Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Arizona --
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona – More than 800 Airmen participated in this year’s Air Reserve Component (ARC) Weapons and Tactics Council (WEPTAC) which aims to improve equipment through the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation (NGREA) funding. The theme of this year’s event was “Defend the Homeland – Global Warfighters,” which focused the attendees on what they need to enhance the capabilities of their weapon systems and meet emerging needs.
Representatives from both the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard attended this event, October 16-20, to advocate for various weapon systems and the critical item lists they produced during working group discussions, which occurred during the first days of WEPTAC.
"ARC WEPTAC is important and unique because the information flows directly from the warfighter to senior leadership," said Maj. Matthew Clark, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command Test Center (AATC) test pilot and WEPTAC Chairman. “This increases innovation and ensures the needs of the Airmen employing weapon systems are the driving force for modernization.”
Over the past 48 years, numerous advancements have come to fruition through the WEPTAC. The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System or MAFFS, is one of the innovations AATC developed and worked with industry representatives to bring to realization. This module allows C-130 aircraft to be loaded with water or fire retardant to fight fires and is currently being employed to help with the California wildfires. MAFFS equipped C-130 aircraft dropped more than 800,000 gallons of water and fire retardant in support of the firefighting efforts.
Another WEPTAC innovation, currently undergoing testing, is the addition of the LITENING Pod to C-130 aircraft.
“Just as the pod allows fighter pilots to acquire and designate targets from a safer distance, C-130s can survey the objective area from a standoff location,” said Lt. Col. Justin Brumley, AATC Director of Mobility Test.
The pod will hang from a pylon under the cargo aircraft’s wing, with room left for other upgrades.
“We are looking to add sensors to the pod to enable airborne wind sensing,” he added. “This is something all airdrop platforms could use to permit single pass precision air drop. Most of all, this capability minimizes exposure time and keeps aircrew and ground forces safer, whether we are delivering beans or bullets.”
“The LITENING Pod has been around for years in the CAF [combat air forces]. The ability to put it on a C-130 and use it for precision air drops is a game changer,” added Brumley.
The addition of wind sensing equipment will prevent C-130 aircraft from performing multiple passes before they execute an air drop, minimizing their exposure to hostile fire.
In addition to the concept and needed hardware to put LITENING Pods on C-130 aircraft, WEPTAC produced the new Center Display Unit (CDU) for the F-16. This new display allows pilots to view the high definition images received from their sensors. A similar version of the CDU is expected to be fielded in Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard A-10 aircraft soon.
“The CDU puts all of the information in front of the pilot to help them see targets and forces clearly,” said Clark. “We are excited because we are taking this product and adapting it to the A-10. By taking the CDU we already have for the F-16, we are hoping to dramatically shorten the procurement timeline [for the A-10 version].”
The new CDU will make the A-10 more capable as it will give a better vision of the battlefield to provide attack and close air support capabilities.
These WEPTAC innovations, along with many others through the years, help the ARC continue to perform missions with legacy aircraft and older platforms, ensuring Citizen Airmen have the tools they need to defend the homeland and succeed in our global campaigns.