May 6, 2009 (by SrA Michael Means) - The 49th Fighter Wing is participating in Combat Hammer, a weapons system evaluation program, sponsored by the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
USAF F-22A block 30 no. 05-4106 from the 7th FS from Holloman AFB, drops a GBU-32 during a Combat Hammer mission on May 6th, 2009 during the two-week large-scale evaluation. Combat Hammer is also known as a WSEP for air-to-ground weapons. [USAF photo by Capt. Christopher Johnson]
The 86th FWS is able to evaluate the accuracy of various air-to-ground weapons systems with the assistance of F-22A Raptors from the 49th FW, Holloman AFB
, N.M., F-15's from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and F-16's from Eglin AFB, Fla.
"The exercise allows us to operate on controlled ranges," said Staff Sgt. Adam Ray, 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "It allows us to work in a more deployed-like location which helps us to focus on being an expeditionary combat force."
In addition to the Air Forces daily weapons testing, Combat Hammer allows air crews to prepare for upcoming deployments with training missions.
"Combat Hammer offers us a great opportunity to deploy as a team and give our Airmen an opportunity to employ the aircraft, having us work together and learn what challenges are associated with delivering weapons on target," said Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th Fighter Wing commander.
Combat Hammer participants execute 65 percent of their operations at the Utah Test and Training Range. Cameras and other devices at the range record mission information from the time the weapon is dropped to the time of impact. The recorded information from the sorties are used to provide initial feedback to the Combat Hammer players.
"It took a huge effort across our wing to put this exercise together," said Colonel Harrigian. "Our Airmen here are all working together as one team which is allowing us to refine our techniques and procedures."