Electronic Warfare: ten years in making

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Alder
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For approximately a decade, members of the 51st Maintenance Squadron Electronic Warfare section searched for one integral part of an F-16 Fighting Falcon electronic countermeasure (ECM) pod. Not a detriment to mission success, the pod was cannibalized for parts in the interim.

Master Sgt. Rene Miranda, 51st MXS Avionics Flight chief, made a call to Master Sgt. Jeremy Allen, Electronic Warfare Equipment Liaison, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., asking his old friend, 7,200 miles away, if he had ever come across a spare ECM canister.

Because the unserviceable pods are upcycled for parts normally, finding a canister is a rare find.

“This pod has been down for about 10 years in an unserviceable condition, longer than any other pod in our fleet,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Johnston, 51st MXS EW craftsman. “It was thought it was never going to be rebuilt or flown again. The pod replacement parts are usually limited or no longer under contract and non-procurable.”

As luck would have it, one finally appeared in inventory. For the months following the phone call, the pair laid the blueprint coordinating the canister delivery and repair of the pod. Upon arrival, the EW Airmen were ready and eager to work.

“The rebuild itself took close to a month and a half, amongst three shifts,” Johnston said. “I feel the most rewarding part was watching the transformation of parts on a table to a completely assembled pod.”

Finally, the moment of truth came. Through a nest of wires and circuitry, the decade’s dormant pod stood ready to be tested.

“I was a little nervous to see what was going to happen, in my experience, rebuilt pods usually have a rough start,” said Johnston.

The shop gathered around and Johnston manned the testing equipment. With a whir and a small buzz, an orange light turned on, indicating the pod was functional and passed the test.

“In the end I was very pleased with the results and to see the team’s hard work pay off”, said Johnston. “I enjoyed being a part of the rebuild team.”

By breathing new life into a pod relegated to the spare parts bin of history, Osan’s EW Airmen not only increased their available inventory, but the overall immediate readiness of the Indo-Pacific Theater.

“Our electronic countermeasure pods play an important role in the F-16 Fighting Falcons mission,” Johnston said. “Most importantly, we help pilots return home safe by giving them dominance against enemy threats.”

The once shelved metal cloak is now an eye-grabbing, operational piece of equipment ready to fly again. The hard work of the EW Airmen enables their motto to remain true, “In God We Trust… All others we monitor, jam, or deceive.”