Utah ANG Demonstrates Multi-Domain Battlespace Connectivity on KC-135> US Air Force> Post Display


August 7, Utah Air National Guard, in conjunction with Collins Aerospace, has successfully demonstrated advanced communications, mission computing and sensor technologies to support joint command and control initiatives of all areas and advanced combat management system on a KC-135 Stratotanker at the Roland R. Wright ANG base in Salt Lake City.

The demonstration took place during the Utah ANG biannual Wingman Day and 75th Anniversary event, a fitting occasion as the Utah Guard celebrated its legacy while positioning itself for the future.

The presentation showed how integrated technologies and joint connectivity can provide combatants with the actionable data and better situational awareness they need to make informed split-second decisions under evolving threat conditions against cyber-sophisticated adversaries.

“This feat was accomplished as part of a cooperative research and development agreement between Collins Aerospace and the Utah Air National Guard and has never been achieved before using networked tactical targeting technology with the KC -135, “said Col. Douglas Foster, 151st Operations Group. commander.

The demonstration showed a seamless connection between a mobile ground crew, an airborne contract aircraft and the pride of our fleet of KC-135, aircraft 0275, the most advanced KC-135 in the inventory of the Air Force.

In July 2020, the 151st Utah ANG Air Refueling Wing upgraded the first KC-135 with NATO-Standard Link 16 communication capabilities as part of its real-time information in the cockpit system ( RTIC), bringing the airplane into the 21st century and revolutionizing the role of the tanker in combat.

Aircraft 0275 is the first and only KC-135 modified by the Block 45 RTIC to date. Aircraft 0275 was also the primary test stand aircraft for ground and flight tests of the RTIC system by the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command Test Center.

Trying to keep the pedal on innovation, Utah ANG worked with the Collins team and designed a demo that showed what was in the realm of possibility with RTIC as the base setup. What ended up being the final presentation on August 7 is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible when everyone, Department of Defense and industry, pushes toward the same goal.

“This achievement showed that with minor modifications to the RTIC system, the limits are almost limitless to what we can do with a 60 year old aircraft, illustrating ‘General Brown’s’Speed ​​up change or lose ‘ mission statement, ”added Foster. “In the future, almost all of the technology demonstrated on the ANG KC-135s to include additional defensive systems and force multiplication capabilities can be transferred to other MAF aircraft, including the KC-46,” C-17 (Globemaster III), and C-130 (Hercules), at a much lower level of program risk for individual aircraft programs. “

Giving the KC-135 situational awareness via advanced tactical data links is the first step in creating a survivable refueling force while reducing technological risk for nearly all Air Force mobile aircraft.

RTIC is a program funded by the ANG through National Guard funding and reserve equipment credits. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command plan to provide this same RTIC base capability for all KC-135 reserve components in the future, so these additional capacity upgrades will be possible on all Air Guard and AFRC KC-135s in the future. ‘to come up.

Since 2018, Utah ANG has worked with the KC-135 program office, Collins Aerospace and Borsight in the development and installation of situational awareness technologies. The RTIC adds link 16, the situational awareness data link and secure communications beyond line of sight to the aircraft.

In December 2020, the National Guard Bureau appointed Utah ANG as the KC-135 Interim Test Detachment for ACLS. In coordination with ACLS, Utah ANG demonstrates viable solutions to some very difficult problems presented by the prospect of future peer conflict. The nation relies on tanker planes for power projection, nuclear deterrence and rapid global mobility; without tankers, the war from an airborne point of view ends.

“Tankers are already at the forefront of the battlespace, so why don’t we provide the best intelligence, data fusion, communication relay / translation, and combat effects enhancements, while also providing combat fuel.” , Foster said.

“For the Utah Air National Guard, striving to be the most survivable and valued teammate in conflict is a given.”

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