62nd AW helps test improvements to combat airlift capabilities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 62nd Operations Support Squadron (62nd OSS) and 57th Weapons Squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington, and the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, in conjunction with Air Mobility Command (AMC), tested an updated dynamic re-tasking capability (DRC) system during a weapons instructor course joint force exercise over the Nevada Test and Training Range, Nevada, June 6.

One C-17 Globemaster III from the 62nd AW, JBLM, and one from the 437th AW were equipped with the DRC system and equipment enabling significantly faster satellite connection speeds, which is how the system communicates and displays live-time information to pilots. This allows pilots to see more than just what is in their line of sight.

“Right now, the C-17 offers very limited imagery of the battle air space pilots enter,” said Maj. Tyler Boyd, 62nd OSS director of wing tactics. “DRC gives them a live picture and connection to what’s going on so they can see where everybody else is, including threats and friendlies, and have better situational awareness overall.”

The DRC gave the two C-17s more information and situational awareness than the other aircraft participating and theoretically would be able to share that information with them in a combat environment.

The training exercise was the capstone event for a weapons instructor course class and the first one organized remotely by classes in weapons squadrons across the United States. AMC wanted to take the opportunity to test the updated DRC system for the C-17s, which already have equivalent communication systems on fighter aircraft.

“DRC was the best part of the day,” said Maj. James Hall, 62nd OSS operations officer. “We were getting refreshed updates on our screens about every 30 or 60 seconds and I was impressed with it. It was about an hour and half out from the drop point that we could see the simulated threats.”

Commonly in an air battle space, C-17 pilots are given known threat locations verbally over the radio and have to mark it on their map or input the information into the aircraft’s mission computer based on verbal description.

“It can take a while to communicate all the information and bring it to the forefront,” Hall said. “The information is static too, so if something changes, I have to go back in there and change it to reflect the new reality.”

The goal is that even with one jet having faster satellite connection along with the DRC, it will be able to receive live-time information and then disseminate that to other aircraft in a formation who may not have the same connection speed. As long as it has a DRC system, it should receive the same information. 

The DRC testing was conducted as part of a joint force exercise featuring 87 total aircrafts from across the Air Force to improve joint force readiness, to include eight additional C-17s from several different bases, including the 446th AW at JBLM and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

The opportunity to test this system and means of operation in a large-scale training scenario allowed the pilots to get a good understanding of its capabilities and how effective it can be downrange.

Developing and testing systems helps aid in AMC’s mission to not only deliver rapid global mobility and command and control its forces, but also connect the joint force.