HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) – If you’ve been to an airport, you’ve likely seen an air traffic control tower. The Mobile Tower System, or MOTS, is a little different though.
MOTS serves a purpose that is similar to a control tower you might see at Huntsville International. Lt. Col. Johnathan Fraiser is the Product Director for the Army’s Air Traffic Control Systems. He explains that MOTS “….provides that aircraft deconfliction so that they can better do their mission. We’re an enhancement, we’re an enabler to ensure that they are deconflicted in their airspace.”
One highlight to MOTS is its mobility. Lt. Col. Fraiser says, “We can deploy this system anywhere in the world.” In fact, the system was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.
Once inside, 3 to 4 four soldiers sit with their eyes trained on radars, ready to radio in to a pilot at a moment’s notice. The air traffic controllers focus on other aircraft that might be in the same air space, but also keep an eye on the weather too.
“The air traffic controllers, the soldiers who operate these systems, they provide that information that would effect a flight path of an aircraft. They provide that information to the pilots,” says Lt. Col. Fraiser.
The system is also equipped to create a landing field if needed through lights. The lights can be powered through solar, cables, or generators. “Once we get there, we would deploy them and place them around a runway. If you’ve ever been to Huntsville International, you’ve seen the lights out on the runway. These are very similar to those lights,” explains Lt. Col. Fraiser.
So far, 10 systems have been fielded. A total of 39 will be fielded. The Army National Guard will get some of the systems too. This could help out during a natural disaster, like a tornado. “It would be a critical enabler to ensure that the host of resources coming in to provide that support, that that air traffic would be deconflicted and it would be a safe operating environment,” says Lt. Col. Fraiser.
Although the producer of MOTS is Sierra, Nevada, one of their subcontractors is General Dynamics in Huntsville and that is where most of the integration is done.
For Lt. Col. Fraiser, MOTS is just another tool that ensures the safety of warfighters. “It’s not hard to see that if we had one tragic accident where two aircrafts collide or they’re in an inadvertent metrological condition where they’re in the clouds, they can’t see to get home, this resource, along with other resources within the air traffic control portfolio, are that safety blanket to the warfighter to bring them home.”