Air Force testing mobile capabilities to replace radios

Wednesday - 2/22/2012, 9:10am EST

Col. Joel Martin and William Marion, Air Force

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The Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia is testing the networks and hardware of commercial carriers in its quest to go mobile on bases.

First responders, maintenance employees and civil engineers will use Apple iOS and Google Android-based mobile devices to test various scenarios.

Currently, airmen on bases communicate over land mobile radios or hard phone lines, said Col. Joel Martin, the innovation and experimentation division chief at the Air Force Command Control Integration Center.

"The primary desire is to go with a commercial, off-the-shelf solution," Martin said.

The Air Force's strategy is "device agnostic" with "layers of security on top of those devices," said William Marion, the chief technology officer for the Air Combat Command Communications Directorate.

Martin said the base is using 3G and 4G wireless networks. In addition to normal requirements of mobile technology, the base also is testing the networks when "augmented requirements" are needed, such as a natural disaster or any other event that denies service.

The Air Force could get to the point where the data from mobile devices is able to provide "decision level" information, Martin said.

In 2012, the service will introduce "tens of thousands" of mobile devices to airmen, according to an Air force release.

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