Barksdale’s 2nd Munitions Squadron decommissions last Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missiles
BAFB, La. (KSLA) - It was a historic day on Barksdale Air Force Base on Thursday, Dec. 9. The 2nd Munitions Squadron hosted a decommissioning event of the last two Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missiles (AGM-86C) assigned to an Operational Air Force Unit.
These missiles were flown as part of the strike package for Operation Senior Surprise “Secret Squirrel” on Jan 16, 1991. This was the first use of conventional cruise missiles in war time, and the event remained classified until Jan 16, 1992.
Base leadership and airmen were joined by members of the flight crew who executed the 1991 mission.
“It was a really cool thing to be on what I like to call the bookends,” said Warran Ward, retired Air Force Col. and co-pilot on Operation Senior Surprise. “On the left bookend we were able to see this weapon enter the operational inventory and it was neat to come out, be honored, and watch it retire.”
The decommissioning of the last two CALCMs was years in the making according to Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Abrams-Trust, 2nd Munitions Squadron cruise missile flight chief.
“The process started in 2016 when we had to change the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, to allow us to demill this weapon,” Abrams-Trust said. “After we got that changed, we went after funding and the process involved a lot of different agencies. We then came up with the plan on how to recoup parts for other missiles and where to find efficiencies. We found those efficiencies here on Barksdale, about $12-$14 million worth, and executed a two year project in 12 months using our technicians here and new innovative techniques. From here these missiles will go to Oklahoma, they will be taken apart, the warheads will be detonated, and then they will be retired.”
Abrams-Trust began working on the CALCMs in 1998.
“When I started working on them they were brand new,” Abrams-Trust said. “There were very few of them and we used them quite often. It was the premiere stand-off conventional weapon. There was nothing like it in terms of range and capabilities. It was very useful to have. We used them in Desert Storm. When I came around we used them in Desert Fox. We transitioned into other threat areas, such as Bosnia, did some modifications and for the better part of two decades, it was the conventional weapon. To be a part of the beginning of it and then putting them to bed, I didn’t anticipate to see it happening. It was bittersweet, but I know this was the necessary step to get us to the next generation of missiles.”
As the era of Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missiles comes to a close, the Operation Senior Surprise flight crew say it’s a sign there’s better things to come.
“It’s a great weapon and it’s done great things, but they’re doing missions with things that are replacing it, like long range stand off missile, even new capabilities for the Airmen who follow us,” Russ Mathers, co-pilot of the “Secret Squirrel” mission, said. “We are proud of that.”
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