Project to Protect KC-135s from Missiles Advances

Airmen with the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing at Selfridge, northeast of Detroit, have concluded ground testing a prototype version of Northrop Grumman’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system called Guardian on a KC-135 tanker, according to a unit release. Next up is flight testing Guardian on this KC-135, which is assigned to the wing’s 171st Air Refueling Squadron; this phase of testing is expected to conclude by early summer, states the release. In January, members of Selfridge’s 191st Maintenance Squadron led an Air Force-industry team that began integrating Guardian on the KC-135’s rear portion. “Our airmen are really focused on this project, [as] it has the potential to directly save the lives of not only our own airmen, but any soldier, sailor, or marine who is onboard” one of the airplanes, said CMSgt. Henry Ryan, 191st MXS superintendent, in the March 21 release. Guardian is designed to protect aircraft from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles by jamming the incoming missile’s guidance system using a laser beam. The Air Force has not finalized plans for how many of its more than 400 KC-135s it will equip with the upgrade. (Selfridge report by TSgt. Dan Heaton)