Defense

May 17, 2012

B-1 aircrews make history by employing laser JDAMS

Tags:
by A1C Hrair H. Palyan
Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

Weapons load crew airmen prepare six GBU-54 laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions for loading onto three B-1 Lancer on May 12, 2012, during a Combat Hammer exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. The goal of the exercise was to evaluate the effectiveness, maintainability, suitability and accuracy of precision-guided munitions and other advanced air-to-ground weapons. The airmen are assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth AFB.

B-1 Lancer aircrews from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., employed laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions against moving targets during a weapon system evaluation program exercise May 14 through 16.

Aircrews from the 37th Bomb Squadron and 34th BS employed six GBU-54 laser JDAMs against targets on the Utah Test and Training Range near Hill Air Force Base, Utah, as part of the Air Force’s air to ground WSEP, known as Combat Hammer.

“Combat Hammer provided us with the unique opportunity to employ weapons in real-world scenarios and evaluate the weapon and aircraft-to-weapon interface in great detail due to the telemetry kits on the weapons,” said Lt. Col. Stuart Newberry, the 37th BS commander. “This data, when coupled with scenarios usually unavailable to us except in combat scenarios, provides us with an opportunity to validate and refine our tactics, techniques and procedures … as well as adjust training plans and combat standards.”

The goal of the exercise was to evaluate the effectiveness, maintainability, suitability and accuracy of precision guided munitions and other advanced air to ground weapons. The entire process of weapons handling was evaluated from start to finish during Combat Hammer.

Maj. Michael Ballard, the lead bomber evaluator for Combat Hammer, said this time around, WSEP focused on the cradle-to-grave evaluation for the LJDAM.

The LJDAM is a 500-pound, dual-mode guided weapon. It’s equipped with a laser seeker, which aids in its ability to demonstrate outstanding accuracy and can be employed to engage both stationary and moving targets on the ground.

“We didn’t do anything different because of WSEP – our main focus is always on safe and reliable loading first time, every time,” said MSgt. Joshua Klotz, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron NCO in charge of loading. “We qualify monthly on all B-1 bomber assigned munitions and are required to complete proficiency loading every month.”

Leadership was mindful in the selection process of aircrews for Combat Hammer, ensuring that Airmen who had less experience would be teamed up with seasoned aviators.

“We try to provide a mix of experience during Combat Hammer sorties,” Newberry said. “All crewmembers were fully qualified, but it’s important to allow younger aviators – those without a lot of experience – the opportunity to build confidence in their skills and weapon system while they are supervised by more experienced aircrew.”

Newberry noted that aircrews have been limited in training opportunities with the LJDAM unless they are participating in a Combat Hammer scenario.

“It was gratifying to be part of the first operational release,” said Capt. Charles Armstrong, a 37th BS B-1 weapon systems officer and a mission leader for Combat Hammer. “We’re learning a lot from these missions, and it’s vital to uncover the peculiarities of this weapon now in a training environment so we can employ it with no issues in combat.”

A B-1 Lancer touches down May 15, 2012, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., after completing a successful mission as part of a Combat Hammer exercise over the Utah Test and Training Range. For the first time in history, B-1s employed GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions against moving targets during the Air Force’s air to ground Weapon System Evaluation Program known as Combat Hammer.

Since LJDAMs had never been employed by an operational B-1 squadron before, Ellsworth AFB was the first to be evaluated on tactics and procedures while employing LJDAMs.

Newberry added that the Combat Hammer team continuously looks for different scenarios that could occur during combat situations, including GPS jamming, slowing down or speeding up moving targets, and then attempts to replicate them during sorties.

“Evaluators will be able to retrieve data from the telemetry kits on the weapons and build a picture of how the weapon was or was not affected in various scenarios,” Newberry said. “That data is invaluable in refining and adjusting our training plans.”

Ellsworth AFB is home to two of the nation’s three B-1 combat squadrons and carries the lion’s share of the deployment taskings involving the B-1. Since 2007, Ellsworth AFB B-1s have deployed 12 of every 18 months in support of missions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Additionally, aircrews from here conduct missions to rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against adversaries.

Armstrong said that adding LJDAMs to the B-1′s already diverse arsenal will only increase the already remarkable mission effectiveness rate Ellsworth AFB has had in current operations around the globe.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 23, 2014

News: Israel’s Iron Dome defense in line for tripled U.S. spending - Israel’s iron Dome missile defense system may end up getting triple the U.S. funding that the Defense Department sought for it in March. Ukraine asked U.S. for systems to counter Russian missiles - A month before the United States says a Russian missile likely brought...
 
 

News Briefs July 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,194 As of July 22, 2014, at least 2,194 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is three less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 
Raytheon photograph

Raytheon completes key Air, Missile Defense Radar reviews

Raytheon photograph Partially-populated, full-sized Air and Missile Defense Radar array. Raytheon has completed two critical program reviews for the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, the U.S. Navy’s next generation integ...
 

 
Insitu photograph

Insitu demonstrates long endurance capabilities of Integrator unmanned aircraft

Insitu photograph Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aircraft recovers via SkyHook; the aircraft recently completed a 24-hour endurance flight. Insitu announced July 22 the successful 24-hour flight of its Integrator unmanned a...
 
 

NASA partners punctuate summer with spacecraft development advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their† Space Act Agreements with the agency. NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move...
 
 

U.S. Navy selects Northrop Grumman for ship self-defense system

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2. The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised. SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>