BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.Â --Â Several Air Force Global Strike Command B-52H Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirits recently participated in an Air Combat Command evaluation involving the use of live cruise missiles and precision guided munitions.
"The Air-to-Ground Weapon System Evaluation Program, also known as 'Combat Hammer,' allows ACC to confirm the accuracy and capability of our conventional weapons from end to end while integrating with other assets in a realistic combat environment," said Lt. Col. Richard Armstrong, AFGSC Weapons and Tactics Branch chief. "It ensures the combined effort of our maintainers, loaders and operators is always ready to effectively deliver weapons if called upon."
During the evaluation, the aircraft flew multiple sorties to the Utah Test and Training Range where they engaged simulated enemy targets with missiles and other munitions while practicing combat maneuvers.
"One of the best things about Combat Hammer, for the crews, is that it really provides additional hands-on experience with the weapons that they train [with]," said Maj. Chris Weir, wing weapons officer for the 2nd Bomb Wing here. "There's no substitute for using the actual hardware, the actual software, the actual missiles that you see here. It provides experience that you just can't get any other way."
The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, carried by AFGSC aircraft during Combat Hammer is one of the Air Force's newest and most effective weapons. This stealthy Air-Launched Cruise Missile is compatible with a wide variety of aircraft and is designed to be launched from outside of the combat area, allowing crews to strike distant targets with extreme accuracy without exposing themselves to potentially deadly enemy fire.
"The JASSM is one of the most cutting-edge weapons we have," said Weir. "It is one of the newest weapons to be integrated onto the B-52. Its low-observable characteristics really make it one of the most capable weapons that we have to destroy targets in a contested environment."
Precision guided munitions used during Combat Hammer included Paveway II laser-guided bombs and multiple variants of the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. These weapons have a proven track record and have been used to great effect in conflicts around the globe.
ACC led the two-week evaluation, coordinating the efforts of five different types of aircraft from seven bases, as well as remotely-piloted aircraft from Creech AFB, Nevada.
"Combat Hammer provides data on the effectiveness of precision guided munitions in both contested and uncontested environments, directly affecting the warfighter's weapon choice," said 2nd Lt. Victoria Carrillo, a weapons and tactics analyst with the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida. "While primary results have been encouraging, until all the data has been collected and analyzed from the range, final conclusions cannot be made."
"For the crews, training is the biggest thing that we get out of this," Weir said. "We do everything just the way we would fight it. That's what puts the 'combat' in Combat Hammer."