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A primer of the United States Air Force aircraft/missile Technical Coordination Program.

This article was inspired by the numerous questions from students and our international purchasers on the working of the Technical Coordination Program (TCP). The organizations that provide these services fill a critical role in the maintaining the systems for which they are responsible. The information presented in this article is a combined effort of all the Technical Coordination Group Chiefs and their staffs. The Technical Coordination Groups (TCGs) are always evolving. This article reflects the organizations as they were organized on January 1, 2004.


To maintain today's modern aircraft, engines, armament and other systems requires a great deal of technical expertise. According Brigadier General Jeff Riemer, Commander, Air Force Security Assistance Center (AFSAC), at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, our international customers fly over 6,600 aircraft and have purchased numerous other complex systems that need continuous modifications and upgrades. The United States Air Force (USAF) meets the needs of the international customer through the TCP.

International Engine Management Groups

This article will not be addressing the two International Engine Management Groups (IEMG) which are both located at OO-ALC, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. A future article is planned to cover these unique groups.

Formation of the First Technical Coordination Group

For more than twenty-six years, the United States Air Force (USAF) has been supporting the foreign military sales (FMS) and security assistance (SA) countries with what have become known as TCGs. Prior to 1976, the international users of USAF weapons systems were supported by the System Program Manager (SPM). When weapons were relatively uncomplicated and international users did not operate a significant percentage of the fleet, the SPM generally provided adequate support. As the weapon systems became more complicated and larger percentages of the total fleet were operated by international users, the SPMs were able to devote less and less of their time and effort on support of internationally operated systems.

By 1972 this situation was becoming critical and the Air Staff proposed that some type of plan be developed to furnish technical support to the foreign users of the F-4 weapon system. The F-4 SPM at Ogden Air Logistics Center (OO-ALC) tasked a group with developing a program that would provide the services and support the foreign customers needed. They found that Sacramento Air Logistics Center (SM-ALC) had a Logistics Support Group working under direct cases to provide some logistics support of the F-104 to international users; however, the format of the F-104 program did not seem to be what the F-4 FMS customer countries needed. After an extensive study, a program for providing a cadre or core group of USAF personnel dedicated solely to providing follow-on maintenance support to FMS countries was developed. The Air Staff approved the program and in April 1974, the TCP concept was approved.

Since the first formal TCG to support the F-4 was created in 1976, the program has expanded to encompass a variety of major weapon systems. The programs supported by individual TCGs include the F-4, F-5, A/T-37, F-16, F-15, E-3, C-130, KC-135, Tactical Missiles, Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared at Night, Electronic Combat Systems and various Engines.

The charter for these programs is now addressed in AFMAN 16-101, International Affairs and Security Assistance Management. Chapter 7 this publication defines the services and provides that FMS customers pay on a prorated basis to receive these services.

The Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs (SAF/IA) has delegated day-day oversight to Air Force Security Assistance Center (AFSAC/IAS). After joining a program, participation is considered to be a continuous requirement unless the member country notifies AFSAC 180 calendar days prior to the expiration of the current Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA). Supplemental conditions, as an attachment to the LOA, briefly explain the services which would be provided by each TCG.

Benefits of Technical Coordination Group Membership

Once a system is procured the TCGs provide a single point of contact for countries on all their technical concerns regarding their respective systems. This means the country has direct contact via telephone, fax, and e-mail with any of the TCG team specialists. Member countries can call the TCG directly for all Aircraft/Weapon System technical issues instead of routing messages through various organizations, providing a quicker turn around time on all questions and concerns.

The TCG program provides dedicated follow-on technical and engineering support to the FMS customers to improve serviceability, maintainability and reliability. In addition the TGC provides follow-on support to improved parts and maintenance techniques, improved inspection and overhaul intervals, modifications, etc.

The categories of the services provided under the TCP listed in AFMAN 16-101 include Maintenance Data, Deficiency Reports, Spares Support, Modifications, Technical Data, Technical Order Improvement Report and Reply, Configuration Status Accounting, Mishap Investigation, Technical Problem Resolution, Technology Restrictions and Foreign Disclosure, and Technical Changes to Aircraft/Missile Systems or Subsystems. For a complete description of the tasks included for each of the services, refer to AFMAN 16-101. This manual can be found at

It is important to note that the TCG does not provide the following:

* Production or modification hardware kits or maintenance labor;

* Engineering support to the production process;

* Training requirements;

* P&A or LOAD studies for modifications, unless requested through AFSAC;

* Releasability of data not currently a configuration of the member country's account;

* Configuration control, and;

* Technical Order Distribution or Technical Order Status Information.

The TCGs work exclusively for their international customers, and they are not responsible to provide any service to USAF units or non-member countries. The member countries fund the TCGs, and 100 percent of the TCGs time is dedicated to support of their member countries.

Countries with membership in the TCG are afforded the opportunity of an annual In-Country Review. Personnel from the TCG visit the member country and provide briefings of current and upcoming issues, complete financial status of the case, any new development with the weapon system (proposed modifications and upgrades), discuss any country-specific problems or concerns, and are available to help troubleshoot weapon system problems.

