C-130H aircraft receive tactical upgrade

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Five of the eight C-130 Hercules aircraft stationed here received the Real Time In Cockpit modification throughout the month of February to boost operational flexibility and situational awareness.


RTIC is a system that shows the current positions of threats and other aircraft, and facilitates communication between different pilots. It replaced an older system called Combat Tracker II, which has been used on 911th Airlift Wing aircraft for several years.


“Let’s say that I [enter] a hostile field where an asset has ‘eyes on’ a threat,” said Maj. Andrew Thompson, tactics officer with the 758th Airlift Squadron here. “That information can be sent through RTIC to my aircraft where I can make tactical decisions to avoid that threat. To know where they are before I get there gives me a large advantage.”


This system takes several days to install, said Senior Master Sgt. Bryan Sinkus, section chief of the communication, countermeasures and navigation systems shop here. Multiple systems needed to be removed so that there would be room to maneuver within tight spaces.


Airmen would take a day to prepare the aircraft for a team from Northrop Grumman, which supplies RTIC to the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. The team would then take two days to install the system, and Airmen would perform a functional check to ensure that the system worked properly. Then, it was on to the next aircraft to repeat the process.


Multiple shops within the 911th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron had a hand in installing the new system. The process was complicated enough that Airmen from the 910th Airlift Wing in Youngstown, Ohio, came here to assist.


The joint process of installing RTIC in the aircraft is reflective of the joint uses and advantages of the system, said Sinkus. Rather than forwarding communications through individual military commands, pilots can get the information they need directly from the source, regardless of location of military branch.


“If communication is directly from ground party to aircraft, it streamlines the process,” said Sinkus. “The more joint the environment, and the quicker the communication flow, the better.”


The advantages of a new system are not always easy to see from the perspective of those installing it, said Staff Sgt. Peter Sommer, a communication and navigation systems technician here. However, with a system like RTIC, the possible benefits for those who will operate it on a daily basis are much clearer.


“RTIC and technologies like it give us the ability to fly, fight, and win, and return safely home to repeat as necessary,” said Thompson. “RTIC gives the aircrew an enormous increase in situational awareness and ultimately can be the difference between success and failure- life or death during combat missions.”