By Airman First Class Jennifer Hotte , 113th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 10, 2012
Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Mi --
From the moment of that radio call to the moment of impact, it might be an average of 32 seconds based on altitude and speed for a weapon to leave the F-16 bay and hit the ground. But the amount of time it takes to prepare that weapon for flight takes days of careful loading, transferring, building and inspecting the explosives.
Some of these Airmen handled more than 500 pounds of explosives today for the first time.
"This is my first time working with live bombs, they are firing them off tomorrow!" A1C Mischan Salemon said with a smile. While in Alpena several Airmen received training outside their standard Air Force Specialty Code.
Nine augmenters from various maintenance AFSC's got more than three days of hands-on and classroom training prior to handling the live muni¬tions.
"The augmenters are outstanding, eager, willing to learn and help," said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Brown,113th Munitions Flight Chief.
There are approximately forty inspection steps to preparing these bombs over eleven functional areas. Attention to detail is required when hand-assembling fuses and fins prior to attaching them to the bombs. The inspection process is multi-layered, ending with the attachment of an arming wire, and then a seven-level munitions craftsman gives the final ap¬proval for loading onto the transportation carts.
Then, it's off to the flightline.
Approximately 52 live and 114 inert 500-lb bombs, as well as 80 25-lb inert bombs will punish the Alpena range this week, thanks to the munitions system specialists and their aug¬menters. For some of the F-16 pilots, this will be their first opportunity to drop live weapons.
"Loading a blue bomb isn't the same as loading a live one," said Colonel Jeff Bozard, 113th Vice Wing commander. "This the first time outside of combat that we've had a chance to exercise the entire system of building it correctly, wiring it correctly, loading correctly and then firing it and having it make a big boom at the end."
"It's incredibly important for our people to get this training so when we have to take these skills into combat, we're ready," he said.