ThunderMoose tests electromagnetic warfare

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Chelsea Smith
  • 125th Fighter Wing

Airmen of the 114th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron and approximately 40 Airmen from five Air National Guard units will conduct a multi-state mobility and weapons system training event, dubbed ThunderMoose, at Bangor Air National Guard Base, Maine.

The 114th EWS’s mission is to organize, train and equip personnel to conduct electromagnetic attacks that support joint operations in all domains. They use specialized equipment such as the Counter Communications System to sever communications between adversaries on earth and spacecraft in orbit, creating an advantage for friendly forces in conflict.

As part of the exercise, Airmen will air transport an electromagnetic warfare system from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor, Maine. Upon arrival, they’ll establish a forward operating area and conduct training with the assistance of the 290th Joint Communications Support Element, the 126th Intelligence Squadron and the 293rd Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron. ThunderMoose is the 114th EWS’s first air mobilization of an electromagnetic weapon system since 2017, and the event allows new members the opportunity to inventory, pack, load, and operate their systems.

“The primary purpose of ThunderMoose is to exercise our planning and mobilization process in order to decrease our response timelines while ensuring the delivery of a full capability,” said Lt. Col. Scott McGuire, 114th EWS commander. “We’re prepared to conduct mobility training with safety, effectiveness, and readiness as the goal.”

The two-week exercise will challenge Airmen from multiple teams to work together to complete the mission. The scenario, developed by the Ohio Air National Guard’s 126th Intelligence Squadron, requires maintainers, security professionals and intelligence, cyber, and EW operators to coordinate efforts to ensure the employment of electromagnetic attack while protecting the system from cyber intrusion or physical attacks. Most importantly, ThunderMoose challenges Airmen to tap into their ingenuity and creatively apply their skills and expertise to mitigate shortfalls in equipment or changes in the tactical environment.

“This [exercise] is meant to demonstrate that we can go anywhere, anytime, and deal with challenges to set up a site and have it operational ASAP,” said Master Sgt. Cliffton Bryant, a 114th EWS flight chief and exercise developer. “And get it done with 10 people.”

“Right now, we bring too much equipment. Enough to fill two C-17s,” said Bryant. “Our objective was to make a smaller, more agile, and leaner package on both people and equipment. We’ve got all our people and equipment down to a single aircraft and downsized the cargo space requirement by over 50%.”

“This is about access and lethality” said Lt. Col. Anthony Surman, a 114th EWS operations officer. “We can’t expect to be a priority for the C-5 or the C-17. To be ready, we need to be prepared to access and employ effects from areas where only the C-130 can get us.”

In addition to mobility, the exercise allows supporting units to satisfy training requirements. The 290th JCSE, based at MacDill Air Force Base, will forward deploy tactical communications to ensure the unit can remain connected to higher authorities and supported units. The 126th Intelligence Squadron will provide unit level intelligence functions to ensure the 114th EWS can attack adversary communications when and where they are needed most. Finally, the Hawaii Air National Guard’s EWS will observe pre-deployment, deployment, exercise, and re-deployment phases as they continue to establish the Air National Guard’s fourth EWS that supports U.S. Space Force missions.