Friday, September 10, 2010

B-1 carries record-setting missile load

by Tech. Sgt. Robert Wollenberg, 7th Bomb Wing Public affairs

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- A Dyess Air Force Base B-1B Lancer carried a full load of 24 AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missiles on a flight over the Gulf of Mexico, Sept. 7 -- a first for the B-1 and AGM-158.

"The mission was a success," said Maj. Brian Owen, the chief of wing weapons and tactics. "Everything went as planned, and we can verify that the B-1B can in fact operate its full capacity of JASSMs."

The purpose of the flight was to ensure maintainers, ammo and munitions Airmen and B-1 aircrew are proficient in uploading, flying, employing and downloading the AGM-158 JASSM and to test all missile-related processes to see if there's room for improvement. None of the missiles were released during this test; they were system-checked while in the air.

"Maintainers loading 24 JASSMs on one B-1 is a record-setting event," said Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Rud, of 7th Maintenance Group. "It's never been done before. The main reason we're doing this is for training. It's the cornerstone of all we do. It provides us the opportunity to hone our war fighting skills and gives us the opportunity to project our combat capability right here out of Dyess (AFB)."

The B-1 is the most capable JASSM employment platform in the world, Major Owen said.

"We've seen the engineering specs that say it's supposed to work, but it's never been done before," Major Owen said . "What makes the B-1 unique versus the other aircraft around the world is that we can employ these weapons on such a large scale. We can take off with two aircraft and have the capability to strike 48 different targets."

The second most capable aircraft is the B-2 Spirit, carrying 16 JASMMs, followed by the B-52 Stratofortress with 12.

The AGM-158 JASSM is designed to keep the jet and its crew a significant distance away from surface-to-air threats while still holding an enemy's targets at risk.

The AGM-158A is a stealth cruise missile powered by a Teledyne CAE J402 turbojet that uses flip-out wings with control surfaces and a single vertical tail for flight control. It's guided by a jamming-resistant, GPS-aided inertial navigation system and uses an imaging infrared seeker for autonomous pattern-based target selection and terminal homing.

The missile is armed with a 1,000 pound WDU-42/B insensitive munitions penetrating warhead, and accuracy is quoted within 8 feet. It is also equipped with a data link to transmit status and location information until impact, thus assisting in bomb damage assessment.

"I've been in the aircraft maintenance business for more than 24 years, and anytime you have the opportunity to do something first, it is a real morale booster," Sergeant Rud said. "It gives us here at Dyess (AFB) bragging rights, and that goes a long way in terms of building pride in your unit and pride in the aircraft you work on. I have found that people love to do their primary job, whether it's ammo line delivery crews delivering bombs or weapons loaders loading bombs.

"It's in these moments that people get energized when they see their part of an operation come together with the other pieces of the puzzle that makes them feel good about what they do," he said.