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.


 
 

 
Courtesy photograph

AEDC and AFRL collaborate to make advances in hypersonic technology

Air Force photograph by Mike Smith As part of the U.S.-German cooperative program known as Hypersonic International Flight Experimentation, an integrated aerodynamic and aerothermal test and analysis of a hypersonic cruise vehi...
 
 

Minuteman III rocket motor aging surveillance test completed at AEDC

Arnold Engineering Development Complex personnel completed testing of a Minuteman III Stage II motor in the Complex’s J-6 Large Rocket Test Facility for aging surveillance of the 48-year-old defense program. “The Stage II motor is part of the Minuteman III Aging and Surveillance test program to obtain motor performance data that is used to identify...
 
 
navair-triton

MQ-4C Tritons to arrive at Pax River this fall

  MQ-4C Triton test air vehicles at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., will fly cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., this fall. The MQ-4C completed a test flight Aug. 19 with updated ...
 

 
global-hawk2

Air Combat Command loans Global Hawk to GVCTF

Air Force photograph by Jennifer Romo The 412th Test Wing’s Global Vigilance Combined Test Force received a Global Hawk Block 40 Aug. 6, on loan from Air Combat Command. Tail number 2035, from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., is jo...
 
 
C130b

C-130 Hercules still going strong at 60

Air Force photograph The C-130H Hercules dons the new eight-blade NP-2000 propellers. The 418th Flight Test Squadron replaced the C-130H Hercules’ four-bladed propellers with the eight-bladed propellers in 2008 in support...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard

Romania air base replaces Transit Center Manas

Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from load onto a C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 13, 2013, bound for Afghanistan from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romani...
 




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>