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The EC-130E ABCCC consists of seven aircraft that are used as an Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center. The EC-130E is a modified C-130 "Hercules"; aircraft designed to carry the USC-48 Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center Capsules (ABCCC III). These one-of-a kind aircraft include the addition of external antennae to accommodate the vast number of radios in the capsule, heat exchanger pods for additional air conditioning, an aerial refueling system and special mounted rails for uploading and downloading the USC-48 capsule. The ABCCC has distinctive air conditioner intakes fore of the engines ("Mickey Mouse ears"), two HF radio probes-towards the tips of both wings, and three mushroom-shaped antennas on the top of the aircraft - and, of course, numerous antennas on the belly.

As an Air Combat Command asset, ABCCC (A-B-Triple-C) is an integral part of the Tactical Air Control System. While functioning as a direct extension of ground-based command and control authorities, the primary mission is providing flexibility in the overall control of tactical air resources. In addition, to maintain positive control of air operations, ABCCC can provide communications to higher headquarters, including national command authorities, in both peace and wartime environments.

The USC-48 ABCCC III capsule, which fits into the aircraft cargo compartment, measures 40 feet long, weighs approximately 20,000 pounds and costs $9 million each. The ABCCC provides unified and theater commanders an Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC), with the capability for combat operations during war, contingencies, exercises, and special classified missions. A highly trained force of mission ready crew members and specially equipped EC-130E aircraft to support worldwide combat operations. Mission roles include airborne extensions of the Air Operations Center (AOC) and Airborne Air Support Operations Center (ASOC) for command and control of Offensive Air Support (OAS) operations; and airborne on-scene command for special operations such as airdrops or evacuations.

The ABCCC system is a high-tech automated airborne command and control facility featuring computer generated color displays, digitally controlled communications, and rapid data retrieval. The platform's 23 fully securable radios, secure teletype, and 15 automatic fully computerized consoles, allow the battlestaff to quickly analyze current combat situations and direct offensive air support towards fast-developing targets. ABCCC, is equipped with its most recent upgrade the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, allows real-time accountability of airborne tracks to capsule displays through data links with AWACS E-3 "Sentry" aircraft.

In May 2002 the Air Force announced its Fiscal 2003 force structure changes, which included the transfer of EC-130E Airborne Battlefield Command-and-Control Center aircraft missions to other platforms. Picking up the ABCCC mission will be the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System and the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft. At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the 355th Wing will lost six EC-130E ABCCC aircraft, along with 506 military and six civilian positions. The 42nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron inactivated on 30 September 2002, after 34 years of existence. [ Squadron inactivating after 34 years AFPN 17 Sept 2002]

Crew Composition

The flight deck crew is a standard C-130 crew and the airborne battle staff can be tailored to fit any mission based on operational needs. The battle staff is comprised of four functional areas: command, operations, intelligence, and communications. Normally, it includes 12 members working in nine different specialties.

The Director of the Airborne Battle Staff (DABS)/Command Section is responsible for the overall battle staff operations for monitoring the current air situation and emphasizing integration of offensive and support operations. When an Airborne Command Element (ACE) is onboard the ABCCC, the ACE will provide theater/component commander representation increasing mission effectiveness by providing theater unique expertise (C2, logistics, communications, reconstitution, the air tasking order, and battle plans).

A Battle Staff Operations Officer (BSOO) runs the Operations Section which consists of Airborne Strike Controllers (ASC) and Airborne Close Air Support Coordinators (ACASCO). The operations section is responsible for monitoring and, if delegated the authority, directing changes in the employment of air resources within the AOR assigned.

The Intelligence Section: an Airborne Intelligence Officer (AIO) and Technician (AIT) continually correlates, analyzes, fuses, and disseminates intelligence and operational data to the battle staff and other agencies. This section updates battlefield intelligence, maintains friendly and enemy order of battle and fire support measures, and validates targets so tactical aircraft have the latest threat warning information. The AIO is also the focal point for coordination of electronic combat.

