Military News

Monday, October 26, 2015

Combat Shield ensures Strike Eagles ready for tomorrow's war

by Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/23/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hosted members of the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, during Combat Shield, Oct. 19-23.

Combat Shield is an annual program aimed to provide operational combat Air Force units in Air Combat Command, a system-specific capability assessment for their aircraft's radar warning receivers, electronic attack pods and integrated EW systems.

"The goal of Combat Shield is getting information to higher level decision makers so they can decide what changes need to be made - funding, training, equipment - to ensure that we're putting the best equipment forward," said Maj. Kyle Schlewinsky, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron assistant director of operations. "Really, the end result is some guy strapping that jet on and flying into combat. We want to give our pilots the greatest odds possible of coming home."

With that goal in mind, Air Force Instruction 10-707 mandates every major command have an independent EW systems evaluation program.

According to Schlewinsky, Combat Shield is ACC's answer to this requirement.

Schlewinsky also explained the risks facing our aircrews may drastically change in the near future, and the airframes must be prepared.

"For the past decade or more, we've been focused on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, which is uncontested close-air support," Schlewinsky said. "In uncontested airspace, our aircrews aren't really worried about radar-guided surface-to-air and air-to-air threats."

He added the cost for failure is too high to be overlooked and complacency now could cause lives to be lost in any future contested conflict.

To make sure the 4th Fighter Wing's aircraft are mission ready, regardless of the type of threat, the 10-man Combat Shield maintenance team tested the F-15E Strike Eagle's ALR-56C Radar Warning Receiver System, the aircraft's primary threat detection system, by assessing its sensitivity and ability to detect incoming enemy threats.

Using a USM-642 "Raven" signal generator, members of Combat Shield can quickly and accurately evaluate the effectiveness of the threat detection system.
According to Schlewinsky, the evaluation was completed around day-to-day operations tempo, and took just four days to test every operational Strike Eagle assigned to the wing.

At the end of the testing, the program evaluators determined the Airmen assigned to the 4th AMXS have worked hard over the last year.

"I'm really proud of the guys here at the 4th AMXS," said Chief Master Sgt. John Moore, 4th AMXS superintendent. "The Combat Shield team told us that we were able to make the best improvement they've seen across ACC to date. We were able to exceed the CAF average, and nine or ten of our Airmen were recognized as superior performers. At the end of the day, these results improve our confidence in our ability to go downrange."

Once all the data in compiled, Combat Shield's findings will be provided to ACC headquarters in a comprehensive report of the major command's assets.

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