Battlelab to close at MHAFB

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Air Warfare Battlelab (AWB) at Mountain Home AFB will soon close its doors, the result of budget cuts.

All seven of the AF Battlelabs will be closing this year. The MHAFB Battlelab will cease to exist on Aug. 1, 2007. A team of 25 Air Force experts from different strategic career fields comprise the AWB.

The AWB, stood up in 1997, has had a long run of successful and money saving initiatives, according to spokesman John Marshall.

"This specialized group searches high and low throughout the Air Force for urgently needed solutions to help improve the Air Force. Putting this team together in one place gives them the freedom to innovate and create," he said. Sixty-four initiatives were completed during the battlelab's 10 years of operation.

The Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab (AEFB) was created in 1997. It went through a name change in 2004, becoming the Air Warfare Battlelab, when it was placed under the US Air Force Warfare Center (USAFWC) at Nellis AFB.

"In the 1990s our Air Force became today's expeditionary force," Marshall said. "AWB worked through many expeditionary challenges. Early initiatives ranged from improvements for our fighter fleet with better bomb racks to better cargo packing procedures and operations initiatives."

In addition to air warfare and expeditionary projects, AWB experts completed a number of high profile medical projects that are still being transitioned. "AWB created many innovative solutions for improving maintenance of our aging aircraft, better communications, close air support accuracy, and many others," Marshall said.

"Even to the end, the AWB is leading the AF on many fronts including Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for the F-16 that can be installed in about an hour. Other notable projects being completed will add helmet mounted cueing for the Litening targeting pod on the A-10, a much needed beyond-line-of-sight radio upgrade for the F-15E, Hellfire missile capability for the A-10, deployable maintenance capability for the B-1 and combat capable fuel tanks for the A-10. These are some of the current projects being finished before the deactivation.

"All of these projects are near completion and are showing great promise to the AF community as a way to leverage new technologies and modernize our aging aircraft."

Lt. Col. Mark Koopman will lead the AWB though the transition and eventual drawdown to closure.

Maj. Gen. Worden, USAFWC/CC, will conduct the deactivation ceremony on July 16.

"Though the Air Force is loosing one source of innovation, the warrior at the sharp point of the warfighting spear will continue to receive innovative solutions through traditional channels," Marshall said. "The Air Force will continue to work through issues and provide the solutions needed during this time of war."

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