117th ACS successfully operates on reduced vehicle footprint
By Tech. Sgt. Charles Delano, 165th Airlift Wing
/ Published May 21, 2012
Amelia Island Airport, FL, April 21 -- Since Sept. 11, 2001, members of the 117th Air Control Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, have provided surveillance and control for the skies over the Southeastern United States, the Nation's Capitol, and Iraq. Using radar, computers and electronics to access military satellites, operations personnel analyze and interrogate aircraft in their airspace.
During their annual field training at Amelia Island Airport, Florida, the 117th ACS cut their transportation footprint in half by reducing the number of convoy vehicles and palletizing a large portion of their equipment. This is the first field deployment off of a main base for a U.S. Air Force or Air National Guard Air Control Squadron using the new concept. "Looking at this new deployment concept on paper, we had doubts, but after getting it to the field, we feel a lot better about the ability to project our mission set to the field"', said Lt. Col. Vic Long, Commander, 117th Air Control Squadron.
In the past, movement of an Air Control Squadron required the use of over 40 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. By reducing the number of convoy vehicles, the equipment footprint is reduced to close to 20 C-17s which gives more flexibility to the Air Force by requiring less aircraft and using standardized pallets for transport. "This field deployment has provided valuable experience and training for our many young airman as well as those of us who have been around for awhile," said Senior Master Sgt. Bobby Tice, Network Branch Chief.
This new way of doing business mostly affects the setup of the Air Battle Execution site (ABE), which consists of the main command and control center, where controllers communicate with pilots, use the deployed radar data, coordinate with airborne command aircraft, and control allied forces. For previous field training, convoy vehicles were left attached to the equipment vans allowing rapid movement but also required a larger footprint at the site.
The challenge for the 117th ACS during their training was to quickly position rolling equipment using two trucks and one forklift to move pallets. "It's important for the Air Force to be able to get us to the fight quickly, and this new configuration allows just that", said Maj. Dale Nunnelley, Chief of Maintenance.
The deployment proved to be more successful than just demonstrating a new logistical concept. The communications team achieved 100% installation of the planned communications circuit including Defense Switched Network access, Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network, and Secure Internet Protocol Router Network from a Navy base. Additionally, operations personnel were certified to operate from the field by a U.S. Navy Air Traffic Control agency known as "Sealord" and controlled Florida Air National Guard F-15's.