Usually held annually, the World Wide Reviews (WWR) are designed to provide TCG member country representatives an opportunity to present their agenda items and to attend briefings that relate to maintaining and supporting their aircraft and missiles. Open meetings allow for the discussion of items that have general interest to the country representatives. The WWR provides a forum for members and weapon system contractors to interface, view and discuss the latest offerings from industry. Side meetings are normally held between individual country representatives and TCG engineering/technical personnel that cover specific topics of interest to that country or to the all members of TCG. Any questions or requests from member countries are tracked with an action item to ensure that answers are provided to the satisfaction of the requester.

The TCGs also help track and expedite assets that countries have sent in, and are in the process of being repaired. The TCGs have direct access and interface to the US supply system, bases, depots, support contractors, and management personnel.

Currently there are eleven active TCGs, as well as the Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program (ECISAP) supporting a wide range of aircraft, missiles, engines and other systems. Each program has a dedicated Chief who controls and supervises the dedicated staff. This article will discuss the location, history, member countries, and the systems supported for each of the individual TCGs and ECISAP.

F-4 Technical Coordination Group

The McDonnell Phantom was one of the most successful postwar fighters. It was the second most prolific American jet fighter to be built, outnumbered only by the North American Sabre. Total U.S. production was 5057, with another 138 being built under license in Japan. The Phantom was in continuous production for twenty years (from 1959 until 1979). During the Vietnam War, 72 Phantoms were coming off the production line every month. The F-4 Phantom 2, made its first flight in 1958.

The oldest TCG is the F-4. It was created in 1976 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Under the leadership of Major Jim Downs, a country-by-country survey was initiated. As a result of these surveys, a TCG staff was developed consisting of the following:

* An Equipment Specialist in Electronics, Electrical Systems, Structural Systems, Mechanical Systems, and Weapons Systems

* An Electrical/Electronic Engineer, Mechanical Systems Engineer, and;

* A Structural Engineer.

For further support, the group also included a financial manager, technical order maintenance group and a small administrative staff numbering twenty-five. The program was the prototype TCG and still operates under the same essential concept for continued success with high emphasis on customer service!

Originally nine countries joined the program: Iran, Israel, Greece, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Spain, Korea and the United Kingdom. The first liaison officers were in place because there was an International Logistics Section at the time the TCG was formed, which included the country managers for each country.

Following the Camp David Peace Treaty, signed in March 1979, the US moved quickly to assist Egypt both economically and militarily. The LOA, signed in September 1979, implemented the Peace Pharaoh Program for the sale of F-4s to Egypt. Membership to the F-4 TCG was included on the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA).

Currently, the F-4 TCG has five member countries, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Japan and Korea. The current operation is supported with a staff of fourteen, assisted by the OEM, Boeing Aerospace (originally McDonnell Aircraft Company) through a Recurring Engineering Services (RES) contract, provides logistics, technical and engineering support for a international fleet of 450 Phabulous Phantoms. Four of the member countries have organic program depot maintenance capability to support their aircraft and at least three countries have expressed a desire to fly the Phantom II until the year 2020.

Sustainment membership in the F-4 TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on "G" or "Q" cases with lines that cover the following:

* Internal services;

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and overseas travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

Although the F-4 TCG does not have a dedicated website, a special F-4 site was created and is maintained by Nick Tselentis from Hellenic Air Industries (HA1). The site can be found at All of the buttons on the left margin link to some very interesting history, pictures and other information. Note that one button is a special dedication to the F-4 TCG at Hill Air Force Base, Utah

F-4 Technical Coordination Group in Action

The Mature and Proven Aircraft Directorate at Hill Air Force Base, Utah held its third annual Worldwide Review in Ogden, September 15-19, 2003. This unique, multi-system conference provides program status for the foreign military sales customers that fly the F-4, F-5, A/T-37 and T-38 aircraft, plus new technological briefings from numerous aerospace corporations. The conference drew 231 contractor personnel. During the trade show and exhibit portion, 74 display booths were set up to demonstrate various capabilities and services available to support aging aircraft. The event attracted 66 International representatives from twenty countries.

F-5 Technical Coordination Group

The light fighter project began at Northrop in 1953 leading to a company-financed supersonic trainer called the N-156F Freedom Fighter. Though not purchased by the U.S. military, the government supported the sale of F-5A's to twenty-one friendly countries. The F-5E Tiger II appeared in the early 1970s. Some 2,700 F-5 aircraft were built for the U.S. and thirty other nations by the time production ceased in 1987.

The F-5 Technical Coordination Group (TCG) was established in 1979 at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The group initially consisted of five people including the first TCG Chief, Mario Garza. Two countries applied for membership the first year. The F-5 TCG grew over the next four years to a membership of eighteen countries. Currently the F-5 TCG has a membership of nineteen countries with a twentieth country currently considering membership. The member countries are Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Tunisia. The member countries currently comprise almost 100 percent of the F-5 fleet. The US Navy has a squadron of F-5s used in aggressor training.

