DULUTH, Minn. – Subject matter experts from Air Combat Command, Air Force Materiel Command, the Air National Guard, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Reserve Test Center and the 148th Fighter Wing exercised end-to-end employment of the recently fielded AN/ASQ-236 radar pod and planned how the Air National Guard will operationalize the pods for all ANG F-16 fighter aircraft.
The exercise Jan. 24-26 followed months of modifications to the aircraft, software and support equipment. The 148th Fighter Wing was the first to accomplish all of the requirements for the F16 operational fleet.
The AN/ASQ-236 pod is an externally mounted Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) pod that provides detailed maps for surveillance, coordinate generation and bomb impact assessment. The pod enables combat air forces to geo-locate points of interest day or night in adverse weather. It complements the recent fielding of the APG-83 AESA Fire Control Radar by the 148th Maintenance Group.
After Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. Air Force recognized the need for an all-weather precision geo-location and reconnaissance system with the reliability inherent in AESA radars. The Air Force and Northrop Grumman designed, fabricated and tested the system now known as the AN/ASQ-236. The pod is already operational on the F-15E Strike Eagle.
The 148th Fighter Wing, which flies the Block 50 F-16CM, has been designated as the Air National Guard’s center for excellence for the AN/ASQ-236.
“As the center of excellence, the 148th will retain expertise in the loading, distribution, training and employment of the AN/ASQ-236 and the capabilities it brings to the warfighter,” said Col. Nathan Aysta, 148th Fighter Wing commander.
The team of experts from operations and maintenance had clear objectives for the week-long visit, including installing the ASQ-236 and validating flight operations on Post-Block F-16s using unique software programs.
“Pilots were trained by AATC subject matter experts on the pod’s software and aircraft systems integration, including troubleshooting and emergency procedures management,” said Maj. Michael Kuzmuk, chief of wing weapons for the 148th Fighter Wing. “Additionally, we trained to and refined best practices for mission planning and post-flight analysis, which included post-mission intelligence distribution.”
Aircraft armament systems specialists, alongside AN/ASQ-236 program managers, installed the pylons for the pod, while fighter aircraft integrated avionics specialists installed the AN/ASQ-236.
Kuzmuk flew the first Post-Block F-16 with the AN/ASQ-236 Jan. 26.
“This effort has been ongoing for many years,” said Annette Becker, F-16 program manager assigned to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. “The continued partnerships, successful execution and effective cross-talk have established courses of action for the Air National Guard to operationalize the AN/ASQ-236.”