The electronic warfare and avionics program office that modernizes radios in aircraft to improve fighter capabilities> Air Force Material Command> View Articles

The electronic warfare and avionics program office that modernizes radios in aircraft to improve fighter capabilities> Air Force Material Command> View Articles

The Office of Electronic Warfare and Avionics Program at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia is leading efforts to rapidly develop and field a replacement high frequency radio in various aircraft for meet the needs of fighters.

The office’s Rapid Prototyping and Fielding program will modernize approximately 2,500 radios in aircraft, including the HC-130J, KC-135, C-130H, C-130J, C-17, C-5, B-1, B-52 dell ‘Air Force, and E4-B, as well as Navy E6-B, Marine Corps KC-130J and Coast Guard C-130 and C-130J as part of a multi-year contract.

The competitive rapid prototyping effort ended last month with BAE Systems Inc. being selected as a supplier to complete the rapid deployment phase to manufacture and install 2,000 radios on Department of Defense aircraft within the next five years. The rest of the radios will be completed under a traditional follow-up contract based on a federal acquisition regulation.

Captain Jeremy Fazely, Head of the Airborne High Frequency Radio Modernization Program at the AFLCMC Electronic Warfare and Avionics Program Office, leads a multidisciplinary team of 35 to rapidly develop and field an airborne replacement high frequency radio to meet the needs of the fighters.

“It all starts with the legacy of the airborne high frequency radio, the AN / ARC-190, which is currently aboard these operational aircraft,” he said. “The AN / ARC-190 is still functional, but it cannot meet the needs of today’s fighters and is no longer in production. If the AHFRM program did not exist, the field would begin to see degraded operational impacts as early as 2024 “.

These factors created compelling reason to field a replacement for radio, which Fazely said his program was approved as an intermediate level acquisition program of Section 804 – Quick Field Program to Make.

To meet the program schedule, Fazely said his team will reuse some elements of the aircraft’s HF radio system and completely redesign and modernize other elements of the legacy system.

The AHFRM program manager said that in order to field a replacement radio that could meet the fighter’s needs, his team had to completely rebuild the transmitter receiver, or radio element of this system, so that it was a box that fit the same profile as the legacy radio, using existing aircraft wiring and connections.

“The new R / T is a software-defined radio with three expansion slots, which makes this new R / T easily upgradeable and agile to meet future requirements, such as adding new waveforms or changing the way in the radio transmits voice or data to, “he said.

Fazely said HF radios are nothing new.

“They are a very robust medium for long-range communications without using satellite communications and are required for transoceanic flight,” he said. “This new radio will be able to provide that crew with an alternative and safe means of communication should they lose satellite communications or communicate in an area where the communication spectrum is challenged by jamming or spoofing by the adversary. “.

AHFRM’s main platform is the KC-135, Fazely said.

“We tested prototypes almost monthly aboard a KC-135 at various locations or in the C-5 system integration lab located in Robins,” he said. “We have involved radio operators in these test efforts and combined them with our integrated working groups with the various offices of the aviation system program. We were able to get initial and often man-to-machine feedback for the development of the radio. “

The mix of engineers, test managers, equipment specialists and program management support personnel from Robins and other East Coast locations collaborated on the modernization project for several months.

“Robins’ AFLCMC has historically focused on modification and support,” Fazely said. “The AHFRM, however, is an acquisition effort that will eventually transition to support at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.”

Strangely put, as acquisitions typically took place at other AFLCMC bases and subsequently moved to AFLCMC at Robins, the program has a unique advantage in being acquired and maintained at Robins.

AHFRM will install new radios on the core platform, the KC-135, and begin development testing this year. This will put the team into operational flight testing of a radio, developing a basic integration guide, and low-resource production for the program offices of the various aircraft to use for their integration and testing efforts before each aircraft begin fielding the new radio across their fleet.

Fazely said the various program offices of the aviation system will be responsible for coordinating efforts to install these radios.

“Once the aviation system program offices test and ensure the functionality of the new radio, maintenance units will begin receiving new radios and instructions for field-level installations via a time compliance technical order,” he said.

By 2027, 2,000 radios will be installed on aircraft, with the remaining 500 expected to be installed within the next two years, Fazely said.

“The new radio will perform all of the same functions as the legacy radio and will also be backward and forward compatible to ensure that while we deploy these new radios that operations are not disrupted,” Fazely said. “We are really excited about the new improved capabilities and assured that this radio will provide the fighters. The Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy will all acquire new long-range safe radio capabilities in order to improve their operational effectiveness. “

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