By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airfield systems teams play a vital role at each base in the Air Force. At Little Rock AFB, the 19th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems go above and beyond to ensure Team Little Rock’s C-130s are safe and only a radio call away. The 19th OSS works diligently to ensure aircrew keep in touch with the ground at all times through constant communication.
The communication equipment is used continuously, which keeps airfield systems teams repairing and maintaining more than 40 radios, headsets, microphones and many other devices, all the way to the 110-foot antenna towers. They are also responsible for the enhanced telephone voice switch which routes nearly all communication going in and out of the air traffic control tower.
The airfield systems team also carries the responsibility of maintaining and tuning the tactical air navigation system.
“The TACAN acts as a lighthouse for aircraft and allows aircraft in the area to navigate through the air safely,” said Senior Airman Corey Rhoads, a 19th OSS airfield systems technician.
The system does this by transmitting various signals that tell the aircraft the direction and distance to the airfield. According to Rhoads, the TACAN is the most important piece of equipment they have.
The team also maintains the glideslope and localizer which work together to tell the aircraft how to approach and land on the airfield regardless of the visibility. The localizer shows where the centerline of the runway is and where the aircraft is in reference to it, while glideslope gives the aircraft the angle to fly when approaching to land. These two tools are used by instruments in the aircraft flight deck so pilots can essentially land in low visibility.
“If a pilot had to land in low visibility and one of the systems was misaligned, it could be catastrophic,” said Rhoads.
Airfield systems plays a major role in keeping C-130s airborne and are critical to effective combat airlift. The 19th OSS airfield systems ensure continuous communications on the ground and in the skies.