Airman 1st Class Jedediah McClain (left) and Airman 1st Class Zack Demeter reset umbilical connectors on the fins for guided bomb unit-38 bombs Feb. 14 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Both are munitions troops with the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron. Airman McClain's home unit is the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. and Airman Demeter is from the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester)
Airman 1st Class Ryan Thompson aligns strakes with lugs on a guided bomb unit-38 bomb Feb. 14 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Munitions troops assembled 24 bombs in a 2-hour time frame. Airman Thompson is a 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron munitions troop deployed from the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester)
Airman 1st Class Jedediah McClain paints fuse settings on bombs for identification by loaders and pilots Feb 14 at Bagram Air Base, Afghaniston. Airman McClain is a munitons troop with the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron here and is deployed from the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester)
Munitions troops with the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron assemble guided bomb unit-38 bombs during the night shift Feb 14 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The bombs will be loaded onto F-15 Strike Eagles for missions in support of the war on terrorism. The Airmen are (left to right) Staff Sgt. Jeremy Woodruff, Airman 1st Class Zack Demeter and Tech. Sgt. Ben Walker. Sergeant Woodruff is from the 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Airman Demeter is from the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Sergeant Walker is form the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester)
by Tech. Sgt. James Law
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
2/26/2008 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- "Some people think you open a box and there is a bomb, ready to be loaded on an aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Erick Chrostowski, the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron munitions production supervisor here.
"There is more to it than that," he said. The initial steps of the process are identifying, obtaining and storing the assets essential to build the variations of bombs needed to support different mission requirements.
Once a specific bomb is requested, the assets are moved from storage to the munitions assembly conveyer pad, where individual pieces collectively become a bomb.
The basic elements of the guided bomb unit-38s are the mark-82 500-pound bomb body, commonly known as the warhead, the fuzes, fins and front ends.
"There are different types of front ends for (various) bombs," said Senior Airman Collin Dillingham, a conventional maintenance crew member on the assembly team. "There are bombs that penetrate the ground before blowing up, there are bombs that hit the ground and blow up and there are bombs that blow up above the ground."
Just as there are different front ends for different objectives, there are different fins with different purposes.
"There are dumb fins, fins that do not move like the classic cartoon bomb, and there are the smart fins that drive or guide the bomb," Airman Dillingham said.
The Airmen assembling the GBU-38s are given a safety briefing before dividing into teams.
"We have 10,000 pounds of net explosive weight on the pad right now," Sergeant Chrostowski said. "If you see anybody running, try to keep up."
The final statement gets the Airmen's attention as intended. They go to work, swiftly, yet vigilantly building the bombs.
The first team loads the body onto a trolley system where assembly begins. One team places the front end on while another installs the fuzes. Once this phase is complete, the bomb slides down the rail system to the team building and installing the fins and guidance control system. The last stage before loading the bombs on a trailer to deliver to the flightline is a complete inspection performed by Sergeant Chrostowski.
"There is job satisfaction when we watch weapon systems video and see our bombs do what they were supposed to, whether it is assisting troops-in-combat or hitting a high-value target," Sergeant Chrostowski said.
The munitions built by the 455th EMXS Airmen include 20 mm and 30 mm cannon ammunition, anti-threat countermeasures, laser-guided bombs, and joint direct attack munitions, which are global positioning systme-aided weapons.
The munitions will be employed by F-15E Strike Eagles and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.