NEWS | March 5, 2021

Letterkenny Hellfire reset team takes the mission to the warfighter

By Dorie Heyer Letterkenny Army Depot

A team of electronic mechanics from the Close Combat Missile Systems Program Management Team at Letterkenny Army Depot completed an onsite Hellfire reset mission at Fort Drum, New York, at the end of January.

The mission included the reset of M299 Longbow Hellfire Launchers and M36 Captive Flight Training Missiles for units within the 10th Mountain Division. It was in support of the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Missiles and Space Tactical Aviation and Ground Munitions Project Office.

Jackie Eichelberger, LEAD Soldier Support Division chief, oversaw the project. Eichelberger is the portfolio manager of CCMS, Force Sustainment, Force Provider, Power Generation/EPP II and Route Clearance Vehicles/Material Handling Equipment. Jeff Davidson, Hellfire reset supervisor within the CCMS PMT, assembled the reset team that executed the mission.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with the results,” Davidson said. “This is a big undertaking, especially since Letterkenny hasn’t done this before.” He assembled a qualified team based on the type of work that would be executed, including launcher work, Launcher Electronics Assembly and missile work.

LEAD provides Hellfire support on depot through the CCMS PMT. Some of those programs include the production of Hellfire rails, launchers and some of the cables and connectors associated with Hellfire systems. This was the first time LEAD conducted a Hellfire reset mission off-site. Extensive planning and training took place ahead of traveling to Fort Drum.

“Prior to deployment, the team had biweekly meetings with TAGM to discuss the knowledge transfer of the repair parts and the processes so that we were capturing all of the data regarding predicted supply needs,” Eichelberger said.

Davidson attributes effective communication as a key factor to the success of the mission. “We had regular meetings with the two units we would be supporting leading up to deploying to Fort Drum,” he said. “We continued that good line of communication with the units once we arrived; we made sure there weren’t any scheduling conflicts and coordinated asset delivery schedules.”

Eichelberger echoed Davidson’s sentiments, “It was critical to have upfront discussions with the units as well,” she said. “That allowed us to identify their points of contact, introduce ourselves and identify workspace requirements.”

These discussions also preemptively addressed potential scheduling conflicts that directly impacted the success and efficiency of the reset mission. “These open lines of communication directly affected the success of the program,” she said. “It made for a smooth transition from TAGM to Letterkenny and also enabled Letterkenny to utilize TAGM as a resource when needed.”

TAGM provided two personnel for technical support during the deployment to Fort Drum. According to Eichelberger, they weren’t used for hands on support but did provide technical advice, which was beneficial. “TAGM was extremely easy to work with and provided all of the data we needed,” she said.

The team allotted sufficient preparation time prior to departing LEAD.

“We were using historical data in regard to how many parts we were going to need to complete the mission,” Davidson said. “There are some parts that are necessary with each reset, but there are always some variables that are difficult to predict.”

The team utilized systematical data to develop the travel inventory that wound up being almost 100% accurate. “We did put a buffer in based on our experience with reset,” Eichelberger said. “You can plan to the best data possible, but when you get there, supply needs can change.”

According to Davidson, only two parts needed to be shipped to the team once on location.

A major benefit to this type of mission is that Letterkenny employees are resetting the assets at the unit’s location, which drastically reduces the shipment and travel times associated with an off-site reset.

“We were scheduled to go to Fort Drum based off of their training schedule,” said Eichelberger. “We had a window to have everything completed and turned back over to them so that they could start additional training the following week. It really supported the unit’s readiness by ensuring that they had the necessary equipment when they needed it.” Completing reset onsite reduces the wait time that the unit would experience if shipping the assets to the depot for the reset.

“What impressed me the most about the team from Letterkenny was their ability to diversify capabilities and meet deadlines,” Eichelberger said. The Letterkenny team executed work on site at Fort Drum that would normally be outside the scope of their daily operations. “The team trained with Letterkenny’s paint department prior to deploying, so they were able to complete all of the painting requirements,” she said. “In addition to the paint work, they also executed all of the packing, shipping, unpacking, setup and coordination with the units. It was impressive to see them not only meet the expectations set forth, but exceed those expectations as well.”

The team placed an emphasis on safety by bringing a portable paint booth with them to complete the onsite painting requirements. “Safety is one of our top priorities, which is why we brought our own booth with exhausts, respirators and all the necessary protective equipment for the team,” Davidson said. The paint booth was so successful that industrial hygiene personnel from Fort Drum have already contacted LEAD to obtain information to purchase their own. Leadership at LEAD has placed a focus on modernizing current processes, such as paint processes, as they prepare the depot for future systems.

“I really see this benefitting Letterkenny into the future,” Eichelberger said. “We’ve identified that we can be successful and support units when they don’t have the timeframe to ship equipment out for reset.”
Eichelberger said it was a success story for TAGM as well. Upfront communication led to a smooth transition and Letterkenny completed the project a week ahead of schedule.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything this important transition so well without any issues,” said Michael Kuenzli, deputy program manager for PEO M&S, TAGM, during a conference call with Letterkenny leadership Feb.

“When given the chance, Letterkenny teams always rise to the challenge,” said Damian Bess, LEAD deputy to the commander. “I have to thank the entire PEO M&S organization for giving us this chance to demonstrate how LEAD innovates new solutions for the warfighter and other customers by adapting to their needs rather than requiring them to adapt to ours.”

Davidson and the team are already in the process of applying lessons learned from Fort Drum to prepare for their next assignment. “I absolutely know a few things that I’m going to do differently next time,” he said. “We’re all going to discuss the pros and cons from Fort Drum to try to make this process even better.”

Letterkenny Army Depot is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense and space systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 and is a government-owned and operated industrial installation located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

For more information about LEAD, visit https://www.letterkenny.army.mil/.