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31st MUNS hosts, exceeds expectations in USAFE’s 4th annual CAPEX 22

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Blair
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 31st Munitions Squadron hosted United States Air Force Europe’s 4th annual, command directed Combat Ammunition Production Exercise at Aviano Air Base and Camp Darby, Italy, Aug. 8-12, 2022.
The 31st MUNS team operated out of Aviano AB while the 731st Munitions Squadron operated out of Camp Darby to simultaneously perform their roles in CAPEX 22, a non-rated, (non-aircraft), mass live-munitions production exercise.
USAFE’s A4 team of evaluators, comprised of 12 subject matter experts in the career field, supervised, directed, and designed the exercise to test and evaluate the capabilities of USAFE’s munitions units.
“CAPEX is live explosive, mass production bomb building exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jonathon Thomas, 31st MUNS production supervisor and Aviano CAPEX lead. “The team spent several months in preparation for the exercise and worked very hard 24 hours-a-day in order to execute the mission. We were able to best the required delivery times by building and delivering 124 live weapons, with a 100% accuracy rate.”
While in a contingency operations environment, this annual exercise allowed the units to evaluate their munitions combat readiness, base support plan and techniques and procedures in an agile way. CAPEX 22 also reinforced production techniques learned at Air Force Combat Ammunition Center.
During the first and second day of the exercise at Aviano AB, 31st MUNS performed bomb builds which entailed prepping the bomb body through inspections of various components. This included checking components for serviceability, assembling tail kits, fins and fuses as well as loading munitions into munitions handling trailers for delivery and more. During this time, they built 124 live Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) and Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAMs) munitions in support of 31 simulated F-16 Fighting Falcons.
While the 31st MUNS team worked on inspecting munitions, 731st MUNS was tasked with loading, blocking, and bracing munitions in ISO containers for shipment.
“The most rewarding aspect of this exercise is seeing the bombs built up on the trailer as well as hearing the results at the end of the week and knowing that you were a part of what made it successful,” said Senior Airman Angelika Burns, 31st MUNS conventional maintenance crew chief, line delivery driver and bomb build crew member.
After a simulated aircraft acceptance with A4 evaluators, the 31st MUNS munitions went to a repack location where the crew tore down the bombs, inspected the components for serviceability, repacked them into munitions containers and put them into storage facilities.
“CAPEX 22 is our means to show the Wing our ability to prove our combat effectiveness,” said Tech. Sgt Bryan Lockhart, 31st MUNS combat munitions training production supervisor. “We take it very seriously, from building various versions of bombs, preparing precision strike munitions, and executing Agile Combat Employment (ACE) and multi-capable Airmen while forward deploying.”
On the next two days, the 31st MUNS team simulated a deployment of an ACE team to a simulated forward operating base to Camp Darby. An ACE team of 10 participants performed munitions builds, using 731st MUNS ISOs, equipment, and facilities.
31st MUNS is an air-to-air (A2A) unit, providing A2A munitions and missiles to the 31st Fighter Wing’s Fighter Generation Squadrons daily. However, during CAPEX 22, 31st MUNS were put to the test and were tasked to build air-to-ground munitions in support of a simulated mission, typically performed during contingencies and Temporary Duty Assignments.
CAPEX 22 is one of USAFE’s tools to evaluate the war-fighting capabilities of MUNS units within Europe, allowing the testing of new processes and collection of lessons learned to improve munitions practices for the entire career field.
“31st MUNS has exceeded evaluators’ expectations by breaking out assets, building and delivering weapons well ahead of the exercise planners’ timelines,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cody Goetz, USAFE command munitions manager and USAFE CAPEX evaluator. “They were able to overcome multiple weapon requirement injects and meet additional weapon requests with an exceptional accuracy rate. I am confident that the warfighters of 31st MUNS are ready to meet any challenge that is put in front of them.”