HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass: The 950th Electronic Systems Group here recently delivered the 500th unit of an airborne intelligence system that enables aircrews to send and receive the most timely situational awareness and threat data.
The Combat Track II system, has been in production since 2004. Over time it’s become a real staple for the air mobility users for whom it’s primarily intended, program officials noted.
Combat Track II allows crew aboard the air mobility fleet, as well as on some bombers, to maintain full awareness of friendly and potential hostile aircraft positions. It also alerts them to ground threats, including mobile surface-to-air missile sites.
“Combat Track II has continued to be praised by the users and is a critical asset for cockpit situational awareness and threat avoidance in theater,” said Col. David DeNofrio, the commander of the 950th ESG.
“This capability lets them plan or adjust missions on the fly, using the safest possible routes,” said Capt. Scott Frank, the 631st Electronic Systems Squadron program manager.
The 500th system was deployed to the 17th Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where it will be used to support the U.S. Africa Command. Other users include the Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
The units include a small laptop computer and GPS- and satellite communication-enabled radio, which can receive and transmit information derived from another electronic systems center-managed intelligence product, the Integrated Broadcast System. The entire unit can easily be transported on and off aircraft, saving space on board and allowing one system to serve the needs of multiple aircraft, which saves money.
It also enables transmission of secure text, Captain Frank said.
“If one aircraft gets information about a threat, crew on board can send a message ahead to other aircraft that may be closer to the threat area, to confirm that operators on board those aircraft have also received the information,” he said.
Also fielded in U.S. and coalition air and space operations centers, Combat Track II provides enhanced command and control capability with encrypted communications to and from aircraft in theater.
“They give Air and Space Operations Center operators a good control relay option, allowing better, faster and more widespread transmission of critical information,” the captain said.