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Thule: Can you hear me now?

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Kinsey, 821st Support Squadron, tests Thule’s new Terrestrial Trucked Radio on North Bay near Thule, Greenland. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dan Gomez)

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Kinsey, 821st Support Squadron, tests Thule’s new Terrestrial Trucked Radio on North Bay near Thule, Greenland. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dan Gomez)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- In the frozen Arctic of Thule Air Base, Greenland, "staying connected" is far from easy. Over the years, Thule has overcome many of the challenges a remote location offers; however, the lack of cell phone coverage and mountainous terrain has made many forms of communication troublesome. In nearly every corner of the world, you can effortlessly pick up a cell phone and make a call to whomever you want or send a text to share vital pieces of information. This was not true for Thule...until recently.

Thanks to the partnership between Greenland Contractors and the U.S. Air Force, Thule's Terrestrial Trucked Radio, commonly referred to as "TETRA," went online June 1. The TETRA is a handheld radio solution improving the way Thule does business. Not only does TETRA offer increased radio coverage, it also provides other features allowing Thule residents to make radio-to-radio transmissions, private calls, and landline-to-radio calls, plus the ability to send text messages.

The TETRA solution for Thule Air Base includes handheld radio devices, vehicle mounts, and TETRA console workstations. The handheld radio devices are lightweight, smaller than most portable radios and easily clip onto most belts. The vehicle mounts provide a cradle holder for the handheld device that enables the radios to be used hands-free while driving, which also recharges the radio's battery.

The new TETRA workstation consoles are software driven. These workstations allow critical users such as base operations, security forces, and the Thule Air Base Customer Service Desk, known as "Hilltop," to manage multiple radio networks and monitor radio usage throughout the base. The handheld radios, vehicle mounts and console workstations would not be successful without the strategic placement of repeaters.

The heart of the TETRA system is the repeater network. A team of individuals went to great lengths, researching and testing the equipment, to find the perfect locations to install the repeaters. By installing repeaters in well placed locations, radio coverage was expanded to cover all of Thule's defense area with continuous communication. With Greenland's extreme weather conditions - such as whiteout snow storms, 100 mph winds and dense fog - maximum radio coverage is the lifeline to survival.

For Thule, the TETRA system also increases safety and survivability by having a GPS locator system. This embedded GPS feature relays data to workstations that enables first responders to know the exact location of an emergency. Another important safety feature is its recording capability. All radio transmissions, private calls and text messages on a TETRA are recorded and saved. So, if an incident ever occurs, leadership can "pull the tapes" and listen to the communication that occurred.

Finally, TETRA replaced an outdated radio system with a high-tech system similar to a cell phone. This system allows users to make private calls to specific radios without broadcasting over the rest of the net and has the capability to send short text messages for more efficient and timely communication.

TETRA provides superior communications abilities for emergency responder, security forces, command and control, airfield and air traffic control personnel, while linking key leadership together to resolve any possible crisis. With Thule's unique location, extreme weather, and harsh terrain, the TETRA system is critical to increasing base populace safety and security not just because of the many features it offers, but mainly because of its increased radio coverage. The TETRA system has proven itself as the top choice for Thule over any other basic radio system.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui