Airmen from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska recently finished the first bombs for the 354th Fighter Wing’s F-35A strike fighters.
Eielson, which received its first two F-35s on April 21, is the first Pacific Air Forces base to host F-35s. The fighter delivery and munitions manufacturing are part of a shift for the 354th Fighter Wing as they start a combat mission alongside ongoing Red Flag-Alaska training exercises.
Bomb construction begins with “barging” munitions, which means receiving and storing explosives on the base. Eielson started a barge in April, near when the F-35As arrived, the base said in a June 29 press release.
Once barging is complete, munitions Airmen construct bombs in an assembly line fashion, said Capt. Christina Merritt, an aircraft maintenance officer for the 354th.
“During this process, and depending on the bomb they are building, [munitions personnel] will add a guidance and control unit, tail kit, and fuse to a basic bomb body,” Merritt said.
The base expects to build 70 bombs over the next week, said Master Sgt. Jason Brackins, the 354th Maintenance Squadron conventional maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge.
“We’re the ones that bring the fight to the aircraft and give them that offensive posture,” Brackins said. “Without [munitions personnel] it’s just another aircraft flying in the sky.