by Capt. Todd Fleming
AC2ISRC Public Affairs
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- An Army tank unit runs into heavy resistance from an enemy force. Immediately, a small Air Force unit, called a Tactical Air Control Party, working side by side with the Army's lead elements, sees the danger of the situation and makes radio contact with some nearby A-10 close air support aircraft. They are vectored in and the problem goes up in smoke.
The Aerospace Command and Control & Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center is currently working on upgrading the Air Force's TACPs with new equipment to improve joint and multinational interoperability, battle tracking accuracy and joint combat capability.
TACPs are Air Force teams, usually two to five members, normally collocated with U.S. Army maneuver units, that plan, request, coordinate, and control aerospace missions in support of ground force operations.
"It is necessary to improve our tactical information exchange capabilities in the joint and multinational arena to make decisions faster and apply aerospace power more effectively and efficiently," said Master Sgt. Todd Armstrong, AC2ISRC's chief of TACP Requirements. "This also permits a much closer integration of aerospace forces and ground units."
There are several equipment components that will be fielded to upgrade the TACPs during the next five years, including backpack radios, laser rangefinders, hand-held computers, software, and vehicle-mounted radios. Distribution will begin in 2000 with the backpack radios and laser rangefinders.
These components will provide the TACPs access to real-time information, allowing for more informed decision-making and reducing the risks for U.S. troops, said Armstrong. They will also increase night and adverse weather capabilities, a shortfall that was demonstrated during Operation Allied Force.
This equipment is being designed with the Air Force's expeditionary mission in mind and will reduce the weight for teams operating on foot, said Armstrong.
"This program is closely synchronized as part of a joint effort," he added. "We intend to buy several components already in use by other services and the special operations forces community. The Marines have expressed a strong interest in adopting portions of our program."
The AC2ISRC, headquartered at Langley, is the Air Force's lead organization to integrate and influence command and control and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The center originally stood up as the Aerospace Command and Control Agency in 1997, but changed its name to the AC2ISRC in January with the addition of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission.