A suite of new capabilities on-board an Air Force C-17A Globemaster were showcased in Canberra today including the provision of Wi-Fi internet access to portable Defence-issued electronic devices.
The showcase is a part of Plan Jericho, Air Force’s plan to transform Air Force and the wider ADF into a fighting force that capitalises on the high technology systems that are being introduced over the next few years.
Group Captain Stewart Dowrie, Chief of Staff for Air Mobility Group, said the new technology in the C-17A meant users would have access to the latest information when making operational decisions.
“This state-of-the-art technology allows passengers in the aircraft to receive live updates and video of their destination, right up to the point of their arrival,” Group Captain Dowrie said. “Beforehand, crews and passengers were mostly limited to voice-only communications.”
“We can now fly an aero-medical evacuation team to the scene of a disaster, or an Army Combat Team into a warzone, and provide them with live updates and revised orders during their transit making them much more effective when they touch down.”
“Likewise, a C-17A’s passengers and crew can now be linked with Defence platforms and units on the ground or in the air, and share the live feeds of tactical information about their destination with each other.”
This trial builds on previous Plan Jericho capability demonstrations involving the C-17A, including the AirView 360 suite which provides for the display of mission essential information to passengers within the C-17A.
In May this year, live video was streamed from an Air Force Heron Unmanned Aerial System over the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia, and via a Distributed Ground Station at RAAF Base Edinburgh, was transmitted out to a C-17A in Canberra.
Air Force currently operates a fleet of eight C-17As, all of which are fitted with a satellite communications (SATCOM) capability. Two of these aircraft have been configured for broadband SATCOM, with an intention to fit the whole fleet with a new, wideband SATCOM system from 2018.
“Our C-17A initiatives for Plan Jericho are capitalising on low-risk, proven technologies that can be delivered quickly with a high degree of confidence by our Industry partners,” Group Captain Dowrie said.
“It is also charting a course for similar Plan Jericho initiatives on other air mobility platforms, notably the C-130J Hercules, C-27J Spartan, and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.”