Final procurements of landing systems increase warfighter readiness

Members of the 53rd and 270th Air Traffic Control Squadrons participate in hands-on Deployable Instrument Landing Systems training at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St Joseph, Mo., earlier this year. The D-ILS vastly improves warfighter’s abilities to land in austere environments and low-visibility conditions. (Courtesy photograph)

A team in the Digital Directorate at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., recently completed production orders of a system that vastly improves warfighters’ abilities to land in austere environments and low-visibility conditions.

Personnel from the Deployable Instrument Landing Systems program office procured the final six D-ILS in September. The landing systems provide three major capabilities: the ability for precision approach and landing for aircraft at a deployed location; augmention of an existing airfield; temporary restoration of ILS at damaged airfields.

“We can provide these capabilities anywhere in the world,” said Capt. Joe Inkrott, the D-ILS program manager. “We can use it to support Air Force contingency operations overseas, at a state-side base going through repairs like we are at Shaw Air Force Base, or to assist those impacted by natural disasters.”

The 53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron from Robins AFB, Ga., deployed a D-ILS to Shaw AFB, S.C., in September to support runway repair operations. Shaw is the first base to use the D-ILS operationally, and the 53rd ATCS experienced major success during system setup and checkout.

“The D-ILS was field-tested to be installed with three Radar, Airfield Systems and Weather Systems, or RAWS, technicians and one Power Production Civil Engineer in 168 man-hours, roughly five days,” said Tech. Sgt. Lucas King, 53rd ATCS D-ILS team chief. “Shaw Air Force Base’s request offered an opportunity to train additional members so installation was completed two days earlier than anticipated.”

The plan is to leave the system at Shaw for 10 to 12 months. Afterward, it will be returned to Robins for storage and training until it is needed again.

In order to award the final production buy, the D-ILS team had to overcome significant budget challenges.

“Our program was originally funded using Overseas Contingency Operation, or OCO, funding. However, we are no longer eligible for OCO funding and have a very constrained budget,” said Inkrott. “Through the Below Threshold Reprogramming process, we received more than $10 million from outside sources, which allowed us to realize a quantity-buy discount and award a contract to purchase six systems, completing production orders. This saved us nearly $4 million and cut two years from the production schedule.”

From here the team will work to ensure the systems arrive at their Air Combat Command, United States Air Forces in Europe and Air National Guard bases. They will also work with the Air Force Flight Standards Agency to develop training plans, implement system enhancements and solidify sustainment processes.

“We’re providing a much-needed capability that will allow us to project airpower worldwide,” Inkrott said. “Going forward, we’re eager to see all the ways this system will benefit Air Force operations.”