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Weapons testing enters new era


Release Date: 3/31/2004

by Bill Wade 46th Test Wing

3/31/2004 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- Engineers and technicians here ushered in a new weapons-testing era by dropping an inert, precision laser-guided bomb from an F-15E Strike Eagle that struck an offshore floating target 21 miles away.

The test is the first in a program to build an offshore-scoring system on the Eglin Gulf Test Range, officials said.

It allows weapons, like small-diameter bombs and the joint air-to-surface standoff missiles, to be tested. It will make Eglin the only Department of Defense test range with the capability, said Col. Robert Nolan, 46th Test Wing commander.

The program will help 46th TW officials test all weapon systems fully by 2010, Colonel Nolan said.

The demonstration's planning began in September 2003, as wing leaders wanted the warfighter to be able to fully exercise modern weaponry under realistic conditions. Until the recent success, the ability to fully evaluate this type of 21st century weapons in open-air testing did not exist anywhere in the United States.

This inability to test these weapons has, in the past, forced the warfighter to go to combat without evaluating the weapon's full operational capabilities, Colonel Nolan said. This put both the warfighter and the combat mission at additional risk. With Eglin's new capability, weapons evaluation can now include scenarios beyond hundreds of miles. (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

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