Submitted by Gerry Clare
If you noticed a lot of coming and going and tents at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport this past week, you might have wondered what is going on. No, it is not Boy Scout week. The 117th Air Control Squadron from Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, has been here for over a week. Approximately 50 airmen (and women) have been completing a training mission since April 7th, according to Major Ryan Hampton. And this is not the first time.
They were here last year as well, but housed in Mayport instead of the Hampton Inn in downtown Fernandina Beach, which makes it easier this year to commute to the airfield and work with the equipment housed in the tents. The large Radar TPS-75 unit pictured was transported here by the truck shown, and has a range of 300 miles. Pictures from this unit are transmitted to the 3rd Infantry Division at Hunter via satellite. The over 50 people there participating in this training exercise then would direct the pilots where to fly. This is a radio training exercise as well to coordinate with any of the 3rd Infantry Division Assets that fly.
The radar pictures are only transmitted from Fernandina to the air battle manager at base and not the general air traffic in our area as this is a classified government operation. This whole group or operation can be moved or deployed as needed. The large TPS-75 Radar unit can be deployed by truck as pictured or by air. They do this training exercise once a year and are happy to return to Fernandina Beach this year.
Major Ryan and Bobby Kozakoff (Superintendent of our airport) are pictured in front of the Command Tent and agree that this is a great use of our airport for our community’s financial impact. They will be packing up and leaving on April 18th, but hopefully, we will be seeing them again next year.
April 20, 2013 10:20 a.m.