The Communications Section provides communication support for the battle staff. The Airborne Communications System Operators (ACSO) maintain voice communications (capsule radio and interphone systems), data link, and teletype equipment. While an Airborne Maintenance Technician (AMT) performs necessary in-flight maintenance of the different systems in the ABCCC capsule to include booting, initialization, and loading of the tactical database taken from the ground-based mission planning system (MPS) into the capsule’s onboard integrated computer processors.

In addition to these four basic sections, a Ground Liaison Section may be added The Liaison Section’s composition and manning reflect the type of support required in relation to the ABCCC ATO mission tasking. Joint and combined operations dictate operational Liaison Officer (LNO) interface within the ABCCC battle staff. LNOs provide information regarding tasking which the ABCCC battle staff supports, current situation and planned operations, fire support measures, selected airspace deconfliction, and communications and intelligence information relay. The LNOs are members of the Ground Component Commander’s staff and utilize his guidance in terms of intent, designation of the ground force main effort, and overall ground scheme of maneuver to make decision recommendations to the DABS. LNOs serve as the focal point for the battle staff's ground force information requirements and have communications links to acquire additional information. The Army LNO(s) serve as a limited Battlefield Coordination Element (BCE) Operations and Fusion Section representative.

The basic flight crew consists of an aircraft commander, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and an AMT/scanner (note: the AMT is an integral part of both the battle staff and flight crew). An augmented crew carries an additional aircraft commander, navigator, and flight engineer. Total seating in the Battle staff/capsule section is 15. Flight deck seating is normally limited to 6.

Below each crew position responsibilities will be discussed.

AIRCRAFT COMMANDER: Pilot directly responsible for the safe, effective, worldwide employment of the $29 million EC-130E ABCCC weapon system. Plans, briefs, and participates in global joint and allied operations and exercises. In-flight commander of up to 19 crew members and battle staff personnel. Maintains proficiency in preflight planning, normal aircraft operations, aerial refueling, and emergency procedures. Coordination link between the Director Airborne Battle staff and various air and ground assets for optimal implementation and survivability of this unique, vital national asset.

CO-PILOT: Assists the aircraft commander for the safe, effective, worldwide employment of the weapon system. Plans, briefs, and participates in global joint and allied operations and exercises. Maintains proficiency in preflight planning, normal aircraft operations, aerial refueling, and emergency procedures. Coordinates mission requirements with the Director of Airborne Battle staff to ensure proper flight routing and combat positioning commensurate with threats to this unique, vital national asset.

NAVIGATOR: Responsible for worldwide contingency planning, global precision navigation, in-flight refueling rendezvous and weather avoidance. Plans, briefs, and participates in joint and allied operations and exercises worldwide. During flight, maintains detailed flight logs, operates Self-Contained Navigation System/Internal Navigation Unit, and controls combat orbit location to ensure optimal implementation and survivability of the aircraft and success of the mission.

ENGINEER: Performs aircrew visual inspection to include pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight. Computes take-off, cruise, and landing data on all flights. Computes aircraft weight and balance using appropriate publications. Troubleshoots malfunctions and recommends corrective actions to the aircraft commander. Coordinates with maintenance personnel to ensure proper remedial actions are taken. Operates and or monitors fuel, air conditioning, pressurization, electrical, hydraulic, and power plant systems. Performs aerial refueling. Maintains aircraft forms in-flight. Operates other systems unique to the EC-130E Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) weapon system.

DIRECTOR OF AIRBORNE BATTLE STAFF (DABS): The DABS is normally a fighter/bomber pilot, weapon systems officer (WSO), or air battle manager (ABM) in the grade of Major or Lt Col. He is the mission commander and is responsible for the overall command and control of offensive and support air operations within the assigned area of responsibility (AOR). The DABS maintains direct control over other battle staff sections to ensure that mission preparation is complete, activities in the operations, intelligence, liaison, and communications sections are properly coordinated, and air operations are executed in accordance with the governing plans and directives. During the AOC extension role, the DABS acts as the Chief of Combat Operations and ensures that current air operations objectives are achieved. In the ASOC role, he assumes the responsibilities of the Corps ALO.

