Electronic warfare range prepares pilots for real world threats

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero
  • Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero
The Electronic Warfare Range in Snyder, Texas, uses state-of-the-art radar systems to simulate modern-day threats to different airframes.

The range is utilized by all of Department of Defense, but assigned to Dyess administratively, and is operated and maintained by civilian contractors located at Snyder.

At the Snyder range, DoD aircrews can train to defend against relevant surface-to-air threats, ensuring that if they encounter a threat to their aircraft in a real conflict scenario, they are primed to counter the threat and continue executing their mission.

"The loss of even one aircraft to a surface-to-air threat is a tremendous decrement in combat capability for a Combatant Commander," said Lt. Col. Brian Golden, 7th Operations Support Squadron commander. "This site, and others like it, provides integral training to aircrews preparing to deploy in support of overseas contingency operations."

The range uses physical weapon system mock-ups in conjunction with radars to give aircrews flying overhead a visual of the threat below, from both the mock-ups and the electronic signature on board the aircraft.

"We've even gone as far as installing electrical heating elements in replicas so that the aircraft can pick up on heat signatures," said David Garza, range manager.

The installation also houses a radar that can mimic more than 100 different signals to replicate foreign radars, weapon systems and other aircraft.

The latest weapon system mock-up added to the Snyder range was received on Oct. 6, 2014, and is a detailed 1960's-era replica Improved Homing All The Way Killer, or I-HAWK, missile system. Although it was built more than 50 years ago, the I-HAWK is a weapon system that could pose a threat if utilized against today's U.S. aircraft. The team at Snyder will be setting up the replica as soon as possible so DoD aircraft and crews can begin training against it.

With the addition of the new replica, the Snyder range will not only save the Air Force money, but will also provide aircrews that utilize the range with an enhanced training environment.
"This range saves the DoD money in the number of aircraft needed to train, fuel for those aircraft and by having the flexibility to allow any DoD aircraft the ability to train here," Garza said.

This site is also instrumental in facilitating the Chief Secretary of the Air Force's desire to improve upon the Live, Virtual, and Constructive capabilities of the Air Force.  The range allows aircrew to simulate low, medium, and high threat environments from the aircraft, as well as from inside a flight simulator that could be located hundreds of miles away. The virtual element of the range's construct provides even more cost-savings, but still delivers robust, realistic training against existing threats.

"The training provided by this site and its team of professional operators is absolutely vital to the execution of our peacetime training missions," said Golden. "This site allows the United States to be the preeminent combat force in the world when the President calls upon airpower to protect our country and its allies."