With the workload transfer from SA-ALC to OO-ALC, the F-5 TCG lost a lot of knowledge and well-trained personnel. As a result, a working relationship has developed with the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA), a US Air Force organization located at Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. IAAFA is the only USAF organization that provides formal F-5 and A-37 training in the US government. IAAFA provides formal F-5 and A-37 refresher training to TCG Engineers and Technicians in areas such as Airframe Systems, Landing Gear Systems, Egress Systems, Hydraulics Systems, Electrical Systems, Avionics Systems and Armament Systems. IAAFA training provides the TCG Engineers and Technicians with essential formal and hands-on experience, facilitating quick and accurate responses to aircraft related issues experienced by TCG member countries. The F-5 TCG is currently staffed with thirty-five people ranging from logisticians to engineers and equipment specialists to technical order support and other administrative positions. Sustainment membership in the F-5 TCG is accomplished using follow-on "G" or "Q" cases with lines that cover the following:

* Internal services;

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and overseas travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

F-5 Technical Coordination Group in Action

In September 2002, a member country requested emergency assistance from the F-5 TCG. As a result of a powerful typhoon, which caused extensive flooding, eighteen of the country's F-5s sustained considerable water damage after having been submerged in contaminated water. Critical life support equipment was destroyed and aircraft sustained considerable water damage to all systems. TCG's experienced team of structural, mechanical and electrical engineers and technicians quickly came together to respond to country's urgent request. This unprecedented situation required the F-5 TCG team to request assistance from other areas-CAD/PAD, Landing Gear, Electrical, Structural, Mechanical, Life Support, IEMP, etc. Within a few days the TCG was able to provide country with the restoration measures for their fleet and thus save the aircraft from being declared condemned or unserviceable.

A/T-37 and T-38 Technical Coordination Group

The T-37A made its first flight in 1955 and went into service with the Air Force in 1956, The T-37B became operational in 1959, More than 1,000 T-37s were built. The T-38 Talon entered service in March 1961 as replacement for the Lockheed T-33A, Production for the USAF totaled 1,139 between 1961 and 1972 when production ended.

The T-37/T-38 TCG was formed in 1989. The first TCG Chief was Bill Ackley and the initial support was performed by SA-ALC/MMV. Today the T-37/T-38 TCG has only two personnel, led by the current Chief, Mr. Bob Van Dyke. The current member countries are Bangladesh, Ecuador, Honduras, Korea, Morocco and Peru. The member countries currently comprise approximately 10 percent of the worldwide fleet.

The A/T-37 and T-38 TCGs addresses country technical projects differently than the other aircraft TCGs. The other TCGs maintain a pool of technicians and engineers from the various technical skills, i.e., structural, electrical, fuel, etc., and support their customers' projects from this pool based on the nature of the project. They are able to do this due to the relatively large number of customers and large operating budget. Due to the size and nature of the A/T-37 and T-38TCG and our customers, this TCG does not have the ability to generate an operating budget necessary to operate in the same manner. This is especially true since it supports three different weapons systems.

The current A/T-37 and T-38 TCG consists of a Logistics Program Manager and a Budget Analyst. The logistic specialist works as a technical specialist and Country Program Manager. There are currently no equipment specialists or engineers assigned. The Country Program Manager functions as OPR for requested assistance and is responsible for answering all technical questions. This formula has been very successful because it has allowed TCG personnel to develop a continuity of support and trust with their customers. This method of managing projects is very cost effective. Engineering support, when necessary is requested by the TCG from the System Program Director (SPD) side of the house. Either FMS administrative funded personnel are used or the O & M account is reimbursed from the country's case for the time spent supporting that member country.

Sustainment membership in the A/T-37 and T-38 TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on "G" or "Q" cases with lines that cover the following:

* Internal services;

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and overseas travel.

A/T-37 and T-38 Technical Coordination Group in Action

In September 2003, the A/T-37/T-38 TCG combined with the F-4 and F-5 TCG's and held their annual World Wide Review at the Ogden Mariott Hotel. All member countries sent their representatives and participated in this conference. It provided a unique opportunity for all TCG members to meet and discuss mutual concerns and goals.

F-16 Technical Coordination Group

The first operational F-16A was delivered in January 1979 to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The F-16 was built under an unusual agreement creating a consortium between the United States and four NATO countries: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. These countries jointly produced with the United States an initial 348 F-16s for their air forces. Final airframe assembly lines were located in Belgium and the Netherlands. The consortium's F-16s are assembled from components manufactured in all five countries. Recently, Portugal joined the consortium. F-16 co-production lines also existed in Turkey and Korea.

The F-16 TCG was formally established on 1 April 1985. The charter members were Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Israel, Egypt and Pakistan. The first In-Country Review (ICR) was held in May of 1986. It consisted of a three country trip to Israel, Egypt and Pakistan. The original TCG Chief was Mr. Lynn Peacock. The initial cadre consisted of seventeen manpower authorizations for technicians mechanical, avionics, technical data, and weapons, documentation and administration. The current TCG Chief is Bill Dodge. He currently has thirty-one specialists working the program.

There are currently eighteen countries participating in the program: Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Bahrain, Korea, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Venezuela, and Italy. The member countries currently comprise approximately 54 percent of fleet and is growing. Several countries, including Chile, Oman, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates, have recently purchased the F-16 and are potential candidates for membership in the TCG. All eligible countries flying F-16s are current members of the TCG. As usual, TCG services are available only to member countries. Non-member, non-hostile countries receive only notifications of safety Time Compliance Technical Orders (TCTO).

