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Wi-Fi in the Sky: U.S. Airforce Adds New Internet Support Aircraft

The United States Air Force and Air Combat Command have acquired a brand-new E-11A aircraft to assist in keeping the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Communications (EEC) Squadron fleet aloft and providing constant tactical communications support.

The E-11A, which functions essentially as a low earth satellite or “Wi-Fi in the sky,” is utilised to give enhanced aerial command and control capabilities to air defences and ground forces. The Squadron’s primary goal is to provide communication coverage to American warfighters, allies, and coalition partners.

“This new E-11A will relieve pressure on the remainder of our fleet and allow us to maintain a high mission capability rate,” explained Lt. Col. Todd Arthur, Commander of the 430th EECS. “Having an extra aircraft gives our maintenance staff another option for reliably delivering combat airpower into the skies.”

The 430th EECS provide continuous and effective communication channels for air, ground, and naval troops operating within the United States Central Command area. The Air Force has declared its intention to introduce a new E-11A BACN squadron to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, due to the excellent mission success rates demonstrated by the E-11A in the Middle East and the strategic capability benefits the aircraft delivers to the combined force.

“We provide communication coverage to the ground and air forces in active combat zones that require consistent, clear communications to top levels of authority and other command and control assets,” the Commander remarked.

The 430th EECS is the first unit in the United States Air Force to fly the E-11A with the Battlefield Airborne Communication Node package. The 430th EECS pilots are volunteers from all other airframes.

Fighter pilots, bomber pilots, transport pilots, tanker pilots, special operations pilots, trainer pilots, test pilots, programme managers, and enlisted occupational fields comprise the 430th. Since the commencement of the BACN mission in 2008, the 430th has regularly supplied thousands of annual flight hours and proven to be an indispensable component of modern warfighting.

The United States Air Force also improved pilot skills by introducing a new training platform, the Weapons System Trainer Reconfigurable C-130J flight simulator (WST 12R). The new simulator incorporates block upgrades to upgrade software and hardware capability expansions designed to improve aircraft flying skills. According to Col. Christopher Dougherty, Vice Commander of the 146th Airlift Wing, the simulator lowers expenses and improves training for the wing’s aerial firefighting mission.

The WST 12R block has been upgraded with modular, easily interchangeable features. The teaching method will benefit C-130J flying wings, such as the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Field, which operates HC-130J Combat King II aircraft.

These training scenarios will be similar to the flying, weight, and climatic conditions that MAFFS aircrews will encounter on wildfire suppression missions. The new simulator will train aircrews to manage circumstances more effectively and successfully, improving safety and mission success.

Meanwhile, the United States Navy has implemented new simulation systems. The United States Navy created the MRTS 3D (Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System) as a 3D training simulation that provides an interactive training experience via a multi-touch screen. MRTS 3D trainers will be used on Navy ships in sailor rate training courses and pre-deployment group exercises.

The simulators immerse sailors in a three-dimensional world designed for their job requirements. MRTS 3D offers a variety of software simulations through realistic, virtual training on a variety of platforms. Training scenarios can cause issues for sailors to solve at various phases of the simulated operation. When a problem is discovered, sailors use the LCD monitors to follow shipboard protocols to return the system to total operating capacity.

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