726th ACS jumps into the future
By Airman 1st Class Jeremy D. Wolff, 366 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 07, 2017
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The 726th Air Control Squadron received its first major Control and Reporting Center weapons system upgrade in 20 years here, May 30.
The TYQ-23A Control and Reporting Center system replaces older and bulkier 1980s style operations modules, allowing command and control operators to control a section of air space and do battle management when called upon.
“A couple of the benefits include reducing our logistical footprint where, before with the 4OM modules that weigh up to 14,000lbs, we were limited on how we can transport them out or how fast they can go,” said Lt. Col. Sean Higgins, 726th ACS commander. “With the new system, they come as desktop computers inside of pelican cases (or short mobile cases) that can be folded up, packed and sent to the field very quickly. It also reduces the size of the support equipment and trucks that we need to get from point A to point B.”
The system has been under development for five years, contracted for four and scheduled to be delivered to the 726th for the past two years. With Marine and other Air Force units already using similar systems, the new equipment brings the 726th to the same functionality as the others using this system. It is also familiarizes Hard Rockers with the set up that is already being used in deployed locations.
“Now I don’t spend as much time teaching my crew members how to use very specific switch actions,” said Higgins. “Basically, if they can use a mouse and a keyboard they can use the console itself. Now they can concentrate on doing battle management versus being very specific on switch actions. They can focus on what’s important to them.”
The new weapons system isn’t the only improvement being made; additionally the 726th is training with another piece of technology that can make operations more efficient. The small communications package is an inflatable satellite that was developed in support of special operations, giving them the mobile capability to be used by small teams while still being able to be used for long periods of time.
“The (Ground Antenna Transmit and Receive) system we have is a 2.4 meter dish. What it does is it takes the place of our small aperture antenna, which is also a 2.4 meter dish but this one makes it a lot simpler,” said Senior Airman Jeffrey Shields, radio frequency transmissions systems technician. “We get the same type of receiving power, but with this system we can go from the case to the satellite in 36 minutes because the inflation system makes it a lot quicker compared to the small aperture antenna, which takes from four to six hours.”
As the first ACS that is getting access to test the small communications package, the 726th will be testing it throughout the summer and later in the year for the Gunfighter Flag exercise.
“This particular small communications package gives us the capability of having that long haul ability without using combat communications,” said Higgins. “What we’re seeing so far is that it is probably going to work for us. So now we’re less reliant on other agencies and can do most of the job ourselves.”