Success Here=Success There! WR-ALC completes LAIRCM installations on Navy aircraft

  • Published
  • By Tim Kurtz
  • Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex

Take a group of U.S. Air Force C-5 maintainers fresh from a C-17 project. Team them with C-130 maintenance professionals and what do you get?

Success for the U.S. Navy … in the sky.

Thanks to the partnership of two 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group squadrons, nine Navy airlifters now have state-of-the-art missile protection.

A project to retrofit Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Advanced Threat Warning Systems onto the Navy C-130Js arrived at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in fiscal 2016.

It was completed ahead of schedule in early fiscal 2017 through the combined efforts of the 559th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the unit that performs depot-level maintenance, repair and modification for all C-5 aircraft, and the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, which does the same for the C-130.

LAIRCM is a defensive system for large transport and rotary-wing aircraft that combines a missile-warning system and an infrared laser jammer countermeasure system to protect an aircraft from infrared-guided threat missiles.

The last of the Navy C-130Js that received the LAIRCM retrofit at WR-ALC was flown off the Robins Air Force Base flight line by a Navy aircrew on Dec. 29.

“This was a great partnership between the 559th AMXS and 560th AMXS,” Jim “J.R.” Russell, 560th AMXS director, said. “We accomplished Gate 1 and Gate 4, while they accomplished Gate 2, the mod work gate, and Gate 3, the outgoing systems ops gate.”

David Johnson, 559th AMXS director, said much recognition is due “these incredible teams” that got the job done on the Navy LAIRCM workload.

“I am very proud of both teams that worked jointly to provide a critical aircraft system to keep our troops safe,” Johnson said. “This is the first workload the 559th has produced for a sister service, but we look forward to more in the future as we continue to increase capacity at WR-ALC.”

The 559th used technicians coming off a C-17 LAIRCM modification project that ended in fiscal 2015. Having workers trained and recently experienced on LAIRCM mods paid big dividends on the speed and quality of the Navy project, Russell said.

Keith “L.K.” Hamilton, the 559th AMXS team leader for the project, said the Navy LAIRCM job was accomplished at a rate of 4,500 hours per modification. The work was contracted for 90 days, but was produced in an average of 60 days.

The 22-member 559th team worked a three-shift operation responsible for mod installation and operational checks. The 560th team accomplished induction, pressurization and outgoing preflight operations.

The nine aircraft contracted for Robins were all completed ahead of schedule – seven in fiscal 2016 and two in early fiscal 2017. Two more Navy C-130s received the LAIRCM retrofit in conjunction with scheduled programmed depot maintenance at Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Russell said the combined Navy LAIRCM mod team produced all nine aircraft an average of 26 days early to the overall customer requirement date.

“That equates to 231 days of increased aircraft availability for the Navy and Marine warfighters,” he said.

LAIRCM automatically detects a missile launch, determines if it is a threat and activates a high-intensity laser-based countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile, according to information from Northrup Grumman, the corporation that develops and produces the system.

The Robins project stemmed from a Navy requirement to install infrared countermeasures on all U.S. Marine Corps airlift planes. The Navy LAIRCM Advanced Threat Warning System is the latest generation of directed infrared countermeasure systems and traces its origin to the Air Force LAIRCM program.

WR-ALC is not funded for any more Navy LAIRCMs in fiscal 2017, although there is a potential for up to 40 additional aircraft to be retrofitted by the complex between fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2020.