WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – When a front-line fighter squadron needed assistance, several Air Force Materiel Command teams banded together to resurrect a long-dormant pod vital to protecting pilots flying in harm’s way.
The pod in question – an ALQ-184 – is an electronic countermeasure pod providing protection against enemy surface-to-air radars by receiving signals and delivering false information to the surface-to-air threats tracking the aircraft.
It belongs to the 51st Fighter Wing in Osan AB, Korea, as explained in “Electronic Warfare: ten years in making.” (See related link) In addition to the pod having been dropped at some point causing exterior damage, the A3 and A4 canisters needed to be replaced.
The team there reached out to Master Sgt. Jeremy Allen, an Air Combat Command Electronic Warfare Equipment Liaison assigned with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga. They asked, “Can we fix it?”
That simple question brought together an eclectic team of specialists from AFLCMC, 408th Supply Chain Management Squadron (SCMS), ACC, and 402nd EMXG all working to find a way to “yes.”
“I’m really proud of the way our EW Pod community came together to find a solution. Our folks did some heroic work from half way around the world to support this downrange team in a way that truly encapsulates how AFLCMC and AFMC are enabling the Warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Kristina Esposito, Electronic Warfare Programs Materiel Leader.
Certainly, a central question for a pod that hangs on an external hard point under the wing was if the pod was still flyable. Grant Saylor, ALQ-184 Lead Engineer at the time, collected a damage description and photographs from Osan. With input from Josh Icard, ALQ-184 Equipment Specialist, Saylor and the engineering team including Ray Bradley, Chief Engineer and Lisa Morris, Lead Engineer with the AFLCMC team, surveyed photographs of the damage and determined the Osan Pod Shop could attempt to repair the pod with replacement canisters.
Bill Lytle, a logistician with the AFLCMC External Electronic Attack team, set about to find the canisters working with Icard and Allen.
"These pods were only purchased as end items including sustainment assets. The damaged canisters are not stock listed and not available through normal supply channels,” Lytle said.
Icard reached out to Larry Dominy, Equipment Specialist with 567th Electronics Maintenance Squadron and Amber Jones, Flight Chief with the 408th SCMS who are also on Robins. The 408th SCMS had begun an ALQ-184 reclamation project to harvest critical components for continued sustainment of the system. During the ALQ-184 reclamation, the A3 and A4 canisters are removed and demilitarized because they are not stock listed items.
“We made arrangements with the depot to come down as soon as they removed those canisters so we could pick them up,” Lytle said. “Since those parts were reclaimed, there is no cost to the gaining unit [51 FW].”
With the new canisters in hand, Joe Stein, Legacy Pods Program Manager, coordinated with Saylor for a plan to perform surgery on this pod still located halfway around the world. They developed instructions and worked with the 51st Maintenance Squadron to effect the repairs.
It was no small feat taking the team nearly six weeks before they revived the pod and returned it to service after 10 years on the bench.
“I really appreciate the efforts of the AFLCMC Legacy Pod IPT and the WRALC for helping to get these parts out to the field. I hope they are aware of the big impact they had for the team at Osan AB,” said Allen.