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Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs (Aug. 22, 2006): small-diameter bomb ready for war on terror.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Four major acquisition programs--developed in parallel--have come together to provide Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle crews with a revolutionary capability that combines accuracy and reduced collateral damage.

Military and civilian employees in seven locations worked together developing the four new capabilities--small-diameter bomb, advanced display core processor, joint mission planning system, and the operational flight program software, better known as Suite 5. The final, combined product, which includes four additional smart weapons stations, was delivered to Air Force pilots at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom, last month, eight weeks ahead of schedule and $26.9 million under budget.

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"If you would have put all of us in a room last summer and asked us how we were going to make (the deadline), we probably would've said, 'This is new territory for all of us,'" said George Spencer, the 912th Aeronautical Systems Group director in charge of F-15 systems here. "Because of all the things going on, there were some significant hurdles we had to overcome, but we had a team of seven organizations that were fully committed to making this program succeed."

The key capability delivered to warfighters is the GBU-39 250-pound small-diameter bomb--a munition capable of raining pinpoint precision explosions on enemy targets from 60 miles away while minimizing collateral damage.

"Previously in urban warfare, forces surrounding a building with insurgents or terrorists inside had two choices: air strikes to destroy the building, which created significant damage to nearby structures; or sending in ground troops, putting their lives at risk," said Col. Richard Justice, the 918th AESG commander and small-diameter bomb program manager at Eglin AFB, Fla. "U.S. military rules of engagement dictate that we avoid or minimize death or injury to innocent people 'next door.' F-15s equipped with these four new capabilities can send in a much smaller bomb, which can strike within six feet of the aim point."

In July, the first F-15Es were fitted with a training version of small-diameter bomb racks with electronics that allow jets to drop simulated bombs. After one of the sorties, Lt. Col. Will Reese, the 494th Fighter Squadron commander at RAF Lakenheath said, "Our four-ship (of F-15s) hit 16 targets with 16 bombs in one pass. In Operation Desert Storm you could expect one plane loaded with six bombs to destroy one target. Now we can use one bomb per target, and each aircraft can carry up to 16 bombs."

Getting to that milestone was not easy. One program had many technical and programmatic problems to be resolved; and simultaneous development of two major software packages and two complex hardware programs was challenging for all. Behind all of the troubles was an unrelenting reminder that if one of the four programs was not ready on time, the entire endeavor was at risk.

"It was a tremendous effort by the overall Air Force Materiel Command enterprise team that required a phenomenal amount of communication and coordination to bring all these interrelated capabilities together at the right time," said Lt. Col. Ed Offutt, the 912th AESG Strike Eagle team leader. "If any team member made a change, it had to be communicated to everyone else because it could affect their progress as well."

The allocation of requirements to the contractor team at Boeing and its major supplier, Honeywell, to develop the new capability was driven by a vision of weapon system capability for warfighters.

"Integrating a new, complex (operational flight program) with a new core processor and precision weapon was a great challenge," said Nanette Soehngen, Boeing's F-15 development programs manager. "Boeing and Honeywell are very proud to be part of the Air Force team that got it done."

At the same time, the small-diameter bomb team was completing a development program of 42 launches with a 95-percent success rate, on cost and on schedule.

Everdeen is with Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Capt. Bob Everdeen, USAF
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Title Annotation:In the News
Author:Everdeen, Bob
Publication:Defense AT & L
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:659
Previous Article:Quaid and Ward strike a chord.
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