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Reservists support LAIRCM testing at Eglin AFB

507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Tech. Sgts. Michael Dunning, crew chief, and Eric Harmon, avionics technician, from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., observe flight operations while preparing a KC-135R Stratotanker for flight at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 28, 2017. 507th Air Refueling Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen from Tinker AFB flew the KC-135R to Eglin AFB for testing of the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures modification recently installed on the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Tech. Sgts. Michael Dunning, crew chief, and Eric Harmon, avionics technician, from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., observe flight operations while preparing a KC-135R Stratotanker for flight at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 28, 2017. 507th Air Refueling Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen from Tinker AFB flew the KC-135R to Eglin AFB for testing of the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures modification recently installed on the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

A 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker aircrew from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., discusses the day's flight plan with engineers from the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system project team at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 28, 2017. The flight plan was designed to test the aircraft’s LAIRCM modification in a path over mundane terrain to assist in the elimination of false system responses. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

A 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker aircrew from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., discusses the day's flight plan with engineers from the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system project team at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 28, 2017. The flight plan was designed to test the aircraft’s LAIRCM modification in a path over mundane terrain to assist in the elimination of false system responses. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

A Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system modification pod is attached to the underside of a 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., while parked on the flightline at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 28, 2017. The pod was designed to be installed or removed within approximately 10 minutes by aircraft maintenance crews. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

A Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system modification pod is attached to the underside of a 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., while parked on the flightline at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 28, 2017. The pod was designed to be installed or removed within approximately 10 minutes by aircraft maintenance crews. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

Contractor Brian Abell (right), 46th Test Squadron test engineer, and 2nd Lt. Samuel Hiltner (left), 46th Test Squadron defensive systems test engineer, monitor the flight path of a KC-135R Stratotanker as it passes over a test range at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 30, 2017. 507th Air Refueling Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen from Tinker AFB, Okla., flew the KC-135R over the test range more than 60 times so that a laser, simulating an incoming missile, could target and test the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures modification system installed on the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

Contractor Brian Abell (right), 46th Test Squadron test engineer, and 2nd Lt. Samuel Hiltner (left), 46th Test Squadron defensive systems test engineer, monitor the flight path of a KC-135R Stratotanker as it passes over a test range at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 30, 2017. 507th Air Refueling Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen from Tinker AFB, Okla., flew the KC-135R over the test range more than 60 times so that a laser, simulating an incoming missile, could target and test the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures modification system installed on the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

A 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., sits on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., while a maintenance crew prepares it for flight Nov. 28, 2017. This particular aircraft has been reconfigured to use the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system, which is designed to deflect incoming missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

A 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., sits on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., while a maintenance crew prepares it for flight Nov. 28, 2017. This particular aircraft has been reconfigured to use the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system, which is designed to deflect incoming missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

James Broches (left) and Swapnil Christian (right), Northrop Grumman flight test engineers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., monitor Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system test equipment while in flight on a 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Tinker AFB, Okla., Nov. 29, 2017. Reserve Citizen Airmen flew the aircraft more than 60 times over a test range at Eglin AFB while a laser simulated incoming missiles for the LAIRCM system to detect and deflect. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

James Broches (left) and Swapnil Christian (right), Northrop Grumman flight test engineers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., monitor Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system test equipment while in flight on a 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Tinker AFB, Okla., Nov. 29, 2017. Reserve Citizen Airmen flew the aircraft more than 60 times over a test range at Eglin AFB while a laser simulated incoming missiles for the LAIRCM system to detect and deflect. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 507th Air Refueling Wing here returned Dec. 4, 2017, from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, following testing of the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system recently installed on the aircraft.

 

The LAIRCM modification is designed to detect and deflect incoming missiles. As of now, the 507th ARW has the only KC-135 in the Department of Defense configured to use the LAIRCM system, according to Maj. Jason Thomas, National Guard Bureau A5 Mobility Modernization Program manager.

 

The Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command work together through the Air National Guard-Air Force Reserve Test Center, also known as AATC, Thomas said.

 

The primary mission of AATC is to modernize the Guard and Reserve legacy fleet.

 

“It’s our job to find out what the modern warfighter wants through our Weapons and Tactics Conference,” he said. “We reach out to industries so we can find commercial solutions to purchase and then integrate onto our aircraft.”

 

According to Thomas, the LAIRCM-configured KC-135 was flown to Eglin AFB in order to utilize the Multi-Spectral Sea and Land Target Simulator, which is designed to replicate incoming infrared missiles.

 

“We are integrating LAIRCM with the KC-135 so that the aircraft can provide its own self-protection,” Thomas said.

 

During testing, the KC-135 made multiple passes in various conditions and configurations over the simulator to test the LAIRCM system’s response during each pass. However, not every trial involved the simulator.

 

According to Lt. Col. Justin Brumley, AATC director of mobility, the LAIRCM-configured KC-135 flew a circuitous route over land, sea and coastal areas in a variety of environments to see how well the system operated outside of hostile conditions.

 

“Overall, we’re trying to be operationally representative of what the aircraft and the LAIRCM system is going to encounter in the world,” Brumley said. “It’s important the system acts the way we expect it to act.”

 

The goal is to have a system that is flexible, inexpensive and protects some of the Air Force’s most valuable assets, according to Brumley.

 

Currently, the KC-135 Stratotanker’s primary mission is to provide aerial refueling support worldwide. The secondary mission is to transport cargo and facilitate aeromedical evacuation missions.

 

The 507th Air Refueling Wing is the largest flying unit in the state of Oklahoma and performs daily missions around the world, refueling U.S. and NATO aircraft.

 

“Without the 507th ARW and the support of Tinker AFB, we wouldn’t have gotten this far,” Brumley said. “The testing of the LAIRCM configuration on the KC-135 is the culmination of years of work, so it’s great to finally see it happen.”