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ALQ-101 vs ALQ-119 & more countermeasure questions


RMP2
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Hi, a bit of curiosity with ECM pods, stemming from the ALQ-101 as used on RAF Jaguars vs the ALQ-119 version as used on A-10s and likely more USAF aircraft. They were both intended for use in the same European environment, so why/what the difference? And why did the Jags not upgrade to the ALQ-184 and whatnot?

 

This led me onto the likes of the RAF Tornado vs the German Tornado and maybe the Italians(?) using the US ALQ pods vs the RAFs own Sky Shadow pod. Why the difference when again they were designed for use over Europe and in a generally similar role?

 

These things then lead me onto the use of a pylon or two for an ECM pod and/or a flare/chaff pod ala Phimat - why not integrate these things into the aircraft from the start ala ALE-40s on pylons or scabbed under the fuselage etc?

 

Rambling queries perhaps after a random chat with an ex RAFG ground crew guy I got talking to in the pub this evening as he had no idea - just bolted things to stuff as instructed. We came to the conclusion it was a case of paperwork, red tape, cost and politics... the usual. But is that right? To my simple mind active and passive countermeasures are pretty important, especially in said arena back in the 70s/80s.

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Interesting questions indeed!

I fear that some of the answers will be harder to come by as it goes deep into electronic jamming etc.

 

Expected mission, mission hight, etc. Will factor in as well....

 

Then I suggest that everything is always a compromise between capability vs.  size, weight, cost,.....

 

And then, there are pros and cons to airframe integration and pylon mounted as well... I'd imagine flexibility is one of them..., cost and space another...

Sorry, I'm no electronics specialist, so no input in that regard!

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My mind was on the flexibility side of things too after some thought, so pylon mounting makes sort of sense through physical integration or ease of. It is/was just such a waste of a stores location along with drag. I guess it was a trade off, especially back then when tech wasnt as dinky as it is now. But equally - tech was obviously getting smaller, so why not run with that idea and integrate it into the aircraft itself?
I am still a bit confused as to why the likes of chaff/flare pods werent worked into/onto pylons or scabbed on sooner like the RAF Phantoms and Jaguars eventually got. It didnt take much on the face of it.  Just look at the Russians during/after their Afghan exploits, their things were scabbed on all over the place and eventually now we have a whole heap of measures integrated into aircraft structures. Just seems bloody obvious to me given what was being developed as offensive weapons, surely one would want to put the same effort into countering stuff?

 

Having said all that - The RAFs idea was to go with low level, below radar and such flying created a lot of clutter for look down radars of the day. Its no secret how low they did and do fly. So maybe that is the simple explanation? Not seen, so no measures needed?

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The Jaguar was originally conceived as a supersonic trainer. Relatively small, so complex ECM for for did not find a place inside.

The Tornado is a different story, but also here specification focus was on very high low-level speed. (Without much operational value in the end :( )

it was designed from the outset to use the outer wing pylons for ecm pods. Guess much more spacious compared to the srabbed on dispensers on the Phantom ( which by the way also used the Sparrow Wells for mounting ECM )

The F3 got small chaff flare blisters for Granby, plus put on the outerwear pylon and ecm!!!

the F-16A models also used the centerline pylon fir ecm. Only the later C model changed that!

 

Not fully sure who started to integrate all the stuff into the airframe, but large F-15s for sure, also smallish French Mirage 2000s have complex ecm integrated, as the F-16Cs...

 

Eurofighter in my point if view us not an excellent example either, because the use of wingtip DASS precludes mounting if missiles there. Apart from being ill designed for offensive air to ground  use anyways...

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You and Exdraken have already pointed out a lot of factors that are germane. Another significant one is the technical capability of the pods under discussion. Just like aircraft, they're designed for a particular set of tasks, and therefore have limits on their capabilities. No ECM pod magically protects any aircraft from all threats. Earlier generation pods in particular were usually designed to address very specific threats. Some level of programmability to adapt to different threats was eventually developed as the technology improved.  Later generation pods are truly flexible, but again will never cover every threat out there.

