ARIA makes final touch down at Edwards By Leigh Anne Bierstine Public Affairs August 24, 2001 The   EC-18B   Advanced   Range   Instrumentation   Aircraft   is   expected   to   make   its   final   touch   down today   at   Edwards   bringing   to   a   close   an   historic   30-year   career   of   recording   telemetry   from space vehicles such as the space shuttle and ballistic missiles. 8/24/01   –   EDWARDS AIR   FORCE   BASE,   Calif.   The   drooping   nose   of   the   EC-18B ARIA   hung   a little   lower   this   week   as   its   impressive   career   began   drawing   to   a   close   upon   touch   down   of   the first   phase   of   its   final   mission   here   Wednesday.      The   last   phase   of   its   final   mission,   an   advanced cruise missile test, is scheduled for today. Both   EC-18B   Advanced   Range   Instrumentation   Aircraft   at   Edwards   are   slated   to   go   to   the   Air Force's   Joint   STARS   program   by   mid-September.   Joint   STARS,   the   E-8C   Joint   Surveillance Target   Attack   Radar   System,   is   an   airborne   battle   management   and   command   and   control platform that provides dedicated support of ground commanders requirements. For   the   past   30   years,   the   ARIA   has   been   recording   and   relaying   telemetry   from   space   vehicles such   as   the   space   shuttle   and   ballistic   missiles.   Throughout   its   historic   career   it   has   operated   in remote regions, gathering data that is beyond the reach of land and marine stations. The   costs   associated   with   maintaining   the   aircraft   and   its   capability   became   a   major   factor   in ending the ARIA program. "We    had    to    make    a    hard    decision,"    said    Brig.    Gen.    Perry    Lamy,    former    412th    Test    Wing commander   at   Edwards,   who   is   now   director   of   operations   at   Headquarters   Air   Force   Materiel Command.   "We   must   continually   balance   accomplishing   the   mission   with   good   stewardship   of our   resources.   Continuing   in   the   situation   we   faced   would   have   made   us   poor   stewards   of taxpayer dollars." The   transfer   of   the   last   two   operational   aircraft   to   Joint   Stars   is   a   bittersweet   event   for   the Edwards-based ARIA crew. "In   many   ways,   the   final   flight   gives   us   closure   on   a   mission   that   has   been   fading   over   the   last two   years,"   said   1st   Lt.   Gus   Jordt   of   the   418th   Flight   Test   Squadron,   mission   commander   for   the last   two   flights.   "However,   it   is   sad   to   see   such   a   great   mission,   a   great   aircraft   and   great capability all go away." Operational   customers   from   the   49th Test   and   Evaluation   Squadron   at   Barksdale Air   Force   Base, La.,   accompanied   the   ARIA   team   on   several   of   its   final   missions.   The   Barksdale   crew   will   soon rely   on   the   Big   Crow,   an   NKC-135B   out   of   Kirtland Air   Force   Base,   N.M.,   to   carry   on   its   testing   of both   nuclear   and   conventional   advanced   cruise   missile   testing.The   final ARIA   team   is   an   integral part of ensuring its replacement is up to the task. According    to    Capt.    Aaron    Almendinger,    chief    of    ARIA    technical    operations,    the    crew    has overcome    numerous    challenges    in    completing    its    final    missions.   A    team    of    prime    mission electronic    equipment    operators,    or    PMEEs    as    they    are    often    called,    from    the    418th    FLTS supports Almendinger. "Over   the   past   two   years   it   has   become   more   difficult   to   maintain   and   upgrade   our   aging equipment   and   we   have   continued   to   lose   experienced   people,"   Almendinger   said.   "It   has   been tough to keep up a good product, but the crew has done it and made it look easy." The   captain   adds   that   without   the   support   of   the   operators   ARIA   would   not   have   enjoyed   the success it has. "If you take away their expert knowledge and experience, the capability is not there," he said. Originally   named   Apollo   Range   Instrumentation   Aircraft,   the   ARIA   program   was   developed   by NASA    and    the    Department    of    Defense    in    the    1960s    to    track    lunar    missions,    along    with unmanned orbital and ballistic re-entry programs. The program came to Edwards in 1994. Fans   of   the   sole   remaining   EC-135E   ARIA   can   find   her   at   the   Air   Force   Museum   at   Wright- Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Source: Edwards Air Force Base Archives
