Letterkenny unrolls first completed vehicle specializing in enhanced surveillance

By LAUREN CAPPUCCIO | Public Opinion, Chambersburg, Pa. | Published: May 21, 2014

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Letterkenny Army Depot unveiled Tuesday an air defense radar that is installed on medium tactical vehicles.

The radar, the AN/MPQ-64A3 Sentinel, or Sentinel A3, provides assistance by detecting, classifying, identifying and reporting cruise missiles, unmanned units and other threats.

Col. Victor Hagan, Letterkenny commander, called the development a "milestone" that is the result of several years of hard work by staff that will keep the soldiers safe.

In 2011, the Sentinel program restarted production on 56 radars to transition from Humvees to the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles or FMTV's, Hagan said, something that had been taking place since 1997.

FMTV's can carry up to 5 tons and were modified for the radar unit. The FMTV-mounted Sentinel will begin replacing the Humvee version through fiscal 2018, with a rate of 2 to 3 per month and around 68 by the end of that year.

Hagan said the development will mean better-protected soldiers.

"It will add to increased soldier survivability," Hagan said.

Col. Matthew T. Tedesco, capabilities manager of the Air Defense Artillery Brigade, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, called the new FMTV's an "integral part" and said that it is the "sensor of the future."

"It is made for the edge of the battlefield," Tedesco said.

During the ceremony, Sen. Rich Alloway, R-Chambersburg, praised the base for their work.

"I call myself the top cheerleader for Letterkenny," he said, stating he has brought up issues and shared progress about the base.

Alloway was appointed to serve as the chair of the Military Community Protection Commission last year, which was created to serve as an advocate for Pennsylvania's military bases,

Brig. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space, thanks depot employees and highlighted their service.

Instead of talking about the installation of the Sentinel A3, Thurgood said he was going to talk about the soldiers and in his speech, asked a solider and a woman to come up and asked the soldier to carry the woman on his shoulders while Thurgood talked.

He started his story by saying that at that time, around 10 a.m., soldiers were eating their dinner and in a few hours, would be leaving their safe areas to secure hostile environments. Some may not come back.

"And while the soldiers may not know every person that made or fixed a piece of equipment, they will know that someone gave them the opportunity to go to a Little League game, the opportunity to go to a softball game, or come home for Christmas or a birthday," he said.

The radar and improved technology would mean

"Think about this," he said, pointing to the burdened soldier. "Every time you come into work, you're saving lives."

Letterkenny will start filing orders for the FMTV's with the Sentinel A3's next year.


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