In the U.S. Air Force, an electronic warfare officer (EWO) is a trained aerial navigator who has received training in enemy threat systems, electronic warfare principles and overcoming enemy air defense systems . These officers are specialists in finding, identifying and countering air defense systems and also radar-, infrared- and optically guided surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery as well as enemy fighter planes. In aircraft that could penetrate enemy airspace EWOs protect their aircraft using radar jamming, chaff and flares to deceive potential threats. In other aircraft EWOs work to gather intelligence information on potential enemy air defense systems and communication systems.
For decades the U.S. Air Force used fully trained navigator officers as EWO trainees, or EWOT. Their primary training was carried out by the 453d Flying Training Squadron at the former Mather AFB, California near Sacramento. Their follow-on training as EWOs, called "Combat Crew Training School" (CCTS), was usually carried out at the units to which they had been assigned. The B-52 Stratofortress CCTS was conducted at Castle AFB, California. EWOs could also be assigned to F-4 Phantom II, F-111 Aardvark, C-130 Hercules versions (MC-130, EC-130, etc.), B-1 Lancer or a number of versions of the RC-135.
As an example, the EWO in a B-52 is trained in the use of a variety of active and passive electronic countermeasures (ECM) techniques and equipment. Active jammers include the AN/ALQ-155 Power Management System, AN/ALQ-117/172, AN/ALT-16, AN/ALQ-122, AN/ALQ-153 Tail Warning System and the low-band communications jammer set AN/ALT-32. The EWO monitors the electromagnetic environment through the use of radar receivers such as the AN/ALR-46 and AN/ALR-20A. Additionally, the EWO has command of AN/ALE-24 chaff and AN/ALE-20 flare set for self-protection.
Beginning in 2009, U.S. Air Force candidates for electronic warfare officer and weapons systems officer were no longer required to go though aircraft advanced navigator training first. This is because no aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory that has electronic warfare officers does not already have a navigator on it.
Currently the B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E Strike Eagle weapons systems officer training is located at the Naval Air Station Pensacola. The training period is 12 months not including initial flight screening and completion training as an EWO in the 563d FTS.
The EWO basic course training was conducted at the 563d Flying Training Squadron at Randolph AFB, Texas. It was a 12-week program for B-52, AC/MC/EC-130, and RC-135 EWOs. F-15E and B-1 WSOs are also qualified EWOs. Students went from undergraduate navigator training at the 562d FTS and from WSO to their follow-on training. Upon completion the EWOs were presented with their wings and the WSOs achieved their upgrades. The school was closed, redesigned and reopened as a CSO school in Pensacola, Fl. The last class graduated October 2010.
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