THE CRC dominates Red Flag 20-1

  • Published
  • By 2d Lt Ashlyn K. Paulson
  • 552nd Air Control Wing

On the ground at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Battle Manager Crews from the 729th Air Control Squadron working in a Control and Reporting Center are engaged in directing the Airspace for Red Flag 20-1; More than 100 miles away, members of the same unit built a deployed radar site in the middle of the desert to supplement the Command and Control systems used to direct the airspace of RED FLAG 20-1.

RED FLAG is an internationally known combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies. Since its establishment in 1975, over 29 countries have participated with more than 500,000 military personnel.

Air Control Squadrons are unique because they include all the personnel and equipment needed to project command and control anywhere in the world through the deployment of a CRC and deployed radar. A CRC is a mobile command, control and communications element that integrates a comprehensive air picture via multiple data links from air, sea and land-based sensors, radios and surveillance and control radars. The deployed radar is a remote element that extends the sensor and communication coverage needed for command and control.

“A deployed radar site directly supports command and control in the same way an AWACS or radio hub might” said Capt. Eric Dayhuff, site commander for the 729 ACS. “Using deployed radar sites such as this, we are able to send radar, radio, and other important data over to the CRC to create a better sight picture of what’s happening in the air. Our ABMs can then use that data project combat power.”

One of the unique aspects of the CRC is that the mission is expeditionary in nature. To train for combat operations, more than 150 Airmen loaded more than a dozen vehicles with a radar, radios, antennas, tents and more to convoy more than 400 miles from Hill AFB to two locations, one at Nellis AFB and another at an austere location in the Nevada desert.

“Operating at RED FLAG is one of the most ideal situations for our units,” said Staff Sgt. Johnathan Cane, a Cyber Transport Airman responsible for Theater Deployable Communications. “It allows us the ability to test in the field and not rely on our base or equipment back home. We are isolated. Challenges come up. If we forgot equipment, or are having connectivity issues, similar to that of a scenario downrange, we will have to adapt and apply problem solving measures.”

Similar to deployed environments, this exercise saw the 729th ACS leveraging total force integration, with the team comprised of three active duty units and three Air National Guard units. The 729th ACS was supported by the 726th ACS from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, the 752nd Operations Support Squadron from Tinker AFB, the 109th ACS, Utah ANG, the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin ANG and the 134th ACS, Kansas ANG.

“Our ability to establish sites such as these anywhere in the world allows us to create a network of sensors to provide commanders with 24/7 radar, radio, and datalink information and create a common operating picture,” said Dayhuff. “By avoiding any single points of failure we create a persistent, never-wavering stare informing the air war.”