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Bengals Prepare for CAX

By Cpl. S. K. D'Alessio | | January 26, 2001

Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 is preparing to embark on a Combined Arms Exercise at Marine Corps Base 29 Palms, Calif. February 8, where the squadron will use new way to relay reconnaissance information.

The annual-desert exercise involves training with live ammunition during simulated combat scenarios. It is an essential part of training for the aircrew, who may deploy at any time to for combat.

The new method of relaying information is called the data link, which is predicted to speed-up the relay of information from the battlefield to the command post, making decision-making and target selection faster. The data link is used with the Advanced Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance System, more commonly known as ATARS, used by pilots to photograph the battlefield and send high-resolution pictures to a ground-based command post.
Through this new system, the squadron expects to save hours of work, now that information does not need to be downloaded from the aircraft.
According to SSgt. Edward Dalsing, VMFA(AW)-224 avionics technician, "The data link will give the command post, high-resolution images of the battlefield in near real time - with about three minute delay." Even during inclement weather and nighttime sorties, the ATARS data link system will relay infrared images, which can be viewed frame-by-frame.

The aviation ordnance section will also have an important role during the deployment. They will prepare live munitions like Maverick missiles and other laser-guided bombs, which will be used while flying sorties over the desert terrain.

"We're conducting specific training on handling live ordnance," said Kerry Nelson, VMFA(AW)-224 ordnance staff NCOIC. "Going out on a CAX right out of school will definitely be good training for the new guys."

"I'm glad to be deploying right out of school," said Pfc. Clint Sinor, a Sherman, Texas native and one of the VMFA(AW)-224 newcomers from the powerlines section. "Working in the high-stress environment, hopefully, will help me learn faster."

The new data link is predicted to help the entire squadron complete their mission faster, making war-fighting more efficient and successful.