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C-130H aircraft receive tactical upgrade

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. -- Five of the eight C-130 Hercules aircraft stationed here received Real Time In Cockpit modification throughout the month of February to boost operational flexibility and situational awareness.


RTIC is a system that shows the current positions of threats and other aircraft, and facilitates communication between different pilots. It replaced an older system called Combat Tracker II, which has been used on 911th Airlift Wing aircraft for several years.


“Let’s say that I [enter] a hostile field where an asset has ‘eyes on’ a threat,” said Maj. Andrew Thompson, 758th Airlift Squadron tactics officer. “That information can be sent through RTIC to my aircraft where I can make tactical decisions to avoid that threat. To know where they are before I get there gives me a large advantage.”


This system takes several days to install and multiple systems needed to be removed so that there would be room to maneuver within tight spaces, aid Senior Master Sgt. Bryan Sinkus, 911th Maintenance Squadron, communication, countermeasures and navigation systems shop section chief.


Airmen would take a day to prepare the RTIC aircraft for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. The team would then take two days to install the system, and Airmen would perform a functional check to ensure that the system worked properly. Then, it was on to the next aircraft to repeat the process.


Multiple shops within the 911th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contributes to installing the new system. The process was complicated enough that Airmen from the 910th Airlift Wing in Youngstown, Ohio, came here to assist.


The joint process of installing RTIC in the aircraft is reflective of the joint uses and advantages of the system. Rather than forwarding communications through individual military commands, pilots can get the information they need directly from the source, regardless of location of military branch,  said Sinkus.


“If communication is directly from ground party to aircraft, it streamlines the process,” said Sinkus. “The more joint the environment, and the quicker the communication flow, the better.”


The advantages of a new system are not always easy to see from the perspective of those installing it, said Staff Sgt. Peter Sommer, a 911th MXS communication and navigation systems technician. However, with a system like RTIC, the possible benefits for those who will operate it on a daily basis are much clearer.


“RTIC and technologies like it give us the ability to fly, fight, and win, and return safely home to repeat as necessary,” said Thompson. “RTIC gives the aircrew an enormous increase in situational awareness and ultimately can be the difference between success and failure life or death during combat missions.”