NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– The Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office (PMA-213) enhanced Marine Corps aviation functionality and operations by fielding in February the first MRQ-13 communications system onto the AN/TSQ-120D Control Tower at Marine Air Control Squadron 1 Company B at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
This rapid acquisition effort is a “quick, impactful win for the USMC,” said Capt. Kevin Watkins, PMA-213 program manager, adds that it “squarely aligns with Commandants Force Design 2030 for a more agile and expeditionary Marine Corps Force posture.”
The AN/TSQ-120D is a temporary air traffic control tower used by Marines in expeditionary operations. It enables pilots and controllers to maintain vigilance for potential traffic conflicts with the aircraft operating on the airfield or in airspace controlled by the tower by monitoring air traffic control radio communication frequencies, explained Eric Anderson, PMA-213 Shore Air Traffic Management deputy program manager.
Integrating the tower with the MRQ-13 communications system improves readiness by replacing the tower’s current unsupportable communications subsystem with one that meets the fiscal 2025 crypto-modernization mandate. It also brings commonality across the Marine Corps’ expeditionary control towers.
Collaboration across organizations to plan, develop and implement an engineering change proposal (ECP) not only saved millions, but it also achieved initial operational capability (IOC) within two years from inception.
The communications subsystem currently on the tower is one from the early 2000s with a recurring operational and maintenance cost of over $400,000 for depot restoration. Developing, procuring, and fielding a new replacement system, dubbed ATCC-0064, was estimated at $10 million, said Anderson.
The Expeditionary Integrated Product Team: PMA-213, Marine Corps Aviation Command and Control Sensor Netting Program Office (PMM-202), Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC), and Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC), was able to have the MRQ-13 integrated on all Marine Corps Air Squadrons at a cost of only $2.1M, Anderson said.
“This presented a nearly $13M cost avoidance to the stovepipe alternative ECP,” said Anderson. “The teams were empowered and collaborated closely with the NIWC, NSWC and other stakeholders to increase critical thinking, creativity and technology innovation.”
The MRQ-13 communications system is scheduled to reach full operational capability and be fielded to all Marine Corps Air Squadrons by the end of the fiscal year 2022.