 

Chaff and flares seem simpler, but when/how/where they're deployed can be as complex as ECM pod use. Old tactics and systems will generally dump a lot out when you hit the button, new ones will sequence them out at a specific rate under specific circumstances. 

 

Equipment standardization between allied air forces of course only goes so far. National "variety" in EW gear (just like aircraft types) will occur. It may reflect a different tactical philosophy (stand-off at high altitude vs low level), or a host of other factors. ECM isn't total protection, it really just buys time. So a fast low level striker may need just a little time. Of course there are other threats at low level, so it's a choice.

 

You're correct to intuit that ECM always incurs a penalty (weight, complexity, pylon station), so it's best to only include enough on board to do the job. Off board assets available (EA-6B, EF-111, EA-18G) will also contribute to survivability. And stealth of course reduces the overall need for ECM, and also improves the effectiveness of ECM available. 

 

TLDR: different pods do different (classified) things, and it's a compromise!

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21 hours ago, RMP2 said:

Hi, a bit of curiosity with ECM pods, stemming from the ALQ-101 as used on RAF Jaguars vs the ALQ-119 version as used on A-10s and likely more USAF aircraft. They were both intended for use in the same European environment, so why/what the difference? And why did the Jags not upgrade to the ALQ-184 and whatnot?

 

This led me onto the likes of the RAF Tornado vs the German Tornado and maybe the Italians(?) using the US ALQ pods vs the RAFs own Sky Shadow pod. Why the difference when again they were designed for use over Europe and in a generally similar role?

 

These things then lead me onto the use of a pylon or two for an ECM pod and/or a flare/chaff pod ala Phimat - why not integrate these things into the aircraft from the start ala ALE-40s on pylons or scabbed under the fuselage etc?

 

Rambling queries perhaps after a random chat with an ex RAFG ground crew guy I got talking to in the pub this evening as he had no idea - just bolted things to stuff as instructed. We came to the conclusion it was a case of paperwork, red tape, cost and politics... the usual. But is that right? To my simple mind active and passive countermeasures are pretty important, especially in said arena back in the 70s/80s.

Might be because:

1)  The newer pods were much larger /heavier so maybe the performance hit was too much for the underpowered Jag?

2)  I'm guessing the newer pods had greater electrical demand, maybe the Jag couldn't meet requirements?

3)  Maybe the RAF simply didn't want to spend the money on modern ECM pods so the Jags went to war with the older 101's?

 

For the internal vrs external installation of countermeasure dispensers, I have no idea why the Brits opted for pods.    Just took up a valuable weapons station and impacted performance.  Doesn't seem to be a logical answer except maybe shortsighted engineering and by the time it was realized that these were critical to staying alive, there was no more room in the aircraft?

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On 3/4/2022 at 4:20 PM, RMP2 said:

Hi, a bit of curiosity with ECM pods, stemming from the ALQ-101 as used on RAF Jaguars vs the ALQ-119 version as used on A-10s and likely more USAF aircraft. They were both intended for use in the same European environment, so why/what the difference? And why did the Jags not upgrade to the ALQ-184 and whatnot?

 

This led me onto the likes of the RAF Tornado vs the German Tornado and maybe the Italians(?) using the US ALQ pods vs the RAFs own Sky Shadow pod. Why the difference when again they were designed for use over Europe and in a generally similar role?

 

These things then lead me onto the use of a pylon or two for an ECM pod and/or a flare/chaff pod ala Phimat - why not integrate these things into the aircraft from the start ala ALE-40s on pylons or scabbed under the fuselage etc?

 

Rambling queries perhaps after a random chat with an ex RAFG ground crew guy I got talking to in the pub this evening as he had no idea - just bolted things to stuff as instructed. We came to the conclusion it was a case of paperwork, red tape, cost and politics... the usual. But is that right? To my simple mind active and passive countermeasures are pretty important, especially in said arena back in the 70s/80s.

