DVIDS – News – Innovations from Spangdahlem improve joint airpower communication | Panda Anku

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — An innovative four-way communications cable splitter is changing the way F-16 crew chiefs and pilots talk to each other, continuing the Air Force’s investment in new capabilities and modernization.

Developed in Summer 2020 by Staff Sgt. Ryan Amador, aerospace ground support technician for the 52nd Maintenance Squadron, the improved cable splitter design sought to eliminate excess components from the older design while improving audio quality.

“Crew chiefs used this box, which supported three-way communication,” Amador said. “The problem was that the box was metal and everything plugged into it caused distortion.”

Not only did Amador remove the cable splitter from a box, they modernized the entire assembly so that the splitter plugs directly into the aircraft’s communications system, enabling clear, undistorted audio for up to four crew chiefs. He did this using an old Spangdahlem Air Base F-16 training operation from the 1980s which referenced a communications splitter which was locally staffed meaning it was made for the F-16s stationed at Spangdahlem AB .

“All the parts in the training operation were outdated and outdated, from the 1980s,” Amador said. “I modernized everything else and the only scheme I kept was the length of the cable.”

Amador’s modernized cable splitter was integrated into the 480 Fighter Squadron’s F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet in July 2020. Get instant, tangible results.

“Prior to this article, hand signals and shouting were required to communicate,” said 1st Lt. Sean Marshall, Mission Flight Commander, 480th Fighter Generation Squadron. “In training environments and in system failures where multiple specialists need to communicate with each other, this system is invaluable.”

On March 23, 2022, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the deployment of US Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft at Spangdahlem Air Base as part of a larger NATO security assistance package in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With the success of the modernized cable splitter in the F-16 community, Amador revised its design again, but this time for the US Navy.

“We’ve been using it for the past three months,” said Chief Petty Officer Taylor Farrish, a maintenance controller with Electronic Attack Squadron 134, which is deployed to Spangdahlem AB. “Before the splitter, we used a one-person voice cable. With the new system, we can connect multiple ground crews at the same time and talk to the pilot.”

An improvement that speeds up not only maintenance and operations, but also training.

“Since all of our maintainers have their own specialty, it’s beneficial to have more than one person’s feedback for troubleshooting,” Farrish said. “It speeds up the process of troubleshooting aircraft anomalies because the single cable doesn’t have to be routed back and forth between ground crew. It also allows us to train our new staff while they listen while they work.”

Beyond joint operations, Amador’s modernized cable splitter was field tested in July during the US Air Forces Europe’s multinational, large-scale exercise REAL THAW 2022. During this time, design and use have been shared with NATO allies and partner nations.

“Ultimately, I want to create a catalog to supply our NATO partners and allied forces,” Amador said. “These relationships are really important, together we strengthen our competitive advantage to protect common interests and shared values. If my new design helps everyone achieve that, I want to do that.”

To date, Amador has developed a total of seventeen splitters for F-16 use.

Date of recording: 08/31/2022
Release Date: 08/31/2022 10:48
Story ID: 428383
Location: EN

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