Sustainment membership in the F-16 TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on "G" or "Q" cases with lines that cover the following:

* Internal services;

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies, surveys, and travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

Technical Coordination Group--F-16 TCG in Action

In September 2002, the F-16 TCG hosted the 16th Annual WWR Conference at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. It is the largest single F-16 specific conference known to exist. There were 122 F-16 related vendor display booths-12 more than 2001 and 35 more than 2000. The total conference attendance (including 681 registered) exceeded 1000--higher than any previous year. Seventy-six international officers representing eighteen member countries were critical to the success of the conference.

The TCG released a special pin for the 2002 Olympic Games which were held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The pin design was a combined effort of TCG members. The pin was given exclusively to members of the TCG and dignitaries of foreign countries participating in the TCG program. The design incorporates an F-16 in flight, over the globe, surrounded by flags representing each of the countries that were members of the F-16 TCG at the time. The F-16 TCG pin was limited to a production run of 2002.

Precision Guided Munitions Technical Coordination Group

"In World War II it could take 9,000 bombs to hit a target the size of an aircraft shelter. In Vietnam, it was only 300 bombs. Today we can do it with one laser-guided munition from an F-117."

USAF. Reaching Globally, Reaching Powerfully: The United States Air Force in the Gulf War(September 1991), p. 55

The Precision Guided Munitions Technical Coordination Group (PGMTCG) was established in late 1995. The first team was lead by Kim Tingey, and the initial cadre of four included one engineer, two equipment specialists, and a financial manager. The current Chief is Bailey Shaffer. There are six personnel on the current team. An additional engineer will be added in 2004.

The PGMTCG originally started with six member countries: Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Korea, Spain, and Taiwan. Membership rapidly expanded to the current level of eleven member countries including Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and United Kingdom. Additional three or four new members are expected in 2004. The PGMTCG has expanded to offer technical expertise not only on the AGM-65 Maverick Missile, but now offers the same service for the Paveway series (I, II, and III) of Laser Guided Bombs (GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-16, GBU-22, GBU-24). As their charter expands, they will be adding additional air-to-ground missile technical support. All individuals within the PGMTCG have years of experience with the Maverick and Paveway systems. This experience and knowledge is available to all member countries.

Initial and follow on membership in the PGMTCG is voluntary and is usually established on an LOA with four lines that cover the following:

* MAVERICK internal services,

* PAVEWAY internal services,

* Combined contract services, and

* Studies and surveys.

Costs of the program are based on number of weapon systems in the member's inventory.

Oklahoma Air Logistics Center (OC-ALC) at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma is home of the E-3 and KC-135 TCGs.

E-3 Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program

The Boeing E-3 Sentry is the West's principal Airborne Warning and Control System platform. The E-3 is a military version of the Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe with a rotating radar dome. The first flight of the E-3A took place in October 1975. The first 2 United States Air Force E-3s were modified commercial 707-320 airframes converted to the military version after completion of flight tests.

The E3/KE3 TCG was formed in1982. The first TCG Chief was Cletus White and a team of one performed the initial support! Today the E3/KE3 TCG has forty personnel, led by the current Chief, Bob Steyer. The current E-3/KE-3 TCG customers include the NATO, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the French Republic. The member countries currently comprise 53 percent of the world wide fleet.

The E-3/KE-3 International Support Branch, OC-ALC/PSWI or E-3 TCG, was established to serve as the single point of contact for logistical and engineering support for its FMS to assist them in the accomplishment of their respective E-3/KE-3 missions.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was the E-3 TCG's first customer. In September 1980, there were 22 E-3As in the USAF inventory. During that same period, NATO was also negotiating and preparing to purchase E-3A aircraft. OC-ALC/PSWI assisted in planning NATO's initial spares support, and participated in developing procedures for follow-on logistics support for the NATO fleet. Deployment of the first NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) fleet was set for fiscal year 1982. The Royal Saudi Air Force was the TCG's second customer. Preliminary planning for the sale of E-3As and KE-3As to the RSAF began in fiscal year 1981. Aircraft delivery started in October 1986 and was completed by May 1987. The first Letter of Offer and Agreement (LOA) for TCG support was signed in June 1988. In January 1991 the United Kingdom became the third member and the French Republic became the fourth.

The E-3 TCG provides operational and sustainment support for all E-3 FMS programs, both initial and follow-on. The TCG consists of three sections:

* The European Support Section,

* The Mideast/Acquisition Support Section, and;

* The Engineering and Technical Support Section.

The E-3 TCG Technical Coordination Detachment consists of a five-person team dedicated to providing on-site support to the NATO E-3 program for logistics, engineering and technical issues, as well as providing liaison function to the E-3 TCG and other DoD and USAF agencies. The Technical Coordination Detachment provides support to NATO in the areas of fleet modernization, depot level maintenance, operational maintenance, technical data maintenance and digitization effort, and configuration control.

Membership in the E-3 TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on "G" cases with three to five lines that cover the following:

* Air Force Materiel Command internal services;

* Contracted services;

* Aircraft structural integrity program,

* Studies and surveys;

* Travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

E-3 Technical Coordination Group in Action

A historic decision was made on October 4, 2001 when the NATO alliance voted to implement Article 5 and deploy five NATO AWACS to the United States for Operation Eagle Assist in the months that followed the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This was the first time in NATO history that a mission was deployed to the United States under Article 5.

