October 24, 2005

F/A-22 Raptor drops first bomb

10/21/2005 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFPN) -- “Weapon’s away.”

Those two words from Lt. Col. Jim Hecker put the 27th Fighter Squadron into the record books.

The squadron commander dropped the first bomb -- a 1000-pound global positioning system-guided joint direct attack munition -- from an F/A-22 Raptor Oct. 18.

Eight more bombs followed shortly, each punishing the dummy targets below.

On the first day of bombing, five Raptors took flight loaded with two of the bombs. Each sortie led to direct hits on targets, despite this being the first time many of the pilots had ever completed an air-to-ground mission in the next-generation stealth fighter.

It was the first-ever deployment for the Raptors, based at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

“What we saw today was an outstanding display of training and technology,” said Col. Doug Reed, Hill’s 388th Range Squadron commander.

After watching the first bombing flight through a live television feed, the colonel said he could tell it was a successful event, but not where the bombs hit.

Hill’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Program operators verified the bombs not only hit the targets, they “shacked” them.

“That’s a fighter-pilot term for when you hit a target dead center -- a bull’s-eye.” said Capt. Shawn Anger, 43rd FS air-to-ground weapons chief. “Hit criteria will vary depending on the size of the target and the munitions, but when you put the bomb directly in the center of the target it’s a shack.”
Though each bomb nailed its target, one weapon did not release from Raptor 43. The airplane’s stores management system, which enables the pilot to release the weapon, received an error message from the bomb’s internal telemetry test package, and automatically aborted the drop -- as designed.

The Raptor’s computer didn’t receive confirmation signals from the bomb indicating it was ready to fire, so the plane wouldn’t let the bomb go,” said Lt. Col. Pat Minto, 1st FW maintenance squadron commander. “We’re continuing to investigate the details.

“But initial indications point to a bomb problem -- not a plane problem,” Colonel Minto said.

The Oct. 19 bomb drops were as successful. Each bomb released and reached their surveyed impact points.

One drop was so accurate it made the truck-target bounce off the ground.

“These concrete-filled inert bombs don’t carry any explosive material,” said Chris Robinson, range operations flight chief. “But when you’re this accurate, you don’t need the explosion to see the kill.”

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