Joint operations leads to sucessful radio test

  • Published
  • By Capt Penny Carroll
  • 127 Public Affairs
An improved radio communication system to enable increased range for use on an Unmanned Ground Vehicle was tested last week at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan. Under a unique agreement and display of military partnership between entities at Detroit Arsenal and the base's host unit, the 127th Wing, the Robotics Systems Joint Project Office (RS JPO) and TARDEC were able to coordinate a Government test to verify the extended range capability of the radio.

The IbisTek wireless data link radio is being considered by the government to provide soldiers with a greater standoff distance and allow for a broader range of programmable frequencies. "Radio range has become an issue for Soldiers and Marines in the field. IbisTek claimed their product has longer transmission capabilities, and we needed a large unobstructed area in which to test these claims," explained Major Kevin Schrock, the assistant product manager for Robotic Maneuver Systems.

During the recent test, Air National Guardsmen cleared the way for the Army to test on Selfridge's flight line. By collaborating on the test location, the Army saved thousands of taxpayer dollars that would have been spent in shipping and testing the equipment in a suitable location.

TSgt. Kathy Fuller, 127th Wing airfield management craftsman, was instrumental in coordinating the multiple ANG offices needed to ensure the success of the joint project. "I was contacted by our Civil Engineer squadron that there was an interest in the use of a 3 kilometer stretch of land west of Bravo Taxiway. I coordinated the details of the testing with RS JPO, then relayed the scenario to ATC (Control Tower) and Airfield Management to make sure all agencies were aware of the operation."

Sgt. Fuller also coordinated with Security Forces and the control tower to ensure proper flight line clearance for the outside agencies. "I made sure that they had a qualified airfield driver who knew how to stay in touch with ATC in reference to being in a controlled area." Selfridge timed the test around regular flight schedules so that their missions were not affected, and controlled movement and personnel on the flight line.

For the test, the IbisTek radio was mounted to a Gladiator robot which was on loan from the TARDEC Intelligent Ground Systems office. This robot is used to research, develop and test the capabilities of tele-operated ground vehicles. As the robot was maneuvered down the flight line, the radio's transmission range was documented.

"Having the flight line available to the team allowed both organizations to quickly assess the capability of the radio," stated Rob Rappold, the Systems Engineer for Robotic Maneuver Systems.

Shanna Render, the TARDEC Gladiator Project Engineer, agreed stating "I hope this level of cooperation continues in the future." 

Rob Rappold and Shanna Render contributed to this article.