Telecom upgrade launches base's stealth comm

The F/A-22 Raptor needs human coordination of its onboard sensors, off-board surveillance and communications with other aircraft.

Langley Air Force Base adds digital switch, control consoles to talk to its new resident'Raptor

The 1st Fighter Wing Command Post at Langley Air Force Base, Va., has finished a $2.1 million telecommunications upgrade to talk to its new stealth aircraft.

About 1,500 users in the 1st Communications Squadron are now using a digital Definity Enterprise Communications Server from Avaya Inc. of Basking Ridge, N.J.

'Langley has a lot of activity,' said Lt. Col. Mitch Butikofer, commander of the communications squadron. 'The main reason we got the Avaya switch was because of the F-22 aircraft.'

Langley's 1st Fighter Wing will be home to the F/A-22 Raptor, now in limited production by Lockheed Martin Corp. 'We're standing it up in a couple of years,' Butikofer said.

The wing needed new control consoles to extend communications to operations and maintenance units, as well as to connect with air-to-ground radio.

'Most of that existed previously, but on an antiquated system,' Butikofer said. 'It's not that the requirements are any different. We decided, if we were going to buy more telephone lines, let's upgrade capabilities at the command post.'

Vic Galante, senior client executive in Avaya's government sales group, described the Definity as a 'top-of-the-line workhorse switch' that is not being taxed by its 1,500 current users. The rest of Langley's 10,000 users will move to the new switch 'as budgets permit,' Galante said. It can support up to 25,000 stations.

Hang up and fly

The fighter wing uses analog, digital and Secure Telephone Unit III phones over a circuit-switched network. The Definity also has an Ethernet connection for voice over IP.

The Air Force required high availability and a priority override. Avaya claims 99.99 percent reliability for the switch, which translates to about five minutes of downtime a year. It also supports multilevel precedence and pre-emption (MLPP) so that critical calls can override other traffic during an emergency. The device has received MLPP certification by the Defense Department's Joint Interoperability Test Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. If a circuit is busy, authorized personnel can dial a two-digit code to override and send a call through.

Langley's communications upgrade does not put it ahead of other Air Force telecom networks, however.

'I don't think we're leading-edge,' Butikofer said. 'It's a known technology. It's working very well, as advertised and as expected.'

About the Author

William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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