Combat King II upgrades propel C2 to new heights

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Deanna Muir
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Command and control is vital for efficient decision-making, coordination and communication within organizations, enabling adaptability to changing situations.

To meet the needs of the future fight, Team Moody maintainers and Lockheed Martin technicians are working together to upgrade the Combat Systems Officer stations in the 71st Rescue Squadron’s HC-130J Combat King II fleet.

“These upgrades will allow us to communicate with anyone in the battlespace in real time, enhancing our capabilities and allowing us to conduct our rescue mission,” said Capt. Drew Houghton, 71st RQS combat systems officer. “As these systems continue to be modified and upgraded, they keep the same basic language, enabling backward compatibility and allowing our upgrade to function for the foreseeable future.”

One of the biggest upgrades to the system is the integration of Link 16 — a tactical datalink communication system used by the U.S., NATO and coalition forces — to transmit and exchange real-time situational awareness data among all network participants. This will establish seamless integration with future allies and partners using the datalink system.

“The upgrade will allow the HC-130J to integrate, coordinate and communicate, not just with other Air Force units, but will also allow our community to leverage support from networked Joint and Partner Nation forces to conduct rescue in contested environments,” Houghton said.

Since combat systems officers are the eyes and ears in the sky, having a full and connected sight picture is vital to gathering important data, making quick decisions and executing the mission, even through degraded communications in an austere environment.

Communication in the skies isn’t always straightforward, Houghton explained. If the distance was too great between aircraft, the previous CSO station’s voice communications weren’t always successful. These upgrades will modernize the technology to ensure the HC-130J rescue platform is at the forefront of the evolving demands of the battlefield, which for rescue, include a joint all-domain force.

“Our primary mission is combat search and rescue,” said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Tennimon, 71st Rescue Generation Squadron flight line expediter and coordinating maintenance support for Lockheed Martin. “Any technology that allows us to find people when they need us, is the biggest impact we have.

“We’re upgrading our technology to stay in the forefront of the battle,” he continued. “Day-to-day, we might not see the impact but as our enemies have changed, we have to keep ahead.”

Having the capability to seamlessly integrate with joint forces is paramount to operating effectively anytime, anywhere, as every second matters during rescue operations.

This is the first of 10 station upgrades, which are expected to be complete near the end of the year. At the conclusion of the upgrades, all of Moody’s HC-130J fleet will have the capability to evolve as technology advances to prepare for the future fight.