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C-17 puts flares to the test over Eglin

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III aircrew found itself away from the rainy climate of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and into the sunshine here to participate in an Air Mobility Command flare effectiveness test, that began Feb. 29.

The C-17 crew along with a C-5 crew from Travis AFB, Calif., made the journey from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to put their aircraft countermeasures to the test.

The aircraft-dispensed flares are used as infrared countermeasures designed to defeat "heat seeking" surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles.

AMC requested the flare testing from the AMC Test and Evaluation Squadron. With help from the 46th Test Squadron, the C-17 and C-5 crew and support from here, the AMC TES made it happen.

Master Sgt. Justin Hudson, AMC TES command senior test director, manages and directs operational tests to provide leadership with unbiased feedback in order for them to make well-informed decisions to provide war-fighter proven solutions.

"We are overseeing the flare effectiveness test and ensuring flares are operating the way they should be," said Hudson. "This test is very important because we are constantly trying to outsmart our enemies. These tests ensure our operators are flying with the most up to date countermeasure system."

Not every aircraft in the Air Force has the flares as a defense counter measure.

"Typically cargo-carrying aircrafts such as the C-130, C-5 and C-17 carry the flares as a defense countermeasure," said Hudson. "The flares are vital and enhance mission capabilities by defending the aircraft operators."

Maj. Mike Motschman, 7th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, has had the flares on his aircraft deploy down range, but stressed more goes into a successful mission than the aircraft countermeasures.

"Part of being aircrew includes knowing all the aircraft systems and how they operate including the flare systems," said Motschman.

Motschman said there's a lot of that goes into evading an enemy.

"It's not just the flares and it's not just the way the aircraft is flown," he said. "Training is probably the most important part but they all have to come together."

After about a month's worth of testing Hudson and his team determine the results of the test and compose a report to deliver to AMC.

"We identify risks and improvements and determine whether the test was successful or unsuccessful and explain why," Hudson said.

The team will likely be out here again next year with the same intentions for their mission: to keep the aircrew safe and to stay ahead of the enemy.