The E-9A twin turbo prop aircraft, based on the Bombardier de Havilland Dash-8 commuter transport, is used in the weapons evaluation program primarily as a surveillance platform to ensure the Gulf Coast waters are clear of civilian boaters and aircraft during live missile launches and other hazardous military activities. Two E-9A aircraft operating from Tyndall AFB are used for TM and UHF relay and surface clearance in support of Air Force Development Test Center (AFDTC) operations at Eglin AFB, Florida.
The de Havilland Dash 8 (DHC-8) is a short to medium range turboprop capable of carrying up to 32 passengers and crew. It is built as rugged, reliable aircraft for high-frequency and short-haul regional airline operations with its unique STOL capability. The de Havilland Dash 8 was launched in 1980 as a larger successor to the highly successful Twin Otter [a few of which are in US military service as the UV-18A] and a more fuel-efficient and advanced technological alternative to the Dash 7 [a few of which are in US military service as the RC-7 Airborne Reconnaissance - Low (ARL)].
The E-9 aircraft will be seen daily in the Tyndall terminal area and special use airspace. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall operates approximately 40 full scale QF-4 aircraft and 60 subscale targets(BQM-34 and MQM-107D) to provide manned and unmanned aerial targets for A/A WSEP, WIC syllabus requirements, William Tell, and USAF-directed OT&E and DT&E programs. Squadron members also operate the USAF's only two E-9A airborne platform/telemetry relay aircraft that provide ocean surface surveillance and relay missile/target telemetry of missiles fired in over the horizon profiles on the Gulf Ranges.
In FY97, the E-9A flew approximately 425 hours in support of various programs, conducting initial and follow-on operational test and evaluation as well as weapons competitions. E-9A supported the F-15/F-16 operational flight program, advanced short and medium range air-to-air missiles, and the Navy's Tomahawk program.
Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center continually relies on small contractors for major projects. King Aerospace Inc (KAI), located in Dallas TX, Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) contractor for the E-9A, successfully performed annual heavy maintenance with no impact to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group's (WEG) flying schedule for the period of 1 June 1998 to 1 April 1999. During this period KAI supported two special tests. One test was a proof of concept for the advanced cruise missile and the other was a Navy-Fjord test. E-9A support for the tests was critical and proved successful. KAI was also instrumental in maintaining the aircraft during two hurricane evacuations and three command ceremonies. KAI was able to identify and correct a problem in data transmission rates for the ASRAAM missile. Currently, the aircraft is being modified to support the upcoming AIM-9X testing. KAI has averaged a 99 percent Scheduling Effectiveness and Fully Mission Capable Rate and a 100 percent Telemetry Effectiveness Rate. The E-9A contract requires a 92 percent Scheduling Effectiveness Rate, 80 percent Mission Capable Rate, and a Telemetry Effectiveness Rate of 90 percent.
The E-9A Airborne Telemetry Platform Upgrade project provides an over-the-horizon, ultra-high frequency command initiate/destruct relay system and increased telemetry receive/record data rates up to 10 Mbits/sec.
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