National Guard Bureau supplies Wing with $1.5 million in new radios

April 29, 2013 -- GOWEN FIELD, Idaho - Idaho's124th Communications Flight (CF) realized they quickly needed radio replacement assets totaling $1.5 million in July 2012, when the antiquated radios used in the field were no longer supported by Motorola.

That is when the National Guard Bureau responded to a highly detailed radio replacement plan from 124th CF. The Guard Bureau praised the 124th CF plan for its accuracy and paid the full cost of the new mission-capable radios. The 124th CF received the radio replacement kits from the National Guard Bureau and started the process of replacing 80% of Air Guard radio system equipment on April 25. They discovered that some of the field radios were over 10 years old.

The Idaho Air National Guard received 300 single-band hand-held radios, 30 single-band mobile radios, 15 single-band base stations, 40 dual-band hand-held radios, 7 dual-band mobile radios, 5 dual-band base stations and 3 repeaters.

The National Guard Bureau sent an additional 120 single-band UHF hand-held radios and 8 VHF single-band hand-held radios to cover additional mission necessity discovered by the communications flight.

The 124th CF will program and distribute radios to their appropriate owners in the next two weeks.

The new radios have an enhanced programming and encryption feature called Over the Air Rekeying (OTAR). OTAR transmits the key over the air without needing to be physically connected. Previously, the older radios required a time-consuming system and a physical connection in order to encrypt the radios. Gowen Field is one of the leading guard bases to start using this tactical OTAR option thanks in large part to the 124th CF radio group members who taught themselves and implemented the technical requirements.

The Gowen Field 124th Fighter Wing has two base Personal Wireless Communication Systems (PWCS) monitors from the communications flight; the primary is Staff Sgt. Sean Bryson and the secondary is Tech. Sgt. Robert Kolenic.

Bryson and Kolenic will train and assist the unit PWCS managers on base. Each unit PWCS manager is in charge of doing a 100% hands on inspection of every radio asset, yearly. They are also in charge of training the radio operators in the field on radio use and knowledge.

"Unit PWCS accounts will be inspected during the Idaho Air National Guard's upcoming Consolidated Unit Inspection in August." said Bryson.

"This is a huge target area for the 124th CF radio shop. We could not receive and distribute these new radio assets until the inventory for 2013 was completed. The dead line for the inventory was the first week of April and, thankfully, all of the unit PWCS account managers met it, allowing us to start the process of encrypting and distributing of the radios right away. "

"Our goal is to maintain a premier radio system that ensures the Idaho Air Guard remains at the tip of the spear with cutting edge technology," he said.