BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – Airmen from the 2nd Bomb Wing loaded and employed nearly 50 types of various munitions and flew a total of eight sorties in support of exercise Combat Hammer, March 8-12.
A week-long evaluation of the wing’s capacity to generate, load and employ conventional weapons on target, Combat Hammer measured the effectiveness and lethality of Barksdale’s combat capabilities.
“Participating in exercises like Combat Hammer is important because it allows all facets of the 2nd BW to get repetitions in generating combat power,” said Capt. Ethan Simantel, 96th Bomb Squadron director of training. “Exercises like this keep our Airmen lethal at every level.”
The exercise encompassed end-to-end evaluations from units across the wing; assessing proficiency across the board, from the Airmen who built the bombs to the Airmen who dropped them.
“Combat Hammer is different from other exercises as it tests and evaluates the complete chain of the weapons system from the munitions storage facility, to the aircraft, to the target,” said Maj. Ellen Williams, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations officer. “The results measure our level of effectiveness.”
Combat Hammer also included the employment of the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) missile, a weapon used to deter enemy anti-aircraft systems and not typically used in training scenarios.
“The MALD is a decoy that is launched from the aircraft as it approaches contested airspace and flies to multiple predetermined aerial coordinates which are loaded prior to flight,” said Master Sgt. Richard Capuano, 2nd Munitions Squadron conventional maintenance section chief. “The MALD tricks enemy radars to think the MALD is an aircraft or fleet of aircraft and the enemy’s anti-aircraft weaponry targets the MALD, if they are able, instead of targeting the B-52.”
While aircrews routinely train with various types of conventional munitions, the MALD is a weapon normally restricted to combat.
“Normally, MALD employment is restricted to combat employment, but Combat Hammer permits familiarization and testing for the intense logistics involved in getting the system ready for flight all the way through to employment,” Simantel said. “The aircrew were able to perform ground and airborne weapon checks, release an actual MALD, then develop improved tactics and procedures for any future employment.”
Not only did the exercise give Airmen the opportunity to train and execute realistic scenarios, it also showcased that the Airmen and capabilities of the 2nd BW are more lethal and ready than ever.
“Most impressive was the eight for eight sortie generation and fly rate, something rarely seen across all combat platforms, not just bombers,” said Col. Mark Dmytryszyn, 2nd BW commander. “While not everything went perfect, the Strikers performed admirably and demonstrated our winning combat power.”