Bold Quest 21.2 - AEC Skyline provides DACAS, airborne C2 node
Executed between 1 and 17 November, edition 21.2 of exercise Bold Quest (BQ) brought AEC Skyline yet again to the United States, in this case to the state of Indiana, to provide vital Digitally Aided Close Air Support (DACAS), ISR and C4I support. Prior to the event our personnel linked up with Alpha-1 Aerospace and L3Harris Technologies at Indiana's Columbus Municipal Airport. Here, thorough systems integration and testing of the Air Tractor AT-802U based Sky Warden ISR Strike aircraft was conducted before our team started operating over Camp Atterbury's training area during the exercise.
BQ 21.2's initial, week long lab testing phase was used to conduct a series of ground and air tests in close cooperation with Dutch Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) taking part in the exercise. This combined with the subsequent live execution phase saw our team delivering a total of 50 hours of DACAS and ISR to Bold Quest's multinational training audience. This included almost 200 JTAC supported controls, mostly in support of Netherlands MoD DACAS Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and CAS C2 development aims. In addition to being tasked to support participating Dutch units, ISR missions were also flown on behalf of Australian Special Operations Forces.
Sponsored by the US Joint Staff, the Bold Quest exercise series is aimed at improving coalition interoperability of joint and combined fires and tactical sensor-to-shooter loops. Specific Dutch aims during BQ 21.2 included the testing and validation of various engineering change proposals to the existing mobileJECL communications based JTAC equipment ensemble, also known as the NLD Android Precision Assault Strike Suite (APASS), the integration of emerging capabilities such as NET-T, MANET and Handheld Link-16 and the assessment of new Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications options. Also high on the agenda were trials aimed at improving the integration of land and air C2 information flows at all levels together with the testing of airborne hub CONOPS for ground networks.
In order to achieve these aims we fielded the advanced Sky Warden aircraft as a combined airborne C2 node, DACAS platform. Hence, Sky Warden was equipped with a wide array of systems and EO/IR sensors including ANW2C which was used for C2 purposes. Stauder Technologies' JECL based GustoAir kneeboard air-ground communications device combined moving map with situational awareness overlay while imagery was generated by WESCAM MX-20, MX-15 pods. Other systems included a VORTEXi transceiver (FMV, KLV), PRC-117G (VMF), Link-16 STT and MPU-5, the latter furnished by our partner Persistent Systems.
During the exercise Sky Warden demonstrated its ability to provide persistent support, providing all weather, day and night capability to its JTAC customers. BQ21.2's live air phase included a memorable mission that saw us logging 7.7 hours of continuous operations in the air with more than 2 hours of fuel remaining in the Sky Warden aircraft at the end of the mission.
In an effort to guarantee adequate connectivity during the exercise, AEC Skyline also deployed some of its bespoke critical data solutions including LTEA, 5G network capability backed by a secure VPN functionality.
About AEC Skyline
AEC Skyline provides fast air, ISR support and critical data solutions to the military, the defence and aerospace industry, and research institutes. Operating out of Groningen Airport Eelde and Breda Airport in the Netherlands, the company offers close air support, electronic warfare, “red air” training, remote sensing and target towing together with networking and consultancy solutions.