The NATO E-3A's based in Geilenkirchen, Germany were deployed to the United States to alleviate the workload placed on the US AWACS fleet. Over the course of Operation Eagle Assist, more than 820 military members and civilians from all thirteen nations represented in the E-3A component were deployed to Tinker Air Force Base to support the mission. The NATO AWACS, their crews, and support personnel commenced operations at Tinker Air Force Base in mid-October 2001. They assisted with counter terrorism operations that clearly helped reduce the strain placed upon the US AWACS fleet deployed during Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom. The E-3 TCG provided initial deployment planning and sustainment support for NATO throughout the deployment.

In Operation Eagle Assist, the deployed NATO Component personnel and aircraft were in place and fully operational within one week of receiving of the deployment order. During this time, the E-3 TCG rendered support for two NATO aircraft. One NATO aircraft sustained fillet flap and cove door damage. The Engineering and Technical Section was called upon to help assess damage, identify possible causes and assist with part repair and replacement. The TCG spearheaded and coordinated the effort that followed, which involved several organizations. TCG engineering support was available on-call throughout the repairs. The aircraft was restored to operational capability within twelve days, a commendable accomplishment considering the degree of logistics and funding that was required. The second NATO aircraft sustained damage to an aerial refueling door. Again the TCG assessed the damage and provided a recommended engineering disposition which resulted in successful repairs. These critical assets were returned to service in minimum time for successful contribution to the counter terrorism mission.

C/KC-135 Technical Coordination Group

The Boeing Company's model 367-80 was the basic design for the commercial 707 passenger plane as well as the KC-135A Stratotanker. In 1954 the Air Force purchased the first twenty-nine of its future 732-plane fleet. The first aircraft flew in August 1956 and the initial production Stratotanker was delivered to Castle Air Force Base, California, in June 1957. The last KC-135 was delivered to the Air Force in 1965.

Both Turkey and France originally leased KC-135 aircraft from the USAF. In December 1994, Turkey signed the LOA to acquire seven KC-135 aircraft; France signed in January 1995 to purchase five, in addition to eleven (C-135FR) they had previously acquired by direct commercial contract. They did not exercise the option to purchase the last two aircraft, and took delivery of three KC-135R aircraft. Singapore came on line in July 1996 with their LOA for purchase of four KC- 135 aircraft.

Personnel supporting these cases began early planning for provision of follow-on support through TCP cases. In September 1996, the request was sent to AFSAC for establishment of a KC-135 TCG. Approval was granted May 1, 1997 for a TCG within the KC-135 System Program Office. The first and current TCG Chief is Orbin Idleman. The first team consisted of nine civilian positions, including a budget analyst matrixed from the financial management directorate. The TCG now has twelve individuals assigned to support the program.

Turkey first requested TCG membership; pending approval, follow-on support was provided for Turkey under an AFSAC "Q" case. The KC-135 TCG was established November 12, 1999, with three members: France, Turkey, and Singapore.

The TCG supports unique, improved booms, not used by the USAF. A TCG]contractor team investigated early problems with these booms and developed repair procedures. The team supported in-country repairs for Turkey and France.

There are also other unique systems on the aircraft which depend on which countries choose to participate in various modifications or upgrades offered by the USAF. Also, countries may modify their aircraft independently of USAF participation. So there will be different equipment, different mission requirements, and totally different configurations. This is certainly true of the eleven unique C-135FR aircraft supported by the TCG.

Some of the member countries fly the KC-135 aircraft many more hours than a USAF unit due to the smaller fleet size. This can generate new issues or problems which may not yet be seen by the USAF. There are also circumstances where the USAF is experiencing a problem, but our customers are not. Discussions into operations generally reveal a difference in procedures or possibly support equipment developed by the country for a specific task. Results of these can be shared with the USAF to help solve problems the USAF may have as well.

Sustainment membership in the KC-135 TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on 'G' or 'Q' cases with three lines that cover the following:

* Internal services;

* Contractor services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and overseas travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

Warner Robins (WR-ALC)at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, Alabama is the home of the F-15, C-130, Tactical Missile and LANTIRN TCGs as well as the ECISAP.

F-15 Technical Coordination Group

The first F-15A flight was made in July 1972, and the first flight of the two-seat F-15B trainer was made in July 1973. The first Eagle (F-15B) was delivered in November 1974. In January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron was delivered.

As a result of sales of the F-15 to international customers, Major Dan Copeland from SAF/IA started development of the F-15 TCG in 1982 and the F-15 TCG was formally established in 1983. Wade Carter. Chief, and James McCown, Equipment Specialist formed the initial cadre. The first F-15 World Wide Review as held at the Ramada Inn, Warner Robins, Georgia in 1985.

The current acting TCG Chief is George Kalebaugh who leads a staff of twenty-two. The original charter and current membership consists of three international customers: Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The Republic of Korea may join in the future when they enter the sustainment stage for their new F-15K aircraft. The F-15 TCG currently supports upwards of 437 F-15 (C, D, I, J, S) aircraft. International users make up about 30 percent of the worldwide fleet.

