Lancers’ Live Shot

A brace of B-1 Lancers fired two JASSM cruise missiles to validate operational tactics and procedures during a Combat Hammer evaluation at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. In addition to testing the reliability, maintainability, loading, and delivery, the evaluation was a rare opportunity for 37th Bomber Squadron aircrew from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., to actually fire the stealthy 2,000-pound weapon. “We continually train to employ the AGM-158 . . . but nothing can replace an opportunity to load and shoot an actual missile,” said Lt. Col. Brian Mead, 37th BS commander. “The vast majority of B-1 aircrews will go their entire career without shooting an actual AGM-158,” he added. Flying from Ellsworth, the two aircraft closely replicated operational combat delivery profiles, launching the unit’s first JASSM since 2006 during the Oct. 25 drill. Observations from Combat Hammer will inform tweaks to hardware and procedures to improve future operations. (Ellsworth report by Steven Merrill)