Deployed air control equipment upgraded
By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing
/ Published August 21, 2014
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron recently upgraded its long-range radar and radio system equipment from the BC3-E (Battlespace Command and Control Center-Expeditionary) to the BC3-T (Battlespace Command and Control Center-Theater) system.
727th EACS personnel use the new and improved equipment to support a continuous air defense mission for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
The ground-based system combines several different radar screens to create one consolidated view for the operators of the system. Squadron members work around the clock using the system to monitor and identify all air traffic flown in the region.
A ceremony to mark the changeover to the new equipment was held Aug. 8. According to the commander of the 727th EACS, the switch from the old to the new system was transparent and considered a complete success by squadron leadership.
"It went perfectly," said Lt. Col. Ryan Raber. "There was no loss in coverage nor command and control capability. One moment the AOR was being controlled by the BC3-E, the next the BC3-T was on station and in control."
The majority of the 727th EACS personnel are made up of members of the Air National Guard, but active-duty Air Force, members of the Army and Royal Air Force personnel also serve in the squadron.
Lt. Col. Raber said his squadron members required approximately three months of training at home station, two to five days of training on the system updates and a mission and theater certification prior to taking control of the equipment at their deployed location.
All of the operators moved from the BC3-E to the BC3-T system in a smooth transition to their new equipment. Lt. Col. Raber said the improved BC3-T interfaces have made the system more stable and able to handle any task the squadron is asked to accomplish.
According to Lt. Col. Raber, much of the squadron's success could be attributed to teamwork displayed by members of the 727th EACS.
The operations squadron is unique in that its own members provide a large portion of the maintenance and communications support to help it complete the mission.
"We're one big family," said Lt. Col. Raber. "Air control is a team sport; we depend upon our maintainers to keep the radars, radios, and C2 (command and control) system running, our AGE (aerospace ground equipment) folks to ensure we never lose power, and our mission crews to execute the assigned operations. We can't get the job done without everyone. It's amazing to see all the parts work together so well."