The duties of an Organizational Level Aviation Electronics Technician (ATO) can be grouped into three main categories: Avionics Maintenance, Logistics and Technical Administration, and Quality Assurance, with the vast majority of tasks falling under Avionics Maintenance. Modern Naval aircraft and comprised of a veritable rabbit’s warren of avionics systems, and it’s up to the ATO to maintain, inspect, repair, and troubleshoot nearly all of them.

Among the systems for which the ATO is Communications Security (COMSEC), which protect against eavesdropping and ensure message transmission and receptions, and Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW), which include sonobuoys and Magnetic Anomaly Detection devices. More exotic systems include Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and LASER and LASING devices.

Until recently, the lack of a practical EMP weapon meant that any EMP systems an ATO might work on would presumably be defensive, i.e., miniature Faraday cages to protect avionics systems from the dangers of an EMP. But in May, 2015, the U.S. Air Force announced that it had developed a highly sophisticated offensive EMP in conjunction with Boeing called “CHAMP” (Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project) capable of highly discrete targeting. And while LASERs have, in the past, been associated with detection and targeting, the U.S. Navy deployed a ship-based Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on the USS Ponce in 2014, and it can only be a matter of time before Aviation Electronics Technicians will be maintaining similar devices on Naval aviation assets.

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