EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska –
The success of exercises such as NORTHERN EDGE and RED FLAG-Alaska, rely on electronic attack pods to simulate threats and allow pilots from all over the world learn to adjust their sortie when an attack occurs.
As technology advancements are made in the enemy's electronic attacks, pilots learn to adapt to pod jamming while operating the aircraft safely.
"Studies show that the chance of a pilot surviving a war is greatly increased after the first ten combat sorties," said Senior Airman Matthew Ringer, a 354th Maintenance Squadron electronic warfare technician. "The purpose of RED FLAG-Alaska is to simulate the first ten sorties that pilots would encounter if they were engaged in combat, and get them more comfortable when responding to electronic attacks."
Hands caked with grease, Airmen work behind the scenes in between exercises to ensure attack pods are properly cleaned, fully functional and prepared for more combat scenarios.
"Our job is to calibrate and program the electronic attack pods that simulate enemy threats," explained Ringer. "These threats enable realistic training of U.S. military and allied forces during RED FLAG-Alaska and other training exercises."
Airmen work diligently and quickly to disassemble each pod and return it to the F-16 Fighting Falcon after the end-of-season inspection.
"We break down the whole pod and clean it to ensure it doesn't have any E36 deicer intrusion," said Airman 1st Class Corey Sanders, a 354th MXS electronic warfare technician. "We've had one pod ruined in the past because of the intrusion before, but haven't lost any since we started doing the cleaning of the pods."
This is the second year that technicians are fully separating and inspecting pieces, but the process should help save money long-term because the integrity of the pods is maintained.
To see a video of the event, click here