August 26, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Maintainers operate 24 hours daily to ensure that F-16s at Kunsan AB can defeat sophisticated anti-aircraft defense systems during combat. These advanced systems are posing a threat against unstealthy Air Force aircraft.
Senior Airman Edward Youmans inspects the heat exchanger of an electronic countermeasures pod at Kunsan AB. The ECM technicians maintain the F-16 Fighting Falcons pods used to defeat sophisticated anti-aircraft defense systems. Airman Youmans is assigned to the 8th Maintenance Squadron. [U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis]
"Our mission is to jam, deceive and defeat those defenses," said Senior Master Sgt. Tim Burke, flight chief.
The 8th Maintenance Squadron's electronic countermeasures section maintains optimal performance of an F-16's self-protection systems. When an aircraft has been detected, targeted or locked-on and the missile fired, a pilot's emphasis shifts to beating the in-flight missile. The pods maintained by the countermeasures section Airmen disrupt or defeat the radar guidance systems used to steer missiles.
"Our aircraft here are ready to fly combat any day of the week here," said Master Sgt. Bob Pryor, section chief. "It's critical our equipment is mission capable at all times."
The Airmen maintain and repair assigned pods every day. They are long, cylindrical tubes, crammed with electronic equipment. The technicians use an array of electronic systems combined together, called a "mock-up," to repair and run tests on the pods. They isolate malfunctions to determine the scope of necessary repair. The Airmen also run software programs, ensure voltages are within tolerance and radio frequencies are dialed in to exact parameters.
The Airmen said it is a tedious and labor intensive job; however, it is important they do their job right because they save lives and aircraft. They also said they like their job, in particular, the sense of urgency here. The Airmen know the planes do not fly without their electronic countermeasures equipment.
"It makes me feel proud every time I attend meetings," said Tech. Sgt. Brad Mikula. "When the briefing slides go up, our (section) is right on top of the priority list."
Courtesy of Master Sgt. Val Gempis - Air Force Print News