Maintaining first line of defense for fighter pilots Published June 6, 2017 By Staff Sgt. Duane Duimstra 114th Fighter Wing Joe Foss Field, S.D. -- It is the job of a small group of Airmen in the electronic countermeasures(ECM) shop to maintain electronic warfare pods. These pods are the first line of defense for the 114th Fighter Wing pilots while protecting foreign and domestic airspace. The members of the 114th Maintenance Squadron ECM shop have a challenging and critical role in the safety of the pilots and aircraft. “The pod’s main job is to prevent enemy radar coming from adversary aircrafts or surface-to-air missiles from locking on to our aircraft. It is done by intercepting enemy radar signals and produces a jamming signal to disorient their radar system.” said Staff Sgt. Derek Jaeger, electronic countermeasure technician. With the rigors of daily flight operations, each pod is meticulously maintained to ensure it is performing properly. “We disassemble, test and inspect all the components of each pod to make sure they are functioning in an optimal level.” said Airman 1st Class Duane Jongeling, electronic countermeasure apprentice. “We inspect the pods multiple times annually to ensure proper function.” Depending on what the ECM Airmen run into during pod maintenance, it can go smoothly or it can be a challenge. “When trouble shooting a problem, we can track the issue down to the smallest part like a pin or a wire.” said Jongeling. An ECM Airman’s job can be tedious and challenging at times but it can also be very rewarding. Making sure every pod works every time, both in training, and in combat, is an important job. “Its a good feeling knowing that you played a big role in bringing home the pilot and the aircraft safely.” said Jaeger.