The Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center at Tucson, Ariz., inaugurated the use of the new Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL) tactical communications link during a test earlier this month that enabled a C-130 airlifter to connect digitally with a Combat Controller on the ground to deliver supplies. The Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve Command-run center engaged the West Virginia ANG’s 130th Airlift Wing, California ANG’s 129th Rescue Wing, and AFRC’s 910th AW to help conduct the evaluation, which is the first step toward fulfilling a requirement for tactical data links for reserve mobility and rescue aircraft. (The 129th RQW told the Daily Report that it expects to have the SADL deployed on its MC-130P rescue tankers by year’s end.) Use of the SADL technology “allowed me to better deconflict inbound C-130s from other air traffic near the drop zone and prepare myself to receive the airdrop package,” said SMSgt. Nick Lowe, an AATC Combat Controller. He added, “The potential effect SADL has on airlift operations is huge.” (AATTC report by Maj. Matt Baugher)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.