BATTLE STAFF OPERATIONS OFFICER (BSOO): The BSOO is an ABM and directs battle staff operations by supervising execution of air tasking orders, directing immediate and pre-planned close air support fighters, and coordinating rescue of downed aircrews. Selects targets in accordance with force commander guidance and determines appropriate ordinance. Monitors fighter and tactical air control party status and limitations. Supervises the spectrum of employment of tactical air-to-ground air power when the battle staff functions as an extension of the tactical air control center.

AIRBORNE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE (AIO): Directs intelligence, targeting, and electronic combat coordination activities aboard the ABCCC during MAJCOM, joint service and multinational exercises and contingency operations. Functions as airborne element of the Tactical Air Control System supervising the intelligence staff for limited air operations center and air support operations center activities. Monitors on-going tactical air situations providing real time inputs to meet the Tactical Air Force Commander’s objectives and relays threat warnings to high value assets.

AIRBORNE INTELLIGENCE TECHNICIAN (AIT): Assembles all intelligence materials prior to flight to include electronic combat coordination with theater electronic combat assets, in-flight targeting intelligence and reporting data, and coordinates with higher headquarters and ground component commanders to ensure proper intelligence support. Applies rules of engagement for Air Component Commander, Ground Component Commander, and Joint Task Forces Component Commander targeting guidance.

AIRBORNE STRIKE CONTROLLER (ASC): Provides real time targeting and threat updates to combat aircraft. Monitors and ensures Air Tasking Order guidance is applied to meet force commander’s objectives. Provides procedural control to aircraft performing close air support mission in the absence of radar elements. Coordinates tactical air-to-ground missions with land and air-based elements of the Theater Air Control Systems. Breaks out air tasking order, prepares daily flight worksheets, and acts on messages affecting the forthcoming mission. Controls and directs airlift flights, forward air controllers, reconnaissance flights, search and rescue missions, and medical evacuations to their assigned locations under the immediate supervision of the Battle Staff Operations Officer. Monitors the USAF interdiction program in the flight area of responsibility and accomplishes other duties as directed by the Director of Airborne Battle Staff. Inputs immediate air requests (IAR) in the tactical battlefield management system onboard the ABCCC platform. Reviews IAR’s for rule of engagement (ROE) compliance. Coordinates with battle staff members on ground targets and ground threats that would interfere with mission accomplishment.

AIRBORNE CLOSE AIR SUPPORT COORDINATOR (ACASCO): Assists ground forces in controlling close air support missions in support of United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and Combined Forces. Monitors, operates, and controls the Air Force Request Net (AFARN). Inputs immediate air requests in the tactical battle management system. Reviews immediate air requests for rules of engagement compliance. Coordinates with battle staff members on ground targets and ground threats that would interfere with mission accomplishment. Transmits aircraft mission data to the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) for coordinating CAS missions. Monitors ground forces command net for interoperability of CAS missions with the ground forces scheme of maneuver. All ACASCOs are former ETACs (Enlisted Terminal Attack Controllers) which give them an insight into the ETAC system.

AIRBORNE MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN (AMT): Performs preflight, inflight, and post flight inspections on the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center capsules. Performs scanner duties during on-loading and off-loading of passengers, engine start, before taxi, before takeoff, and during local overwater navigational and aerial refueling missions. Troubleshoots and repairs all communications, auxiliary, and environmental control systems. Instructs all battle staff members and passengers in operation of control consoles and related equipment. Acts as technical advisor for capsule upgrades, modifications, and special projects related to ABCCC employment.

AIRBORNE SYSTEM COMMUNICATION OPERATOR (ACSO): Responsible for operation of high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), ultra high frequency (UHF), satellite, teletype, and cryptographic systems onboard the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center. Maintains secure voice and teletype communications with other aircraft and the command and control networks at higher headquarters. Passes operational traffic to HHQ and other stations on operational nets. Performs other ground/airborne duties as required in support of the mission. Acts as advisor to the Director of Airborne Battle Staff on matters and issues pertaining to communications.

GROUND LIAISON OFFICER (GLO): U.S. Army Forces Command provides combat arms officers to augment the ABCCC crew. The GLO’s expertise enhances ABCCC interoperability with ground maneuver units. He ensures that all graphics are correct in the system and that the crew is fully aware of the ground component commander’s intent.

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