The sound of bombs could be heard going off near Eglin Air Force Base, but don't worry, the 53rd Wing was conducting Combat Hammer.
Members of the U.S. Air Force, based out of Misawa, Japan and a squadron from Eglin Air Force Base took to the skies in a combined air to ground weapons testing program.
The program is to evaluate effectiveness of the combat weapons system and to give air crews hands-on training.
Lt. Colonel Dean Ostovich, with the 86th Fighter Squadron, out of Eglin Air Force Base said, “The targets that we're hitting in Iraq and Afghanistan are small in nature; they move a lot and then on top of that, they're typically found in areas where we don't want to do any damage. So it's very important that we take these precision weapons and put them exactly on the target, [the] first time, every time.”
Air crews fly F16 fighter jets loaded with live ammunition aimed and fired at moving, unmanned targets.
Weapons are either infrared or TV guided. Their path is recorded from the jet to the target. All phases of the mission are monitored and evaluated with the aid of a GPS tracking system.
Lt. Colonel Stephen Williams, with the 13th Fighter Squadron in Misawa Japan said, “The results that we get back are based on the telemetry data and also the video cameras that they have out on the ranges. It's called a scored range, so we're able to score those attempts and provide me some feedback.”
This type of training provides combat experience that many units will face in Iraq. Some crew members have already been there.
Airman First Class Philip Smith, with the 13th Fighter Squadron, in Misawa Japan said, “You really are doing your job trying to help out, not only the Army and the Marines on the ground, but also I believe we are helping the Iraqi people and that's a good feeling everyday when you go to work.”
And, it's a good feeling for America too, knowing that we have the best training to keep our country safe.
Eglin Air Force Base is only one of two places in the entire world where this type of testing is conducted. The other location is in Utah.