AFEWES Celebrates Its Fortieth Anniversary
FORT WORTH, Texas, October 26th, 1998 -- This month the Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator (AFEWES) celebrates it 40th year of operation. AFEWES has long been viewed as the world's premier hardware-in-the-loop electronic warfare test and evaluation laboratory.
AFEWES is a secure test facility at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems (Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems) located at U.S. Air Force Plant No. 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. Its primary use has been in improving the survivability of U.S. and allied aircraft in hostile air defense environments.
The original facility contained only a single surface-to-air missile simulator. AFEWES has been continually upgraded and expanded to keep pace with the changing foreign military threat, and today the facility contains more than 30 different simulations of surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, airborne interceptors and air-to-air missiles. Today's facility is capable of simulating threats in the radio frequency, infrared, visual and ultraviolet spectrums of electromagnetic energy.
AFEWES systems operate in real-time, at actual frequency/wavelength, and include operator-in-the-loop effects. During testing, hardware simulations or actual threat equipment engage actual electronic warfare systems to evaluate their effectiveness. "Because of its controlled laboratory infrastructure, AFEWES provides important test capabilities not available at other test and evaluation facilities or ranges," said Dewey Tipton, manager of the Command and Control Attack team that performs the operations and upgrades of AFEWES.
In 1958, engineers at the Fort Worth Operation of General Dynamics Convair (the predecessor of General Dynamics Fort Worth Division, Lockheed Fort Worth Company, and Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems) developed a laboratory concept called the Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator (EWES). The purpose was to develop defensive countermeasures for the B-58 Hustler bomber which the company was then designing.
"The EWES lab was developed because we wanted to see how the system was going to work in the real world," recalls Bernie Falk, who was involved in the facilitys initial development. "More importantly, the lab allowed us to test in hours on the ground what would have taken us months to test in the air," said Falk.
Spencer Coleman, also involved in the original laboratory, added, "The EWES was invaluable to the B-58 development effort because it allowed us to measure the statistical distribution of weapon miss distances, which we couldnt get in flight test."
Falk and Coleman have since been elected by their peers to the "Employee Hall of Fame" at Tactical Aircraft Systems, in recognition of their pioneering work in developing aircraft EW systems.
In the early 1960s, the U.S. Air Force recognized the value of the facility, assumed management, and gave it its present name. The facility has functioned under the oversight of various USAF research and development centers and came under control of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 1995.
Since its beginning, Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies have been the sole contractor responsible for the facilitys operation, maintenance and continued expansion.
AFEWES comes under the direction of Charles A. Anderson, vice president of Information Warfare programs, at Tactical Aircraft Systems. "AFEWES most significant contributions have been those in direct support of ongoing military operations over the years," Anderson said. "During the Cuban Missile Crisis, AFEWES refined defensive countermeasures to support strategic reconnaissance missions. Virtually all the electronic warfare systems used in the Vietnam War were tested in the facility in the 1960s, and we accurately predicted combat attrition during Operation Linebacker, the massive air strikes against North Vietnam."
Throughout the Cold War, AFEWES performed highly classified recurring test and evaluation of various strategic platforms. Later, during terrorist threats in the Middle East, AFEWES has been used to develop effective countermeasures for civilian aircraft being threatened by heat-seeking missiles. Defensive techniques developed in AFEWES protected escort aircraft in Operation Eldorado Canyon, the retaliatory air strike against Libya in 1986. Virtually all U.S. and Coalition systems employed in the 1991 Gulf War were evaluated in AFEWES to ensure their performance in combat. AFEWES was used to recreate and evaluate the conditions that led to the downing of Capt. Scott OGradys F-16 in Bosnia in 1995.
Lt. Col. Linda K. Palmer, USAF, a former director of the AFEWES laboratory, said, "This high-fidelity simulation capability has proven to be a cost-effective part of the DoD's Electronic Combat Test Process, evaluating the effectiveness of aircraft protection systems from their initial concept through operational deployment. Following our investigation of Captain OGradys shoot-down, the F-16 SPO used data obtained in AFEWES to reprogram F-16 radar warning equipment."
Major General John E. Corder, USAF Retired, the former commander of the USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center, and director of Operations for the Coalition Air Forces during the Gulf War, recently provided a resounding endorsement of the AFEWES laboratory: "During my professional career I have always depended on effective electronic warfare equipment in either mortal combat operations as a fighter pilot and as a senior combat air commander responsible for helping to provide EW [electronic warfare] systems for others. Because I was once shot down in Southeast Asia, Ive always insisted that the performance of EW gear be proven prior to combat. Before progressing to flight test, I personally made sure it first worked against the threats at AFEWES, the ground-based test and evaluation facility of choice for me. AFEWES important contributions to the warfighter are many. My congratulations and thanks to AFEWES and its personnel on this, their 40th Anniversary!"
Congresswoman Kay Granger, who represents Texas 12th Congressional District and is a member of the House National Security Committee, points out, "The continuing need for AFEWES proven test and evaluation capabilities at Air Force Plant 4 was validated by the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, in a decisive 7-1 vote."
AFEWES testing remains a cost-effective complement to open-air flight testing and a valuable contributor to reduced electronic combat system development costs. AFEWES services are available to DoD agencies, U.S. allies, and the defense industry.