The U.S. Air Force tested its ability to deploy quickly to sparse locations and establish rapid communications links at this month’s Agile Flag 21-2 exercise.
During the latter, held from Apr. 26-May 7, the lead wing, the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., “ordered the simulated arrival and securement of Naval Outlying Landing Field Choctaw, Fla., from the exercise’s main operating base at Tyndall AFB, Fla.,” the Air Force said.
Airmen from the 51st Combat Communications Squadron (CCS) at Robins AFB, Ga. and the 4th Communications Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB “set up communication equipment to provide the forward operating base with the necessary network and radio access to continue the mission,” per the service.
The airmen established satellite communications (SATCOM), very high frequency (VHF) and high frequency (HF) radio air-to-ground connections “within an hour and forty-five minutes,” Air Force Staff Sgt. William Leigh of the 51st CCS said in an Air Force statement.
At the main operating base and forward operating base, such equipment included a Klas Group Communications Flyaway Kit and an Executive Communications Kit that provided secret internet protocol router, voice over internet protocol, and voice over secure internet protocol. The 4K Solutions LLC Mobile Broadband Kit provided non-classified internet protocol router Wi-Fi to the wing operations center and tactical operations center, the Air Force said.
L3Harris Technologies [LHX] radios provided HF communications. Such radios included the PRC-160 with amplifier and large tactical mast antenna at the wing operations center, a PRC-117G ultra high frequency tactical SATCOM radio at the wing operations center, and a PRC-152 for line-of-sight communications.
At the contingency location, the Air Force used PRC-160, PRC-117G, and PRC-152s with smaller antennas and no tactical masts, the service said.
Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, the head of Air Combat Command (ACC), said in a statement that “a modern, peer-war fight requires a warrior culture, credibility, capacity and high-end capability” and that “the units that ACC sends forward have to seamlessly plug into their combat-engaged formations and structures.”