Operational Raptors drop SDBs for the first time

Operational Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors from the US Air Force’s 3rd Wing have dropped 250lbs GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) for the first time over the Utah Test and Training Range during a Combat Hammer exercise.

525fsSDB.jpgUntil now the INS/GPS-guided weapons have previously only been dropped from Raptors serving in the developmental and operational test and evaluation communities (of course, it’s been in use on other types for quite some time). The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson-based F-22s recently received the Increment 3.1 hardware and software modifications which allow them to employ the weapon.

SDB525FSutah.jpg“The employment of the GBU-39s was very successful,” says Major Wade Bridges, a Raptor pilot from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Fighter Squadron. “The ammo and weapons personnel that built and loaded the weapons did so with amazing professionalism and technical expertise. They were evaluated during the entire process and received nothing but praise for their work. The pilots who employed the weapons did an excellent job delivering the weapons in a tactical environment. The entire process from building to employing the weapons was a tremendous success resulting in 100% of the SDBs being released successfully.”

120809-F-PB632-030.jpgThe 302nd FS, commanded by Lt Col Dave Piffarerio, is the lead unit for the exercise. But there are pilots and maintainers from the active duty 525th Fighter Squadron who are participating.

Additionally, personnel from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron and it active associate 19th Fighter Squadron also participated in the exercise as the unit gears up for it initial operational capability date.

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