DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
The Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center C-130 Hercules Detachment from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and the 182nd Airlift Wing from Illinois, visited Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to test a high-resolution, multi-sensor pod, April 5-13, 2021.
The LITENING Targeting Pod is used for locating, fixing and targeting enemy target sets. It’s used by U. S. Air Force fighter and bomber platforms, specifically the C-130 Hercules, to survey an operational area and track assigned targets. AATC and the 182nd employed two aircraft in order to test the pod’s functionality and help determine its advantages to the operational mission.
“AATC is working to fully integrate the LITENING TGP with the C-130, primarily to aid the precision airdrop initiative,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Brumley, AATC director of operations. “The pod helps the C-130 airdrop mission by adding the ability to generate airdrop location coordinates, locate and avoid enemy and sensitive objects, such as people or structures; and track airdropped supplies following the airdrop release.”
AATC worked closely with Davis-Monthan’s 563rd Rescue Group in order to perform the tests. The 563rd RQG provided training airdrop equipment, loaded the equipment in both aircraft, and helped inspect the equipment before flight. They also authorized use of their drop zone location at the Marana Regional Airport where the tests occurred.
“Operational testing means testing in a simulated operational environment,” Brumley said. “In this case, it means airdropping equipment to an active drop zone. Without the 563rd’s help, AATC would not have had the airdrop equipment or the drop zone location to conduct this testing.”
Tests like these are beneficial to not just the guard or reserve, but the entire U. S. Air Force. These tests provide an improved capability applicable to a large number of aerial combat platforms and rescue units.
“This test is focused on ANG/AFRC C-130H aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Damron, AATC C-130H Test Detachment project analyst. “However, if the LITENING TGP becomes a fielded system for the C-130H, then a large amount of ground work is laid for other platforms to readily implement this potential game changing technology.”
Total force partnerships like these allow AATC and Davis-Monthan to accomplish various mission sets with ease. The interoperability of guard, reserve and active duty forces enables the U. S. Air Force to remain unmatched in its response to warfighter requirements, and allows new, innovative support to the aircraft the total force employs.
“It is always one team, one fight,” Damron said. “As an operational test organization, AATC strives to test new capabilities in operationally representative environments and scenarios. Often times, the seamless integration of Air Reserve Component and Active Duty Air Force airmen operating together in a contested environment is a key test focus area.”
Integrating the total force into required mission sets improves military effectiveness and resource efficiency, allowing the service to accomplish the mission and innovate for tomorrow’s fight at the lowest possible cost.