Lightening the Battlefield Airman’s Load

About 30 airmen from tactical air control parties assigned to Det. 1, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron at Ft. Richardson, Alaska, tested out seven pieces of experimental equipment at May’s Northern Edge 2008 joint-service training exercise at the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex. The Air Force Research Lab is developing these devices to lighten the load that battlefield airmen must carry in combat and to allow them to call in close air support strikes more quickly and effectively. The seven items shed about 10 to 15 pounds from the TACP’s current kits that weigh nearly 100 pounds. They included a self-sufficient, lightweight generator capable of powering all equipment in the kit and a head-mounted display enabling them to see potential threats downrange while also viewing information from their notebook computers. The operator feedback will help the lab technicians as they mature the designs. (Eielson report by Jonathan Snyder)