Perhaps size? The linked photo shows an ALQ 101, 119, and 131 pod- the  ALQ 101 pod is quite a bit larger than the ALQ 119. See if  these links are useful.

Mike

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash_10#/media/File:AN-ALQ-101,_AN-ALQ-119,_and_AN-ALQ-131_dual-mode,_noise_and_deception_countermeasure_systems_-_National_Electronics_Museum_-_DSC00454.JPG

 

http://cmano-db.com/pdf/weapon/1787/

 

http://cmano-db.com/pdf/weapon/1036/

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, 11bravo said:

Might be because:

1)  The newer pods were much larger /heavier so maybe the performance hit was too much for the underpowered Jag?

2)  I'm guessing the newer pods had greater electrical demand, maybe the Jag couldn't meet requirements?

3)  Maybe the RAF simply didn't want to spend the money on modern ECM pods so the Jags went to war with the older 101's?

 

For the internal vrs external installation of countermeasure dispensers, I have no idea why the Brits opted for pods.    Just took up a valuable weapons station and impacted performance.  Doesn't seem to be a logical answer except maybe shortsighted engineering and by the time it was realized that these were critical to staying alive, there was no more room in the aircraft?

One reason they may not want to put a number of ECM/ECCM pods inside the airframe has to do with upgrading the system and its capabilities.  It is easy to change out a pod and maybe some minimal wiring changes for new podded equipment.  If it is internal, you are taking an aircraft out of service for days, weeks, or months depending on how much of an upgrade it is.  Add to that the extra cost of installing the new system and its associated wiring.  As a for instance although not directly related to ECM capabilities, when I was at Beale we had a small wiring mod that had to be done on the deuces (U-2R/TR-1).   By the end of the mod we were able to get it down to finishing off an each day, which usually meant just on swing shift when we had the time to work on it.  That  was all G.I. labor.  The first mod I did on C-5s after I retired took about six weeks then down to 3 1/2 weeks by the time we all got laid off (made redundant for our British brethern).  The second time with Lockheed for another C-5 mod was a much more intensive mod and we got it down to about three months at the end.  The C-5 of course is a big aircraft and you had plenty of room to work around in.  On the deuces and fighter type aircraft the work space is much smaller and it can take a longer time compared to a similar mod on a larger aircraft.  Making everything modular now would be a help, but there is still the need every so often to remove some wiring and install new wiring to go with the mod.

Later,

Dave

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11 hours ago, e8n2 said:

One reason they may not want to put a number of ECM/ECCM pods inside the airframe has to do with upgrading the system and its capabilities.  It is easy to change out a pod and maybe some minimal wiring changes for new podded equipment.  If it is internal, you are taking an aircraft out of service for days, weeks, or months depending on how much of an upgrade it is.  Add to that the extra cost of installing the new system and its associated wiring.  As a for instance although not directly related to ECM capabilities, when I was at Beale we had a small wiring mod that had to be done on the deuces (U-2R/TR-1).   By the end of the mod we were able to get it down to finishing off an each day, which usually meant just on swing shift when we had the time to work on it.  That  was all G.I. labor.  The first mod I did on C-5s after I retired took about six weeks then down to 3 1/2 weeks by the time we all got laid off (made redundant for our British brethern).  The second time with Lockheed for another C-5 mod was a much more intensive mod and we got it down to about three months at the end.  The C-5 of course is a big aircraft and you had plenty of room to work around in.  On the deuces and fighter type aircraft the work space is much smaller and it can take a longer time compared to a similar mod on a larger aircraft.  Making everything modular now would be a help, but there is still the need every so often to remove some wiring and install new wiring to go with the mod.

