July 17, 2001: Search and Recovery for F-16 and Aircrew

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  • Services Division Search and Recovery Team

The Services Division deployed Edwards AFB's Search and Recovery (SAR) Team and support members-nearly 100 military and civilian personnel-to search for the F-16 lost 17 July 2001. The 13-day operation covered hard terrain in a remote area of China Lake Echo range and successfully recovered the wreckage and remains of the two aircrew. Fifty-eight members of the SAR and its support teams were awarded Air Force Commendation Medals.

Pilot Maj. Aaron George of the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and Judson Brohmer of Tehachapi, California, an aerial photographer under contract to the Air Force Flight Test Center, were killed in the crash of an Edwards-based Lockheed Martin F-16B Block 5 Fighting Falcon while on a test sortie to chase and film the launch of the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy from a second F-16, also from the 416th Flight Test Squadron.

n 2002, the USAF renewed its interest in an air-launched decoy and started a new industry-wide competition for a variant with greater endurance.[2] The contract for a new MALD was awarded to Raytheon in Spring 2003.

The Raytheon ADM-160B is similar in configuration to the ADM-160A, but has a trapezoidal fuselage cross section and is larger and heavier. It is powered by a Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150, a more powerful variant of the TJ-50.

The first ADM-160B was delivered in Spring 2009.[3] In 2010 an "operationally significant quantity" of the drones were delivered to the Air Force.[4] The USAF currently plans to procure about 1,500.

In 2008 a contract for a jamming variant MALD-J was awarded to Raytheon. It made its first freefall test in 2009 and passed its critical design review in early 2010.[5][6] The first MALD-J was delivered to the Air Force on September 6, 2012. On September 24, Raytheon started operational testing, achieving four successful flights out of four launches.[7] In April 2015, the MALD-J completed operational testing, satisfying all requirements in 42 flight tests over the last two years.[8]

In November 2012, Raytheon completed ground verification tests for the MALD and MALD-J for integration onto the MQ-9 Reaper Integration onto the aircraft was expected sometime in 2013, with the goal for an unmanned suppression of enemy air defenses capability.  The company has also explored integration onto the smaller MQ-1 Predator and U.S. Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle. In June 2013, Raytheon completed a four-year development program of the MALD, under budget. The MALD  successfully completed all 30 engineering and operational flight tests, with each version completing 15. The Air Force has cleared the B-model MALD for export.  In May 2014, Raytheon delivered the 1,000th MALD-J to the Air Force as part of the Lot 5 production contract. The MALD program achieved a perfect 33-for-33 flight test success record over the past two years.

In December 2014, a MALD-J was test-flown with a radio data-link to expand situational awareness and allow for in-flight targeting adjustments.  While carrying out a jamming mission, the MALD-J was able to send situation awareness data to the EW Battle Manager, which used the information to adjust its mission while in-flight.   In July 2015, Raytheon revealed it had developed a new composite missile body for the MALD-J in partnership with Fokker Aerostructures and Italian race car manufacturer Dallara that is 25 percent cheaper to produce; Fokker adapted robotics to wind the carbon fiber fuselage instead of the conventional manual process and Dallara applied its lightweight structural technologies to airframe accessories such as air inlets and covers.

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