16 EWS Supports BTF Europe

  • Published
  • By Capt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Public Affairs

As U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers conducted joint air operations alongside NATO partners while deployed to Morón Air Base, Spain for Bomber Task Force 24-2, members from the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron were rapidly reprogramming data from Eglin AFB, Florida, and providing hands-on training on the ground in Spain.

A team from the 16th EWS B-1 Flight deployed to Europe to provide education, training and operational support to the B-1 fleet on MDFs and receive feedback on Electromagnetic Warfare capabilities from the aircrew.

“A big part of our mission out there was to strengthen our relationship with ops squadrons,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Janel Yandura, 16th EWS B-1 flight commander. “It’s easy for our members to feel detached from the real-world operations when they’re creating mission data.”

Reprogramming, or updating, MDFs is crucial in times of conflict to provide warfighters with data about the electronic landscape, to include latest threat intelligence, that allows aircraft, aircrew, and commanders to sense, identify, locate, and counter threats in the EMS.

BTF 24-2 gave the 16th EWS an opportunity to work more with the B-1’s new defensive software suite, called Pre-processor Flight Software (PFS) 6.42, and with the older PFS 6.35.

“The PFS is a crucial piece in the [B-1] system,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lieutenant Miriansky Rivasramos, 16th EWS B-1 flight branch chief. “It protects the aircrew by enabling EW capabilities, especially the ability to register and display adversary and friendly signals.”

The PFS 6.42 is the current block-cycle upgrade for the B-1’s defensive system suite, allowing the aircraft to use previously untapped capabilities of the AN/ALQ-161A electronic countermeasures system.

While on the ground, 16th EWS members worked with maintenance teams and aircrews on best practices for downloading Crowd Source Flight Data off the aircraft and uploading reprogrammed MDFs.

“Being out there allowed us to see how our MDFs are operating in the field rather than in our ideal lab environment,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Chloe Nuckols, 16th EWS B-1 mission data specialist. “Working in person with our mission partners helped us see why what we’re doing is important and put it into perspective.”

The integration allowed B-1 crews to discuss how they interact with MDFs, providing feedback and insight to better improve the reprogramming process and speed up timelines. In addition, the 16th EWS members conducted debriefs to aircrews, helping troubleshoot any challenges and strengthening their ability to maintain a ready and strategic bomber force.

"Collaboration with the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing is imperative to be ready for the next fight,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joshua Cover, 9th Bomber Squadron wing electronic warfare officer. “Our primary goal was to streamline our processes allowing us to dynamically operate in any Electromagnetic Spectrum, and thanks to this integration, we continued to hone the mighty BONE's ability to rapidly receive signals, analyze, and reprogram our defensive systems while being forward deployed."

With the success of the integration, the 16th EWS plans to support more BTFs in the future, affording its members and bomber aircrews with real-world experience and education, and delivering the data the Air Force requires to be on watch 24/7 in all domains to defend the nation and U.S. Allies.

“Our people did a fantastic job and had clear communication, not just with the unit back home, but with the squadrons out there,” said Yandura. “Displaying our mission helped prove how important we are as a squadron to the B-1 enterprise.”

(Editor’s note: BTF 24-2 falls under Large-Scale Exercise 2024, an umbrella term that incorporates dozens of separate exercises and military activities, under multiple combatant commands, that enables the U.S. Joint Force to train with Allies and partners and improve shared understanding, trust and interoperability on security challenges across the globe.)