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Project: Go-Comm improves forward communication networks

  • Published
  • By 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman Jordan Heck, 7th Communications Squadron client systems apprentice and first-term Airman, identified a gap in agile communications deployment based on his firsthand experience on several past bomber task force missions. Named “Project: Go-Comm,” he created a lightweight, mobile communications flyaway kit that will bridge this gap by providing connectivity to commercial internet, NIPRNet, and SIPRNet connectivity.

On deployments to support Bomber Task Force missions at austere locations, a Combat Communications team comprised of six members and associated equipment is required to provide all Air Force network connectivity. The team requires a full day to set up their communications equipment and establish NIPR/SIPRNet connectivity. Their support costs approximately $150,000 per movement, which includes the personnel travel expenses and the cost of deploying their equipment’s 1,200-pound shipping container.

SrA Heck developed a portable communications kit, leveraging only $3,000 of squadron innovation funds to build two of these kits. The prototype was built with commercially available parts and can be set up in under 20 minutes without specialized training or personnel to operate.

“This new kit connects to SpaceX’s Starlink service, which provides commercial internet and connectivity to NIPRNet,” SrA Heck said. “The kit also has two cellular Wi-Fi routers that provide a backup and redundant Internet connection, a critical feature in a forward-deployed environment. Project: Go-Comm is currently testing solutions to add SIPRNet features to the kit to remove the current dependency on Combat Comm teams when deploying to austere locations worldwide.”

The prototype mobile communications kit was used during a recent BTF to the United Kingdom with great success. The 7th Bomb Wing B-1 Lancer crews were able to keep critical flight computer tablet systems updated for missions, and Go-Comm even prevented loss of NIPR connection when the base network went down for several hours.

The 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, then requested Project: Go-Comm for testing on an Agile Combat Employment exercise to Arkansas, where the B-52 crews were able to send and receive flight status reports within minutes of landing. After utilizing this communications kit, B-52 aircrew members said they have never seen a solution suited so perfectly to their mission needs.

The Project: Go-Comm was this year’s winner at Air Force Global Strike Command’s STRIKEWERX Spark Sprint (S3) 2021, and it went on to be a top-15 Semi-Finalist of the 2022 Air Force Spark Tank competition. Presently, SrA Heck is utilizing the support promised by these competitions to continue developing Go-Comm into a finished project. He said he plans to focus on upgrading the hardware to provide a more rugged and deployment-proof kit that will enhance service range, speed and product lifetime. He is also leveraging his contacts in the Air Force Innovation space to develop and test SIPR capability that meets all the needs of the 7th Bomb Wing.

It takes innovative Airmen to lean forward and lead modernization efforts like these to keep our Air Force accelerating into the future.