ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A new radio system for Army soldiers is being tested by troops from the White Sands Missile Range to make sure it will work in forests and at high altitudes.
Fifteen soldiers from White Sands set up an outpost east of Sacramento Peak in the Lincoln National Forest late last week. On Tuesday, two Chinook helicopters will drop troops into the area for simulated battle exercises.
Col. Dan Pinnell tells the Alamogordo Daily News (http://bit.ly/uIiLPR) the troops will be around Sacramento Peak for about nine days.
The high-altitude forest is needed to test the radios in terrain commonly seen in Afghanistan. The new gear transmits and receives both voice and data.
“Most of the operations in east and northeastern Afghanistan take place between 10,000 and 14,000 feet,” Pinnell said. “It’s a combination of soldiers really having to deal with high weight and high altitude, then having the challenge of the trees. Trees will impact a normal radio wave by cutting it. Basically it’s interference. Without that there we would not get a real understanding of what the equipment will do.”
The Rifleman Radio being tested this week is body worn, minimizing the soldier’s combat load while providing added features.
More than 200 soldiers are expected to be in the area during the tests, which also involve other new technologies.
“It’s literally stuff that’s right now ready to go to troops in Afghanistan,” Pinnell said. “We’ve got about 20 items we’re testing to protect soldiers from explosive devices in Afghanistan. Completely separate from that is the radio network stuff that’s cutting edge.”
Sacramento District Ranger James Duran said the rugged and mountainous terrain on the Lincoln National Forest provides the perfect opportunity to test new and emerging equipment.
He said people may hear loud blast-type noises during the multi-day training exercise. Signs warning of the exercises have been posted to warn hunters and others using the forest.