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RPA operations receive an upgrade

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Team Holloman Airmen moved a satellite communications terminal at the 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, to help improve remotely piloted aircraft operations Aug. 22 and 23.

Planning for this move began one month in advance at the RPA Steering Group, said Staff Sgt. Cameron Sapp, 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron ground control station communications expediter. Approximately 20 personnel assisted with the physical move of the terminal including L-3 communications, general atomics technicians, Air Force engineers, and 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron personnel.

The terminal was moved to ensure compliance with security regulations set forth by Air Combat Command.

"Moving the SATCOM earth terminal substation ensures Holloman Air Force Base is in compliance with Air Force instruction 31-101," said Senior Master Sgt. David Wade, 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communication maintenance superintendent. "The SATCOM unit allows for 50-foot inner barriers, helping align the GCS yard for improved security, safety and emergency response."

The SATCOM is used during flight operations of remotely piloted aircraft at distances greater than 150 nautical miles, said Sapp.

"Daily operations of our SATCOM terminal are conducted by L-3 Communications, a government contractor, along with infrastructure and maintenance support provided by Air Force personnel," he said.

SATCOM terminals are used exclusively by RPAs to fly up to eight different missions at a time, with either the MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper via satellite, said Sapp.

"The SATCOM earth terminal substation move was an impressive team effort," he said. "All parties involved contributed equally to ensure it was seamless."

Members of Team Holloman showed great team work to accomplish the mission.

"The aircraft communication maintenance unit has far exceeded the expectations of everyone involved, all the way up to the wing," said Wade. "I am very pleased with our Airmen's continued performance and dedication."