HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Oct. 23, 2017, marked an important milestone for the 729th Air Control Squadron. After several months of planning, construction, and relocating equipment, the 729th ACS cut the ribbon on their new tactical operations center housing the next-generation AN/TYQ-23A weapon system.
For the past 25+ years, the 729th ACS has fielded the Tactical Air Operations Module (TAOM) as its primary weapon system. The TAOM is a sheltered, transportable command, control, and communication facility housing the equipment used to communicate with air assets in the area of responsibility. The first TAOM was fielded in 1991 to replace aging control equipment and provide increased operational flexibility for Control and Reporting Centers (CRC). The TAOMs were able to be transported by most commercial or military air, land, and sea by using a specially designed mobilizer.
By 1995, all the sheltered systems were delivered to units throughout the military. The Air Force would not have to wait long to put them to operational use. In 1992, the TAOM saw its first major international mission controlling the skies over Southern Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch. The next major challenge was in 1999 over Kosovo and Bosnia. The Air Force provided support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; combat operations; and humanitarian support.
In response to the terrorist attacks in 2001, the U.S. Air Force again deployed the TAOM in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The system supported coalition airstrikes that decimated the Taliban, resulting in the liberation of Kabul within a few months.
In June 2007, the 729th ACS deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ‘Angry Warriors,’ using the TAOMs, provided complete and utter air supremacy for allied forces in Iraq.
The TAOM has been the primary system of its kind until this past June, when it was finally decommissioned during a ceremony on the 729th ACS compound and powered down for the last time, culminating an impressive service to the Air Control Community.
As identified during the ribbon cutting ceremony, the AN/TYQ-23A represents the first major upgrade to ground-based command and control capabilities in 25 years. This system expanded the capabilities of the previous equipment enabling the operating crew the ability to control the airspace in a bigger scope, taking evolving technology into the new age of warfighting. A similar system has been in place in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for some time and over the past six months, more than 170 men and women from the 729th Air Control Squadron have used this system to provide critical Battle Management Command and Control capabilities to over 940,000 square miles of airspace above Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The 729th ACS welcomed home their deployed members this October.
AN/TYQ-23A brings worldwide CRC operations into the modern era and enables Airmen to continue to add to our incredible history of air dominance. This new capability can be summed up in a quote from the Kosovo/Operation Allied Force after-action report dated Jan. 31, 2000: “Quality people, combined with first-class technology and equipment, is what gives America’s Armed Forces the decisive edge.”
The 729th ACS is a geographically separated unit of the 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.