Aircrews showcase B-52 capability

By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

From medical personnel to maintainers, every unit on base plays a role in supporting the core mission of the 2nd Bomb Wing - using the B-52H Stratofortress to put bombs on target anywhere on the globe.

When the BUFF is called into action, exercises such as Combat Hammer ensure that it is able to do so with deadly precision.

"The mission of the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron Air-to-Ground Weapon System Evaluation Program is to operationally assess and evaluate the reliability, maintainability, suitability, and accuracy of precision-guided munitions and high technology air-to-ground munitions from tactical deliveries against realistic targets and simulated enemy defenses," said Maj. Michael Ballard, 86 FWS bomber lead evaluator.

The 86 FWS, also known as Combat Hammer, conducts evaluations on precision-guided munitions employed by a variety of aircraft across the Air Force as well as joint and multi-national forces. Although located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Combat Hammer Airmen travel wherever necessary to evaluate units on the use of these smart weapons.

According to Ballard, Combat Hammer is like the "Consumer Reports" of the Air Force in terms of precision-guided munitions. Their findings are channeled up to AF headquarters so when the time comes, the nation's leaders will know exactly what our weapons are capable of.

The exercise covers the entire process of producing and employing the bombs; however, the building and loading mean nothing if the crew can't accurately put weapons on target. The exercise is structured to closely resemble a combat operation, with the schedule changing in order to test the crew's ability to adapt and overcome.

"Combat Hammer sorties differ from day-to-day flying because these sorties are meant to emulate how we would employ our precision-guided munitions during war time scenarios," said Capt. Mehul Brahmbhatt, 2nd Operations Support Squadron global strike planner. "The crews flying show up the day of the flight, are briefed what their mission is for the day, and then go fly that mission."

Precision-guided munitions are extremely adaptable and are used on a wide array of aircraft due to their accuracy and effectiveness, said Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Young, 86 FWS evaluator. This accuracy translates to more firepower down range with less trips to reload.

"The capability that precision-guided munitions bring to the fight is the concept of economy of weapons," said Brahmbhatt. "Having the ability to use one weapon to take out a target provides us the capability to strike more targets with fewer weapons so we can maximize the number of targets that we can strike."

This capability, coupled with the enormous payload of the B-52, makes the airframe a tremendous asset to any wartime engagement, added Ballard. Accuracy and payload of these conventional weapons is only one of several capabilities the B-52 brings to the fight, solidifying it as one of the most capable, powerful and feared assets of the United States arsenal.