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Air Warfare Battlelab closes its doors after 10 years

  • Published
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
After a decade-long run of successful, money-saving Air Force initiatives the Air Warfare Battlelab here held its deactivation ceremony July 16.

The Air Force will close all seven battlelabs across the service due to budget cuts with Mountain Home's battlelab officially closing Aug. 1.

During the summer of 1997, the newly-created Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab was comprised of a team of 25 Air Force experts from different strategic career fields, and concentrated on exploring and delivering innovative solutions.

Some of the early AWB initiatives included the Common Boresight System, which reduced maintenance time by more than 80 percent for the F-15 and 60 percent for the F-16. During that same period the first operations initiative, Expeditionary Operations Center Enroute, was started enabling mission planning during deployments.

"It's hard to sum up a decade of work that the battlelab has accomplished but thanks to the men and women who have done an exceptional job in capturing much of the history and mission of the program," said Lt. Col. Mark Koopman, Air Warfare Battlelab commander.

Over the years the battlelab here has been responsible for many innovative initiatives including the Compact Air Transportable Hospital, used to aid in battlefield care, the Multi-Mode External Lighting System for Aircraft project which provide wingtip identification for the F-15E, the next generation of deployable jack stands for heavy aircraft, pneumatic-assisted bomb release racks for the B-1, replacing older explosive cartridge technology; and a pliable battlefield dressing for exposed wounds.

"These capabilities don't even begin to scratch the surface of what the Air Warfare Battlelab has brought to the fight, but you can be assured that many of the initiatives will continue to pay dividends in lives saved and wars won for years and years to come," said Colonel Koopman.

The battlelab changed its name in 2004 when it was realigned under the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Projects were refocused on air warfare and improvements to our current aging aircraft fleet, and the organization was renamed the AWB.

In 2006 the AWB completed some of its most useful and significant initiatives. Some of the more noteworthy ones include a B-52 On-board Cargo System, that allows the B-52 to carry much of the equipment needed for deployments and eliminates generation of cargo transportation; an Overlay Target Identification System that gives ground controller personnel greater communication and accuracy in target identification; and the Next-Generation Giant Voice system which provides loud and clear information over deployed base public address systems when war fighters are faced with enemy actions or natural disasters.

Since the conception of the Air Expeditionary Force, the AEFB and AWB have been working hand-in-hand alongside our modern-day war fighters, men and women at the pointed tip of the spear; and by teaming subject matter experts with those in the field, their ideas were utilized to create quick, useful and practical solutions needed to support war fighters worldwide.

"It's not everyday you get to see a unit deactivate, but as the saying goes, if you wait around long enough, you'll get to come back for the reactivation," said Colonel Koopman.

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