Defense

August 14, 2013

Unique testing helps war fighter, saves lives

Jenny Gordon
Robins AFB, Ga.

When large transport or rotary-wing aircraft support a mission in a deployed location, there’s always the threat of those wanting to harm to the lives and assets onboard.

That includes risks from a range of shoulder-fired, vehicle-mounted and other infrared-guided missiles capable of following the path of an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III or C-130 Hercules, for example.

At Robins Air Force Base, Ga., helping to stop those missiles in their tracks happens through a joint partnership between members of†the 566th Electronics Maintenance Squadron and Northrop Grumman engineers.

Known as Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures, or LAIRCM, this sophisticated technology is a highly-effective and complex missile threat detection system. It combines a missile warning system and†Guardian Laser Transmitter Assembly laser jammer. The countermeasures system uses a laser pointer-tracker.

LAIRCM’s end goal is to not only detect a missile threat, but to track and defeat it by confusing the missile’s guidance system so that it’s destroyed. The processor, or brains of the system’s central processing unit, is tested through various scenarios at a facility on base.

Engineers routinely test the interface unit that pilots use to load various software for different flight plans, preparing them in advance of any type of missile attack depending on location. This workload has been here for about four years.

A simulation can run a signal path all the way through every portion of the processor, giving the operator a three-dimensional view of where a missile originated.

“The plane, via these missile warning sensors, detect when they’ve been fired upon,” said Jeff Lamb, the LAIRCM element chief. “They’re extremely accurate.”

Another unique capability here is the presence of a laser firing range -†a chamber coated with black walls to prevent the scattering and reflecting light as the GLTA laser is fired and tested. “It’s basically a really high-tech laser pointer, similar to what you’d point at with your cat,” Lamb said. “It is tested here on a firing table where we ensure we have a good beam pattern on the right frequency.”

Just how powerful is it? “In less than a one-second exposure, you can be permanently blinded,” he said.
The system can lock into a missile, up to three†at a time,†from a far distance and pick up on the threat even as it’s launched from the ground. It can also track missiles at high altitudes.

“It’s very effective and neat to work on,” said Northrop Grumman’s Doug Crowson, who has worked on the program for several years. “Every time it’s called on, it works.” The team at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.,†is currently in the second year of a $463 million five-year contract with Northrup Grumman to transfer more testing responsibilities here.

Currently, Robins AFB members†perform 20 percent of the testing workload, with 100 percent of the system’s processor workload. In the future as the program expands, Robins AFB†technicians will perform 80 percent of testing, while continuing to maintain and test the processor.

“With Northrop Grumman’s assistance, Robins (AFB)†will develop our own ability to be the source of repair,” Lamb said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>