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49th AMXS Airmen increase RPA missions

Aircraft communications maintenance Airmen from the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare a Ground Data Terminal antenna to be crane lifted at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. The GDT is an 800-pound antenna that facilitates communication between Remotely Piloted Aircraft and their crews on the ground in the Ground Control Station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Aircraft communications maintenance Airmen from the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare a Ground Data Terminal antenna to be crane lifted at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. The GDT is an 800-pound antenna that facilitates communication between Remotely Piloted Aircraft and their crews on the ground in the Ground Control Station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Senior Airman Jon, a 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communications maintenance technician, balances and guides a Ground Data Terminal antenna into position before installation at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. The GDT is an 800-pound antenna that facilitates communication between Remotely Piloted Aircraft and their crews on the ground in the Ground Control Station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Senior Airman Jon, a 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communications maintenance technician, balances and guides a Ground Data Terminal antenna into position before installation at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. The GDT is an 800-pound antenna that facilitates communication between Remotely Piloted Aircraft and their crews on the ground in the Ground Control Station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Senior Airman Jon, a 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communications maintenance technician, prepares a Ground Data Terminal antenna for installation at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. Installation of the GDT significantly contributes to the amount of Remotely Piloted Aircraft missions that can be flown each day by allowing all Ground Control Stations to be utilized. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Senior Airman Jon, a 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communications maintenance technician, prepares a Ground Data Terminal antenna for installation at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. Installation of the GDT significantly contributes to the amount of Remotely Piloted Aircraft missions that can be flown each day by allowing all Ground Control Stations to be utilized. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Staff Sgt. Paul and Senior Airman Tyler, 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communications maintenance technicians, affix a Ground Data Terminal to a platform riser at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. The antenna was mounted on the roof of an existing hangar, a first for Holloman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

Staff Sgt. Paul and Senior Airman Tyler, 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft communications maintenance technicians, affix a Ground Data Terminal to a platform riser at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2016. The antenna was mounted on the roof of an existing hangar, a first for Holloman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Kenney)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Airmen from the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron came together to install a new Ground Data Terminal here on Nov. 8, 2016.

The GDT is an 800-pound antenna that facilitates communication between Remotely Piloted Aircraft and their crews on the ground in the Ground Control Station.

“A Ground Data Terminal is the antenna that we use to connect the Ground Control Station to the RPA when it is in local range,” said Staff Sgt. Paul, a 49th AMXS aircraft communications maintenance technician. “It is a line-of-sight antenna, only used for local missions, mostly launch and recovery of the aircraft.”

Installation of the GDT significantly contributes to the amount of Remotely Piloted Aircraft missions that can be flown each day.

“By installing this, our sortie production will increase by plus one per day,” said Paul. “Before we had 13 GCS and only 12 antennas, which means we could only fly out of 12 every day. Once we get this new GDT up and running, we will be able to fly out of all 13 every day. This means more maintenance capabilities, more aircrew training capabilities, and an increase in our number of pilots and sensor operators graduated every year.”

The antenna was mounted on the roof of an existing hangar, a first for Holloman.

“This is the first time an antenna has been installed on a hangar like this,” said Paul. “So, we are taking things one step at a time and trying to cover all of our bases and be as safe as possible.”

Installation involves gathering all necessary tools and special equipment to include cranes, forklifts, climbing equipment, safety equipment and chemicals. After the initial setup, technicians replace the old antenna, install cabling and perform various operations checks.

“Normal installation takes around two to four hours,” said Paul. “We had a lot of meetings and told CE what we needed and they had it all done within a day or two. There was a lot of cooperation between different units and the whole thing came together pretty seamlessly.”