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Eielson Airmen build first bombs for PACAF F-35s

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U.S Air Force Airmen assigned the 354th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight assemble the first for the F-35A Lightning II at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 16, 2020. A bomb build is the intricate process conducted to ensure a bomb body is usable for operators. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexa Thomas (left), a 354th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) conventional maintenance technician, and Airman 1st Class Kayla Chopper (right), a 354th MXS conventional maintenance crew chief install a GBU-12 forward adapter at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 16, 2020. The munitions flight receives, transports, stores and builds munitions for all aircraft at Eielson. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexa Thomas, a 354th Maintenance Squadron conventional maintenance technician, aligns a GBU-12 forward adapter at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 16, 2020. Over the course of a week, the munitions flight built 70 bombs specifically for the F-35A Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daelyn Mayer, a 354th Maintenance Squadron conventional maintenance inspector, tightens a GBU-12 forward adapter at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 16, 2020. Over the course of a week, the munitions flight built 70 bombs specifically for the F-35A Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daelyn Mayer, a 354th Maintenance Squadron conventional maintenance inspector, tightens a GBU-12 forward adapter at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 16, 2020. The munitions flight built the first combat-specific bombs for the F-35A Lightning IIs since arriving at Eielson. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 354th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight built the first bombs intended for the 354th Fighter Wing’s F-35A Lighting IIs June 15-19.

The last time a 354th FW unit dropped combat-specific bombs was about 10 years ago when the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcons flew in the Alaskan skies.

A bomb build is the intricate process munitions personnel go through to ensure a bomb body is usable for the operators.

“During this process, and depending on the bomb they are building, AMMO will add a guidance and control unit, tail kit and fuse to a basic bomb body,” said Capt. Christina Merritt, a 354th MXS operations officer. “Each of these components work together to make up the type and purpose of the bomb.”

Before a single bomb can be built, the munitions flight must coordinate and plan accordingly. The munitions are initially ‘barged’ which is a process of receiving, transporting, and storing the explosives. Eielson conducted its largest barge in years back in April.   

Once the barge is complete, the munitions Airmen then move onto bomb assembly.

“We’re going to be building a total of 70 bombs over the course of the week,” said Master Sgt. Jason P. Brackins, the 354th MXS conventional maintenance non-commissioned officer in charge.

The munitions flight typically builds bombs in mass fashion especially when they are dealing with the largest shipment Eielson has received in quite some time.

“We typically work to build bombs in a mass fashion,” said Merritt. “Mass builds are done using an assembly line process, where each Airman has a particular job and we can produce multiple bombs at once.”

Munitions are a key component to ensuring Eielson’s F-35s meet all goals for initial combat capabilities and RED FLAG-Alaska participants have ammunition to train. The Airmen who build them are the ones ensuring Eielson’s warfighters are prepared for the future fight.

“We’re the ones that bring the fight to the aircraft and give them that offensive posture,” said Brackins. “Without AMMO it’s just another aircraft flying in the sky.”

The junior Airmen in the munitions flight know how impactful the first bomb build is for the F-35s here at the fighter wing and for PACAF.

“It is very rewarding to be a part of making history,” said Airman 1st Class Daelyn Mayer, a 354th MXS conventional maintenance inspector. “I think it’s awesome to get to say we built the first bombs for the F-35s that are here at Eielson.”