New Ground Team Radio Kits are Ready
The EF Johnson portable radios that many in communications are familiar with have been serving Civil Air Patrol for 10 to 14 years. Even though the EFJ portables are still meeting CAP’s needs, they are no longer supported by EFJ, and parts are becoming harder to find.
In 2016 the national comm staff started discussing a replacement for the EFJ portable. In 2017 a request for quotes went out to several radio manufactures. Several were tested by CAP’s National Technology Center (NTC) and others working in communications. Five prominent radio manufacturers submitted bids for the contract and, ultimately, the Motorola APX 4000 was chosen as CAP’s next-generation portable radio.
Funding was secured, and the radios started arriving at the NTC in 201. But before the new radios could be sent out to the wings, several steps had to be completed. The volunteer National Headquarters Comm Engineering team (CAP/DOKE) had to learn the new programming software and write a new code plug. The volunteer NHQ training staff (CAP/DOKT) spent many hours developing training for the new radio. And then new protective cases were ordered with form-fitting foam to integrate everything into ground team LMR kits.
Once all the parts for the ground team kits had arrived at the NTC, work began to assemble them. To make up a ground team kit the case is unpacked and inspected. The gang battery charger is unpacked, tested and placed in the case. The radios, batteries, belt clip and antenna are all packaged separately and must be unpacked and assembled.
Once the kit’s six radios are assembled, they go to the tech bench to be programmed and given a quick test.
Last, property tags and other stickers are applied, an inventory sheet is printed and laminated, and then everything is packed into the kits and ORMS is updated.
So far, the NTC staff has assembled the first 140 ground team kits. These kits are currently being sent out to the wings, with each wing getting two kits at first, followed by additional kits based on the Comm Table of Allowances (TA) and the number of ground teams in the wing.