Munitions Airmen: Key to combat exercises

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Aircraft from several bases around the Air Force are here through Aug. 18 to drop precision-guided munitions and employ air-to-air missiles on the Utah Test and Training Range during exercises known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer.

These exercises would not be possible without the Airmen who are also here building the precision munitions, which are analyzed for performance and suitability for use in combat.

Airmen from 325th Maintenance Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., spent part of the day at Hill on Aug. 2 building 1,000-pound precision-guided munitions known as GBU-32s.

After uncrating and loading guidance software, the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits were attached to the bomb bodies sitting in a row on an efficient assembly line called a MAC, or “Munitions Assembly Conveyor.”

The build process involved manual labor and hand tools such as pneumatic impact wrenches, torque wrenches, screwdrivers and rubber mallets.

Once built, the bombs were loaded onto transport trailers using a hoist and gantry crane.

According to Tech. Sgt. Anthony Mansell, a precision-guided munitions evaluator attached to the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron here, munitions Airmen benefit from these combat exercises.

“The Airmen get to work with the munitions that warfighters are using downrange,” Mansell said. “They get to work with munitions they don’t get to work with during day-to-day training at home station.”

Speaking on behalf of the munitions community, Mansell added that their work adds to warfighter effectiveness.

“I feel like we have a key role in making things happen in the Air Force,” Mansell said. “The information we gather during exercises like Combat Hammer really makes a difference for the warfighter and in preparing units to deploy.”