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Wright-Patt C-5 gets new air defense system
Tim Vincent, electrician with L3 Communications, installs wiring on the flight deck as part of installing the air defense system on a 445th Airlift Wing C-5A aircraft at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Stacy Vaughn)
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Wright-Patt C-5A gets new air defense system

Posted 4/13/2009   Updated 4/14/2009 Email story   Print story


by Stacy Vaughn
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/13/2009 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Contractors from L3 Communications, based out of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., spent the past two months installing a new defensive system on a C-5A Galaxy aircraft here.

The modification, along with recently installed armor plating, will allow the 445th Airlift Wing aircraft to fly in higher threat areas.

"We're modifying and installing the AN/AAR 47 Missile Warning System and the AN/ALE 47 Countermeasure Dispensing System for flares on one of the wing's C-5s," said Jim Depew, lead equipment specialist from the Warner Robins (Ga.) Air Logistics CenterC-5 System Program Office. "Both of these systems tie together."

The AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System warns about an approaching missile and automatically ejects flares. The system allows the crew to perform evasive maneuvers along with electronic and infrared countermeasures.

The AN/ALE-47 uses the latest in flare decoy dispensing technology and, along with modern flares, can deter modern man-portable air-defense missiles, known as "manpads," currently used worldwide. Chaff and flares deflect heat-seeking missiles.

The system uses information from integrated electronic warfare sensors such as radar warning receivers and missile warning receivers to determine the correct response to defeat infrared and radio-frequency guided missiles. The ALE-47 can be manually controlled and gives the crew a "smart" countermeasures dispensing system, optimizing countermeasures against anti-aircraft threats.

"The AR 47 detects the missile and tells the ALE 47 to kick the flares out. Both work hand-in-hand," Mr. Depew said.

Master Sgt. Russell Leganik, a quality assurance inspector with Air Force Reserve Command's 445th Maintenance Group, said having the defense system installed on the C-5A model will take some of the burden off the B models that are currently flying into the combat zone.

"Installing the aircraft defense system on all the C-5A models had been talked about for a long time now. We can get more utilization out of the A models if we can go into combat zones," Sergeant Leganik said.

Master Sgt. Paul Adducchio, electronic counter measures supervisor in the 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said only one other C-5A had the defense system installed and that process took place in 1998. That aircraft is currently assigned to the wing.

"Lockheed Martin did one of the C-5A models 17 years ago and the instructions may need to be tweaked because they only did one airplane. The C-5 being modified now will show us what needs to be tweaked before others go through the process," Sergeant Adducchio said.

According to Mr. Depew, the aircraft currently undergoing the modification will be the kit proof, or final plan, used when the process is approved to start the modifications on the rest of the C-5A models. Kit proofing means that all the drawings used in the process are correct and all the required parts and material are included in the final kits that will be built up or created for each tail number of specific aircraft.

"We are taking data that was developed back in 1994 and 1995," said Mr. Depew. "We had all the C-5B models and one C-5A model installed and then the government stopped the requirement to modify the rest of the aircraft. Now we're re-instating the time compliance technical order with another kit proof."

Since the process has not been done in a long time, the aircraft currently undergoing the modification will take longer than the next one.

"Basically, we have to certify the manufacturer of the kit and the installer to be qualified to do the install," said Mr. Depew. "So modification on the aircraft we're currently working on is going to be a little slower because we're proofing all the drawings and the parts as we're going. We're also cleaning up discrepancies in drawings as we're going, which is essentially the purpose of the kit proof- to make sure you have a good data package so all the aircraft that have to be modified will be the same."

It's taking two months to modify the current aircraft. Eventually, the process should take less than 30 days.

"Normally after the first couple aircraft are completed, you will cut your hours down and keep cutting them down because you'll get into a routine," said Mr. Depew. "After awhile, as much as you cut you may shave a little bit here and there but normally you'll get them down."

Modifications done in the 1990s took about 21 workdays to install. Mr. Depew anticipates it will take between 20-30 days per aircraft once they get a flow going.

Sergeant Leganik said once the modification is done on the current aircraft, the kit proof is approved, and the process can start, 38 more aircraft will undergo the modifications. The final location of where the installation will take place and who the contractor will be is to be determined.  (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)

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