Defense

January 21, 2013

Air Force begins testing new pod capability

Tags:
Samuel King Jr.
Eglin AFB, Fla.

Maj. Olivia Elliott, of the 40th Flight Test Squadron, examines the LITENING II advanced targeting pod mounted on her A-10 Thunderbolt II prior to a test mission Jan. 10 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Her mission was to wrap up flight testing of the new Net-T software upgrade on the pod. The new upgrade allows the pod to provide ground forces beyond-line-of-sight command and control capabilities as long as the aircraft is within range. This is the first-ever test of this new capability.

The Air Force completed testing this month on a flying wireless router to ground troops with almost instantaneous communications. The biggest difference between the router in most homes and the new flying router … the Air Force’s version is attached to a 30mm Gatling gun.

The flying router is a new software upgrade called Net-T or network tactical for the LITENING and Sniper advanced targeting pods for all legacy fighters and the B-1. This high priority developmental test began in October by the 40th Flight Test Squadron.

“This is a new capability the Air Force does not currently deploy with and it has not been tested until now,” said Capt. Joseph Rojas, of the 40th FLTS and the Net-T Project Test Engineer.

The squadron tested the software’s capability to allow groups of ground forces to communicate with each other via Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver-5, a small arm-mounted touchscreen device about the size of an iPad-mini. Until now, The ROVER-5 could only send and receive data from the aircraft.

The Net-T pod capability allows units with ROVER-5s to communicate directly with each other using the aircraft to route those signals. There is only one prerequisite.

“The groups on the ground need ‘line of sight’ to the aircraft in the air, not each other,” said Rojas. “This opens up communication possibilities to support ground operations across all services.”

Maj. Olivia Elliott, of the 40th Flight Test Squadron, examines the logbook for her A-10 Thunderbolt II prior to a test mission Jan. 10 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Her mission was to wrap up flight testing of the new Net-T software upgrade on the LITENING II advanced targeting pod. The new upgrade allows the pod to provide ground forces beyond-line-of-sight command and control capabilities as long as the aircraft is within range. This is the first-ever test of this new capability.

This targeting pod enhancement can provide the commander real-time information videos, images, maps, coordinates or any file type from the forward deployed elements without relying on satellite, radio or other forms of traditional communication.

Advanced targeting pods are already busy pieces of equipment. The new ATP-SE pods provide aircrews detailed target images in television and infrared modes, laser illumination and tracking, automatic target searching and tracking, and automated target reconnaissance. One of the key test points for this effort was to ensure all of those capabilities were not affected in any way by the new Net-T upgrade.

“The pilot still needs to be able to operate the pod effectively, even though ground troops could be sending data to each other using this enhancement,” said Maj. Olivia Elliott, the 40th FLTS A-10 flight commander who flew all of the required test missions for the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

According to Elliott, the pilot has minimal interaction with the Net-T portion of the targeting pod. Once the frequencies and data rates are configured, the pilot initiates the transmit-in-Net-T mode and the network is active.

“It’s a single button push,” said Elliott. “After that the pilot must maintain within the range of the Rover’s transmitter and stay within view of the users. There’s little to no interference with airborne operations of the targeting pod.”

Another test priority was to discover the distance limitations of the flying hub and how far away a Rover could be and still send and receive information.

Maj. Olivia Elliott, of the 40th Flight Test Squadron, completes preflight checks of her A-10 Thunderbolt II prior to a test mission Jan. 10 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Her mission was to wrap up flight testing of the new Net-T software upgrade on the LITENING II advanced targeting pod. The new upgrade allows the pod to provide ground forces beyond-line-of-sight command and control capabilities as long as the aircraft is within range. This is the first-ever test of this new capability.

Test engineers from the 40th FLTS and the 46th Test Squadron’s data link flight set up five Rover stations around the Eglin test range and sent files of various types and sizes back and forth via the flying Net-T on a variety of aircraft and pod types to include B-1B aircraft from Dyess AFB, and both F-16 and F-15E aircraft from the 40th FLTS.

The file sizes and types along with data movement rates were also examined to provide an idea of the capacity limitation on the new tactical network.

The 40th FLTS is still compiling their data from the 23 missions, but plans to send the study up to the Precision Attack Systems Program Office at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, by mid-February, according to Rojas.

After that, the software upgrade will return to Eglin to begin the operational testing process with the 53rd Wing. Without major delays or setbacks, the Air Force’s ‘flying router’ could be sending and receiving data in operational aircraft by 2014.

“This new flying hub model may not be employed in the same way we tested, but it is setting the stage to provide beyond line-of-site command and control capability to the warfighters in the air, sea and on the ground,” said Rojas.

Efforts initiated by the developmental test community at the 40th FLTS to meet the war fighter’s need are part of the job and life of the mission here. The base’s variety of units are known as a synergy called “Team Eglin,” covering the complete weapon-system life-cycle from concept through development, acquisition, experimental testing, procurement, operational testing and final employment in combat.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Acquisition community works to improve tradecraft

Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its tradecraft, Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said April 16. McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Associations National Logistics Forum. Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times,...
 
 
B1a

B-1B software upgrade to ensure future warfighting capabilities

Air Force photograph by Ethan Wagner An Edwards B-1B Lancer takes off on April 1, 2014, to begin testing its new Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades. The SB 16A software will work in conjunction with the long-range bomberĂ­...
 
 

45th Space Wing launches NRO Satellite on board Atlas V

The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:45 p.m. April 10 carrying a classified national security payload. The payload was designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office. “I am proud of the persistence and focus of the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie

Smarter spending for Air Force acquisitions

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello briefs attendees April 16, 2014, on how today’s budget environment is driving change for both government and industry as part of the Air Force Associati...
 
 
DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

U.S., Poland defense leaders find new areas for cooperation

DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a press briefing with Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon, April 17, 2014. Amid deep concerns about...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge

Air Force researchers test Google Glass for battlefield use

Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge Dr. Gregory Burnett, middle, and Andres Calvo, right, analyze a graphic representation of movement trackers, as 2nd Lt. Krystin Shanklin tests Google Glass at Wright-Patterson Air Force ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>