Army Paratroopers Get In-Flight Internet

U.S. Army forced-entry units will soon have a new in-flight internet system to help them prepare for mission changes before parachuting into enemy territory.

The Army’s new Enroute Mission Command Capability, or EMC2, features internet service, mission command applications, full-motion video, intelligence products and collaborative planning tools along with computers and voice phones that can be used on aboard a C-17 aircraft.

As the situation develops in the destination target area, Global Response Force commanders will be able to get updates, understand changes on the ground and be able to adjust their plan.

“The ability to understand a situation gives you the ability to take appropriate action, and if the GRF can understand a situation before they get to their drop location, then they can be more effective from the moment boots hit the ground,” said Lt. Col. Joel Babbitt, product manager for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 1, which manages the new in-flight capability for the Army. “Instead of landing on the ground, analyzing the situation and developing execution plans, they can hit the ground executing.”

EMC2 is will soon be installed on C17 aircraft, so that Air Force pilots and units of the 82nd Airborne Division – which help make up the Global Response Force – will test the system at multiple locations, according to an Army press release. If all goes well, the system will be issued to XVIII Airborne Corps by the end of the calendar year.

One of the main components of EMC2 is the Fixed Install Satellite Antenna, or FISA, which provides the internet connection for the C17. A similar capability is being used by commercial airlines.

“The FISA provides a fourfold increase in bandwidth so that a new host of services can be employed on board, increasing capability for GRF units to plan and maintain critical situational awareness in the air,” said Capt. Mindy Brown, EMC2 lead for PdM WIN-T Increment 1.

U.S. Special Operations Command already has aircraft outfitted with their own version of this in-flight capability. The Army’s EMC2 system aboard additional C17s would expand that initial SOCOM capability, Army officials maintain.

“It will be a transformation in the situational awareness and effectiveness of the GRF in the first several hours of ground operations,” Babbitt said.

About the Author

Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • chaos0xomega

    Well… at least they’ll be able to watch porn en-route to a warzone :P

  • orly?

    Possible OPSEC vulnerability.

    • tmb2

      It’s connected to the tactical network, not commercial internet. As long as it’s only SIPR there shouldn’t be an issue.

  • hibeam

    Don’t text and dive. All kidding aside this is what we do best so keep pushing the envelope, our guys are all better connected and that’s a force multiplier.

  • Mitch S.

    Hope they don’t have to pay extra for the headphones so they can hear what’s on the video.

  • Blake

    I’m sure those guys on their phones are checking the situational development of their drop zone.

    … still. Incorporating better communication technology is never a bad thing

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  • hibeam

    Do they get in flight peanuts? No? Toughen up guys. Every time I’m about to doze off I get a bag of GD peanuts.

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  • Ray T.

    It only costs about $15 a minute to keep this system online. We have something like what i spoken of called “The Jackpot” at JCSE. Its never used due to costs. This is another fine example of waste and abuse by the Army.

  • reuben

    back in the day when i was in the 82nd in the late 50’s and early 60’s could never imagine the changes from those days to today airborne from jumping out of the c-119 flying boxcar and the c-17’s of today do they still say ” your knees are in the breeze, but your ass is in the blast ” ?

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  • ReinaldoLuis Andujar

    Back in 1999 and 2000 I participated, representing my agency, in the US Army War College’s tabletop series of exercises entitled Army After Next at Carlisle Barracks, which identified operational and technological concepts that the Army would employ by the year 2015. This idea was one that was discussed at length during the exercise.

  • J. Belliveau

    Maybe this will help the 82nd clear a drop zone in less than 12hrs! Rangers lead the wAy!

  • Gill

    Wait isn’t the Army getting rid of Airborne units?

  • 13F20P

    It seems like a simple thing, but I was in the 82nd back in the 80’s and don’t remember ever having the option of removing my helmet after being cleared by the jumpmaster. Once cleared, you removed or changed nothing until on the ground. It appears in the photo, however, that the C-17 allows MUCH more room in the aisle than the C-130 does or the C-141 Starlifter did, so perhaps a simple re-check of the helmet straps by the JM before the 20 minute warning is easy enough to allow that little luxury. Great article.

    • 11B30P

      Ever seen in flight rigging? Done that in a C-141 on the way to Panama for a training jump in the 90’s. Must be nice on the C-17 to have an aisle for the jump masters.

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  • Well at least they can check online where the enemy is

  • Cockpit Tales

    What a waist of military budget. I believe there are more importing things to invest in.

  • Pilot Tales

    What a waist of military budget. I believe there are more importing things to invest in.