Teams Now Working To Fix Power Supply Issues
In December 2003 and
January 2004, several Air Force aircraft took fire near Baghdad,
Iraq, but missile warning systems aboard those planes failed to
indicate the attacks. Air Force officials looked to the Warner
Robins Air Logistics Center to fix this problem.
An airlift defensive systems "tiger team" was formed to find a
solution, said Colonel Art Huber, the commander of the 542nd
Electronic Warfare Sustainment Group.
The team of program offices from the Air Logistics Center and
Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH
came up with ideas ranging from fixing the old missile warning
system to developing a new one.
To get the best ideas in one room, a team was formed consisting
of the 542nd and the aircraft system program offices affected,
including those of the C-130 Hercules, C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster
III, C-141B Starlifter and MH-53 Pave Low helicopter.
The team ultimately developed the Smart Cable -- a device
already documented with saving aircraft from missile attacks. The
cable, which is an upgrade to the current missile warning system,
has been installed on 400 coalition aircraft, according to
None of those planes have been hit by missile attacks.
"There have been documented instances of missile attacks on
coalition aircraft that were unsuccessful and can be attributed to
the effective operation of the Smart Cable," Colonel Huber said.
"The Smart Cable (below) was selected by Lt. Gen. (John) Baker as
the one idea able to be fielded the fastest and with promise of
being a best fix."
General Baker was vice commander of Air Mobility Command before
retiring in July.
By March 2004, the team began designing, testing and producing
the Smart Cable. The summer of 2004 was spent testing the prototype
on aircraft. The 402nd Maintenance Wing produced the first "smart
cable" was produced in August 2004.
"Our normal event is to form block cycle updates, which have a
two-year time cycle, and to keep an eye on the hardware performance
of our systems," said Larry Sheets, the supervisor of the optical
infrared countermeasure systems office. "Building a piece of
equipment in the electronic warfare world is a five-to-seven year
process from conception to testing of a new line replaceable
"We were approached
with the question, 'What can you do in 90 days to 12 months and two
years plus?' The fact that we were able to build a new piece of
hardware and have it in production in five months was a tremendous
effort," he said.
"We took some risks doing some things in parallel, but no steps
were omitted," Colonel Huber said.
John Dorminey, the supervisor of the 330th Tactical Airlift
Sustainment Group avionics engineering flight, agreed.
"This is a very nice example of how the (Air Logistics) Center
can respond to a real-world problem and affecting how we support
the warfighter," he said. "The 542nd Electronic Warfare Sustainment
Group quickly built the device to resolve the problem and were very
supportive of us in the aircraft groups to give us what we needed
to make a decision to put it on the airplanes."
The system hasn't been without complications. Despite initial
reports the cable was performing as it should, reliability issues
began cropping up in February 2005. Another team analyzed the
situation, and discovered several aircraft had power supply
problems with the Smart Cable.
A fix has been developed and tested, and a field decision for
the power supply issue is set to be made in several weeks.
(Aero-News salutes Lanorris Askew, 78th Air Base Wing Public