116th Air Control Squadron transitions to new equipment module
By Tech. Sgt. Brandon Boyd, 142nd Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
/ Published February 19, 2019
Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. -- WARRENTON, Ore. - The 116th Air Control Squadron recently transitioned to a new weapons system called the AN/TYQ-23A Tactical Air Operations Module (TAOM), which replaced decades-old operations modules.
The system is designed to help members of the Oregon Air National Guard’s 116th track and control air traffic in a variety of conditions at a moment’s notice. Air battle managers and weapons directors are trained to maintain the sovereignty of the skies wherever and whenever the Air Force deploys.
“It’s really bringing us into the 21st century as far as the tactical command and control that we perform for our daily operations here as well as downrange,” said Maj. Colin Edward Wyatt, director of operations for the 116th Air Control Squadron.
The new system will aid the flow of aircraft for a variety of potential missions to include air strikes, interdiction, airborne refueling, reconnaissance, search and rescue, transport, and dogfights.
“This provides us a lot more situational awareness for the battle space that we control, so basically we bring calm to chaos. We have hundreds of aircraft under our control with millions of square miles of airspace at any given time for our downrange mission,” said Wyatt.
The new tent-based module replaces old metal boxes that had a number of inherent limitations in terms of mobility.
“I think the new system is much more flexible and scalable. We were really constrained in the number of operators we could bring to each individual tasking and now we’re scalable from 1 to 18 operators in whatever sized facility we can find,” said Lt. Col. Victoria Habas, commander of the 116th Air Control Squadron.
As a desktop computer-based system, the AN/TYQ-23A brings in a number of radar feeds and provides a picture on where aircraft are, what altitude they’re at and what direction that they’re heading, so air national guardsmen can relay that information to pilots so they can execute their portion of the mission.
“This technology is really important because it’s enabling a new open architecture and a COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) way of life where we can now pull in faster technologies, we’re more agile, we can keep up with the pace of technology, where as we were really hindered in doing that with the architecture we had before,” said Habas.
Although the equipment is new to the 116th, many squadron personnel have trained on the AN/TYQ-23A in deployed environments. With the equipment now available at the home station, members of the 116th will have a better real-world training opportunities while in garrison.
“We’re going to say a bittersweet farewell to the O.M.s because we all have fond memories of toughing it out in there if you will. It made us tougher, it made us better, we had to forge through challenges the technology brought to us. But we have different challenges now and I think we’re entering into a brave new world of network-centric operations,” said Habas.
Oregon Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Squadron (ACS), located at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, is a deployable radar/communications unit with superior mobility and response to global and local missions. The Unit is comprised of 185 members who support Air Control and Combat Communications.