ESC Provides Modern Air Traffic Control System for Iraq
The completion of this foreign military sales effort involved the delivery of two new air traffic control tower systems along with state-of-the-art radar and ATC-tower simulators to the Iraqi government.
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"These FMS cases play an important role in providing a critical aviation infrastructure that will aid the Iraqi government in securing its airspace," said Rainy McIntosh, the FMS program manager. "It also helps meet U.S. National Security Strategy security assistance and cooperation goals."
The tower systems were installed at Tikrit and Taji air bases and will allow the Iraqi personnel to manage their airspace in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. The simulators will allow the Iraqi government to train their military and civilian air traffic control operators so they can gain and maintain proficiency.
"Having these systems allows the Iraqis the opportunity to truly control their civilian aviation destiny by controlling their airspace," McIntosh said. "And by being in compliance with the FAA guidelines, it could open the door for more civilian overflights, possibly turning into an opportunity for increased revenue."
Site acceptance testing for a radar integration effort at the Baghdad Area Control Center was also completed in September. This effort integrates three existing radars at Baghdad International Airport, Kirkuk Air Base and Basrah Air Base into the BACC. Through network equipment at the sites and software modifications to the existing automation system at the BACC, radar feeds from Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Basrah are incorporated into a single airspace picture. This integration will provide a baseline air traffic control picture and enable future radar approach control services for the Iraqi air force.
"This radar integration is critical to ensure the Iraqi air force can sustain air sovereignty," McIntosh said.
McIntosh said accomplishing all this work was not without its challenges.
"We were working in an extremely austere environment, where the main mode of travel is a helicopter," he said. "This made it very difficult to transport people and parts between sites, some of which are still getting attacked. (It) made the efforts logistically challenging and it becomes more daunting as we approach the deadline for American troops to pull out."
The FMS cases now transition to contractor logistics support sustainment efforts. Personnel from the two current contractors, Raytheon and ARINC, will remain in Iraq through September 2012 to continue to provide support for the systems.
Personnel from ESC and the contract teams were able to provide a tour and overview of the systems to Iraqi army aviation and Iraqi air force senior leaders.
"This tour was a great opportunity to showcase the 21st century technology and capability being provided," McIntosh said. "It also served to highlight the great work being done by the program management office and contractor teams."
He said he hopes the Iraqis will fully embrace the capability and utilize it to its potential.
"The state-of-the art equipment is such a big leap from the old Soviet equipment they were using, and it provides them a more global aviation capability," McIntosh said. "Providing the tour let us heighten the awareness of the capability, and I hope the Iraqi people will continue to make the investment to make the most of it."
by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
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Source : US Air Force