Initial membership in the F-15 TCG is normally established as a line on the original systems sale LOA. The line covers internal services, studies and surveys, and travel. Sustainment is accomplished using follow-on "G" or "Q" cases with lines for the following:

* Internal services,

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and overseas travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

F-15 Technical Coordination Group in Action

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, two USAF F-15 aircraft from Kadena Air Base, Japan experienced massive fuel leaks from the top and bottom of aright wings during a deployment to a Middle Eastern location. To correct the problem in the shortest time, there were two options: repair or replace the wing. When the decision was made to replace the wing, WR-ALC aircraft requirements division approached the F-15 TCG for assistance. The TCG had a contract with a Middle Eastern company providing programmed depot maintenance for foreign customers in the area. The company and the foreign customer were very receptive to assisting the Air Force. The cost and time would be a tremendous savings since they have depot level personnel already in the area. The team was able to successfully complete the depot portion in two days and the aircraft was returned to a flying status-with no defects. Two weeks later the team returned for the second wing change. Again the change was flawless. The Air Force realized a substantial savings in cost and time with the assistance of the TCG.

C-130 Technical Coordination Group

The C-130 transport, named "Hercules" from the mythical Greek hero renowned for his great strength, first flew forty years ago (1954) and has been delivered to more than sixty countries around the world, More than 2,200 C-130s have been built, and they are flown by more than sixty nations worldwide, in more than seventy variations,

The C-130 TCG was formed in 1987 to provide a more direct line of operational assistance to the FMS users of the C-130 Hercules aircraft. The first TCG Chief was Victor Bowden who is still at WR-ALC. The current TCG Chief is Sherman Rankin who leads a staff of twenty-five. The C-130 TCG currently supports twenty international customers with approximately 261 C-130 (B, C, E and H) aircraft. With a USAF fleet of 600 aircraft, international users make up over 40 percent of the worldwide fleet.

The 16 original member countries were Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

The current members include Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay. Several international customers have indicated an interest in joining or rejoining such as Greece, New Zealand, Pakistan and Poland. The TCG may have additional opportunities to expand as the USAF continues to retire the C-130E fleet, and the excess aircraft are purchased by international customers Although membership levels have varied over the years, there has been one constant--service to the member countries. This service can be as simple as providing an aircraft part number to as complex as designing a country specific structural or avionics modification. Being positioned alongside the USAF System Program Office and PDM facilities at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, the staff of the TCG can not only draw from their considerate expertise but also from access to the flying history and future direction of the 600 plus USAF fleet. The availability of such maintainability, reliability and supportability data make this low cost investment a sure fire winner.

Sustainment membership in the C-130 TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on "G" or "Q" cases with three lines that cover:

* Internal services;

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and overseas travel.

Costs of the program are based on number of aircraft in the member's inventory.

When two customers required the installation of defensive systems (ALE-47 Chaff Dispensers and Rear Vision Devices to protect their aircraft in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the TCG used its expertise to get the job done in the shortest time.

In 2003 alone, the TCG wrote four comprehensive fleet analysis for its members and saved millions of dollars in providing repair processes rather than costly and premature item replacement. From the earliest of B's (1957) to the latest of the H models, the TCG is the maintenance insurance policy for its members.

Tactical Missile Technical Coordination Group

The AIM-TF joined the Air Force inventory in 1976 as the primary medium-range, air-to-air missile for the F-15 Eagle. The AGM-88 missile started full production in March 1983. The AIM-9A, a prototype of the Sidewinder, was first fired successfully in September 1953. The initial production version, designated AIM9B, entered the Air Force inventory in 1956.

The Tactical Missile TCG (TMTCG) was created in 1991 and provides complete technical and logistics support for products spanning the AIM-7 (Sparrow), AIM-9 (Sidewinder), and AGM-88 (HARM) tactical missiles, launchers, and associated test and support equipment.

The organizational structure of the TMTCG is in the traditional product style. The general section is for personnel that support the AIM-7, AIM-9 and AGM-88 systems. For example, funds management, program control, and the Chief support all three systems in day-to-day operations. The Sidewinder section is staffed with personnel that are dedicated to that specific system, as is the Sparrow and HARM section. The Systems Support section covers launchers, bomb racks, aircraft guns, aircraft interface, and detailed mechanical engineering issues for all systems. Some personnel may support more than one Individual Product Team.

The program was started under the guidance of Ted Wisdom, SAF/IA. The initial cadre consisted of TCG Chief Ron Barlow, and a staff of five. The current Chief is Richard Scarano. Currently there are fourteen government positions authorized plus three full time in-house support contractors. The TMTCG has been continually growing since its inception. There were twelve charter members including Canada, Belgium, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore Taiwan and Thailand.

As of September 2003, the TMTCG had eighteen members: Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Singapore, Jordan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Oman, Egypt, Bahrain, Mexico, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. Potential future members include Thailand, Pakistan and UAE.