Later,

Dave

Good to see you're still in the fight,  Dave.  You are correct!  I remember reading somewhere that every time they upgraded systems in the F-4's, they didn't bother to remove the existing cabling and conduits- they just installed the new stuff.. Lots of extra weight by the time they reached the end of their service lives. I remember my best friend's Dad, who was  a USAF  F-86, , F-84, F-100,  and F-105 crew chief, that he hated working on the Republic jets, as access was horrible, compared to the NAA  jets- had to have monkey hands!

Mike

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The American ALQ-101 evolved into the '119 and then the '184. There were long and short versions of all of them, the '101 originally just comprising 1, 2 or 3 jamming canisters but later grew a gondola for extra frequency coverage. The later pods, as with the squatter '131, became increasingly integrated with the carrying aircraft's Radar Warning Receiver under various Compass programmes.

 

Parallel and later efforts produced specific European kit for Tornado and Eurofighter.

 

It's all very ethereal but expensive. Modern stealth platforms tend to eschew active jamming and rely on dedicated noise jamming platforms to mask them at lower frequencies, so you won't be likely to see a pod on an F-35.

The US Navy always were leaders in countermeasures on its tactical jets, A-4s, A-6s, A-7s, F-4s, F-14s and F/A-18s all possessing built-in warning receivers, jammers and chaff (and later flare) dispensers since the mid-1960s.

 

Tony

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, tony.t said:

 

The US Navy always were leaders in countermeasures on its tactical jets, A-4s, A-6s, A-7s, F-4s, F-14s and F/A-18s all possessing built-in warning receivers, jammers and chaff (and later flare) dispensers since the mid-1960s.

 

Tony

 

Always found the different approacha to EW between the USN and USAF to be surprising.    

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4 hours ago, 11bravo said:

Always found the different approacha to EW between the USN and USAF to be surprising.    

I do not know much about US Navy doctrine, but one apparent difference is the per se limited nature of a carrier air group I number and consequently capability. They simply have to do all themselves if things go hot!

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12 hours ago, 72modeler said:

Good to see you're still in the fight,  Dave.  You are correct!  I remember reading somewhere that every time they upgraded systems in the F-4's, they didn't bother to remove the existing cabling and conduits- they just installed the new stuff.. Lots of extra weight by the time they reached the end of their service lives. I remember my best friend's Dad, who was  a USAF  F-86, , F-84, F-100,  and F-105 crew chief, that he hated working on the Republic jets, as access was horrible, compared to the NAA  jets- had to have monkey hands!

Mike

Having worked on both Boeing and Lockheed aircraft, I came to the realization that they each had their own design philosophy.  Boeing design philosophy - How can we help out the poor schmuck that is going to have to work this stuff later on.  Lockheed design philosophy - How can we screw over the poor schmuck who's going to have to work on this stuff later on.  Even when Lockheed thought they were doing you a favor by making something simpler to do, like install the INU on a deuce, they found a way to screw you over, i.e. put an existing component in such a place it was hard to get to or would make it easier to FOD (Foreign Object Damage/Debris) out the aircraft.

Later,

Dave

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1 hour ago, Kari Lumppio said:

Hi!

 

As the title includes "more countermeasure questions":

  • Did Aeronautica Militare fly Selenia ALQ-234 with any of their aircraft, like F-104 and Tornado?

 

Cheers,

Kari

very good question... seems Egypt operated them on their MirageIII/5s, MiG-21a dn F7 fleets....

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16 hours ago, Kari Lumppio said:

Hi!

 

As the title includes "more countermeasure questions":

  • Did Aeronautica Militare fly Selenia ALQ-234 with any of their aircraft, like F-104 and Tornado?

 

Cheers,

Kari

 

No they didn't. The Selenia pod was certfied for use on a number of types but in the end it was not used by the Aeronautica Militare. The pod was exported in several countries (not without controvery in some cases), including of course Finland

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Regarding the choice of internal or external ECM systems, these are decisions that are taken early in the aircraft design phase and the choice has often a lot to do with the design philosophy of the user and the manufacturer. Internal systems need space inside the aircraft, this space means a larger aircraft, leading to more weight that itself then needs more power.... and all this generally results in higher costs.