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ARIA makes final touch down at Edwards By Leigh Anne Bierstine Public Affairs August 24, 2001 The   EC-18B   Advanced   Range   Instrumentation   Aircraft is    expected    to    make    its    final    touch    down    today    at Edwards   bringing   to   a   close   an   historic   30-year   career of   recording   telemetry   from   space   vehicles   such   as   the space shuttle and ballistic missiles. 8/24/01   –   EDWARDS   AIR   FORCE   BASE,   Calif.   –   The drooping   nose   of   the   EC-18B   ARIA   hung   a   little   lower this   week   as   its   impressive   career   began   drawing   to   a close   upon   touch   down   of   the   first   phase   of   its   final mission   here   Wednesday.      The   last   phase   of   its   final mission,   an   advanced   cruise   missile   test,   is   scheduled for today. Both   EC-18B Advanced   Range   Instrumentation Aircraft at   Edwards   are   slated   to   go   to   the   Air   Force's   Joint STARS   program   by   mid-September.   Joint   STARS,   the E-8C   Joint   Surveillance Target Attack   Radar   System,   is an    airborne    battle    management    and    command    and control    platform    that    provides    dedicated    support    of ground commanders requirements. For   the   past   30   years,   the   ARIA   has   been   recording and   relaying   telemetry   from   space   vehicles   such   as   the space    shuttle    and    ballistic    missiles.    Throughout    its historic    career    it    has    operated    in    remote    regions, gathering   data   that   is   beyond   the   reach   of   land   and marine stations. The   costs   associated   with   maintaining   the   aircraft   and its   capability   became   a   major   factor   in   ending   the ARIA program. "We   had   to   make   a   hard   decision,"   said   Brig.   Gen. Perry   Lamy,   former   412th   Test   Wing   commander   at Edwards,     who     is     now     director     of     operations     at Headquarters   Air   Force   Materiel   Command.   "We   must continually    balance    accomplishing    the    mission    with good   stewardship   of   our   resources.   Continuing   in   the situation   we   faced   would   have   made   us   poor   stewards of taxpayer dollars." The   transfer   of   the   last   two   operational   aircraft   to   Joint Stars    is    a    bittersweet    event    for    the    Edwards-based ARIA crew. "In   many   ways,   the   final   flight   gives   us   closure   on   a mission   that   has   been   fading   over   the   last   two   years," said    1st    Lt.    Gus    Jordt    of    the    418th    Flight    Test Squadron,   mission   commander   for   the   last   two   flights. "However,   it   is   sad   to   see   such   a   great   mission,   a   great aircraft and great capability all go away." Operational     customers     from     the     49th     Test     and Evaluation   Squadron   at   Barksdale Air   Force   Base,   La., accompanied    the   ARIA    team    on    several    of    its    final missions.   The   Barksdale   crew   will   soon   rely   on   the   Big Crow,   an   NKC-135B   out   of   Kirtland   Air   Force   Base, N.M.,    to    carry    on    its    testing    of    both    nuclear    and conventional   advanced   cruise   missile   testing.The   final ARIA     team     is     an     integral     part     of     ensuring     its replacement is up to the task. According   to   Capt.   Aaron   Almendinger,   chief   of   ARIA technical      operations,      the      crew      has      overcome numerous   challenges   in   completing   its   final   missions. A team   of   prime   mission   electronic   equipment   operators, or   PMEEs   as   they   are   often   called,   from   the   418th FLTS supports Almendinger. "Over   the   past   two   years   it   has   become   more   difficult to   maintain   and   upgrade   our   aging   equipment   and   we have      continued      to      lose      experienced      people," Almendinger   said.   "It   has   been   tough   to   keep   up   a good   product,   but   the   crew   has   done   it   and   made   it look easy." The    captain    adds    that    without    the    support    of    the operators   ARIA   would   not   have   enjoyed   the   success   it has. "If     you     take     away     their     expert     knowledge     and experience, the capability is not there," he said. Originally      named     Apollo      Range      Instrumentation Aircraft,   the   ARIA   program   was   developed   by   NASA and   the   Department   of   Defense   in   the   1960s   to   track lunar    missions,    along    with    unmanned    orbital    and ballistic    re-entry    programs.    The    program    came    to Edwards in 1994. Fans   of   the   sole   remaining   EC-135E ARIA   can   find   her at   the Air   Force   Museum   at   Wright-Patterson Air   Force Base, Ohio. Source: Edwards Air Force Base Archives