Combat Shield validates Swamp Fox readiness

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

The South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-16 Avionics shop received its annual Combat Shield evaluation Jan. 18 – 20.

The annual inspection conducted by the Combat Shield evaluation team assigned to the 16th and 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is geared toward ensuring the accuracy of our electronic warfare systems that would counteract the surface-to-air missile systems of other countries during times of war.

“Combat Shield’s mission is to mitigate future electronic warfare risk by evaluating today’s practices and current fleet healthiness,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Aaron Rusling, the mission director assigned to the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron.

Combat Shield evaluates the reliability of the jet’s radar threat warning system, electronic countermeasure, and high-speed anti-radiation missile targeting system pods. Each component is crucial to the success of the F-16 fighter pilot in combat situations.

“The best part about the inspection is seeing how components work together to keep the pilots safe,” said Tech Sgt. Eric Whitehouse, an avionics technician assigned to the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We don’t always see how all of the components work together when we’re testing these systems.”

Whitehouse said the Combat Shield team used testing devices called couplers to test the Electronic Countermeasure– or jammer pods. The team hooked up the couplers to various parts of the aircraft. They act as a buffer to eradicate any outside interference, which allows the Combat Shield team to test the jammer pods at different frequencies.

They backed up a vehicle equipped with computers to an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet and hooked cables to the couplers, which sent a signal through the jet allowing the team to measure how effective the pods are.

During the three-day inspection, the Combat Shield team also tested the Joint Service Electronic Combat Systems Tester and the HARM Targeting System pods.

“The unit did very well,” said Rusling. “We witnessed solid maintenance and operations procedures. This unit is electronic warfare combat ready.”