Defense

May 2, 2014

Army increases in-flight situational awareness for rapid response forces

U.S. Army paratroopers with the 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, wait for takeoff in an Air Force C-17 aircraft on June 27, 2013, before an airdrop as part of Joint Operational Access Exercise 13-03 at Fort Bragg, N.C. The Army’s new Enroute Mission Command Capability will soon provide in-flight internet and mission command capabilities to elements of the 82nd Airborne Division that respond as part of the joint Global Response Force.

With help from the Army’s new in-flight internet and mission command capability, commanders of Global Response Force units will be able to plan missions in the air, while their soldiers receive operational updates and watch full-motion video of upcoming drop zones before their parachutes ever open.

“The ability to understand a situation gives you the ability to take appropriate action, and if the GRF (Global Response Force) can understand a situation before they get to their drop location, then they can be more effective from the moment boots hit the ground,” said Lt. Col. Joel Babbitt, product manager for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 1, which manages the new in-flight capability for the Army. “Instead of landing on the ground, analyzing the situation and developing execution plans, they can hit the ground executing.”

The joint GRF essentially consists of two components – the Air Force that supplies and sustains the C17 and C130 aircraft, and the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, primarily the 82nd Airborne Division. The GRF needs to be able to rapidly deploy at a moment’s notice and effectively command and control forces from the air.

To help meet these requirements, the Army’s new Enroute Mission Command Capability, or EMC2, is being installed on C17 aircraft. The U.S. Special Operations Command, known as USSOCOM, which oversees the special operations component commands of each service, already has aircraft outfitted with their own version of this in-flight capability. The Army’s EMC2 system integrated on additional C17s would expand that initial USSOCOM capability, supporting the increased expeditionary nature of today’s forces.

The Army is scheduled be begin testing of EMC2 installed on the C17s at multiple locations this summer, and the capability is expected to pass the U.S. Air Forces’ stringent Safe to Fly Requirements by the end of August 2014. On the current timeline, equipment is expected to be issued to the XVIII Airborne Corps by the end of the calendar year.

EMC2 provides internet service, mission command applications, full-motion video, intelligence products and collaborative planning tools along with a complete office suite of computers and voice phones – all onboard an airplane. It enables en-route mission command, so that as the situation develops in the destination target area, commanders will be able to get updates, understand changes on the ground and be able to adjust their plan to accommodate for those changes, Babbitt said.

“It will be a transformation in the situational awareness and effectiveness of the GRF in the first several hours of ground operations,” he said.

One of the main components of EMC2 is the Fixed Install Satellite Antenna, or FISA, which provides the internet connection for the C17. Similar to the capability being used and implemented by today’s commercial airlines, FISA posed a low technical risk for Army adoption. From a frequency perspective, the Army is looking to utilize both Ku (commercial) and Ka (military) band in one antenna on the C17s for optimum bandwidth and efficiency.

“The FISA provides a fourfold increase in bandwidth so that a new host of services can be employed on board, increasing capability for GRF units to plan and maintain critical situational awareness in the air,” said Capt. Mindy Brown, EMC2 lead for PdM WIN-T Increment 1.

The U.S. military already has satellites, airplanes and drones that provide standard and high definition full-motion video. With EMC2, those feeds can now be displayed on board the aircraft on LED screens, along with integrated marquees and an intercom system.

“Being able to see the airfield where you are going to be landing, to see that drop zone, helps Soldiers get their heads fully into the operation so they are better prepared for the mission at hand,” Brown said.

The key capability of EMC2 does not just reside in the antenna, but also in the incorporation of the Key leader Enroute Node. It will provide airborne units with broadband reach-back data capability; secure Voice Over Internet Protocol communications between task force commanders and combatant commanders; as well as communication between aircraft.

“For the GRF, EMC2 is an absolutely disruptive technology to the traditional way of doing business, and will transform operations,” Babbitt said.

As part of the GRF mission, with the Air Force providing the aircraft, the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division has deployment-ready paratroopers and infantrymen who can provide an immediate military capability on the ground in a very short period of time to any location worldwide. In 1991, in its role as GRF, the 82nd Airborne was the first force on the front line between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, shortly after Kuwait was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s troops. The GRF was also activated for a humanitarian mission during the earthquake in Haiti, in 2010.

Well-equipped, rapidly deployable units such as the GRF are a vital part of the Army’s evolving force structure as it strives to become a leaner, more capable and expeditionary force. Advanced network capabilities such as EMC2 will continue to increase force mobility and agility by making it easier for soldiers to get the information they need to be successful, anytime, anywhere.

“EMC2 will not only enable the Airborne Task Force commander to better understand developing situations, but it will also increase the situational awareness for all of the joint servicemen and women in the aircraft,” Babbitt said. “It really comes down to mental preparation and the ability to plan ‘on the fly.'”




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


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2015

Business: Rafale, Mistral on agenda for Le Drian in Malaysia, India¬†– French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Malaysia Aug. 30, with talks expected to cover the Rafale fighter jet and Mistral helicopter carrier, website La Tribune reported. U.S. Army to choose new landing craft next year¬†– In line with the Pentagon’s...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2015

Boeing plans to lay off some Southern California workers Boeing has announced that it plans to lay off employees at its Southern California-based satellite division. The Los Angeles Times reports that the aerospace giant said Aug. 25 that it will lay off as many as several hundred employees at the El Segundo factory. Boeing says...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 
LM-MUOS

U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin ready to launch MUOS-4 Aug. 31

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the fourth Mobile User Objective System secure communications satellite, MUOS-4, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>