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Robins location, operation instrumental to multi-service exercise

An E-3 Sentry AWACS, left, an E-8C Joint STARS and an RC-135 RIVETJOINT share a rare moment together on the flightline at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 12, 2013. The three platforms, known as the Iron Triad, were at Robins to participate in a command and control (C2) joint force exercise hosted by Team JSTARS. The exercise was conducted to practice interoperability between multiple C2 platforms. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

An E-3 Sentry AWACS, left, an E-8C Joint STARS and an RC-135 RIVETJOINT share a rare moment together on the flightline at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 12, 2013. The three platforms, known as the Iron Triad, were at Robins to participate in a command and control (C2) joint force exercise hosted by Team JSTARS. The exercise was conducted to practice interoperability between multiple C2 platforms. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

An E-3 Sentry AWACS taxis in after a mission with an E-8C Joint STARS following close behind at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 12, 2013. The AWACS aircraft along with RC-135 RIVETJOINT aircraft were at Robins to participate in a command and control (C2) joint force exercise with Team JSTARS. The three platforms, known as the Iron Triad, participated in the exercise to practice interoperability between multiple C2 platforms. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

An E-3 Sentry AWACS taxis in after a mission with an E-8C Joint STARS following close behind at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 12, 2013. The AWACS aircraft along with RC-135 RIVETJOINT aircraft were at Robins to participate in a command and control (C2) joint force exercise with Team JSTARS. The three platforms, known as the Iron Triad, participated in the exercise to practice interoperability between multiple C2 platforms. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Capt. Pamela Stauffer/Released)

Dec. 20, 2013 -- It doesn't happen often but when it does, it's invaluable.

Such was the case last week when the Iron Triad sat poised and ready for action on the Team Joint STARS flight line.

The triad--which includes the Joint STARS E-8C, the AWACS E-3 and the Rivet Joint RC-135 aircraft--were at Robins Air Force Base for a Composite Unit Training exercise off the east coast with its sister services, the Marines and the Navy.

"It's a big event at Robins; especially for the 116th Air Control Wing as the sole owner of the E-8C Joint STARS, to work with Rivet Joint and AWACS in sea trials for the George H. Bush Carrier Group," said Col. Stephen Melton, 116th Air Control Wing vice wing commander.

"It's really exciting for us," he added. "We have a new capability with the radar which allows us to track surface movements of various vessels and relay that information for this exercise to both our airborne partners and carrier battle group on the surface."

This coordinated exercise is able to provide both surface and air threats, and to help the units be worldwide certified for these Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft.

"It's a rare opportunity for us to bring these three C2ISR assets together, working with the carrier battle group to test our command and control between our platforms ... and allows us to test our air and sea battle tactics and capabilities," Melton said.

"It's an excellent opportunity for the 116th and our partners, the 461st, to work together with crews from both organizations taking advantage of this rare training opportunity."