Makua Valley becomes site for ATC mission

| February 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
MAKUA VALLEY, Hawaii — Spc. Daniel Laing from F Company, 3-25 Avn Regt sits in the front seat of the AN/TSQ-198A, Tactical Terminal System (TTCS) mobile tower while controlling a UH-60 from C Co., 3-25 Avn Regt, 25th CAB. Laing earned his first tactical ATCS tower rating during the two day exercise.

MAKUA VALLEY, Hawaii — Spc. Daniel Laing from F Company, 3-25 Avn Regt sits in the front seat of the AN/TSQ-198A, Tactical Terminal System (TTCS) mobile tower while controlling a UH-60 from C Co., 3-25 Avn Regt, 25th CAB. Laing earned his first tactical ATCS tower rating during the two day exercise.

Story and photos by
Chief Warrant Officer 2
Jason D. Clark
25th Combat Aviation Brigade
25th Infantry Division

MAKUA VALLEY — Soldiers from F Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, with support from A, B and C companies, 3-25th Avn. Regt.; from 2nd Bn., 25th Assault Bn.; and from the Hawaii Army National Guard represented the 25th CAB and 25th Infantry Division as part of an air traffic control (ATC) training mission, here, from Jan. 17 to 20.

MAKUA VALLEY, Hawaii — A CH-47 Chinook from B Company, 3-25 Avn Regt, 25th CAB, provides lift support to Makua Valley in order to deliver valuable real world training for the tactical air traffic controllers.

MAKUA VALLEY, Hawaii — A CH-47 Chinook from B Company, 3-25 Avn Regt, 25th CAB, provides lift support to Makua Valley in order to deliver valuable real world training for the tactical air traffic controllers.

From the planning process and convoy operations, to the actual mission, the Soldiers of F Co. conducted themselves with professionalism and competence.

During the exercise, they conducted air assault, Pathfinder, ATC tower and radar operations, and ATC equipment maintenance support. For some Soldiers, it was their first ever ATC field mission.

Eight members of the tactical tower team started off the mission by performing sling load operations with B Co., 3-25th Avn. Regt. Members of the team were able to successfully hook the AN/TSQ-198A Tactical Terminal Control System (TTCS) vehicle and trailer to the CH-47 Chinook at Wheeler Army Airfield.

From there, it was a short ride to Makua Valley where Spc. Dennis Frank, a recent Pathfinder graduate, was waiting next to the helicopter landing zone (HLZ) to ensure the safe and expeditious infill of the system and its personnel.

Once the TTCS was on the ground, it was time for the team to conduct an airfield survey and complete the equipment setup. The TTCS is a mobile ATC facility, which provides air traffic services (ATS) at remote landing zones, drop-zones and temporary helicopter operating areas. The system provides ATC services for aviation assets conducting reconnaissance, maneuver, medical evacuation, logistics and intelligence operations across the battlefield. Makua Valley was the ideal location to provide the training for these services.

While the TTCS section was completing the sling load operations and site setup, the radar team was conducting its own site survey and setup. The radar system utilized by F Co. is the AN/TPN-31 Air Traffic Navigation, Integration, Coordination System (ATNAVICS), a HMMWV-mounted radar system that provides continuous near all-weather landing/precision assistance and departure recovery capability at Army tactical airfields and landing areas.
Due to the challenging terrain of Makua Valley, setting up this system is a true test for the ATNAVICS team. There are no hard surface landing areas, and the downhill slope towards the ocean made it impossible for the aircraft to complete a full approach to the ground.

The radar controllers executed all the complex calculations to create a “point in space” approach so that the pilots could avoid dangerous terrain. In two day’s time, the facility conducted multiple precision radar approaches without compromising the safety of the aircrews and aircraft.

It would not be a mission without its share of glitches. If it was not for the support of the two 94D ATC equipment repair specialists, the mission might have had a different outcome.

The equipment repair specialists were able to troubleshoot serious radio issues, as well as complications with the radar system itself. With most of their equipment being allocated for JRTC, they overcame their limited resources by using experience and knowledge to successfully keep all facilities on line and mission ready.
“This is the only place where you can accomplish outstanding training in one Hawaii’s most beautiful locations,” said Sgt. Xavier Ferreira of F Co, 3-25 Avn. Regt., 25th CAB.

With the incredible support from A, B and C companies, along with 2-25th Assault Bn. and the HIANG, the controllers were able to complete 27 precision radar approaches and 94 tower movements.

The final result ended with two Readiness Level 1 (RL-1) progressed radar controllers and one RL-1 progressed tower controller. RL-1 is the highest level of readiness for controllers, giving them the ability to control air traffic without direct supervision. But most importantly, this exercise enhanced the essential trust that the pilots of the 25th CAB have with F Co. controllers, which is instrumental to the battalion’s success.

The air traffic controllers of F Co., 3-25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, are trained, proficient and ready for any mission.

(Editor’s note: Clark works in F Co., 3rd Bn., 25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, 25th ID.)

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Category: News, Training

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