HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to security and Holloman AFB policy, the last names in this story are being withheld for security reasons.)
Airmen from the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here received the first of 15 new Block 30 Ground Control Stations on Nov. 14.
Although the Block 30 GCSs have been used for the last few months, this is the first time they’re being used at Holloman.
All GCSs at Holloman are scheduled to be replaced by early 2018 as part of an Air Force-wide initiative to upgrade current mission systems.
“The new GCS has several upgrades,” said Senior Airman Jon, a 49th AMXS aircraft communications maintenance technician. “The displays are re-designed, the flight controls have a new look and should be more user friendly, and there is new software that will drastically increase operations. There are also many pieces of equipment that are preparing for future system upgrades and overhauls.”
The upgraded systems are not only more user-friendly, but they will increase remotely piloted aircraft training and mission capabilities.
"The improved ergonomics and capabilities of the Block 30 GCS will also allow students to operate and train with MQ-9 Block 5 aircraft, which the current GCS is not equipped to control,” said Maj. Christopher, a GCS transition team leader. “This will mean Holloman is able to provide fully trained crews of pilots and sensor operators to the field as the new systems are delivered to operational units."
The replacement and installation of the new GCS requires teamwork with the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron and the 49th Communications Squadron.
“There are a lot of logistics involved in the whole process of replacing them,” said Jon. “Our shop will take a joint approach with all three of our shifts during setup, teardown, operational checks, etc. The [Aerospace Ground Equipment] shop provides us with extra equipment such as air conditioning units, CE shops work with power capabilities and backup support in our yard, and [communications] shops install and upgrade fiber optic infrastructure.”
The first GCS is scheduled to be fully installed and operational by April 2017 pending thorough inspections.
“We receive the GCS from General Atomics, then we do an acceptance procedure that will include a multitude of inspections to make sure it meets specifications along with performing all necessary operations tests,” said Jon. “Once we’ve received a few, we will start shipping our old ones out to become retrofitted and then shipped out to other bases.”