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New Navigation Aid Installed at Wright-Patterson
Cargo support and customer service technicians teamed up to install
a new tactical air navigation system near the base runways.
By Mike Wallace / 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, Sept. 11, 2006 – Technicians from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s civil engineering, operations support and cargo support and Air Force Materiel Command’s customer service team from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., teamed up Aug. 28 through Sept. 1 to install a new tactical air navigation system near the base runways.

TACAN systems transmit range and bearing information by means of long distance, rotating beams, enabling aviators to accurately assess their position.

The new TACAN device here replaces an older, more labor-intensive system in place since the early 1980s.

It’s more efficient and its maintenance is performed remotely from Eglin. Air Force Materiel Command officials said the plan is to install the new generation TACAN command-wide, and Eglin received the first one earlier this year.

A military version of the very high frequency omnidirectional range/distance measuring equipment system for civil aircraft, the new TACAN is a third-generation navigation aid. Its 1,000-watt system replaced a 3,000-watt system, and it features a new antenna and fewer instrument banks.

According to Jim Frederick, one of six technicians from Eglin who was here for the installation, the system is made by Fernau of England.

“It allows us to cut worker manning across Air Force Materiel Command by centralizing the maintenance with a small group of people at Eglin,” Frederick said. “For a few people here (at Wright-Patterson), TACAN is now just an additional duty of building maintenance.”

He added that the reduced manpower requirement here meant the conversion of military slots to civilian ones, which freed up military slots for other duties.

Technicians install a new tactical air navigation antenna near the base flight lines at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The TACAN system provides range and bearing information to aviators. A customer service team at Eglin AFB, Fla., will maintain the new TACAN remotely. U.S. Air Force courtesy photo

The installation of the new TACAN follows on the heels of Phase One of the centralized maintenance instrument landing system. The ILS, Air Force Materiel Command-wide, has been maintained from Eglin since 2003.

Both the new ILS and TACAN systems are part of the Air Force Materiel Command air traffic control and landing system, which was established to reduce manning.

Their cost command-wide was approximately $2 million. ATCALS is the brainchild of Charles Bryson of Air Force Materiel Command Operations Directorate.

The TACAN system here is now undergoing Federal Aviation Administration certification to ensure accurate coverage, and, under an initiative to reduce manpower needs and recapitalize resources, the Air Force is studying the Air Force Materiel Command ATCALS model to determine whether or not to adopt it Air Force-wide.

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Jul. 30, 2015
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