By Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 19, 2021
Senior Airman Timothy Carrier, left, Airman 1st Class Ashley Pilkerton, middle, 606th Air Control Squadron (ACS) surveillance technicians, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremiah Tatum, right, 606th ACS operations section chief, set up satellite communication antennas in support of Astral Knight 2021 in Mali Losinj, Croatia, May 18, 2021. The antennas allow the 606th ACS to communicate and transmit data with the 603rd Air Operations Center, the operational command and control center. (Courtesy Photo)
A team from the 606th Air Control Squadron sets up two Theater Operationally Resilient Command and Control (TORCC) weapons systems during Astral Knight 2021 (AK21) at Mali Losinj, Croatia, May 18, 2021. Using the TORCC system, the 606th ACS was able to leverage existing host-nation radars and provide command and control to theater multinational assets during AK21. (Courtesy Photo)
Senior Airman Jon Maurer, 606th Air Control Squadron (ACS) radio frequency transmissions technician, left, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Collen Hornaman and Staff Sgt. Geneva Ghee, 606th ACS weapons directors, set up and connect radios during Astral Knight 2021 (AK21) at Mali Losinj, Croatia, May 18, 2021. During AK21, the 606th ACS forward-deployed two teams to Croatia and Slovenia, using the radios to communicate with aircraft during the exercise. (Courtesy Photo)
Tech. Sgt. Timothy Puente, 606th Air Control Squadron (ACS) tactical satellite communication (SATCOM) production supervisor, wears 606th Air Control Squadron patch at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 17, 2021. The 606th Air Control Squadron, call sign “Primo,” is the U.S. Air Force’s only Control and Reporting Center outside the continental United States, and provides tactical command and control. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Airman 1st Class Laderran Lawston, 606th Air Control Squadron radio frequency technician, adjusts wires on an Airbus Ranger satellite communication terminal in use during Astral Knight 2021 (AK21) at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 17, 2021. During AK21, the 606th ACS used the satellite to transmit radar and radio data to 606th ACS air controllers in Slovenia and Croatia, enabling them to control their airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Tech. Sgt. Timothy Puente, 606th Air Control Squadron (ACS) tactical satellite communication (SATCOM) production supervisor, right, and Airman 1st Class Laderran Lawston, 606th ACS radio frequency technician, left, discuss the Airbus Ranger SATCOM terminal’s capabilities at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 17, 2021. During Astral Knight 2021, the 606th ACS used the satellite to transmit data to forward-deployed locations in Slovenia and Croatia, enabling the controllers to control the airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
In support of Astral Knight 2021 (AK21), a joint multinational exercise involving six different countries and approximately 1,900 combined joint forces, two 606th Air Control Squadron (ACS) teams are operating out of forward-deployed locations in Slovenia and Croatia. At Aviano, the 606th ACS is on active standby to provide backup air control for the forward-deployed locations.
“Communication during any exercise is important, starting with the initial planning phase and continuing until after actions are documented,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Chris Colgrove, 606th ACS flight commander of network operations and site lead for the deployed radar.
AK21 aims to broaden command and control and conduct integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) capabilities of various terrains, and the 606th ACS is supporting that mission at each forward-deployed location.
The 606th ACS utilizes the Theater Operationally Resilient Command and Control (TORCC) weapons system and relays IAMD and command and control to pilots participating in the exercise, including directions for missions and threat awareness.
“While in Croatia, we are utilizing the full component of our agile C2 system TORCC for the first time ever in a major exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Daniel Eyrolles, 606th ACS chief of agile mission and site lead in Croatia.
Supporting a forward-deployed location usually requires approximately 150 personnel, 20 five-ton trucks or five C-17 Globemasters, and extensive preparation and logistics, said Eyrolles.
The TORCC system cuts down the number of personnel required to sustain a forward-deployed location, so those numbers were reduced to just 17 Airmen from the 606th ACS to support AK21 in Croatia.
“For AK21, we moved our entire system in two cargo vans, three passenger minivans and are utilizing existing host nation facilities to operate out of,” said Eyrolles. “We are developing proof of CONOPS (concept of operations) for future TORCC deployments in and around USAFE-AFAF [U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa] area of responsibility.”
The 606th ACS is prepared to deploy radars, radios and battlefield management to control sites within 72 hours and extend operational control abilities anytime, anywhere, said Colgrove.
Communication allows information to be passed from one person to another, said Colgrove. During AK21, the 606th ACS is communicating effectively and efficiently.
“With so many units relying on each other for mission accomplishment, communication has to freely flow between all entities, and none of this can happen without the fantastic communications and support personnel we have,” said Colgrove. “They work each and every day to provide our controllers with every tool they need to ensure safe and reliable airspace control during missions.”