Unique to the TMTCG is support for systems installed on non-US aircraft. The TMTCG has worked closely with several countries to integrate the capability to use US produced missiles and weapons systems on all the aircraft in their inventories. Recently, the TMTCG began supporting aircraft guns and bomb racks. Systems include: F-16 (MAU-12, TER-9A, M61A1 Gun), F-15 (MAU-12, BRU-46 & 47, SUU-20, M61A1 Gun), F-5 (MAU-40 & 50, BRU-27, SUU-11 & 20, M39A-3 Gun), F-4 (SUU-16, 20 & 23, MAU-12, BRU-5, TER-9A, MER-10, AERO-27, M61A1 Gun), and A-7 (TER-9/A, MER-10, MAU-40 & 50, M61A1 Gun).

TMTCG cases are typically "G" cases that may have up to five funding lines:

* Internal Services;

* Contracted Service;

* Studies and Surveys, and Overseas Travel:

* Pyrotechnic Surveillance, and;

* Technical Order Support.

Lines 1, 2, and 5 are mandatory for all cases. Costs are based on number of weapon systems in the member's inventory. Line 4 is an optional program available that can be added to the case on a cost share basis with other members.

Tactical Missile Technical Coordination Group in Action

Shortly after takeoff, a member's pilot reported an apparent systems malfunction had caused the inadvertent launch of an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. Investigating officials conducted two extensive investigations and concluded that neither the pilot nor the aircraft had been responsible for the uncommanded launch. While they believed that excessive current had caused the damage, they could not indicate a cause for the circuit failure. Officials then notified the TMTCG of the mishap.

The Tactical Missile Technical Coordination Group specialists traveled to the country. Based on their findings, the TMTCG issued immediate guidance to restrict the use of the aircraft's power supplies until corrective action could be defined. Returning Robins Air Force Base, the team members acted to develop an effective method for returning the power supplies to a serviceable condition and conduct a detailed technical investigation of the launcher and power supply components to determine the cause of the uncommanded launch. To correct the problem, the TMTCG developed an inexpensive and simple field-level Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO). The power supply manufacturer agreed to recall the power supply units manufactured at no cost to the customer. In addition, all parties agreed to incorporate these changes in all future procurement units and require additional production line inspections. In a matter of six months the TMTCG, working with Center Logistics personnel and other Air Force employees, developed an innovative strategy to rapidly evaluate, respond, and correct a problem involving over 300 power supply units. Their efforts allowed the TMTCG member to keep its fleet of aircraft in their warfighting role.

Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared at Night Technical Coordination Group

The Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared at Night (LANTIRN) research and development program began in September 1980. Initial operational test and evaluation of the LANTIRN navigation pod was successfully completed in December 1984. The first production pod was delivered to the Air Force March 1987. Introduction of the LANTIRN revolutionized night warfare by denying enemy forces the sanctuary of darkness.

The LANTIRN TCG was established in January 1997. The primary charter of the LANTIRN TCG is the exchange of releasable technical information with mutual benefits being derived by LANTIRN TCG FMS member countries and USAE Gary Livesay has been the LANTIRN TCG Chief since establishment of the TCG. He manages a staff of nine specialists and oversees all the contacts in support of the program. The LANTIRN TCG provides a full range of AFMC technical support services to purchasers in the maintenance, modification, and operation of their LANTIRN equipped aircraft including the F-15 and F-16.

The original member countries were Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, Israel and Turkey. Two additional countries South Korea and Singapore soon joined for a total of seven countries. Currently there are five member countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Potential country members of the LANTIRN TCG are Israel, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Sustainment membership in the LANTIRN TCG is normally fulfilled using follow-on "G" cases with three lines that cover the following:

* AFMC internal services

* Contracted services, and;

* Studies and surveys, and travel.

LANTIRN Technical Coordination Group in Action

In 1999 the LANTIRN TCG realized the much awaited LANTIRN TCG website. The website is a secure, password-protected site and is available only to existing LANTIRN TCG members. The website is a much improved form of instant communication between the TCG and country members. Action items, Briefings, contact information and other items of interest to the country members are kept posted and up-to-date information is readily available.

Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program

It is my firm belief that our military must have a robust electronic warfare capability to ensure that it has access to and control of any battle space in which it must operate. History has taught us that dominance in electronic warfare leads to success in military operations.

Statement of Congressman Joseph R. Pitts at the Lexington Institute Forum on Electronic Warfare, October 5, 2001

Although the Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program (ECISAP) has many similarities with the TCP, it is not officially categorized as a TCG. AFMAN 16-101 notes that the ECISAP is a management concept designed to provide FMS and security assistance customers a single focal point for installation and sustainment of electronic combat (EC) equipment. The ECISAP is managed by SAF/IARW with the executive agent at WR-ALC, Electronic Warfare Directorate, International.

According to Thomas Batterman in a paper Security Assistance Software Support for Electronic Warfare Systems-Putting All The Pieces Together, (WR-ALC/ MMRS, 1983), the current Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program (ECISAP) organization had it roots in 1980. At that time the USAF/AFMC recognized that the unique nature of electronic warfare FMS support would require dedicated facilities, equipment, and people including contractor assistance. The result was the development of the Security Assistance Software Support (SASS) concept, which required that individual laboratories be established for the software support of each FMS country. These labs, together with the dedicated government and contractor engineers and technicians, provided software update support on a cyclic basis for each FMS customer, separate and apart from USAF software support resources.

