Refining Eyes and Ears

The most recent deployment to Southwest Asia operations for the 960th Expeditionary Airborne Control Squadron from Tinker AFB, Okla., was remarkable for its accomplishments, including achieving a 100 percent operational rate with the Internet relay chat system employed now as primary in-theater air command and control system, according to Lt. Col. Lawrence Brundidge, 960th EAACS commander. He noted, too, the “amazing amount of teamwork” among his E-3 AWACS force and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets, like the U-2 and RQ-4 Global Hawk. Lt. Col. Jeff Wardell, director of operations, said that over the 4.5-month rotation, the 960th flew 150 sorties, translating into 1,700 hours flying time; controlled more than 6,400 aircraft; and handled more than 350 requests for air cover from ground forces. CMSgt. William Lick, squadron chief, noted that gaining the 100-percent ops rate for the IRC system was “a big success,” because it poses “unique challenges” for the E-3, but it provides critical beyond-line-of-sight text-messaging capability from aircraft to aircraft and with ground troops. (Tinker report by 1st Lt. Kinder Blacke)