Fort Drum is modernizing its electronic warfare training capabilities with the recent arrival of the Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) system. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Fulmer, 174th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander (pictured right), assists visiting aviators who are testing the new Joint Threat Emitter system at Range 48. The JTE is an advanced electronic warfare threat simulation and training system that prepares military personnel to identify and counter enemy missile or artillery threats by creating a state-of-the-art reactive battlespace in a training environment. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Advanced electronic warfare systems at Fort Drum enhance training capabilities for aviation units
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Sept. 1, 2020) – The giant radar array of the Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) quietly spins around in slow rotations on its fixed platform at the Adirondack Range Main Complex. On the ground, this advanced, high-tech training system seems to be doing nothing of importance.
But for the military aviators overhead, the JTE is a force to be reckoned with as it tracks their aircraft and launches a simulated surface-to-air missile attack.
“These systems are designed to replicate a wide range of enemy threat systems,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Fulmer, 174th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander. “So when our aircraft are coming in to prosecute fixed-wing targets, now they’re also going to encounter these other simulated threats and have to react to enemy opposition.
“The threat replication is way beyond anything we had previously, and it will vastly improve the training we can provide,” he added.
The threats aren’t physical – pilots can only see it displayed on their radar warning receivers (RWRs) or other specialized equipment.
“The RWRs let them know that an enemy is out there and is looking for them,” Fulmer said. “Once identified, the pilots can assess if it would be an immediate threat and then react accordingly.”
Fulmer said that surrogate targets, such as an old artillery system, can be placed near the JTE to add to the realism of the training operation. He said that surrogate targets are meant to look like real threat systems so that pilots can physically confirm the threat in the same location as they had detected it electronically.
Two JTE systems have been installed – one at the Adirondack Gunnery and Bombing Range (Range 48) and another at the Flight Landing Strip next to the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF). A third site is under construction at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, and the system will be delivered next summer. Multiple JTEs are connected to simulate a large-scale, integrated air defense system. In a training environment, that means air crews can be tested against a more-lethal adversary.
“The idea is that, much like a military adversary, threat systems would be spread out to provide protection and coverage of their valuable assets,” Fulmer said. “So, in partnership with the Fort Drum Garrison command team, we tried to take full advantage of the real estate available to provide the most realistic training / coverage and put them in logical locations.”
Fulmer said that the idea is to go beyond just Fort Drum airspace and to have JTE interconnectivity throughout the larger military operations areas. He said that the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center – an Air National Guard training facility in Michigan – can remote access the systems here and provide assistance for the JTE operations, even from several states away.
Jim Moore, Fort Drum Training Division chief at the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said that the JTE represents a significant upgrade to the training capabilities at Range 48.
“The Joint Threat Emitter systems can support joint air / ground operations between multiple services, and it represents a huge addition to the Fort Drum Training Complex,” he said. “It will provide us with a capability that is unmatched in the Northeast.”
Range 48 is the primary aviation range used at Fort Drum for weapons training. It supports aircraft from other installations throughout New York and the Northeast, including the Army National Guard and U.S. Air Force.
“Fort Drum has incredible importance in the aviation world for conducting training that I don’t think a lot of people know about,” Fulmer said. “I mean, we get flyers from all over the country – B-2s from Missouri; F-35s from Burlington, Vermont; F-15s from Massachusetts, F-16s from Washington, D.C., and New Jersey. These JTEs are going to be provide a much better training environment for these units.”