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New telemetry facility redefines testing with remote capabilities

  • Published
  • By Michelle Gigante

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The 96th Test Wing’s Eglin Range Control Complex officially opened here Nov. 9, 2023.  

The newly constructed facility augments telemetry communications for the Eglin Gulf Test Range.  

“We enhanced our capabilities to meet long range weapons testing and to improve efficiencies on our land and water ranges,” said Alan Sikes, 96th Test Range Support Squadron technical director. “We found by consolidating to one control center, we could leverage the experience of say a radar operator and telemetry operator.” 

The ERCC facility, which will operate out of two buildings, offers instrumentation systems, specifically telecommunication for monitoring receiver systems, radars for tracking test aircraft and munitions, flight termination, target remote control for land and maritime, video, and threat systems. 

Previously, remote operations were spread out across Eglin’s test ranges. Technicians who routinely fixed and maintained systems were also the operators during missions. These operations were conducted at one of the range facilities. Telemetry or radar operators would be at one or multiples sites for the same or different missions.  

The new facility pulls those operators together into a cohesive environment and eliminates the need for additional personnel monitoring multiple instrumentation sites by consolidating everyone into one location.   

Now, if a boat is 30 miles offshore, technicians can operate it remotely from the ERCC facility. If a tank is on the range ready to be blown up, ERCC technicians can remotely drive it. If there’s a need to collect telemetry data from a jet 100 miles offshore, they will be able to remotely control the receivers and antennas from the new facility. 

“We have highly trained technicians on site to operate multiple systems,” said Darrell Decker, Gulf Range Enhancement Program support specialist. “This adds efficiencies to range management, enables operators to cross-train to support multiple platforms, and cuts costs in the long run.” 

The 724 square miles of the Eglin range consists of 13 test ranges, 47 test sites, seven test facilities, 20 support facilities, and 10 multi-purpose facilities across the panhandle. 

“We are trying to lead the fight,” said Decker. “There is no other facility like this that has similar control rooms as we do to control remote instrumentation from one location.”