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461st ACNS equips JSTARS to support DoD warfighting mission

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs

Before a Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System E-8C aircraft performs a sortie in the air, the 461st Air Control Networks Squadron ensures the plane has the necessary software for its mission before it leaves the ground.

The 461st ACNS provides the necessary means for the JSTARS aircraft to communicate with other agencies and branches through secure transmissions and give them the ability to navigate while in flight.

About 100 Airmen collectively serve the 461st ACNS mission.

Tech. Sgt. Lloyd Moore, Combat Crew Communications Section chief in the 461st ACNS, said their team is essential to the performance of the JSTARS mission.

“We equip JSTARS with the physical and electronic means to securely communicate with other entities like the Marines, Navy, other aircraft, ground equipment, etc.,” he said. “Without my work center, the E-8C aircraft couldn’t transmit any secure communications, which is pivotal when they are flying a mission.”

Staff Sgt. Matthew Fedrick, shift supervisor in the 461st ACNS who also serves as the shift supervisor for the JSTARS Network Operations Center, helps to equip the JSTARS aircraft with its needed software.

“I ensure the software for the mission sorties is prepared and available in a timely manner before each sortie,” he said. “Afterwards, I compile, archive, and disseminate the gathered mission data to various outside agencies. We support the wing by providing the software required to effectively run their missions and, in some cases, communicate with our sister services.”

Fedrick said the 461st ACNS’ civilian and Guard counterparts help offset some of the workload by providing bodies to increase the workforce, supporting the mission not only through the week, but on Guard weekends and deployments as well.

Master Sgt. Ann Rehm, Network Operations Flight chief in the 461st ACNS, said her squadron directly maintains secure and non-secure infrastructure by supporting more than 3,000 users across two wings and five geographically-separated units.

“By keeping flight personnel and equipment deployment-ready, they are able to maintain contingency posture for worldwide taskings,” she said.

Each Airman in the 461st ACNS is vital to its mission, said Moore.

“Each person plays a part in ensuring that the jet’s data is correct and secure,” he said. “Without each and every person being a subject matter expert in their position, the aircraft would not be able to do what it is known to do.”

Moore said being able to impact the Air Force mission in a tangible way is one of the best parts of his mission.

“At times, you never get to see how what you do impacts the Air Force,” he said. “With this mission, you are able to see it every time that jet takes off.”