Significant firepower

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Hannah Malone
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

On April 14th, 2018, the 34th Bomb Squadron embarked on a combat mission to Barzah, Syria, to aid in the fight against chemical warfare. In support of their objective, two B-1B Lancers released 19 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles- the JASSM’s first real-world combat employment.

 “It was surreal seeing both jets fully loaded with JASSM waiting for the call to execute,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Taylor, current 28th Operations Group deputy commander and pilot during the 2018 mission. “I had seen training JASSM before and I had watched load competitions where the aircraft are loaded with a few training JASSM, but seeing the actual weapons filling the bays of the aircraft was incredible.”

Taylor is the only original crewmember from the 2018 mission still stationed at Ellsworth. He recalled the significance of flying the mission was not only to demonstrate the B-1 was the premier platform for the JASSM, but also to prove the 28th Bomb Wing is ready to fight.

“Our adversaries know we are capable of launching similar strikes from home station or a deployed location,” said Taylor. “We can bring significant firepower anywhere in the world, on short notice, anytime we are called upon.”

The mission had an impact on more than just the eight crewmembers. Former commander of the 34th Bomb Squadron, Lt. Col. Timothy Griffith, saw the effects the strike had on his team first hand as the jets departed from Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar. 

 “The excitement of the Airmen as they watched eight thundering afterburners glow in the night sky showed how dedicated they were to the mission and how much it meant for them to see their hard work come to reality,” said Griffith.

Current Lockheed Martin JASSM Program Director, Scott Redmerski said the combat debut of the JASSM system demonstrated the unmatched capabilities of the weapon system and served as the foundation for today’s objectives of developing new weapon capability and increasing production quantities.

“The success of the mission is what we think about every day. The Syria mission was 19 for 19, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the JASSM program, ensuring that quality remains our number one priority.  We are proud to deliver weapon technologies that keep our warfighters safe and our country safe.  It inspires us to continuously raise the bar to ensure our weapon system works the first time, every time,” said Redmerski. 

In 2018, these Airmen were among the few who had the opportunity to see the JASSM up close and personal. Now, however, there is an opportunity for all to view the missile and learn about its history and significance to the U.S. military. The South Dakota Air and Space museum unveiled a JASSM display April 18, 2022.

“Displaying the JASSM model at the S.D. Air and Space Museum is significant,” said Thomas. “It serves as a reminder that Ellsworth continues the Doolittle Raider legacy of bold, brave, and innovative Airmen leading the way and taking the fight to our adversaries.”

Ellsworth holds Air Force Global Strike Command’s largest stockpile of JASSM, and the Raiders were the first Airmen to employ the missiles in a combat scenario. This makes the S.D. Air and Space Museum, located just outside the gates of Ellsworth Air Force Base, an ideal location for the new JASSM display.