729th ACS receives much needed improvements
By Senior Airman Stefanie Torres, 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 08, 2007
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The 729th Air Control Squadron is unique to the Air Force in that it serves as one of four deployable air control squadrons, capable of providing radar air surveillance and command and control of coalition aircraft for combatant commanders.
They maintain and operate approximately 200 vehicles and manage more than $250 million in assets. The squadron has enough equipment and personnel to function as a base within itself but is small enough to act as a squadron.
That is why the $5.6 million they received for a new vehicle maintenance bay and 77-foot radar tower have proved to be extremely beneficial, making the ACS facility state-of-the-art.
Over time the previous vehicle maintenance building became too small for the scope of work. The new building will allow mechanics enough room and durability to work on all their vehicles inside and make them deployable on a moments notice.
"We have been looking forward to the maintenance bay," said Master Sgt. David Durako, 729th Mission Systems Flight superintendent. "It is our life blood to haul our vehicles to train at designated sites. We convoy to all of our stateside missions, so it's essential the vehicles are good to go."
In the past, vehicles were piling up with maintenance work. Maintainers often had to work outside in the extremes of Utah weather.
"At one point we had more vehicles that were broken than what we had room for," said Sergeant Durako. "Plus it is difficult for our folks to work outside in the middle of winter to complete a maintenance issue."
The older vehicle maintenance bay has been turned into a gym so 729th ACS personnel do not have to travel across base for the new facility.
Although, the 15,000 sq. ft. vehicle bay was fairly simple to acquire, the tower does not hold the same story.
"We have been trying to get the 77-foot tower out here for years and we just had to move up on the list," said Master Sgt. John Daly, 729th flight superintendent, who saw it in the works since he came to Hill in 1998.
The tower will house their radar so the Utah Test and Training Range will be in full view.
The radar unit is a major part of the Air Control Squadron. Before the tower, the radar was mounted on the back of a 5-ton truck, which does not make it high enough to see all aspects of the range where training missions take place, explained Sergeant Durako.
"Instead of a pie-width view that we used to have, the tower will allow the 729th to see the whole range in one piece. The range is now a straight shot from the base," said Sergeant Daly.
"The tower has developed tremendous benefits for training. This is opening up an avenue that we have not had yet," said Sergeant Durako.
The tower can be seen from the west side of base and will aid in preparing the squadron for their frequent deployment taskings.