Air Force’s Updated ‘Frankenphone’ Aims to Facilitate Communications Between Reaper Drone Pilots, Ground Crews

A U.S. Air Force officer has redesigned a device to help address communication difficulties between ground forces and pilots of General Atomics-built MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, the Air Force reported Thursday.

Capt. Gregory, a flight training commander with the service branch’s 42nd attack squadron, created an upgraded version of the device called Frankenphone in 2016.

“The end product is a soldered and shrink-wrapped survivable piece of equipment,” Gregory said.

“Because it’s a direct electrical connection, we were able to tune the audio and get rid of feedback and echoes.”

The 42nd attack squadron at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada deployed the updated Frankenphone device after it secured clearances and used it in combination with the cockpit’s Audio Multilevel System to carry out reconnaissance and persistent attack missions abroad.

Gregory said the use of the device has helped Reaper aircrews employ and move weapons by facilitating communications with joint terminal attack controllers and other ground personnel.

The squadron has been using the device for the past eight months to support counterterrorism efforts, the report added.


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