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205 EIS install long-term radar in Djibouti

U.S. Air Force Airmen of the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, Oklahoma City, line up pieces of the metal frame during construction of an AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower, May 26, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The new radar is a more permanent replacement for the short-term radar currently in operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

U.S. Air Force Airmen of the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, Oklahoma City, line up pieces of the metal frame during construction of an AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower, May 26, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The new radar is a more permanent replacement for the short-term radar currently in operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

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

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

U.S. Airmen of the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, Oklahoma City, install a new AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower, May 26, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. With coordination between the 205 EIS, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Force Flight Standards Agency, U.S. Air Force Central Command and the U.S. Navy, the new radar will increase air traffic control capabilities and safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

U.S. Airmen of the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron, Oklahoma City, install a new AN/GPN-27 Airport Surveillance Radar System tower, May 26, 2016, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. With coordination between the 205 EIS, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Force Flight Standards Agency, U.S. Air Force Central Command and the U.S. Navy, the new radar will increase air traffic control capabilities and safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- Eight members of the 205th Engineering and Installation Squadron from Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City participated in the cradle-to-grave installation of a permanent radar and shelter on U.S. Navy Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, May 20 - June 16, 2016.

The Airmen and two members from the Air Force Flight Standards Agency out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, worked to install an AN/GPN-27 Containerized Airport Surveillance Radar, which replaced the deployable short-term and short-range radar that was previously in use.

"Overall, the radar provides a long-term, endearing Air Traffic Control radar for a vastly improved safety impact on the local Air Traffic Management," said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Potter, 205 EIS superintendent and the project team chief. 

The team oversaw the installation in its entirety, performing a site survey in November, coordinating the engineering package, augmenting the removal of the radar from Charleston, South Carolina, shipping it to Djibouti and then finally installing it at Camp Lemonneir, said Potter.

Despite 127-degree heat indexes, daily black flag statuses and several equipment setbacks, the team successfully completed the project before returning home.

"The project was a significant accomplishment in spite of all the numerous challenges the install team faced," said Potter. "I had not only the dream team, but these guys were total rock stars. I can't tell you how many times we would have visitors who would marvel at what we accomplished." 

For some members on the "dream team", the project was a completely new experience.

"This was my first install, and I learned a lot of things," said Staff Sgt. Jason Emerich, airfield systems journeyman and deployed equipment custodian. "It was hot, but we built the tower. We turned a lot of wrenches and bolts, used cranes and climbed, and grounded it for protection against lightning."

New, seasoned and everywhere in between, Potter was beyond satisfied with both the outcome of the project and the work of his team.

"The team was phenomenal, and we had zero complaints," he said. "I could not have had a better prepared, experienced or professional team, and I can't say enough about how proud I am of their performance."

The project was the first of potentially several projects that could regularly support the region in upcoming years.

For more information on the radar installation and insight from the Camp Lemonnier Air Traffic Control Office, see the previous story by the Horn of Africa Public Affairs Office.