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  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Andrew J. Scott
  • 601 AOC
 After the recent release of the national intelligence estimate reporting a heightened terror threat, First Air Force and 601st Air and Space Operations Center (AOC) leaders reaffirm their commitment to defending the Continental United States (CONUS) from airborne terror. 

     "Our number one goal is to make sure the enemy, whoever that may be, knows and understands that we can be anywhere, at anytime, very quickly to meet any airborne threat," said Colonel David Kriner, 601st AOC Commander. 

     By employing the use of a battle control system-fixed (BCS-F) in conjunction with the NORAD Contingency Suite (NCS) and a $3.5 million data wall to monitor the airspace of the entire CONUS Region, the AOC ensures the safety of America's skies. The AOC also fills the critical need to meet the challenge of directing all air sovereignty activities for the CONUS, and is the new-age combat weapons system needed to fulfill that crucial defense role by remaining vigilant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

     Both the BCS-F and the NCS are the means by which the AOC generates information about air traffic over the CONUS. The NCS was created following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The BCS-F is the successor to the NCS, however the NCS is still being used in the National Capital Region (NCR) and at the Western and Northeast Air Defense Sectors. This will most likely continue until the next BCS-F development cycle, which the Air Force expects in 2008. The goal of both systems is to give NORAD the  "eyes" to see potential air threats, to prevent air attacks on the homeland. 

     Two of many tools the 601st AOC has at its disposal are the Joint Based Expeditionary Connectivity Center, or JBECC, and the Army Air Defense Element, or AADE. 

     The JBECC is a highly mobile, "small footprint," communication node mounted on a Humvee that can rapidly deploy to provide an improved air picture within a defined area of responsibility. 

     In conjunction with JBECC, NORAD and the AOC use joint tactical sensors to extend their surveillance and detection coverage to better detect, identify, and, if necessary, destroy airborne threats such as cruise missiles and unmanned aerial or remotely piloted vehicles. 

     "The JBECC team is ready at a moments notice to deploy to any CONUS area," said Major Brian Zeltins, Director, JBECC Operations. Along with rapid deployability, Maj. Zeltins said the JBECC provides an improved air picture to the air defense sector, CONR, fighters, and Air Defense Artillery forces in the field. 

     Located in the AOC, the AADE provides command and control of Ground Based Air Defense to deter, detect, divert, and if necessary, defeat hostile air attacks against the U.S. The AADE is a liaison to the Joint Air Defense Operation Center (JADOC), located in the NCR, which has control over Army Air Defense Artillery assets. 

     "The AADE's primary function is to act as communication link between CONR and JADOC, said Army Capt. Larry Carpenter, CONR Army Liaison Officer. 

     "Its programs like AADE working in an Air Force AOC that highlights our military's ability to come together as a total force and ensure the protection of the United States." 

     NORAD fighters have flown more than 46,000 sorties since the start of Operation NOBLE EAGLE (ONE), ensuring the air sovereignty of the CONUS. 

     The O.N.E. mission began as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. 

     "Our number one role is to provide air defense to the homeland, 24-7, 365, in a no-fail mission," said Col. Kriner.