Hill Air Force Base’s 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron is conducting an in-depth weapons evaluation at Hill Air Force Base and the Utah Test and Training Range this week, bringing with it a variety of aircraft to the skies around northern Utah.
The evaluation, which started Monday, is part of the Air Force’s Weapons System Evaluation Program, or WSEP, and this particular exercise is called Combat Hammer, according to a base press release issued Monday.
A base spokesperson said there shouldn’t be any night flying associated with this exercise, and the public along the Wasatch Front won’t hear, see or feel any detonations from the test range as part of the evaluation.
Maintainers and air crews will build, load and employ weapons from F-35A fighter jets from Hill and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; B-1 bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota; and MQ-9 drones from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, according to the release.
Not all of the aircraft will be based at Hill for the exercise. Some will make round-trip sorties to the test range from their home stations, according to the base press release.
The public shouldn’t notice more flying overall, the base spokesperson said, since one Hill squadron is in the Middle East and another is at an exercise in Alaska.
“During Combat Hammer, we are tasked to evaluate the reliability, maintainability, suitability, accuracy and readiness of combat weapons systems against realistic threats and targets,” said Master Sgt. George Bermudez, superintendent of WSEP at the 86th FWS, in a press release statement. “This requires an end-to-end evaluation of the total fielded integrated weapons system — from the manufacturer delivery to the effect on the target.”
According to the release, the squadron also evaluates air-to-air weapons systems including aircraft, weapon, weapon delivery system, aircrew, support equipment, technical data and maintenance actions.
“We evaluate the bomb builds by each unit, and will then move on to the loading process, and finally to employment by aircrew members to the designated target site,” Bermudez said in the press release.