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961st AACS: Our eyes in the sky

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sebastian Romawac and Airman 1st Class Tylir Meyer
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

Visiting aircraft have recently, working in conjunction with local Kadena-based assets, conducted training missions to enhance our operational readiness to defend Japan and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

With the ongoing missions taking place, the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron supports our allied forces with eyes in the sky using the Boeing E-3 Sentry, otherwise known as an airborne warning and control system, or AWACS.

The visiting forces operating out of Kadena Air Base are able to gain invaluable knowledge of the Indo-Pacific area, which is physically extensive and strategically complex. The 961st AACS gathers information that our visiting forces are able to use to maneuver through the Indo-Pacific region and remain mission ready.

The AWACS provides situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity with radar and computer subsystems that allow surveillance of the Earth’s surface up into the stratosphere, over land and water, with a range of more than 250 miles. This information can be forwarded to major command and control centers, on land or sea, to get a clear picture of the battlefield and deter enemy advancement.

"From our E-3G AWACS, the men and women of the 961st AACS deliver leading edge airborne command and control with beyond line-of-sight radar and radio coverage of the area of responsibility,” said Lt. Col. Robert Rankin, Jr., 961st AACS director of operations. “We provide airborne assets with fluid battle management and tactical situational awareness vital to mission success. This includes aircraft control, threat awareness, airspace deconfliction and fuel management.  We also send critical real-time information to higher headquarters to facilitate operational planning and decision making."

For decades Kadena Air Base has served as the Keystone of the Pacific and its strategic position makes it a vital staging location for forces to deter regional adversaries. Team Kadena continues to project U.S. airpower throughout the Indo-Pacific with friendly and allied forces utilizing the plethora of information provided by the E-G AWACS and its operators.