Airmen from the 103rd Air Control Squadron participates in the Sentry Savannah 19-1 Large Force Exercise at their CT facility.
Maj. Gen. Fran Evon, Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard and Brig. Gen. Gerald MacDonald, Assistant Adjutant General - Air look on as the 103rd Air Control Squadron participates in the Sentry Savannah 19-1 Large Force Exercise at their facility in in Orange, Conn., February 1. For the first time, 103rd ACS controlled aircraft operating in Savannah, Georgia from home station. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren. 103rd ACS)

ORANGE, Conn. – It was a first for the Air National Guard and a show of advancement for the 103rd Air Control Squadron.

From 900 miles away at the unit’s home station in Orange, Conn., the103rd ACS provided air control (radar) services for combat air operations in Savannah, Georgia during the Sentry Savannah 19-1 Large Force Exercise.

More than 500 members of the Air National Guard, Active Duty Air Force, and Navy Reserve participated in the LFE based out of the Air Dominance Center in Savannah. The training gave participants real-world experience in using tactics and procedures for combat operations involving various 4th and 5th generation fighter jets.

“There are different types of aircraft going against each other in an airspace, fighting a (simulated) war,” said Lt. Col. Glenn Sherman, 103rd Air Control Squadron Commander. “This is so (LFE participants) can practice their tactics, techniques and procedures against different types of aircraft.”

While members of the 103rd ACS have participated in Sentry Savannah exercises before, this year’s exercise marked the first time that the unit was able to control aircraft from home station. The capability was made possible through a collaboration with the Eastern Air Defense Sector, in which the 103rd ACS gained access to radars and radios in the eastern United States. The use of remote radio and radar (or R3, for short) puts the 103rd ACS at the forefront of the Command and Control community.

“We are the first Air National Guard unit to use R3, remote radio and radar access from the Eastern Air Defense Sector,” said Sherman. “Access to those radars and radios, we previously had not been able to attain.”

Participation in Sentry Savannah ensures that members of 103rd ACS maintain the highest and most current level of training. Cyber operators and maintainers in the unit gain real-world experience setting up tactical radio, satellite and data link equipment to remotely execute missions from home station with aircraft that are operating in airspace over a thousand miles away.

“Successful integration of both local and remote sensors enhances our training capabilities in-garrison and ensures our readiness to support overseas contingencies,” said Sherman. “This being a live-fly exercise allows us to control an actual event against real pilots that are operating real planes. Nothing is better than an actual live mission, because it gives them realistic training. This is what we do in war.”

The 103rd ACS continues to advance and test new capabilities, including that of the new TYQ-23A weapons module, which allows increased data link capabilities and a larger area of coverage when managing an airspace. By integrating cyber operations capabilities and emergent technologies that support the C2 mission set within the United States Air Force, the 103rd ACS continues to be on the leading edge of the C2 community.