By Reggie Jarrett
Jax Air News Editor
In preparation for deployment, Mobile Tactical Operations Center (MTOC) units Five and Nine held an exercise where they took over flight operations aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville from Jan. 22-29.
MTOC units are an extension of the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and the bi-annual exercise is designed to mimic being deployed. The TOC is not in operation during the MTOC exercise.
"It is an Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE) for the two squadrons that are going on deployment and the two MTOC's that are attached to those squadrons and go with them on deployment," said CWO4 James Hawkins.
The ORE evaluated both MTOC units together to save time and money.
MTOC-5 is attached to Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 and they will soon deploy to the Pacific. MTOC-9 is attached to VP-10 and they will be deployed to Europe.
During the weeklong operational period of the exercise, the two MTOC units handled the flight operations for six to eight flights a day.
Flight operations consist of pre-mission briefs, data collection, flight following and post-flight analysis.
Flight following, which is keeping in contact with the aircraft, requires extensive communication systems.
"We have radio communications, high frequency (HF), ultra-high frequency (UHF), satellite communications, all types of radio frequencies that we need to talk to the aircraft in flight if they need something or if we have to task them a different way," said Hawkins.
The operations are done out of four main tents, each about 28-feet by 12-feet. One tent is the briefing area, where crews are briefed when they return. A second tent is a general holding area, where crews can do post-mission products. Post-mission products are the results of the mission. They are put out to the fleet to let them know how successful the mission was or if there were any issues.
The third tent is the watch floor for watch officers and watch supervisors and where the radios and phones are housed to monitor missions and create specific mission briefs on site. The fourth tent contains the technicians and most of the computers and equipment.
"It is the brains of the operation," Hawkins said.
There is no external power source for the MTOC. Power for all the computers, communications equipment and environmental control units comes from four 30,000-watt generators that are set up next to the tents.
"Our goal is to be able to go out in the middle of nowhere, anywhere in the world, be able to take the gear, set it up, have stable power, be able to communicate with the airplanes, do our job and then pack up and move somewhere else," said ET1 Michael Schiano of MTOC-9.
The expectation for the MTOC units is have everything fully set up and running less than one day after landing.
MTOC handles flight ops during exercise
By Reggie Jarrett