October 10, 2018 (by SSgt. Christopher Stoltz) - The 43rd Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron isn't quite as flashy as some of their counterparts here in the Central Command area of responsibility. They do not drop munitions on target, engage in air-to-air combat or fly at hypersonic speeds. However, their mission may be one of the most underrated.
Members of the 43rd EECS and the 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron pose for a photo September 21, 2018, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The 43rd EECS uses EC-130H aircraft to deny the communications capability enemy ground forces need to coordinate an attack, creating chaos and confusion. [USAF photo by SSgt. Christopher Stoltz]
The 43rd EECS and the EC-130 Hercules Compass Call aircraft they fly provide communications-jamming support to United States and coalition ground forces throughout the AOR. While the effects of their efforts are not visible to the eye, they are apparent to the forces on the ground, both in and out of combat.
With its maiden flight in 1981, the EC-130H originally served as a weapon of the Cold War. The airborne tactical weapon system has been modified through the years, with each update providing stronger avionics systems, radars and more powerful digital signal analysis computers and subsystems.
"The 43rd EECS denies critical communications that enemy forces need to coordinate an attack, creating chaos and confusion for those that oppose US and Coalition Forces," said Capt. Jordan Flaugher-Flood, 43rd EECS director of operations. "The non-kinetic effects open a door of opportunity for friendly forces to maneuver and deliver a distinct advantage on the battlefield."
Flaugher-Flood, who hails from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, said denying and disrupting a potential enemy's ability to communicate is comparable to destroying an enemy target.
Their mission is essential in the fact they provide support to degrade the transfer of information essential to enemy weapon systems, providing battlefield resource command and control.
The EC-130H's personnel responsible for flight and navigation are the same as found in most C-130 variants. In the back of the aircraft, however, a number of linguists actively monitor enemy communications, while electronic warfare officers simultaneously employ the Compass Call's electronic attack weapons system.
Because the EC-130H aircraft requires unique and specialized maintenance to keep the aircraft and weapon systems mission ready, maintenance Airmen deploy with the Compass Call aircraft and aircrews. Maintainers like said Staff Sgt. Curtis Dibble, 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron combat systems journeyman, work day-in and day out to keep this capability flying high above the battlefield.
"Me and my fellow wingmen maintain the electronic warfare systems on the EC-130H and my job is critical to the mission here," said Dibble. "The systems we maintain ensure our forces remain unseen by our enemies, so they can carry out their mission effectively."