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Digital Directorate team wins major acquisition award

Located at Eareckson Air Station, Alaska, the COBRA DANE radar can collect metric and signature data on foreign ballistic missile events from up to 2,000 miles away. The COBRA DANE radar is one of multiple radar systems supported by the Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division, which has branches at both Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. and Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Located at Eareckson Air Station, Alaska, the COBRA DANE radar can collect metric and signature data on foreign ballistic missile events from up to 2,000 miles away. The COBRA DANE radar is one of multiple radar systems supported by the Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division, which has branches at both Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. and Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force honored a Digital Directorate team with a major acquisition award earlier this month.   

The Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Program Office, which has operating locations both here and at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, earned the 2020 Dr. James G. Roche Product Support Excellence Award. The team was recognized for its dedication to accelerated product support strategies and increased reliability, availability, and maintainability of its Upgraded Early Warning Radar systems, Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System, and COBRA DANE radars. 

“This honor is reflective of the individuals we have in this outstanding organization,” said Col. Joshua Williams, senior materiel leader, Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division. “With incredible focus, direction, and leadership, they went out and got the job done. At the end of the day, it’s the people in the trenches doing the work, and all the credit for this award goes to them.”

Throughout the year, the team digitally modernized their radar systems, reduced operating costs by 90 percent, and saved operating space. They also eliminated cyber risks by implementing software countermeasures at a number of overseas operations locations, resulting in less maintenance time and higher availability of their systems.

Bradley Leonard, chief of the Product Support Branch, says his team leveraged real-time data, algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to predict when parts needed to be replaced, which reduced maintenance time and ensured the systems were always in the fight. By pairing an agile mindset with DevSecOps tools and real time collaboration, they provided valuable support to the warfighter, he said.

“Our Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division has been hitting on all cylinders last year and this year,” said Steven Wert, program executive officer Digital. “We have a process of identifying critical events for every program, and keeping score. This division has delivered on time or early for every single critical event this year. It’s hard to beat that, and great to see them recognized.”

Not only does the team work on the acquisition, program management, and sustainment of the radar systems, but its members also provide continuous command and control, which provides senior leaders with critical operational warfighting data in real-time.

“Knowing that our systems provide battlefield commanders with the data necessary to protect American and allied lives gives us a great deal of pride,” said Williams. “We always try to remember our commitment that we have to the warfighter, and that really gives us extra motivation to come to work and do a great job for them.”

Leonard believes that the agile mindset of the division was the catalyst for this year’s honor.

“One of the things that makes us so successful is that we’ve always embraced a learning culture,” he said. “We are always willing to try something new to provide capabilities in a different and more efficient way. Sometimes you have to take some risks, and really push the envelope.”

Named after the 20th Secretary of the Air Force, who served from 2001 to 2005, the Dr. James G. Roche Product Support Excellence Award is given annually to a program management office for significant accomplishments in the development or execution of product support strategies. The award recognizes the premier office that demonstrates excellence toward attaining effective and affordable product support.