News: Equipment strengthens link between air, ground
Story by Sgt. Brandon Saunders
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Japan - Marines with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing tested new technology Oct. 28 that improves direct air support to troops on the ground.
Marines with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW, III Marine Expeditionary Force, tested the Marine air-ground task force aerial palette system/special airborne installation response system after receiving a week of instruction.
“The MAPS/SABIR system is a command and control system, which allows the Marines of the squadron to place a [direct air support center] in the air,” said Sgt. Steven M. Prats, an aviation communications system technician with MASS-2.
A DASC is a communications center that provides a direct link between troops on the ground conducting missions and support aircraft in the air.
The MASS-2 Marines worked alongside Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW, to seat the gear inside a KC-130J Hercules tanker aircraft, so they could train with the new equipment. The system can be seated in any KC-130J, as long as the aircraft is wired for it.
“Our unit is the first in the Marine Corps to get this type of gear,” said Master Sgt. Charles D. Kines, the training and operations chief of MASS-2. “We’re definitely doing something big here.”
“This provides direct air support for [troops] on the ground. It strengthens our 911 force,” said Prats.
The system is set up on two palettes. The first is for equipment such as servers and heavy-duty communication gear. The other palette is set up strictly for operators, allowing a team to communicate effectively with friendly forces on the ground and track their every move.
“This supports the mission by allowing faster response to whatever is going on,” said Prats. “It comes with eight, single-channel radios and incredible data capabilities.”
“[The system] was initially used for reconnaissance missions, but it can be beneficial to all forward-deployed units,” said Cpl. Jason L. Johnson, an airframes inspector with VMGR-152.
The MAPS/SABIR system will be tested in a real-world environment during upcoming exercises.
By doing so, system operators will be able to effectively work out any potential bugs within the new equipment, said Johnson.