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Weapons testing enters new era.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.--Engineers and technicians here ushered in a new weapons-testing era by dropping an inert, precision laser-guided bomb from an F-15E Strike Eagle that struck an offshore floating target 21 miles away.

The test is the first in a program to build an offshore-scoring system on the Eglin Gulf Test Range, which allows weapons, like small-diameter bombs and the joint air-to-surface standoff missiles, to be tested, said Col. Robert Nolan, 46th Test Wing commander.

The program will help wing officials test all weapon systems by 2010. The demonstration's planning began in September 2003, as wing leaders wanted war fighters to fully exercise modern weaponry under realistic conditions. Until the recent success, the ability to evaluate this type of weapon in open-air testing didn't exist in the United States.

This inability forced war fighters to go to combat without evaluating a weapon's full operational capability, the colonel said, putting war fighters and combat missions at risk. Weapon evaluation can now include scenarios beyond hundreds of miles.

Bill Wade

46th Test Wing
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Title Annotation:Airman's World
Author:Wade, Bill
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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