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Altus AFB, first AETC base to test new Instrument Landing System

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Tech. Sgt. Brandon Sutliff, 97th Communications Squadron, NCO in charge of airfield systems, opens the inside of an instrument landing system at the 35 right airfield, Jan. 13, 2011. An ILS transmits, monitors and distributes frequencies to antennas on the airfield that travels to the aircraft, helping pilots land during inclement weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Franklin Ramos / 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs / Released)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Tech. Sgt. Brandon Sutliff, 97th Communications Squadron, NCO in charge of airfield systems, opens the inside of the old instrument landing system at the 35 right airfield, Jan. 13, 2011. An ILS transmits, monitors and distributes frequencies to antennas on the airfield that travels to the aircraft, helping pilots land during inclement weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Franklin Ramos / 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs / Released)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Altus AFB was recently selected by a Virginia scientific, engineering and technology applications company to be the first Air Education and Training Command base to test an innovative new Instrument Landing System.

The McLean, Va.-based Science Applications International Corporation is scheduled to begin installation of the ILS on the outside runway Jan. 23.

"We look forward to continuing our support of the USAF as we work to replace legacy ILS systems with reliable and proven components that are updated, more efficient and cost effective," said Glenn SanGiacomo, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager.

Once the new system is installed it will be tested here for about a year.

"It will take about two weeks to install the new equipment," said Master Sgt. Randall W. Ward, 97th Communications Squadron operations flight superintendent. "The Federal Aviation Association will then flight check it to make sure it is working properly and after that, it will go through first-article testing for about a year before they will decide if the system is going to work Air Force wide."

The ILS transmits 15 nautical miles and gives pilots the approach to the runway. There are two systems - the localizer guides pilots left or right and the glide scope gives pilots the correct angle for landing, usually being three degrees. An ILS is usually used during inclement weather, but since Altus is a training base, pilots use the system more often because of training requirements.

"The old system is much larger than the new system," Ward said. "We are going to the digital age. The major difference between the old and new system is the new system will be remotely maintained and monitored from one centralized location at Tinker AFB, Okla., rather than by technicians here. This will reduce cost to manage it and save money, which is the goal of the Air Force."

The members of the 97th CS will be the first AETC communications squadron to experience the new ILS.

"I think it is awesome," Ward said. "We have very sharp guys here so that is a lot of the reason why they picked us to test the system. It is like getting the jump on everyone else. Our guys are going to see this system and learn about it before everyone else so they will be that much more ahead."

The new ILS was previously tested at Langley AFB, Va.
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