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GDT upgrades RPA’s present, future
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mark Murray, 849th Aircraft Maintenace Squadron remotely piloted aircraft communications technician, unfastens a bolt connecting a ground data terminal unit to a platform, Feb. 7. After unbolting the GDT from its shipping platform, it’s lifted by a crane, and installed on a tower to reduce potential line-of-sight deficiencies for RPAs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika/Released)
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GDT upgrades RPA's present, future

Posted 2/9/2012   Updated 2/9/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
49th Wing Public Affairs

2/9/2012 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- With the increasing demand for remotely piloted aircraft from combatant commanders in-theater, RPA training bases throughout the U.S. have seen an increase in training requirements.

To help RPA operators at Holloman meet those requirements, communications technicians from the 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron installed an upgraded ground data terminal unit Feb. 7.

The GDT is essential to RPA missions, said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mark Murray, 849th AMXS RPA communications technician.

"It's what basically allows the RPAs to fly," he said. "It sends a signal to and from the GCS, or ground control station, and is what allows the pilots to control the RPAs."

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Wade, 849th AMXS communications logistics superintendent, explained the importance of the upgraded GDT.

"The unit we received is a fiber optic-style GDT," he said. "Older models have copper wiring, but the fiber optic antennas reduce potential latency, or signal lag, by as much as three to four seconds. This GDT installation is an earmark for Holloman. Before, the RPA flying capability was somewhat limited, but these new units allow us to grow into the infrastructure that the RPAs built up during their inception."

The GDT, which sits on a tower to reduce potential line-of-sight deficiencies, is the first fixed GDT installed on the installation since 2009. This upgrade is just one of the ways the 849th AMXS is working to help RPA crews meet training demands.

"We are expanding our infrastructure to facilitate growth in the output of aircrews for RPA platforms," Wade said. "This expansion traverses across other equipment within our control. For example, we received two new GCSs in January and ACC (Air Combat Command) is assisting us with generator sustainment, satellite upgrades, and frequencies resolution."

All of the work recently done by the communications technicians will help the RPA mission at Holloman succeed.

"We are working to achieve a state of compliance that will permit us to increase our aircrew student output as much as 30 to 40 percent," Wade said. "Holloman personnel should know the amount of effort required to pull off all of these changes. I am very proud of the men and women doing the work to make achieving these goals possible. I believe their efforts will prove key in ensuring Holloman remains a truly integral part of the ACC mission."

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