With standardization, shared costs and improved customer service in mind, the Electronic Warfare Standardization Improvement Program (EWSIP) was conceived, formalized, and adopted in 1984. With the change from Electronic Warfare to Electronic Combat (EC), SAF/IA directed that EWSIP be redesignated. The Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program (ECISAP) is the latest concept.

The first ECISAP Chief was Thomas Batterman. His initial team consisted of thirteen electronic warfare specialists. The current TCG Chief is Court Smith who heads up an organization of approximately eighty-seven US government employees and contractors.

The original customers were Denmark, Egypt, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan and Turkey. ECISAP has grown to twenty members including Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, Egypt, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Potential members include Brazil and the Czech Republic.

There are two types of membership. "Full" ECISAP membership which includes:

* Electronic warfare and support equipment procurement;

* Logistics and program management;

* Continuous threat analysis;

* Automatic mission data updates;

* Rapid reprogramming, automatic updates;

* Repair-return;

* Status of USAF HW/SW modifications, and;

* Individual tasks per country request.

The second type of membership is "Technical Services Only" and is limited to a country request for individual tasks. Lines may be included on initial systems sales cases and through separate "G" or "Q" sustainment cases.

The ECISAP is responsible for a myriad of complicated software to support Radar Warning Receiver systems, ALR-621, ALR-69, ALR-56C/M, ALQ-211 and AAR-47, Jammer systems ALQ-131, ALQ-211, ALQ-135, and ALQ-184) and the ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing System (CMDS). These systems are installed on just about every USAF aircraft in the FMS inventory including the F-4, F-5, F-15, F-16, F-111, C-17,C-130, and even the venerable C-47 and OV-10. Support to the NATO NH-90 helicopter program is pending. For a more in-depth look at ECISAP, go to the DISAM webpage and read the article by Howard E. Smith, (WRALC/LSRI), titled "Expanding the Security Assistance Role in Electronic Warfare Management" The DISAM Journal, Winter 1997/98. ECISAP also maintains a website at

Electronic Combat International Security Assistance Program in Action

A significant achievement in FMS Electronic Combat activity is the out of the box effort currently being accomplished to integrate the non-standard ALQ-211(V)4 (AIDEWS) into F-16 C/D model aircraft for three countries. AIDEWS is a derivative from SIRFC (Suite of Integrated RF Countermeasures) designed for helicopters and the CV-22 Osprey. The F-16 version required additional capabilities and adaptations to provide the required protection for a high/fast flyer. FMS cases were signed and implemented based upon a mutual understanding that developmental testing and validation and verification would be required. Not only is this an electronic combat equipment developmental acquisition, but also the first time an electronic combat system not in the USAF inventory was permitted for FMS sales. As of this writing, ESCSAP is preparing for sales to yet a fourth country.

Although our security assistance customers do not have to join any of the groups, the USAF highly encourages them to do so. Eligible purchasers who decide not to take part in the TCGs will not receive many benefits of provided to members. Non-member countries that request technical assistance or support from the TCG will be encouraged to join the TCG. However, if the country does not join, it will be referred to the SPD for support. A FMS case may be required to provide the requested support that will be fully funded by the country. Non-members cannot attend TCG reviews. However the TCGs will inform all non-hostile countries of safety-of-flight hazards through their respective in country SAO but they cannot receive items, including kits to correct safety problems, or other services.

ECICAP also encourages participation for the initial sale of USAF reprogrammable electronic combat systems. ECISAP systems and services may be delayed for eligible purchasers as is the case with the TCGs. Priority will be given to customers with active ECISAP cases.

Final Thought

The TCGs fulfill a vital role in supporting our international customers. To quote the words of Sherman Rankin Chief, C-130 TCG. "The TCG is the maintenance insurance policy for its members."


This article would not have been possible without the assistance of the all the TCG Chiefs and their staffs. Special mention for Charlotte McCarthy, AFSAC/IAS, TCG Program Coordinator for her assistance in completing this article.

Data was gathered from historical summaries and reports submitted by each of the TCGs and follow-up on-site and telephone interviews. Additional program information was extracted from AFMAN 16-101, International Affairs and Security Assistance Management, the various TCG web pages and from briefings prepared for the various World Wide Reviews held in 2002 and 2003.

Further background data was extracted from various USAF Fact Sheets located at and from AFSAC at Information on the F-4 TCG was based on an article that appeared in the Hill Top Times, 9 Oct, 2003. The "TMTCG in Action" report for the F-16 was edited from an article that was originally printed in the Robins RevUp, Vol 48, No. 10, March 14, 2003.

Forrest "Ed" Smith has an extensive background in security assistance programs and training. He is currently an Associate Professor of Security Assistance Management at DISAM. He has also held positions as a Logistics Analyst for DSAMS Training and Field Support; Chief, Arabian Programs Branch, Air Force Security Assistance Center (AFSAC); Chief, Cost Sharing Branch, Assistant Chief of Staff (J-4), Yongsan, Korea; AFLC Security Assistance Program Liaison Officer to PACOM; and Security Assistance Program Manager, International Logistics Center (ILC). He was awarded a Master of Science/Logistics Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Business Administration/Business and Finance from the University of Massachusetts.
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Author:Smith, Forrest
Publication:DISAM Journal
Date:Dec 22, 2003
Previous Article:International Programs Security course now available on line.
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