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The EC-130H COMPASS CALL is a United States Air Force tactical electronic warfare built from a modified version of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. In use, disrupts enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. COMPASS CALL system employs the offensive counterinformation and electronic attack or EA capabilities in support of U.S. and Coalition tactical air, surface, and special operations forces. Its electronic attack is now directed at communications, but will be upgraded to be capable against early warning and acquisition radars.

In the tactical context, the COMPASS CALL teams with other assets, especially the EA-6B Prowler and F-16CJ "Wild Weasel" suppression of enemy air defense aircraft, with the EF-18 Growler to join the mix.

The fourteen EC-130H COMPASS CALL aircraft are flown by the 55th Electronic Combat Group (41st, 42nd and 43d Electronic Combat Squadrons) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. They have operated in Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan. Each has a crew of 13:

  • Flight crew of 4: aircraft commander, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer)
  • Mission crew of 9: mission crew commander (electronic warfare officer), weapon system officer (electronic warfare officer), mission crew supervisor (an experienced cryptologic linguist), four analysis operators (linguists), one acquisition operator and an airborne maintenance technician.

Threat detection comes from the AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning system. The infrared countermeasures was not limited to flares, but directed energy from the AN/ALQ-157 system.[1] The aircraft has an AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System [CMDS], is a "smart" dispenser that connects directly to infrared and radar warning receivers, release expendable and towed/retrivable decoys, as well as helping the pilot with situational awareness of the threat.