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Stealth fighters use new munitions to hit Baghdad

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (AFPN) -- U.S. Air Force F-117 stealth fighters struck five strategic targets in Baghdad on March 21 using a new precision-guided munition, the EGBU-27, as coalition forces shifted the Operation Iraqi Freedom air campaign into high gear.

Using the low-observable, stealth technology of the F-117 to penetrate deep into Iraq and the improved bombs, the strike missions were able to precisely hit communication nodes and command bunkers in Baghdad late March 21, said Maj. Clint Hinote, an F-117 pilot assigned to the Combined Air Operations Center at a forward-deployed base in Southwest Asia.

"The F-117 has been given some very tough assignments in this war and our people and aircraft have performed superbly. We are making important contributions to the coalition team working to disarm and liberate Iraq," said Hinote.

As every other coalition aircraft has done so far, the stealth fighters that flew these missions returned home safely.

The aircraft and their pilots are not the only stars of the mission. The new EGBU-27s are also playing an important part.

The "E" stands for "enhanced," reflecting recent upgrades to the traditional GBU-27. The EGBU-27 now has a satellite-guidance system to supplement the laser guidance system.

When poor weather or other obstructions prevent the bomb from "seeing" the laser spot on a target, the new "smarter bomb" automatically switches to the new satellite-guidance system. This allows the bomb to reach its target using coordinates programmed by the pilot or the last known point provided by the laser, said Jim Ogan, the bomb's program manager at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The enhanced bomb gives this deep-strike fighter the ability to precisely hit a target in all kinds of weather and the upgrade came just in time, said officials.

The Air Force defined a need for a satellite-guided capability for the stealth fighter after Operation Allied Force and the Air Force acquisition community rapidly developed, tested and fielded the EGBU-27, added officials.

The Air Force used the new bomb operationally for the first time March 20 against strategic targets in Baghdad on the first night of the war, said Hinote.

"Our new weapon helps us contribute to the overall objectives of the campaign by precisely targeting the Iraqi leadership without hurting the innocent citizens of Iraq," he said.

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