That is nothing that can't be solved easily enough, afterall there have been plenty of aircraft large enough to carry a lot of systems internally, even allowing enough room for updates. The specifications however have to request this room and the budgets have to accomodate potentially more expensive aircraft.

In the case of British aircraft in particular the philosophy has almost always been quite different and the Tornado is a good example: a compact aircraft with everything crammed as tightly as possible. Of course this means having to hang a lot of stuff externally, not only any ECM related gear but also a good percentage of the fuel... The Tornado was the result of a design process that had to take into account a number of aspects and the fact of having to satisfy three customers, this lead to certain decisions that many not look ideal and probably aren't, but the final design was the one that in the end satisfied everyone.

 

Not that this is necessarily a problem, it's just one aspect of the operation of a certain type, if you get a smaller plane you know from the start that your load carrying capability will have to keep into account all the stuff that have to be loaded onto the pylons even before you can think of proper armament.

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1 hour ago, Giorgio N said:

the Tornado is a good example: a compact aircraft with everything crammed as tightly as possible. Of course this means having to hang a lot of stuff externally, not only any ECM related gear but also a good percentage of the fuel

Indeed!

If not a F-111 or Su-24 sized aircraft would have resulted....

 

I still think the F3 version design changes would also have been the better for the IDS or ECR... a bit more fuel, more powerful engines  more streamlined nose..... wonder why this was only relevant for the fighter version....

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3 hours ago, exdraken said:

Indeed!

If not a F-111 or Su-24 sized aircraft would have resulted....

 

I still think the F3 version design changes would also have been the better for the IDS or ECR... a bit more fuel, more powerful engines  more streamlined nose..... wonder why this was only relevant for the fighter version....

 

I remember a comment from an Italian air force ground crew who said that the Tornado was a "very British" aircraft, in the sense that continued the tradition of types like the Spitfire and the Lightning to try and place as little aircraft as possible around the engines, crew and armament/radar. In a sense this is true and this design philosophy is indeed common in many British types. US design school in general tend to give more room to aspects like ergonomics and generally US aircraft in the past tended to be larger than British ones. Of course with a lot of exceptions from both sides.

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The reasons for this are simple.  Bigger aircraft cost more, are heavier, and require larger engines.  This tends to make them unpopular with owners of purse strings.  Not to mention your local engine manufacturers who don't have anything bigger to sell you.

 

There are rumours that someone plotted a curve of costs against aircraft length, ranging from Tiger Moth to Jumbo jet.  This was then used as a guide by the Treasury.  Whereas I'm sure the first part of the story is true, I suspect that the latter may be a simplification.  I do recall one Warton aerodynamicist working on a light fighter design who looked at a range of sizes and found that driving the size too far down started increasing the costs.  Of course this was only comparatively small variations against a mean, in the bigger picture.

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1 hour ago, Giorgio N said:

 

I remember a comment from an Italian air force ground crew who said that the Tornado was a "very British" aircraft, in the sense that continued the tradition of types like the Spitfire and the Lightning to try and place as little aircraft as possible around the engines, crew and armament/radar. In a sense this is true and this design philosophy is indeed common in many British types. US design school in general tend to give more room to aspects like ergonomics and generally US aircraft in the past tended to be larger than British ones. Of course with a lot of exceptions from both sides.

the Tornado at least got a roomy, boxy cockpit afaik

from there on indeed it looks rather close knit!

As mentioned before, low level high super sonic speed dictated much of its design.... ~ 800kts anyone? 

great internal ECM capability obviously was not a requirement ;)

 

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Thanks for all the replies and thoughts.

 

I appreciate the low level approach back in the day, but still query the likes of RAF Jags or Phantoms having nothing not even outboard pylons for recce missions with the idea being speed wins there, yet when doing low level attack runs they need them and the extra drag. It is all very confusing.

