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380AEW Article

Clear communication from the ground up

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Marie Brown
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

Signals, wires, frequencies, cables, antennas and “magic”…while the components may be purchased, Airmen in the radio frequency transmission shop, commonly referred to as ground radio, are the wizards charged with ensuring clear transmission of signals between command and control support elements.

“Our mission is to support command and control,” said Master Sgt. Duane, section chief. “We are putting planes in the air and bombs on targets.”

One way this handful of Airmen support command and control is by monitoring and maintaining over a dozen radio nets in the Transportable Aviation Transmitter Receiver Shelter.

“The TATR is the back up to the Combined Air Operations Center,” said Senior Airman Kyle, assistant NCO in charge of RF transmission. “We will do regular maintenance on the radios such as rekeying, replacing cables and adjusting programs settings to ensure connectivity.”

The RF transmission technicians work primarily with equipment emitting radio waves that carry messages intended for a recipient on the other end.

“We maintain all sorts of radios varying from air to ground radios to your hand-held land mobile radios,” said Kyle. “We are allowing communication for everyone on base to get their jobs done, which allows them to get planes up in the air.”

Air-to-ground radios allow the operations center to talk with the pilots in the air or on the runway to ensure mission success.

A large portion of the shop’s workload is keeping up with all LMRs on the base.

“Most shops have LMRs as a way of communicating between people,” said Kyle, currently deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. “They allow a more efficient and effective way of communicating in order to get the job done.”

The radio frequency team will soon take part in replacing all the LMRs on base, which includes over 1,000 handhelds, 80 base stations and 50 mobile systems.

“We are currently in the middle of a $10 million upgrade for the LMR system,” said Duane, currently deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. “We will have the first Time Division Multiple Access LMR Trunking system in U.S. Air Forces Central Command.”

TDMA will help us achieve greater frequency efficiency, which means we will double the capacity of channels we can have on our systems, added Duane.

The other mission of the radio frequency transmission shop is public address set-ups.

“Anytime there is a general all call, award ceremony or other special event that requires sound we are there,” said Kyle. “We do all the sound systems, the behind-the-scenes work most people don’t think about.”

Kyle, who has been in ground radio for about two years now said it is great being part of the mission here.

“I love deploying and I love what we are doing here,” he said. “I enjoy seeing our work in action. We actually got to go see a U-2 Dragon Lady land and witness first-hand the work we did with the radios as they were used to communicate with the pilot.”

With over 19,800 coalition sorties flown in support of Operation Inherent Resolve to date, the Airmen of the Expeditionary Communications Squadron are taking their motto “Desert Comm - Always on” to the fight.

“If we are not here to provide the communication piece for the operators, air traffic controllers or whoever to talk to the planes, then we are basically operating in the dark,” said Duane. “We are here every day and if you need us, we will get it done.”

(Editor’s note: Due to safety and security reasons, last names and unit designators were removed.)