B-1 crews conduct TWF test; receive pod spin-up
Col. Mick Guthals, 53d Wing vice commander, and Capt. Ben Kessler, 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron B-1 employment officer, prepare to fly from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with B-1B Lancer aircrew from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The four-person crew flew a B-1 Tail Warning Function test conducted at the Eglin range Feb. 25. The TWF is a radar that faces the rear of B-1 to detect incoming missiles or aircraft. If detected, the system can deploy defensive countermeasures. (U.S. Air Force photo Capt. Carrie Kessler)
by Capt. Carrie L. Kessler
53rd Wing Public Affairs
2/29/2008 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (ACCNS) -- Multiple 53rd Wing units came together this week in testing upgrades and for Sniper targeting pod training for the B-1B Lancer.
The primary testing event was the B-1 Tail Warning Function Spiral 2 Force Development Evaluation. The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron brought a bomber from Dyess AFB, Texas, to perform the test.
"Our goal is to verify the new hardware upgrade and software upgrades are effective and ready to be fielded to the B-1 community," said Maj. Jeffrey Elliott, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron electronic warfare program manager.
The TWF is a radar that detects missiles or aircraft approaching from the rear of the B-1, giving "eyes" to the back of the jet and is integrated into the B-1s defense system.
While 28th TES project managers and operational analysts, and 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron engineers monitored the test on the ground, crews from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron supported the test by using F-16s to simulate approaching missiles.
"Coming to Eglin provided an opportunity to see firsthand what other airframes bring to the fight and to show them what we bring to the fight," said Maj. Neil McCracken, 337th TES chief of standards and evaluations. "It also provided cross-talk opportunities between the squadrons."
Initial results from the evaluation show the upgraded B-1 TWF operated correctly, according to Major Elliott.
Flying B-1 missions at Eglin also benefits the testing process.
"The test director and monitoring equipment are located here, which makes it more efficient to conduct the test," said Col. Mick Guthals, 53rd vice commander. "Bringing the aircraft here also allows 53rd Wing personnel to view one of our other projects and demonstrates the breadth of the 53rd Wing's operational test mission to include all (Combat Air Forces) platforms."
Following the missions, aircraft flight data, Eglin range radar data and completed aircrew questionnaires are collected. Engineering analysis from the 36th EWS and the 28th TES also supply data included in the final report. Once the write-up is complete, the 53rd provides a fielding recommendation to Air Combat Command.
The second aspect of the visit focused on Sniper targeting pod training.
Along with the B-1, the 337th TES brought Weapon Systems Officers to train with 85th TES aircrews in the F-16 for flight experience with the Sniper pod. They validated B-1 academics against F-16 data to be able to teach operational crews.
"It's important to learn from the guys who've been flying with the pod for a while," said Lt. Col. Chris Brunner, 337th TES commander. "We can teach the pod mechanics to the operational B-1 crews but here we're learning the why, how and when to use the different modes."
The Sniper training with the 85th TES provides the aircrews a leg up before operational testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The goal is to ensure the Sniper pod is operational prior to the next B-1 deployment rotation.
"Pod testing is a result of an urgent operational need from (U.S. Central Command Air Forces) and is the (Combined Force Air Component Commander's) number one priority," said the colonel. "It's also ACC's number two of 250 on the test priority list."
Once operational, crews have the ability to perform autonomous identification, generate weapon quality targets and provide convoy support to troops on the ground, he added.
"(The 85th TES) dedicated their time and sorties to teach us," said Colonel Brunner. "Their assistance is very much appreciated and vital to us fielding the pod smartly based on what they've already learned through their testing."
The 53rd currently has 23 B-1 related tests in various development stages.