At One Indiana National Guard Base, Communications Devices are Truly State-of-the-Art

Communications are always changing in the United States: just a few years ago in 2000, the U.S. reached a peak in the number of phone lines at 186 million. Today, however, there are approximately 100 million fewer copper landlines, with more consumers using cellular phones and fiberoptic cable services.

The communications for the military are not impervious to change, either. At one military base in Terre Haute, Indiana, the communication devices utilized by soldiers are evolving, too.

Senior Airman Joseph Bowlin showed off the Indiana National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing and some of its radio and communication equipment. 

In military uses, Bowlin said, communication equipment helps the U.S. target enemy sites.

One example of this is the a device the size of a laptop computer, which can show live video from either a manned or unmanned aircraft.

Some of these items were on display at an invitation-only domestic operation expo last week, which was hosted by the Indiana National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing and Indiana State University. The event was held at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

Bowlin explained, “We also have radios, with the ability to communicate if power goes down and there are no cellphones or no phone lines.”

Such radios can be either satellite radios or even HF tactical radios, which allow for long-range communication.

The unit also has access to thermal-imaging devices, which can help emergency response teams find people under rubble or in remote locations. Some of these devices can take these images from unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone aircraft, about 12 feet long with 14-feet wingspans.

Such aircraft can fly for six hours for 70 to 75 miles with a speed of up to 127 miles per hour. They are designed to be “purely reconnaissance,” says Spc. Tyson Pelo, who is training to fly one.

The devices are controlled by two people: the aircraft operator and the camera operator, the former of which can make the plane go as high as 15,000 feet into the air.

The drone’s purpose is to show an overview of damage from wildfires and other natural disasters.

The wing at Terre Haute employees personnel from 62 of 92 Indiana counties and 18 states and has a payroll of over $50 million per year. In addition to its employment roster, its use of technology adds much revenue to the nation’s economy, according to some Indiana National Guard members.