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Marines and government civilians gather around a Composite Tracking Network being tested during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-16 at Barry M. Goldwater Range, Oct. 20, 2015. The CTN works to compile and share data between multiple air command locations utilizing the Command Aviation Command and Control System. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd

Marine aviation tests new technology

2 Nov 2015 | Lance Cpl. Connor Hancock Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Senior level Marine Corps leadership visited the systems and test sites for the new Common Aviation Command and Control System during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-16, at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Oct. 20, 2015.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps, and Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commander, Marine Corps Systems Command, along with Senior Executives Thomas Dee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Operations and Logistics Management, and William Taylor, Program Executive Officer Land Systems, observed the use of the new CAC2S system, which can support multiple air combat element operations in deployed environments, allowing Marine Corps aviation to excel in operational, technical and performance capabilities.

The CAC2S provides modernized equipment for three Aviation Combat Element (ACE) tactical agencies; a Tactical Air Command Center, Tactical Air Operations Center, and Direct Air Support Center. Workstations with updated software collect data from highly sensitive radars and sensors to provide commanders with vast airspace knowledge.

According to Capt. Marco Arriaga, officer in charge, Tactical Air Operations Center, Marine Air Control Squadron One, the systems have increased MACS-1’s capabilities.

“It’s been very smooth transitioning with this equipment,” said Arriaga. “The stability has been a lot better than what we’ve seen with the legacy gear, where the processors have overloaded. I’d take any of these over the old systems, as they are right now,” added Arriaga.

The CAC2S Program Office, in conjunction with the operating forces tested the new CAC2S system as a replacement for the previous command and control system, which has been used since the 1980s.

“We were able set up the TACC in a much shorter amount of time compared to the older systems, which had more working parts,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nathaniel Kragel, maintenance officer, Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38. A CH-53 “Super Stallion” or similar aircraft can efficiently transport all the equipment and facilities for CAC2S, to include [High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles], which serve as Aviation Command and Control Systems.

Maj. Marcus Hinckley, Command, Control, and Communications (C3) department head, operations and training, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One, said the speed of the new system’s software gives Marines a huge advantage.

“The information exchange is much faster,” said Hinckley. “It quickens the timeline, making the MAGTF more lethal.”

The general officers and Senior Executives had a unique opportunity to get a first-hand look at a developmental capability supporting the operational forces during this latest WTI class. According to the program office, participation in the WTI classes allows the program to refine the capabilities and fix any discrepancies before fully fielding the system. The Marine Corps is looking into the most cost-effective way of implementing the new systems to win battles.

“We are still learning, but the ability to increase mobility and being self-reliant has been pretty phenomenal so far,” Arriaga said.

Marines will continue with testing and fixes will be implemented while Marine Aviation moves forward with the new technology. The Marine Corps plans to field the CAC2S to the Fleet Marine Force beginning in fiscal year 2017.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms