re-engineering.

COBRA DANE is a ground-based, L-band, phased-array radar that provides midcourse coverage for U.S. Strategic Command’s Ballistic Missile Defense System. The radar can detect sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles, classify re-entry vehicles and other missile objects and track threats with enough accuracy to commit to launching¬† interceptors and update in-flight targeting data.

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