Team Robins welcomes L3 partnership

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Somewhere over a distant land, eyes in the sky are watching from tens of thousands of feet above the planet's surface and from other undisclosed locations. 

Remotely piloted aircraft systems, like the Air Force's MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, depend on a sophisticated network of aviation electronics to keep them flying and accomplishing their mission. Team Robins is doing its part to make sure they have them. 

The presence of these unmanned aircraft has increased in conflict zones across the globe. To support that presence, a partnership came to fruition last spring between the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and L-3 Communications to work on the aircraft's interim modem assemblies. 

To acknowledge that partnership, a ribbon cutting was conducted Oct. 20, which drew personnel from the 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group, The ALC business office and General Atomics. 

"The 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group looks forward to our continued relationship with L-3 and additional success to what we have achieved together," said Col. Robert Neal, 402nd EMXG commander. 

Since the validation and standup of the workload in June, a total of 17 interim modem assemblies have been produced at Robins as of the end of October. 

Larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper was designed to execute time-sensitive targets, destroying and disabling those targets with persistence and precision. 

However, both provide crucial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in overseas contingency operations. 

Interim modem assemblies  are sent to L-3 from various field units using them, which in turn are sent to Robins as part of a 50/50 business partnership. 

"We do it by providing the onsite engineering and support structure and allow the Air Force to focus on production," according to Dragan Filipovic, an L-3 systems engineer. 

Several technicians in the 566th Electronics Maintenance Squadron's Precision Attack Element inspect and test the units. That involves ensuring its communications capabilities are working securely and properly. 

A test station here tests and validates that the assemblies' internal circuit cards are functioning. Those cards provide critical messaging information and video from the air to ground pilots downrange. 

A nearby environmental chamber simulates temperatures and elevations that the aircraft would encounter in the atmosphere. The chamber is used to test components in temperatures ranging from -54 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius. 

Greg Stowe, an L-3 depot representative, works with Robins technicians on the current workload, and said that by partnering with the complex, turnaround repair times have already been reduced significantly.

Turnaround times stand at 45 days, with the complex meeting its goals by currently reducing that average in nearly half the amount of time. 

"This is the first time our company has ventured off into outsourcing of a repair like this," said Stowe. "Here we have actual spares dedicated to the program versus what's available in the plant (repairs are located in Salt Lake City, Utah).

"That, in turn, expedites the repair time," he added. "By being onsite, we can lend expertise, and if we run into problems I can assist."

As a result of the successful standup of the workload, program managers are now performing a feasibility study on the possibility of adding future workloads at Robins, according to Lt. Col. Elliot Safdie, 569th Electronics Maintenance Squadron commander, and individual mobilization augmentee to the 402nd EMXG commander. 

This ribbon cutting follows another successful activation on a battery workload on the Predator/Reaper, which allows power distribution onboard the aircraft as   well as emergency backup power.