The California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Federal Airfield expects to have a new datalink capability on its four MC-130P rescue tankers by the end of the year, or at least before the unit becomes eligible again for overseas deployments, says Lt. Col. Steve Butow, deputy commander of the wing’s operations group. In an interview May 6, Butow said adding the situation awareness datalink, or SADL, for short, to the tankers and eventually the wing’s six HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters “will fundamentally change” how it conducts combat search and rescue as well as homeland rescue missions. This is because it will free the aircrews from having to rely on voice communications, which can quickly become saturated and constraining in combat and homeland rescue scenarios alike. Instead, with SADL, the rescue crews will have an organic capability to share digital information between air assets and ground forces in the tactical area in near-real time, meaning “within seconds,” thereby enhancing their ability to save lives, he said. Equipping the 129th RQW’s assets with SADL is part of a broader effort to incorporate this capability on C-130-based platforms across the active duty component, ANG, and Air Force Reserve Command. A-10Cs that support CSAR missions already have a SADL capability, as do some F-16s. (For more, read the April 22 Moffett report by Capt. Alyson M. Teeter)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.