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News > 605th TES completes Phase II of TACP CASS upgrade testing
605th TES completes Phase II of TACP CASS upgrade testing

Posted 1/11/2010   Updated 1/11/2010 Email story   Print story


by Capt. William Ballard
605th Test and Evaluation Squadron

1/11/2010 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- The 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron, from the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., completed the second of three phases for an upgraded version of the Tactical Air Control Party Close Air Support System (TACP CASS) version 1.4.2 on Dec. 20.

TACP CASS is special software on a ruggedized tactical computer with embedded GPS receiver, portable radio and a laser range finder that allows Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) to digitally communicate with aircraft and ground command elements. TACPs utilizing the equipment on the battle field are air command and control specialists assigned to Army units where they advise ground commanders on the best use of air assets for various tactical problems.

Prior to the upgrade, Air Force JTACs were limited to satellite-only communications when sending digital information to aircraft. TACP CASS 1.4.2 provides multiple connection options so JTACs are no longer limited and they can quickly text target area information to minimize any risk of misunderstanding from voice communications. In addition, the JTACs can now see the entire air picture allowing them to remain aware of aircraft positions in their area of operations.

Staff Sgt. Brett Carnathan, a 7th Support Operations Squadron JTAC taking part in the evaluation, was impressed with the new capability. "Five minutes from the aircraft checking in to bombs on target is pretty cool," he said.

The test utilized operators from Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Combat Command to evaluate the upgraded effectiveness and suitability of the upgraded TACP CASS. In seven weeks of operational testing, the team evaluated interoperability with: Air Force A-10Cs, F-15Es, F-16s; Marine AV-8Bs; and Navy F/A-18s.

Additionally, the test team evaluated TACP CASS integration at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Sill, Okla., as they tested with the Army's advanced field artillery tactical data system (AFATDS) which controls the firing solution for every Army artillery round fired on the battle field; along with the Army's forward observer system which enables TACPs to request and direct artillery fire support. Now Soldiers and Airman will be better able to integrate artillery and fixed-wing aircraft on the battlefield.

Lt. Col. Joe Ott, the 505 Operations Group deputy commander and member of the group that oversees the 605th TES, observed a portion of the live-fly field evaluation. Ott commented that it was fantastic to see a test plan come together after all the planning and coordination.

"Our ultimate goal is to ensure new, operationally tested capabilities reach the warfighter," he said.

Overall, the testing process was a great joint success as a result of all four branches of service allowing the testers to stress the system and collect a wealth of data.
The squadron will wrap up the TACP CASS 1.4.2 field evaluation this spring after the third and final phase, which culminates with a field test of new hardware, including a small wearable computer, an improved data interface cable, a new ultra mobile radio, and a new laser range finder.

Upon completion, the 605th TES will compile their findings in an official report with a fielding recommendation to Air Combat Command's A3Y division.

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