The "Gambler"

If you've ever wondered about that horrible appendage on the back of 61-2777 was all about, here's the story for you. Lee Sisselsky, an engineer at Lockheed has sent some details and comments. The photos are from the USAF.

From August to December, 1991, I flew on "The Gambler", flight testing the GE Aerospace entry of SAWS (Silent Attack Warning System), a scanning 4-color IR Threat Warning system in direct competition against similar systems by Texas Instruments and Loral.

All three systems were mounted on the tail can and contractor team members like myself operated our systems from three 4-bay wide support equipment and data collection racks that were located mid-ship. Flight testing was conducted out of Holloman AFB at White Sands Missile Range where F-15's launched AIM-5G missiles (guidance disabled) directly at the Gambler while we crossed our fingers and collected IR sensor data.

It was the most exciting experience of my 30-year career.

Lee Sisselsky

"The Gambler" -- August 1991"

GE system is on top
TI system is lower left
Loral system is lower right.
(and lot's of room in there for more)
Sensors Up Close

GE system is on top
Loral system is lower right / TI system is lower left
(and lot's of room in there for more)

4950 TW SAWS Patch
Safety considerations dictated that the probability of impact from AIM-5G test shots be less than 0.000001.

The C-141 is in the F-15 cross-hairs and the little equation on the patch points out that 0.000001 is not zero.

GE's Patch
"Saw blade" from GE "meatball" around circumference and our home base of Utica located on map of NY State.

Loral's Patch

SAWS: A passive infrared, wide-angle missile warning system to provide long-range, multi-spectral hemispherical warning of launches and trajectories of surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. NOTE: A "second generation" SAWS is being developed, which uses MULTICOLOR SPECTRAL and track processing algorithms to detect threats in high background clutter environment, while limiting false alarms to less than 1 per hour.

Less than ONE PER HOUR seems like plenty!

Last Updated:6/1/2023