Eglin opened two buildings on base that they believe will help keep the American Air Force ahead of rivals like China and Russia.
“Emerging next-generation weapons are outgrowing the capabilities of ranges built to World War Two-era specifications,” said Installation Commander General Jeffrey Geraghty to an audience of Eglin Air Force Base civilian employees and airmen, “The era of dumb gravity-powered munitions is long gone.”
Essentially, the two buildings are a new command and control hub for the base’s testing needs.
The two buildings – called Eglin Range Control Complex numbers one and two, or ERCC-1 and ERCC-2 sit right next to each other on base – and more or less blend into the rest of the sandstone structures on the installation. But, they will allow Eglin’s engineers and scientists to more efficiently test new weapons on the range that extends hundreds of square miles.
Fiber optic cables laid down the length of Florida’s Gulf Coast allow near-instantaneous data from tests, including video, audio, and other telemetry data, to be piped into this new Air Force Test nerve center.
“The United States relies on us to deliver war-winning capabilities. And that’s what these facilities enhance,” said General Jeffrey Geraghty, “Our job is not simply to stay ahead of technology, but to stay ahead of our enemies, ensuring that the joint force is ready with capabilities tried and tested by the Air Force. We promise airpower anytime, anyplace.”
Notably, the buildings also help reduce the interference from everything from errant radio waves to drones in the air to the tests conducted on Eglin. It also ensures that separate tests on Eglin don’t step on each other’s toes and corrupt one another’s data. “We can control all those systems that we were controlling in multiple sites,” said Alan Sikes with Eglin, “multiple people, multiple nodes, multiple situations, all in one facility. That makes it more certainly more efficient. It makes it more secure. And it will cut costs; we won’t have to have so many people down [on] the sites [that string the Gulf Coast].”
More efficient, and more precise testing is the outcome expected from the new buildings. “All the operations will be done here rather than spread out across a very large area,” Sikes added.