Air controllers transition to new equipment module

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The 729th Air Control Squadron (ACS), a tenant unit of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, decommissioned the long-used AN/TYQ-23 modular control equipment (MCE) operations module in a ceremony here, June 12. The event marked the squadron’s transition to a new rapid reaction mobile Air Control System, the AN/TYQ-23A Tactical Air Operations Module (TAOM).

The 729th ACS provides Air Force combatant commanders a control and reporting center (CRC) weapons system utilized during worldwide contingencies to provide battle management command and control (BMC2) of Coalition forces. As a key component of the theater air control system, it provides BMC2 of joint air operations through surveillance, identification, weapons control, theater missile defense, battle management and theater communication data links.

“The mission doesn’t change, but the means to accomplish it are vastly improved,” said Capt. Andrew Pineda, 729th ACS Director of Operations for Cyberspace and Maintenance. “The new system provides much needed modernization to enhance our capabilities.”

The new 23A TAOM combines voice and radar data allowing operators to provide BMC2 with updated software and modern systems, while reducing the equipment and personnel footprint compared to MCE.

“MCE allowed four operators per shelter, requiring four shelters to accommodate a team of 16,” said Tech. Sgt. Phillip Lowery, 729th ACS deployed radar links NCO in charge, Digital Integrated Ground Systems. “With the 23A, one shelter can service 18 operators in one central location.”

The new 23A TAOM is highly transportable and requires less than half the set up time required for MCE. The configuration of the 23A TAOM is also more user friendly for the 350 personnel from 26 different AFSCs within the 729th ACS.

Training Airmen on 23A is intensive and generally takes six months for basic systems proficiency, which is then followed with an additional three months of training for advanced troubleshooting.

The MCE system was used in several missions and operations including Operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and the Kosovo/Bosnia Conflict during its more than 25 years in service.