 

It seems to me that it boils down to a risk assessment. Makes sense maybe. Probability vs severity of occurrence of issues. How I so love those little yellow to red coloured graphs and the goon who came up with them when I stand and look at a job at work... But then again - what use is a bombing run without a survivable prior recce run of a target area? Seems backwards to me.

It also appears there has been different thinking through different areas - ala the US EA-6s, the USAF only really touched it with the EF111s and relied heavily on the Prowlers otherwise. In fact everyone did during the first Gulf War exploits.

The Tornado F3 being briefly chosen to serve as an EF3 with ALARMs due to its better radar warning system was interesting, we nearly had a well developed Wild Weasel all of our own from a rather unlikely subject, but it seemed to fall dead in the water along with a pretty naughty missile if what I have heard is correct.

 

Hindsight is a great thing of course, but to see RAF Phantoms retrofitted with chaff and flare launchers scabbed onto pylons for the Falklands as an example - why the hell not have them integrated into the pylons of everything from the drawing board? The RAF had been lobbing tinfoil around since the 1940s, so it wasnt exactly a new thing. With weapons technology advancing on all sides it just seemed a little slow to catch on re defensive measures even on the basic levels. The USSR where just as slow, but then perhaps they werent expecting the MANPADS... however, their reply to that was a hell of a lot of scabbed on dispensers, which was kind of a clue how best to resolve a pretty dire position.

 

Point being - we now see very integrated onboard active ECM alongside passive onboard counter measures. Im still not sold on those towed radar decoys, they must be bloody terrifying to put faith in! And in regard to those - just lob a pod on a wingtip, Typhoon or Flanker variant, it saves a pylon drag if nothing else and you could always stick an AIM-9 on top of the wing instead of at the end of it...

 

It all just seems to me a little slow to have caught on. I think that is where my confusion lies. Or - tech was moving that quickly it simply made sense to keep it offboard as noone was too sure what was around the corner. Things are certainly very different in approach and augmentation these days.

 

 

Out of interest - I know of the SPS-141 type pods, but any ideas of the Russian approach to things these days? Integrated? Pods? Towed reflectors? 

 

 

I hope that isnt too rambling I just find it really interesting in retrospect and given that stealth isnt invisible and there is a lot of faith placed on that along with networking between aircraft nowadays - seems a truly black art to keep it all functional and viable.

That and I really miss the wraparound camo schemes. That was A Thing.

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One more thought:

Every external pod restricts the flying envelope.

The requirements for the tasks of electronic equipment varies from the day of design start of the a/c untill the day of retirement of the a/c.

From the F-15 I know it from the IAF.

Happy modelling 

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Clearly the long life of today aircraft means that equipment that was state of the art at the start of their career is now long obsolete and new equipment has to be installed somehow, be it in a pod or somewhere inside the aircraft... or outside, as shown by the addition of fairings containing EW related stuff on many types over the years.

Of course the size of electronic equipment today is much smaller than was years ago and this makes internal installation easier. We have however to keep in mind that these systems also need power... some older pod systems were RAT powered so did not required power from the aircraft, anything internal will need this though. If the aircraft does not have the required extra power available then it's impossible to add a certain new equipment.

 

Regarding the USAF Vs. USN approach, it is not true that the USAF did not have EW platforms before the EF-111, a number of types had been used over the years starting from the Vietnam War and EW systems were also part of the equipment of most bombers since the early days of the technology. The same service was also a very early proponent of "wild weasel" tactics and equipment.

 

Not sure what the mention to recce means... generally every mission is preceded by some kind of intelligence gathering, post-strike recce is also generally performed. However ideally it is never the same aircraft doing either the pre or post-strike recce for the reason that any overflight of the target will alert the defences and any aircraft flying over the target in such conditions will be at an unnecessary risk

Edited by Giorgio N
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