Currently, then things get awry, the Marines are usually required to call in helicopter assistance to terminate the target or threat spotted. These so-called “close-air” strikes are reportedly instigated by troops who happen to be on the ground at the time. Those on the ground then radio the exact co-ordinates of the enemy to one of the service’s pilots flying above, who then has to “rifle through 60 to 80 pounds of on-board maps” to have any clue of where he should be going.
The issue with this system? – radio sucks, and is largely considered a pretty unreliable method of communication in these war situations. The main disadvantage to such methods of communication is the potential misunderstanding or loss of these – sometimes highly important – coordinates.
The solution? – iPads. By the pilots of these air-strike helicopters using an iPad to communicate with the men on the ground, the risk of co-ordinates becoming mixed up, misinterpreted or simply lost in translation are dramatically reduced. Plus, the pilot saves time by simply having to open a mapping application to find and pinpoint the location transmitted.
“It is giving me the ability to give better service to that infantryman on the ground,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Mowery, commanding officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, which is deployed. “This speeds up the process. When I check in with him on a close-air support mission, we can cut out probably about 15 minutes of back-and-forth on the radio.”
While the devices are still being tested in these types of situation, it is thought that, if the trials are successful, Marines and other sectors of the military may look towards a more permanent adoption of the tablet device moving into the future.