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Tacticians talk ‘data link’ future for Mobility Air Force

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Col. Byron Newell, commandant of the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center, Missouri Air National Guard, briefs airmen at the Data Link User Group conference. The conference is designed to innovate and improve all areas involved with data link communications. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrew Rivera)

conference

A participant in the Data Link User Group conference pilots a C-130 Hercules aircraft flight simulator at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, Mo., on Aug. 3, 2018. The conference is designed for tactitians to develop innovative means to incorporate data link capabilities in C-130 flight simulators. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrew Rivera)

ROSECRAN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --

The Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center hosted the fifth annual Mobility Air Force Data Link User Group conference at Rosecrans on Aug. 2 - 3, 2018. The conference brings in air mobility tacticians from all over the country in order to innovate and improve data link communications.

“Data link is the digital exchange of information displayed on an easy to view computer for aircrew and ground control,” said Capt. Ed Fattmann, data link manager assigned to the AATTC.

The conference is made up of tacticians who operate a wide variety of airframes such as the C-130 Hercules H and J model, C-17 Globemaster III., and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.

Tacticians are tasked with the role of finding out what’s working or what’s not working in the field with the communication system. It is an opportunity to evaluate all aspects of the system, whether that be aircrew functionality, training programs or equipment, said Fattmann.

Utilizing data link communications heightens situational awareness by sending two way encrypted information in real-time to air, ground and sea. Capt. Justin Bigham said, “It builds situational awareness; crews can communicate with other aircraft and ground parties, analyze threats and terrain, and decipher where they are in the big picture so they can make better, more informed decisions in combat.”

Fattmann also said, “With these tools, you can make realistic threats [digital tracks}. Previously there wasn’t a good way to train crews before they leave for war.”

The conference began in 2013 and has grown to 50 participating tacticians from all over the country.

“Ultimately what we are trying to do here is bring MAF assets from all over the country to put together ideas that we at the AATTC can then bring to MAF and ARC WEPTAC for further discussions,” said Bigham.