402nd EMXG: Making sure radomes provide clear sight

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

Providing combat-ready avionics parts and services to our warfighting forces is part of the 402nd Electronics Maintenances Group mission. For one of their squadrons, this means helping aircraft see more clearly.

The 402nd EMXG’s 566th Electronics Maintenance Squadron antenna and radome ranges at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is where aircraft get their vision corrected.

Jerry Walker, 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group electronics engineer said an aircraft’s radome can impact the radar system’s ability to function properly.

“Like a person wearing glasses if there is an issue with the lens then you will not see properly,” said Walker. “If there is an issue with the radome, then the radar will not see what it needs to see clearly.”

A radome is the fiberglass nose cone which covers the radar array at the nose of an aircraft.

Each range has a working radar array for the particular aircraft, said Diego Garcia, 402nd EMXG electronics engineer.

“The length of time it takes to test a radome depends on the range used,” he said. “Here at the Precision Radome Integrated System of Measurement Range it takes about four and half hours to test each radome.”

Garcia said if the radome needs small adjustments the technicians use a special tape.

“Technicians add or remove dielectric tape to account for small corrections,” he said. “If they are unable to achieve correct results, the radome is sent back to the plastic shop for repair.”

Walker said radomes, like many modern weapons systems, are complicated.

“When people look at a radome, their first impression is it does not look like much goes into it,” he said. “But the radomes have a lot of special properties and a lot of details that are important to the mission.”

There are certain parameters checked with the radomes electrical properties that the repair shop cannot determine, said Walker.

“That is why we have these test facilities,” he said. “So, we can take the radomes into those facilities and test them to see if the repairs made during the programmed depot maintenance process allows the radar to see clearly through the radome.”

Walker said it is about protecting our warfighter and making sure they can accomplish their mission.

“If the radome does not perform as it is supposed to, then we could end with a situation where our adversary’s pilots go home and our own do not,” he said. “It makes me feel good to ensure the warfighter has the best chance to accomplish the mission and come home safely.”