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20th Component Maintenance Squadron Leads the Way with Mobile Testing and Repair Electronic Countermeasure Pod Capability

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Dunkleberger
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 20th Component Maintenance Squadron (CMS) at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), is making Air Force history with the first mobile testing and repair AN/ALQ-184 Electronic Countermeasure (ALQ–184 ECM) pod capability.

The ALQ-184 ECM pod provides an electronic defense capability for the F-16C Fighting Falcon (F-16) and A-10C Thunderbolt II by directing high-power radio frequency signals to counter enemy radio frequency emitters.

The Electronic Warfare section (EWS) within the 20th CMS inspects and repairs over 100 ECM pods for F-16s at Shaw AFB and A-10s at Moody AFB, Georgia, and acts as Air Combat Command’s only Centralized Repair Facility for the ALQ-184 ECM pod.

The ALQ-184 ECM pod aids in safe flight operations in a complex radar-guided threat environment and offers aircraft protection as a component of the 20th Fighter Wing’s suppression of enemy air defenses mission.

Before, when an aircraft’s ALQ-184 ECM pod sustained damage, it required returning to base for troubleshooting and repair. Now, with the 20th CMS mobile testing and repair capability, the EWS crew can be flown to remote locations, set up their site, and repair the ALQ-184 ECM pods immediately.

The new capability supports the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment initiative, which consists of proactive and reactive operations executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat airpower.

“As the warfighting environment changes, the mobile capability allows U.S. forces to adapt and work in new locations to keep the ALQ-184 ECM pods operational,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Rosario, 20th CMS avionics flight chief. “By our team keeping the ALQ-184 EMC pods operational, we provide a defensive system for the aircraft to save pilots’ lives, while carrying out the suppression of enemy air defenses missions downrange.”

The mobile capability also utilizes the Air Forces’ Multi-Capable Airmen concept to hone additional skill sets outside one's career field. The EWS team planned, tested and developed a setup and teardown process to build a tent structure. Now, with only two pallets of gear, EWS can set up an entire pod repair capability with a small team in any environment.

Members from the 20th CMS were selected to be on a small team to perfect the process, ensuring rapid movement in a moment's notice.

As the 20th CMS’ mobile repair and testing capability prepares for a field test, word of their innovation has quickly spread with other EWS teams beginning to work on their own mobile repair and testing capabilities, increasing readiness across the Air Force.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Damien Lange, 20th CMS electronic warfare sensor noncommissioned officer in charge, developed a continuity training binder to teach the process to others.

"Creating these training materials will serve as a valuable reference for us and future Airmen, " said Lange. "They will assist in strategically organizing equipment within the limitations of two pallets, as opposed to our typical three to four pallets. Furthermore, they will aid in the rapid assembly and disassembly of equipment, enhancing our efficiency in deploying swiftly and will allow us to maintain constant mobility in future real-world scenarios.”