FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan – With all the helicopters flying in and out of Forward Operating Base Wolverine in the Zabul province of southern Afghanistan, it’s a surprise the outpost isn’t larger. It doesn’t have the air traffic control infrastructure of some of the other airfields around the country.
Despite this, a team from Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, Task Force Viper, keeps the air traffic running 24 hours a day with a little help from the latest equipment on the battlefield.
“We just make sure everything is coordinated and the pilots are safe,” said Spc. Christopher Jordan, a Foxtrot Company air traffic controller, from his perch in the AN/MSQ-135 Mobile Tower System, or MOTS, the first of its kind to see action in Afghanistan.
Jordan was the first person to train and be rated on the equipment in 2012 at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. Foxtrot Company officially replaced the AN/TSW-7A—a model first introduced in the early 1980s—with the MOTS in October.
Placed to overlook both the FOB and the surrounding area, the Foxtrot Company Soldiers take advantage of the unit’s user-friendly interface to ensure aircraft arrive and depart safely.
“It’s a lot easier with this system than with the 7A,” said Jordan.
Besides the touch-screen interfaces for the system’s computers, the MOTS offers data transfer speeds faster than 4G, and temperature-sensitive, computer-controlled windows for visibility in all climates, which comes in handy for the tricky Zabul climate, Jordan said.
The new system also includes a vehicle-born air traffic control tower with organic power generators, a medium intensity solar powered airfield runway lighting system, and meteorological sensors.
Jordan has seen the MOTS from the early stages of development to the deployment and he said he will always carry that with him.
“I’m proud I’ll be able to look back 20 years from now and say I was the first person to train, be rated and deploy with this system,” he said.