Team Fairchild tests new Air Battle Management System on KC-135

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lawrence Sena
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Team Fairchild participated in a datalink experiment connecting a KC-135 Stratotanker with commercial satellites to better connect and share data across Joint and Mobility forces.  


The experimentation effort, known as ‘Global Lightning,’ is run by the Air Force Research Laboratory as a means to put communication terminals on aircraft and test their ability to share data with satellites.


“This new communication suite gives us an incredibly improved picture of our immediate battlespace,” said Maj. Andrew Lawrence, 116th Air Refueling Squadron director of operations. “Tanker crews will be able to see other tankers, tracks, receivers, threats, and much more in real-time.” 


Installation of this Advanced Battle Management System and software began with a team of contractors dissembling the KC-135 and inputting the hardware on the airframe. Following this installation, Team Fairchild Airmen worked to ensure the aircraft was ready for further testing.


Testing of the equipment was a Total Force effort between Airmen from the 141st Air Refueling Wing and 92nd Air Refueling Wing, and will undergo further testing during Air Mobility Command’s largest mobility exercise, Mobility Guardian 2021.


“As a KC-135 crew using this satellite communication system, we can expect to have way better situational awareness, better communication abilities with entities, and improved integration with other military assets,” Lawrence said. “We’ll also be able to talk directly to the people we need to right away without radio interference, or having to wait for other players.” 


Previous tests of this network capability have shown much higher internet connection and data-transfer rates, which means faster access to video, weather, and other data in flight.


“We’re going from giving and receiving information by verbal description over a radio, to seeing it populate in real-time automatically on our screens,” Lawrence said. “This is leaps and bounds better than anything we’ve had before.”


By implementing Advanced Battle Management Systems and executing tests like ‘Global Lightning’, Team Fairchild can continue to build a modern mobility force advancing the Total Force warfighting capability.