Combat Shield, another Swamp Fox success
By Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson, 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
/ Published December 19, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- The 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's avionics shop recently passed an annual, two-day electronic warfare systems inspection called Combat Shield. The outcome continues the Swamp Fox legacy of excellence with a solid performance in a challenging inspection environment.
"The avionics shop is very good at what they do," said Lt. Col. Jerry Van Dyke, Combat Shield mission director, during the inspection out-brief.
The inspection team was made up of ten inspectors from the 16th and 36th Electronic Warfare Squadrons at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
"The Combat Shield evaluation is a critical piece in maintaining our combat readiness. We welcome, and require it, as a crucial outside assessment of our offensive and defensive avionics suites to enable our lethality and survivability in any contingency we find ourselves involved in," said Maj. Will Broman, 157th Fighter Squadron electronic warfare officer.
Some areas inspected during Combat Shield were the Joint Service Electronic Combat Systems Tester (JSECST), the Electronic Countermeasure (ECM) - or jammer pod, and the HARM Targeting System (HTS) pod.
The JSECST performs a confidence test of the radar threat warning systems on the jet every 180 days. ECM pods attached to the F-16 detect and then deceive enemy radar or other detection systems, protecting the pilot and aircraft from guided missiles. HTS pods are used to locate hostile radar systems, so the pilot can then engage and neutralize that threat.
One of the flying missions for the F-16 fighter pilot at McEntire is the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD).
"HTS pods will lock onto a signal and let the SEAD pilot know, okay that is a threat we need to hit with a HARM [High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile] and take out so the rest of the forces can come in safely," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Duquette, 16th EWS Combat Shield inspector.
Because of the SEAD and DEAD (destruction of enemy air defenses) mission performed by the SCANG fighter jets, proper avionics maintenance is vital.
"Historically this unit takes care of their systems very well, so that they're ready tomorrow if they need to go into countries with threat capabilities," said Duquette.
Enemy forces with weapons systems attached to radar look for our jets in the air space and Swamp Fox pilots fly equipped to survive those threats.
"The jammer pods take enemy radar signature, change it and then send it back, providing an opportunity for the pilot to continue, evade or deceive that radar system and conduct any maneuver necessary to not be shot down," said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Conolly, Combat Shied inspection team lead.
Protection from enemy threat is essential to the success of South Carolina Air National Guard F-16 fighting Falcons when deployed to any combat environment. The electronic warfare systems in the jets are a life-saving measure against enemy anti-aircraft threats. Combat Shield is an inspection that validates the Swamp Fox's ability to remain ready to defend.
"Electronic warfare is definitely a priority in this wing. Historically, every year this wing performs above the Combat Air Forces average. That is anything with similar systems, F-16s with the same type of radar warning receiver, ECM pods and HTS pods," said Van Dyke.
Van Dyke attributed the tradition of Combat Shield success to the excellent communication between the Operations and Maintenance squadrons. He commented on how motivated and knowledgeable the Swamp Fox avionics maintainers were throughout the inspection.
"McEntire's continued success during these types of inspections directly correlates to the dedication and longevity of our maintainers. Many of these avionics personnel will work on the same aircraft for 20 plus years. They have a vested interest in keeping them in the best possible condition, whether at home station or deployed, to provide our aircrews with mission capable, combat ready assets," said Master Sgt. Craig Sox, 169th AMXS Avionics flight line supervisor. "They prove time and again, they're the best in the Air Force at what they do."