US airmen crank out 40,000 pounds of bombs during England drill
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 18, 2018
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Munitions teams from across U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa are producing about 40,000 pounds of bombs this week — the largest amount ever produced by U.S. servicemembers at Lakenheath during an exercise, officials said.
The combat ammunition production exercise hosted by the 48th Fighter Wing, which began Monday, included more than 160 airmen from seven different Air Force units building ordnance for F-15 Eagle sorties.
The four-day intensive exercise on creating live munitions in an austere environment provided planning and production techniques normally seen only at the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
“All of the bases in USAFE can learn from this,” said Master Sgt. Philip Severance, munitions accountable systems officer for the 48th Munitions Squadron. “Now we know what our limitations are, how to posture the force and how many people we need to have.”
Live munitions of various sizes were built and later taken apart through an assembly-line setup. Airmen are expected to have worked on 400-600 bombs by the end of the exercise Thursday.
It was a rare experience for some of the visiting airmen, who don’t craft munitions for the various F-15 weapons loads at their given bases.
“When we bring these units in, it’s important for the training,” Severance said. “Whether we fight at home or go downrange we’re using some weapons that we don’t usually get to play with, so it’s a great opportunity.”
Airmen installed guidance kits into 13-meter-long bombs and carefully loaded 5,000-pound bunker busters with forklifts onto trailers.
Each completed order went through a detailed safety inspection before the bombs were delivered to ammunition loaders on the flight line.
“They usually call line-delivery drivers the last line of defense because we are,” said Senior Airman Jacob Head, of the 48th MUNS. “We get out there and if something is wrong we were the last eyes to see it.”
All bombs built during the exercise will be broken down into their original components and used for new training cycles of mass production.
Once the exercise is finished, the bomb parts will be inventoried and stored in preparation for an audit by USAFE inspectors scheduled for next week.