HomeNewsArticle Display

53rd Wing WSEP incorporates NucWSEP, enhances readiness for real world operations

An F-35A Lightning II assigned to 388th Fighter Wing at Hill lands as another F-35A from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base takes off Aug. 25, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The 63rd FS was participating in a Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

An F-35A Lightning II assigned to 388th Fighter Wing at Hill lands as another F-35A from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base takes off Aug. 25, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The 63rd FS was participating in a Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, test an AGM-65 Maverick making sure all the components within the missile are functional prior to being loaded on the aircraft Aug. 19, 2021. These crews are evaluated as part of the Weapons System Evaluation Program, which tests and validates the performance of crews and their technology while deploying munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin)

Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, test an AGM-65 Maverick making sure all the components within the missile are functional prior to being loaded on the aircraft Aug. 19, 2021. These crews are evaluated as part of the Weapons System Evaluation Program, which tests and validates the performance of crews and their technology while deploying munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, takes off Aug. 25, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The wing was participating in a Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, takes off Aug. 25, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The wing was participating in a Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

First Lt. Victoria Gurrola, 96th Bomb Squadron weapon systems officer, inspects a CBU-105 conventional munition before takeoff at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Aug. 25, 2021. CBU-105s are multi-targeting bombs capable of destroying numerous armored targets in a single drop. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chase Sullivan)

First Lt. Victoria Gurrola, 96th Bomb Squadron weapon systems officer, inspects a CBU-105 conventional munition before takeoff at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Aug. 25, 2021. CBU-105s are multi-targeting bombs capable of destroying numerous armored targets in a single drop. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chase Sullivan)

Maj. James Bell, 96th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, and Capt. Phillip Hightower, 96th BS co-pilot, inspect conventional munitions before takeoff at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Aug. 25, 2021. Inspecting munitions is part of an important pre-flight checklist vital to ensuring flight safety and proper weapon functionality. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chase Sullivan)

Maj. James Bell, 96th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, and Capt. Phillip Hightower, 96th BS co-pilot, inspect conventional munitions before takeoff at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Aug. 25, 2021. Inspecting munitions is part of an important pre-flight checklist vital to ensuring flight safety and proper weapon functionality. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chase Sullivan)

Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, ready weapons on an F-16 Fighting Falcon Aug. 25, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The wing was participating in a Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, ready weapons on an F-16 Fighting Falcon Aug. 25, 2021, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The wing was participating in a Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as Combat Hammer and Combat Archer, which tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group hosted air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons system evaluations at Hill Air Force Base from Aug. 16-27, 2021. The Weapons System Evaluation Program tests maintenance, aircrew, and weapons Airmen by evaluating the reliability and maintainability of aircraft weapons systems.
 
A unique component of this most recent WSEP West iteration was the incorporation of a Nuclear Evaluation Mission involving aircrew and maintenance professionals from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom, and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The 48th FW built and loaded inert B-61 gravity bombs, and released two of the munitions at the Tonopah Test Range. The successful releases allowed more test data points to be collected for further weapon and tactics techniques and procedures development.
 
This two-week training event also included B-52H Stratofortress jets from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Aircrew from the 20th and 96th Bomb Squadrons launched Miniature Air-Launched Decoys in addition to Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Cluster Bomb Units as part of the WSEP demonstration.
 
“The MALD is a weapon we don’t get to release unsimulated very often,” said Capt. Bradley Arnold, 96th BS flight commander and Combat Hammer mission lead. “These weapons are normally restricted for combat, but by employing them during exercises like WSEP we can track the results and produce reliable up-to-date weapons metrics that are essential in equipping the warfighter and staying ahead of the fight.” 
 
During the course of WSEP, F-16s from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy shot three Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, which provided a rare opportunity for a combat unit to gain vital experience with planning and executing a live employment.  
 
“The vast majority of aircrew members will never get a chance to employ a JASSM unless they are called into actual combat,” said Maj. Anthony Nejman, 86th Fighter Wing F-35 lead evaluator. “For those who got to shoot the weapon, that experience will be valuable if it ever comes to a real combat scenario.”
 
Finally, F-35s assigned to the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona participated in WSEP West for the first time, and together the 63rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit and 63rd FS loaded and expended seven AIM-120s, three AIM-9Xs, 22 GBU-12s, six GBU-31s, and fired 1488 rounds of 25mm ammunition. In total, the 63rd flew 140 sorties while providing vital training for maintainers and ammo personnel as they built and loaded live munitions in a simulated environment.  Additionally, the event allowed ten first time shooters and instructor pilots to successfully employ weapons systems to their maximum capabilities.

Most notable for the 63rd was the employment of the Lightning Technician Program, which aims at addressing the multi-functional airmen requirement for future operations with near-peer adversaries. Luke Air Force Base is the first base across the Air Force to implement LTP across all the aircraft maintenance units, creating the benchmark across the Air Force.
 
“LTP’s concept is simple, one maintainer should know a multitude of aircraft maintenance tasks, typically known to multiple airmen in different specialties,” said Maj. Danny Lacore, 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “Traditionally many maintenance tasks rely on outside agencies to execute, but by consolidating career fields we gain mission resiliency and a higher level of readiness.”
 
The next WSEP will occur Sept. 13-24, 2021 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Known as WSEP-East, this will include units from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and Combat Air Force.