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Holloman officials host joint-service aircraft for testing

by Airman 1st Class Sondra Escutia
49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/18/2009 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Army, Navy and Marine Corps officials recently conducted a multiplatform countermeasure effectiveness test at White Sands Missile Range, completing a total of 16 missions, with all aircraft hosted by Holloman Air Force Base.

Holloman AFB was selected as the aircraft host because of its ability to support aircraft and ordnance missions for White Sands Missile Range operations and its central location relative to the squadrons participating.

"Everybody from Holloman stepped up to help us pull off this operation," said Jimmy Morgan, the 586th Flight Test Squadron program manager.

During the four days of testing, nine aircraft were evaluated, including the UH-1Y Venom, CH-46E Sea Knight, CH-53E Super Stallion, MV-22 Osprey, CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache.

More than 1,500 infrared countermeasures were dispensed from the aircraft under various test conditions, providing valuable information to be used in theater.

"The Marine Corps, head of the countermeasures division, realized that there are emerging threats in Afghanistan involving helicopters being attacked from above with the use of heat-seeking missiles," said 1st Lt. Steve Crosbie, the 586th FLTS program manager.

The aircraft and their respective units deployed to Holloman AFB from Afghanistan for the duration of the testing, and afterward returned to the area of responsibility.

"They flew the helicopters with different configurations of flare and flying techniques to see what would help combat that threat the best," Lieutenant Crosbie said. "Once they get this information compiled, it will all go straight back to Afghanistan where they can hopefully fly more successful sorties against the enemy."

The 586th FLTS staff headed the operation for Holloman AFB and coordinated with different units throughout the base in order to support the Air Force's sister services.

"Hosting helicopters here was a little bit of a different setup than Holloman is used to," Mr. Morgan said. "It took a little bit more coordination with different agencies to make it happen."

The 49th Operations Support Squadron staff coordinated parking details and airfield hours, working 24 hour operations, while the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper squadrons provided maintenance space for the helicopters. Army Air Operations Division members provided local airspace procedures training to all of the visiting aircrew since they are the only helicopter-familiar organization stationed at Holloman AFB. Additionally, the 49th Fighter Wing Weapons Safety and 49th Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight staff provided munitions support to 586th FLTS weapons personnel.

The testing was ultimately a success and will be used to improve aircraft survivability against infrared missiles, exemplifying a functioning partnership of joint forces to achieve a common goal -- to win today's fight, Mr. Morgan said.

"The testing was a success mainly due to a lot of efforts of Holloman and their ability go above and beyond their normal duty titles which may be launching F-22 (Raptors), but in this case, launching seven different types of helicopters for the Marine Corps, the Army and the Navy, in an effort to provide test data that will help protect the warfighter in theater," Lieutenant Crosbie said.

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