Moody 'shields' aircraft from adversaries during CS

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Nash
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Moody Air Force Base’s aircraft fleet routinely exhibits their abilities by providing mission-ready combat, rescue and transient assets. In order to attack, rescue and prevail, these guardians of the skies must be able to protect themselves, especially from electronic warfare. 

As a part of an annual training exercise, the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group from Eglin AFB, Fla., tested Moody AFB’s electronic warfare protection capabilities during Combat Shield, Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, here.  

“Combat Shield is about changing the Air Force culture so that tomorrow’s electronic warfare risk is reflected in today’s operations and maintenance actions,” said Maj. Mike Chavannes, the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron Combat Shield mission director. “This exercise isn’t just an inspection where we collect data and write a report. We have to look at the procedures, practices and training of units to ensure this culture change.” 

“This change is important because the EW field’s emphasis has been downplayed because the environments we’ve gone into have shown little resistance to our EW capabilities,” Chavannes added. “The problem with this is that like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it and allow it to atrophy, it won’t work like you need it to at its full strength.”

According to Chavannes, the transition from only examining units prior to their departure for deployments into mandated annual scheduled visits has strengthened unit’s abilities to be combat ready at a moment’s notice. With this transition, the focus has remained constant.  

“Our centralized objective has always been about [pilot’s] survivability and how we can maintain dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Chavannes. “I owe my life to EW because I’ve flown in [contested] enemy airspaces and had to rely on my radar warning receivers, electronic attack pods and integrated EW systems to survive. All of these components are necessary to signal the aircraft when there’s a threat present to degrade, fend off and neutralize enemy targets.” 

According to Chavannes, these capabilities are accomplished with a multitude of actions. He says that avoiding detection is the goal but if an aircrew is found by the enemy, the aircraft’s EW system has disruption devices. However, if the enemy can successfully get detection and launch missiles, pilots can use chaffe and flare within the electromagnetic spectrum to accomplish the mission. 

“It’s basically a chess game where you have to hide from the enemy while at the same time they are trying to do the same,” said Chavannes. “Throughout these strategic practices, we try to find every advantage over the enemy,” Chavannes added. “This wouldn’t be possible without EW. That’s why it’s so important because it’s the reason we can protect and bring our aircrews back home safely.” 

Moody’s 23rd Maintenance Group worked alongside the 53rd EWG from dawn to dusk to ensure aircraft can launch with the ability to successfully detect incoming enemy threats. According to Tech. Sgt. Ryan Doiron, the 23rd MXG wing avionics manager, CS was an excellent large scope view for the base’s EW maintenance actions. 

“Our job is to produce combat ready aircraft at the highest percentage possible and CS is a great measuring stick for that combat readiness,” said Doiron. “We have our own mandated independent EW systems evaluation program but this exercise gives us another opportunity to see our aircraft’s capabilities and test equipment to remedy in-flight emergencies.” 

“It was good to exchange ideas with the CS team and go over the lessons learned and how to move forward with certain trends found,” Doiron added. “Once the evaluations are over and reported back to us, we can create checklists and action plans to negate certain issues if need be. It’s a huge plus to participate in CS and it feel’s great to be a part of the EW mission because of the major impact we have in the avionics world.” 

Throughout the evaluation, this impact showed just how valuable Moody AFB’s avionics practices are and it didn’t go unnoticed. According to Chavannes, the base’s aircraft are combat ready with proficient primary threat detection systems and have the ability to successfully detect incoming enemy threats.