BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The 93rd Bomb Squadron here participated in the Air Force's first operational launch of an AGM-86C Block 1A, the newest version of the conventional air launch cruise missile. The Air Force Reserve Command B-52H Stratofortress bomber mission began early Aug. 16 en route to the Utah Test and Training Range, near Ogden, Utah. The CALCM is an air-to-ground strategic cruise missile that gives the Air Force an economical, rapid response, worldwide conventional strike capability, making it a cost-effective choice for additional system upgrades and new mission applications, officials said.
"Training with live weapons, especially the magnitude of the cruise missile is a great chance for us to train with real weapons," said Maj. Rob Burgess, mission aircraft commander. "It provides us an opportunity to see how they operate."
Previous Block 1-A enhancements include precision strike accuracy, global positioning system anti-jamming and an improved terminal flight profile.
"Launching a live missile differs from what we do on a day-to-day basis because our simulator doesn't take it to this higher level of training," said Maj. David Lunger, 93rd BS instructor radar navigator. "This kind of training is invaluable."
Officials said this cruise missile launch was the first time a 917th Wing aircraft here participated in the Weapons System Evaluation Program, a program designed to provide support for Air Force positions concerning operational needs, force structure recommendations, material modifications, and requirements for new equipment.
The WSEP was also the first operational launch of an AGM-86C Block 1A; previous launches were tests.
"Everything from weapons buildup through destruction of the target was assessed," Lunger said. "This mission was an outstanding success for the 917th Wing's first WSEP," said Capt. James Jones from the 49th Test Squadron here. "It was there, on target, on time, ready to go."