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606th ACS suits up for AK 20 in Poland

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Exercise Astral Knight kicked off in Poland Sept. 21, 2020, and featured participants from several European partners and U.S. service branches. 

The exercise aims to enhance the command and control integration, coordination and interoperability of air, land and sea capabilities and overlapping operations into the integrated air and missile defense enterprise in Europe.

For the 606th Air Control Squadron assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy, the start of the exercise was welcome. 

“It’s like game day,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Fox, 606th Air Control Squadron deployed radar site lead. “Finally, we’re here. All of our preparation should take us into a good exercise.”

Operating out of Malbork Air Base, Poland, the 606th ACS’s role in Astral Knight 20 is critical, Fox said.

Utilizing their TPS-75 radar, the 606th ACS pulls airspace data and sends it to Airmen in the Control and Reporting Center at their homestation of Aviano Air Base, Italy. The Airmen will then communicate that data to pilots flying over Poland and use it to make crucial battle management decisions.

“We’re supporting AK 20 through our traditional 606th deployable radar and CRC method,” Fox said. “But we’re also testing out our new system called ‘TORCC.’”

The Theater Operationally Resilient Command and Control, or TORCC, allows the 606th ACS to accomplish the mission with increased agility.

“It takes 16 semis to get [our normal equipment] down here,” Fox said. “The TORCC takes more or less half a pallet.”

Astral Knight 20 marks the first time U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa will utilize the TORCC capability.

The 116th ACS assigned to Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center, Oregon, and the 128th ACS out of Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, also provided personnel to support the exercise.

“Our guys are well trained, and we’ve got great National Guard support, so we’re ready no matter what gets thrown at us,” Fox said.