McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15E Strike Eagles from Air Combat Command participated in Dual Capable Aircraft Nuclear Weapons System Evaluation Program at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, earlier this fall. In this iteration of DCA NucWSEP, aircrew and maintenance professionals flew and loaded B61-3 and B61-4 Joint Test Assemblies, known as JTAs, on F-15Es provided by the 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The JTAs were released at the Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, to support efforts to further test the F-15E’s inherent ability to deliver B61 series tactical nuclear weapons.
As part of the “4+1” future fighter plan, the F-15E provides a complimentary tie from fourth-generation DCA platforms with fifth and sixth-generation fighters. This means that F-15Es continue to play a significant role as the Air Force refines the Combat Air Force, Force Generation Concept. F-15Es from units around Air Combat Command are preparing for the future fight by participating in exercises and operations that incorporate ACE concepts, which ensure forward-deployed forces are ready to protect and defend the United States and ensure readiness and availability to operate alongside allies and security partners.
“A Nuclear Evaluation Mission tests and evaluates maintenance, aircrew, and weapons Airmen to provide assurance of nuclear capabilities from stockpile to delivery. It improves our readiness by giving our warfighters the experience they would need to employ the F-15E and the B61 series weapons in a future conflict within a contested environment,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Kabel, Air Combat Command’s Deputy Director of Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration.
“CAFFORGEN will increase and sustain readiness for combat air forces,” said Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command. “We have to generate high-performing combat teams before combat – and get them in place at the speed of relevance.”
The 366 FW at Mountain Home AFB, which sourced the F-15E’s used during the recent DCA NucWSEP, participated in INDOPACOMs PACIFIC IRON Dynamic Force Employment just weeks before the NucWSEP event. ACE is the use of agile operations to generate resilient airpower in a contested environment and dynamic force employment is one way the Air Force provides ACE capability to Combatant Commanders on short notice for strategic effects. These employments are designed enhance readiness for the high end fight and provide Airmen who are agile in operational execution, strategic in deterrence, and more resilient in capability.