Comm Tools Help Convoys:

US Central Command Air Forces chief Lt. Gen. Gary North told Pentagon reporters Friday via teleconference that USAF has several key capabilities coming online that should help cut down on the risks faced by ground convoys in a combat theater. The first, a joint airborne communications center—called Jackpot—carried in the back of a C-130, made its first flight earlier this summer andhas proved to be quite successful at extending ground communications, enabling convoys to link up with reinforcements. North said that a second-generation, lighter version of Jackpot, called the Joint Communication Support Element Airborne Communication suite, made its first flight out of Balad AB, Iraq, on Aug. 28. The Air Force and Army also are collaborating on implementing the Radio Over Internet Protocol Routed Network (RIPRNET), a 24/7 voice over IP network across Iraq that will relieve airborne assets currently assisting with command and control infrastructure. North said he expects to have initial operational capability of the network sometime this month.