Home Air US Air Force’s new comms system for JTACs ready for combat

US Air Force’s new comms system for JTACs ready for combat

TACPs operate the MCS Block 2 system
TACPs operate the MCS Block 2 system at the 14 ASOS at Pope Army Airfield, N.C. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Combat Command recently declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Mobile Communications System (MCS) Block 2, a capability Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) will use to perform their close air support and command and control missions.

The program was managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Battlespace Communications Branch at Hanscom Air Force Base.

MCS Block 2 integrates multi-channel communications equipment into M1165 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), better known as Humvees, providing voice, data, and video capabilities to TACP JTACs while on-the-move with army maneuver forces and at-the-halt in tactical operations centers.

To achieve IOC, the MCS Block 2 system demonstrated the necessary combat capability for voice and video communications and had sufficient required assets available (RAA) for fielding and logistics support.

“I’m just extremely proud of this team,” said Col. Joel Luker, Senior Materiel Leader and Chief of the Special Operations Forces and Personnel Recovery Division. “All too often we only hear about acquisition programs that are well behind schedule and/or over-budget. For our combined AFLCMC-ACC-iGov team to deliver this vital capability to our front-line forces 5 months early — and in the middle of a pandemic, no less — was a monumental accomplishment.”

The program began with a 2-year integration and test phase to fit the mostly off-the-shelf and non-developmental equipment kit and software into the vehicle, making sure all human factors, safety, interface, and environmental considerations were taken into account.

The prime contractor, iGov Technologies, Inc., designed and built the system at their facility in Tampa, Florida.

The Battlespace Communications Branch led the government team and worked with ACC to define the program’s requirements and to plan for fielding and training. In addition, the Contracting Branch provided contracting support via the Platform Engineering and Integration for Tactical and Strategic Systems indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract.

The team also included members of the test community and integration support from Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane. All team members worked diligently and collaborated effectively to successfully achieve IOC.

The team plans to perform further kit installations and training at TACP squadrons through 2023.