A flying tactical operations center designed by Raytheon Company for the U.S. Army, recently demonstrated its ability to support the Army National Guard's homeland defense mission.

Called Army Airborne Command and Control System (A2C2S), the flying tactical operations center, has logged more than 2000 hours in support of combat and peacekeeping missions in the Middle East. On Feb. 24, during a homeland defense communications module concept demonstration, the system proved that it could track and control first responder vehicles, retransmit video and "crossband" otherwise incompatible communications systems.

"In crisis situations, every second counts," said Brian McKeon, vice president of Raytheon's Command and Control Systems. "A2C2S provides emergency responders new capabilities that increase their ability to help people, while reducing the time it takes to deliver that help." Using a scenario that replicated the Huntsville 1989 tornado, the U.S. Army and Raytheon showed government dignitaries and the news media how the system might have helped emergency responders involved in that disaster recovery effort. The A2C2S demonstration was a first step in developing and ultimately fielding the new homeland defense system.

A2C2S is a mission equipment package that transforms selected helicopters into airborne command posts. When installed on Army UH-60L Black Hawks, the system enables commanders and their staffs, at brigade, division and above, to maintain digital command, control and communication while moving through the battle space at more than 200 km per hour. The same airborne command and control (C2) capability enables emergency responders to maintain uninterrupted C2, no matter where they go to respond.