Seven Air Force units are dropping bombs and firing air-to-air missiles this month in combat training exercises at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill AFB, Utah, and the White Sands Missile Range, N.M., through Aug. 21 as part of two combat training and weapons evaluation training events. The exercises, Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, are designed to mimic combat to help USAF evaluate how precision guided air-to-ground munitions, air-to-air missiles, other advanced weapons, aircraft, and airmen perform under fire, according to an 75th Air Base Wing news release. As part of the Combat Hammer exercise, the 37th Bomb Squadron dropped two Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles from B-1B bombers—the first time the squadron had fired JASSM?s in almost a decade. The exercise was also the first time some airmen were able to drop the GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb or fire an AGM-114 Hellfire missile, according to an exercise weapons officer. The 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron from Eglin AFB, Fla., organized the exercises, with support from the 388th Fighter Wing and 75th Air Base Wing at Hill. F-16s from Hill, Eglin, and Spangdahlem AB, Germany; F-15Es from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., and A-10s from Moody AFB, Ga., along with B-1Bs from Dyess AFB, Texas, and MQ-1s and MQ-9s from Creech AFB, Nev., are participating in the exercises.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.