In March of 2015, the US Army announced that they will be installing a new communications capability onto a select few of their Boeing C-17 Globemaster
III transport aircraft. Beginning in May, an in-flight technology known as enroute mission command capability (EMC2) will allow soldiers to communicate via internet, rather than solely rely on conventional voice and data communications.
Although commercial airliners have been offering Wi-Fi technology to passengers for a long time, this marks the first occasion that military aircraft will be equipped with internet connectivity to this extent. From EMC2, the aircraft will communicate with satellite terminals and pilots will be able to access a range of applications.
According to Lt. Col. Joel Babbitt, product manager for Warfighter Information Network Increment, airmen will get “the full mission command suite of applications” enhancing their “situational awareness, their ability to flexibly and dynamically change the plan.” From the aircraft real-time mission updates, chat, voice, video teleconferencing, and video feed can be accessed. The 82nd
Airborne brigade will be receiving the technology by the end of fiscal year 2017.
The Air Force has also announced its intentions to equip some of their aircraft with EMC2 by 2018. The US Army believes that the new technology will help diminish the vulnerability of troops in an airborne operation, reducing the communications lag between the moment a soldier jumps out of an aircraft and lands on the ground.
The Warfighter Information Network Increment (WIN-T Increment 1) is undergoing a long overdue upgrade of its connectivity systems. The organization is approximately ten years old and has only recently begun to upgrade its information technology systems. The program is updating its modems and servers, reducing the amount of necessary equipment by 30 percent.
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