601ST AIR OPERATIONS CENTER
Published January 14, 2015
The 601st Air and Space Operations Center, (often referred to as 'America's AOC') plans, directs, and assesses air and space operations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. The AOC provides aerospace warning and control for NORAD Defensive Counter Air activities. Additionally, it directs Air Force air and space capabilities in support of NORTHCOM homeland security and civil support missions.
America's AOC fills the critical need to meet the challenge of directing all air sovereignty activities for the continental U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and their surrounding waters. America's AOC is a high-tech weapons "system of systems," to allow warfighters to continue the air defense mission 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
At the heart of the AOC is the Theater Battle Management Core Systems program. This program allows the commander at First Air Force, who is also called the Combined/Joint Forces Air Component Commander (C/JFACC), to direct and redirect air assets by providing real-time information to pilots, navigators, and air battle managers, allowing them to make informed decisions. It is the point where joint air warfare command and control (C2) comes together from planning to execution to assure a common operating picture.
The Eastern and Western Air Defense Sectors provide sector air sovereignty/defense and airspace control within their assigned geographic sectors on behalf of NORAD-USNORTHCOM. They maintain air and space domain situational awareness and direct tactical employment of ground-based and airborne surveillance platforms, alert fighters, imagery assets, operate a war-time Battle Control Center, and coordinate joint air defense artillery assets to defend millions of square miles, major U.S. cities, and air approaches to the homeland.
Located at both the Western and Eastern Air Defense Sectors, the Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F) is a system that collects input from a network of radars to alert operators of airborne activity in the continent's airspace and is key to the airspace protection over the entire United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and their surrounding waters.
Units and Subordinates
Located within the AOC is the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. The AFRCC serves as the U.S. inland search and rescue coordinator and is the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land Federal searches. These search and rescue operations can be conducted anywhere in the 48 states, Mexico and Canada. The AFRCC has direct ties to the FAA alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. Since its inception in 1974, the center has recorded more than 15,000 saves. The Civil Air Patrol, flying as the USAF Auxiliary, is a significant partner in search and rescue and other DSCA missions.
The Joint Based Expeditionary Connectivity Center is a highly mobile, small footprint, vehicle-mounted communication node that can rapidly deploy to build an integrated air picture from multiple FAA and tactical radars within a defined area of responsibility. The JBECC enables NORAD to better detect, track, identify, and prosecute any airborne aircraft, cruise missile, unmanned aerial vehicle, or remotely piloted vehicle. It is the keystone in NORAD's Deployable-Integrated Air Defense mission and is a critical asset at America's AOC.
The 101st Information Operations Flight, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, supports the 601 AOC using a split-based, distributive operational approach. The 101st IOF provides the C/JFACC and the Joint Force Command meaningful, non-kinetic options and capabilities to fly, fight, and win in the information environment. By integrating strategy-to-task, effects-based information warfare with Air and Space warfare, the 101st IWF integrates the core capabilities of Strategic Communication and Network & Electronic Warfare to achieve the C/JFACC's information objectives.
The 601st AOC utilizes the strengths and efforts of 412 officers, enlisted, DoD civilians, contractors and Joint personnel, including members of Title 10 Air Guard Reserve and Title 32 Florida Air National Guardsmen.
America's AOC evolved from the Southeast Air Defense Sector. SEADS was originally established as the 23rd Air Division on November 18, 1969, and activated the next day. As a component of the Aerospace Defense Command, the 23rd AD was tasked with the air defense of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky.
The 23rd AD began operations at Duluth International Airport in Minnesota, and moved to Tyndall Air Force Base on April 15, 1982. The Q-93, a radar-linked, situational awareness-based data display system was the air defense technology of the day, and SEADS began installing Q-93 stations in the late 1980s. It declared full operational capability on March 1, 1983.
Tactical Air Command (now Air Combat Command) took control of the 23rd AD on October 1, 1979, and administered it until December 6, 1985, when it transferred to First Air Force. The 23rd AD inactivated July 1, 1987, and stood up as the Southeast Air Defense Sector. That October SEADS transferred to the Air National Guard, becoming a Geographically Separated Unit within the Florida Air National Guard.
The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 marked a change in the way SEADS and the North American Aerospace Defense Command monitored air-traffic in the Continental United States . Prior to 9-11 NORAD had only monitored air traffic entering CONUS airspace. After 9/11, NORAD, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, started to monitor all the air traffic in CONUS.
In late 2006 the SEADS mission responsibilities relocated to the Northeast and Western Air Defense Sectors and it took on a new role. As the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, the AOC monitors all the air traffic in the Continental U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and their surrounding waters.
On June 1, 2007, the 601st AOC opened the doors on its brand new, state-of-the-art, 37,000 square-foot, $30.5 million air and space operation center. This new facility enhances the 601st AOC ability to protect America's skies from attack, as well as provide life-saving relief during natural and man-made disasters.
Today, America's AOC is the busiest in North America, and the second only to AOC efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It remains at the operational level of command and control and monitors all air traffic in the Continental U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and their surrounding waters.
Point of Contact
601st Air and Space Operations Center, Office of Public Affairs; 650 Florida Ave, Tyndall AFB, Fla. 32403; DSN 742-0275 or (850) 282-0725, email firstname.lastname@example.org.