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Army Paratroopers Get In-Flight Internet

by Matt Cox on May 9, 2014

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U.S. Army forced-entry units will soon have a new in-flight internet system to help them prepare for mission changes before parachuting into enemy territory.

The Army’s new Enroute Mission Command Capability, or EMC2, features internet service, mission command applications, full-motion video, intelligence products and collaborative planning tools along with computers and voice phones that can be used on aboard a C-17 aircraft.

As the situation develops in the destination target area, Global Response Force commanders will be able to get updates, understand changes on the ground and be able to adjust their plan.

“The ability to understand a situation gives you the ability to take appropriate action, and if the GRF can understand a situation before they get to their drop location, then they can be more effective from the moment boots hit the ground,” said Lt. Col. Joel Babbitt, product manager for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 1, which manages the new in-flight capability for the Army. “Instead of landing on the ground, analyzing the situation and developing execution plans, they can hit the ground executing.”

EMC2 is will soon be installed on C17 aircraft, so that Air Force pilots and units of the 82nd Airborne Division – which help make up the Global Response Force – will test the system at multiple locations, according to an Army press release. If all goes well, the system will be issued to XVIII Airborne Corps by the end of the calendar year.

One of the main components of EMC2 is the Fixed Install Satellite Antenna, or FISA, which provides the internet connection for the C17. A similar capability is being used by commercial airlines.

“The FISA provides a fourfold increase in bandwidth so that a new host of services can be employed on board, increasing capability for GRF units to plan and maintain critical situational awareness in the air,” said Capt. Mindy Brown, EMC2 lead for PdM WIN-T Increment 1.

U.S. Special Operations Command already has aircraft outfitted with their own version of this in-flight capability. The Army’s EMC2 system aboard additional C17s would expand that initial SOCOM capability, Army officials maintain.

“It will be a transformation in the situational awareness and effectiveness of the GRF in the first several hours of ground operations,” Babbitt said.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

chaos0xomega May 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Well… at least they'll be able to watch porn en-route to a warzone :P

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Kurt Montandon May 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Good for morale.

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Musson May 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

As they used to say in the Army – "There is always some poor dumb sonofabitch who doesn't get the word." I guess his router must be down.

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TeXan1111 May 14, 2014 at 1:13 pm

we wish

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Dick A May 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Is that what you watch at home, Mormon?

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orly? May 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Possible OPSEC vulnerability.

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tmb2 May 10, 2014 at 3:09 am

It's connected to the tactical network, not commercial internet. As long as it's only SIPR there shouldn't be an issue.

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hibeam May 9, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Don't text and dive. All kidding aside this is what we do best so keep pushing the envelope, our guys are all better connected and that's a force multiplier.

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Mitch S. May 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Hope they don't have to pay extra for the headphones so they can hear what's on the video.

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Blake May 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I'm sure those guys on their phones are checking the situational development of their drop zone.

… still. Incorporating better communication technology is never a bad thing

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moncho May 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm

airborne

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hibeam May 11, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Do they get in flight peanuts? No? Toughen up guys. Every time I'm about to doze off I get a bag of GD peanuts.

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Ray T. May 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm

It only costs about $15 a minute to keep this system online. We have something like what i spoken of called "The Jackpot" at JCSE. Its never used due to costs. This is another fine example of waste and abuse by the Army.

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blight_ May 13, 2014 at 10:30 am

Never heard of it until now.
http://www.northcom.mil/Newsroom/tabid/3104/Artic

"Joint Communications Support Element.
The JCSE, a military unit composed of about 450 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel, brought equipment from its home station at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., to demonstrate the communications capabilities the unit can provide to Department of Defense and other government agencies.
The JCSE's Joint Airborne Command and Control/Command Post, or "Jackpot" package, is designed to fit aboard a military C-130 aircraft and has military and civilian band radios and Internet access.
"I think it's a neat tool," said Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. "(The Jackpot) has the common frequencies, and we can tie them right into (first responders) on the ground and be able to help more quickly."
Up to 12 people can sit down and work "like they were at their desks" aboard a C-130 outfitted with the Jackpot package, said Petty Officer 1st Class Josiah Davis, a JCSE information system technician.
"They can talk and correspond and pretty much take care of business from the sky," he said.
The JCSE communications packages "absolutely" show promise "especially if the systems on the ground are down," said John Gulizia, assistant emergency manager for the Arapahoe County (Colo.) Sheriff's Office."

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reuben May 13, 2014 at 2:22 am

back in the day when i was in the 82nd in the late 50's and early 60's could never imagine the changes from those days to today airborne from jumping out of the c-119 flying boxcar and the c-17's of today do they still say " your knees are in the breeze, but your ass is in the blast " ?

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election May 13, 2014 at 8:26 am

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ReinaldoLuis Andujar May 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Back in 1999 and 2000 I participated, representing my agency, in the US Army War College's tabletop series of exercises entitled Army After Next at Carlisle Barracks, which identified operational and technological concepts that the Army would employ by the year 2015. This idea was one that was discussed at length during the exercise.

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J. Belliveau May 14, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Maybe this will help the 82nd clear a drop zone in less than 12hrs! Rangers lead the wAy!

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Gill May 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

Wait isn't the Army getting rid of Airborne units?

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13F20P May 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

It seems like a simple thing, but I was in the 82nd back in the 80's and don't remember ever having the option of removing my helmet after being cleared by the jumpmaster. Once cleared, you removed or changed nothing until on the ground. It appears in the photo, however, that the C-17 allows MUCH more room in the aisle than the C-130 does or the C-141 Starlifter did, so perhaps a simple re-check of the helmet straps by the JM before the 20 minute warning is easy enough to allow that little luxury. Great article.

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11B30P May 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Ever seen in flight rigging? Done that in a C-141 on the way to Panama for a training jump in the 90's. Must be nice on the C-17 to have an aisle for the jump masters.

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35 Series May 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm

That's only one side of the aircraft. There are troopers on the other side out of camera shot. Two rows outboard and two rows inboard.

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