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News | April 9, 2018

Land and Maritime’s Avenger program a model of interagency cooperation

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

An array of military air defense platforms sitting dormant for years have been refurbished and are once again supporting Warfighters around the world.

A March 14 ceremony at Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) unveiled the latest group of newly restored Avenger Air Defense Systems, culminating a 16-month joint project between the depot and the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime.

“We were able to fulfill LEAD’s requirements in part by leveraging DLA’s established worldwide distribution system,” said Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic, DLA Land and Maritime commander. “By maintaining strong relationships with our industry partners we can efficiently respond to the constantly changing and often urgent demands of our military customers.”

The Avenger is a surface-to-air missile system often mounted on a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, commonly known as the Humvee. The combined weapon system provides mobile protection against missiles, low-flying aircraft and most recently – unmanned aerial vehicles.

Avengers have been an asset in the U.S. arsenal since their first deployment in 1989, but evolving priorities reduced their inventory to less than 400 in regular service by 2016. By that time, only nine American battalions worldwide had Avenger Short Range Air Defense capabilities, including two active duty units and seven in the Army National Guard.    

According to an Oct. 2017 assessment by Nicole Bier and Patrick Madden on behalf of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, UAVs from countries including North Korea, Iran and Russia have advanced steadily during the past five years. These advances in technology required an evolution of U.S. countermeasures.

In late 2016, senior Pentagon leaders called on military logisticians to formulate a plan that was both expedient and fiscally responsible.

A team of DLA Land and Maritime associates collaborated across supply chains to provide source components and facilitate delivery for most of the parts required to bring a total of 72 Avengers back to operability.

In many cases, those weapons systems had been sitting dormant on the gravel lot at LEAD in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, for several years. Workers at the depot referred to this area of often derelict and forgotten machinery as the boneyard. 

Skubic said LEAD representatives submitted their first requisition requests for the Avenger in March of 2017. If the items were available in the vast inventory of more than 2 million spare parts managed by DLA Land and Maritime – they were packed and in the mail within a week. 

For items requiring fabrication or outside purchase, a group of collaborative demand planners, weapon system support managers and customer account specialists worked with contractors and logistics site specialists to ensure the availability of each part. Overall, the Avenger project called for DLA to requisition more than 750 individual parts and equipment to rebuild each vehicle.

“I’m impressed at the way my team, the Program Office and the depot all worked together proactively to identify critical and challenging repair parts; shepherded an investment through the DLA enterprise; and continually monitored the Avenger production timeline,” said Army Col. Dale Farrand, DLA Land and Maritime’s director of Land Customer Operations.

The collaboration paid off. In early 2018, the first 36 of the refurbished Avengers were on their way overseas in support of the European Deterrence Initiative.

During the ceremony to unveil the completed Avengers, Army Col. Greg Brady, Army Fires Division chief, said the project required synchronization between various agencies and departments all focused on a common goal.

“The longtime strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principle priorities of the department and require both increased and sustained investment because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security,” Brady said.

The U.S. European Command Public Affairs Office issued a fact sheet that forecasts overall EDI spending to reach nearly $10 billion through the end of 2018 since its inception in 2014. These costs fund efforts to increase security, improve readiness and support the collective defense of NATO allies in Europe.

The Avenger program represents just a small portion of overall defense spending in Europe, but it’s reflective of DLA’s strategic focus on cost-consciousness and process innovation through strong partnerships.

As this latest group of Avengers returns to service, their operators can feel confident these vehicles are ready to go back to work defending Warfighters on a contemporary battlefield, thanks in part to the teams at DLA Land and Maritime and Letterkenny Army Depot.