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380AEW Article

Controlling Aircraft ‘Beyond Line of Sight’

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady
  • 380th AEW/PA

One of the assets flying missions from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, is the EQ-4 Global Hawk. This remotely piloted aircraft required coordination with other bases to control it in air but, by utilizing technology this process can now be conducted locally.


ADAB can control this aircraft even when it’s away from the base or as the name of this technology implies, “Beyond Line of Sight”.


“The BLOS plays a major role because it allows us to fly the jet farther than any Launch and Recovery Element could ever before, utilizing Satellite communication as its main link rather than a Line Of Sight link,” said Senior Airman Seth Oatridge, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron/Hawk Aircraft Maintenance Unit ground communication technician.


With a 24/7 mission requiring a bird to always be in the sky, EQ-4 pilots and Hawk AMU maintainers can plan, launch and execute missions locally without relying on other bases.  


“With everything being handled in house from all maintenance to the satellite communication work, it has drastically reduced the time it take us to ‘Scramble the Hawks’,” said Oatridge.


The members responsible for keeping this technology operation are the Hawk AMU ground communication technicians. The BLOS was implemented here in September 2018 and this crew of satellite communication troops and cyber systems operations work to make sure everything is operational.


“Anything that goes wrong with the equipment, we fix it,” said Senior Airman Michael Ha, 380th EAMXS/Hawk AMU grounds communication technician. “Our main mission here is to provide that communication to our ground troops and the BLOS allows this. Without us, they wouldn’t be able to keep the links up and communicate with ground troops leading to a mission failure.”


Thanks to the combined efforts between the Hawk AMU maintainers and the pilots of the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, they can now locally conduct various missions without having to reach back for support.


“By having the BLOS here, it cuts down on the time it takes to spin up a mission,” said Airman 1st Class Brandon Stockham, 380th EAMXS/Hawk AMU ground communication technician. “We don’t have to reach out to other bases while relieving the stress to those bases from supporting our mission.”