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Camp Lemonnier to increase air traffic safety with new radar system

Airmen from the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, out of Oklahoma City, install a new AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower June 4, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. With coordination between the 205th EIS, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Force Flight Standards Agency, U.S. Air Forces Central Command and the U.S. Navy, the new radar will increase air traffic control capabilities and safety. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

Airmen from the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, out of Oklahoma City, install a new AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower June 4, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. With coordination between the 205th EIS, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Force Flight Standards Agency, U.S. Air Forces Central Command and the U.S. Navy, the new radar will increase air traffic control capabilities and safety. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (AFNS) -- The Air Force began construction on a new AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower and shelter on Camp Lemonnier in May, with plans for it to be fully operational by August.

The ongoing construction is being completed by Airmen from the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, based out of Oklahoma City, and the Air Force Flight Standards Agency from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

“Two weeks ago there was nothing but concrete blocks out there. Now there is a rotating antenna, construction lights are on, and systems are on. Things are really coming together,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Potter, the 205th EIS engineering and installation project team chief.

The planning process for the new radar started in 2014, and it will replace the current operating radar, which is a mobile radar system not intended for long-term use, said Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Theresa Day, a Camp Lemonnier Air Operations air traffic control facility officer.

“The older radar (here) is expeditionary, so it’s not meant to be utilized 365 days, 24 hours a day,” she said. “(The new radar) will give us more extensive coverage and shouldn’t have any degradation when it comes to daily operations because it is designed to run in an environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The radar will provide increased air traffic control safety by not only controlling the air traffic, but also by helping keep eyes on aircraft separation in the air while monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic, Potter said.

“Everybody has been really responsive to getting this project on board because it will enhance safety and have wider capabilities consistently without the degradation,” Day said.

To help complete the installation, the 205th EIS pulled resources from all across the camp. Initial coordination occurred during their first week on site, but throughout the project the team required additional supplies from various units.

“You inventory all of your material, figure out what are the shortfalls, and start the scavenger hunt making sure you have everything and find the people on camp who can help you get things done,” Potter said. “We basically got help from every Seabee here. We went to the welding shop, the supply house (and) self-help, and we borrowed from motor pool for transportation. There was a lot of coordination on camp trying to get things done.”

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