The U.S. Air Force’s 157th Fighter Squadron, 169th Fighter Wing conducted air-to-ground training at Townsend Bombing Range, Georgia. June 12. Pilots with the 157th, also known as the Swamp Foxes, practiced bombing and strafing runs using inert, or non-exploding, munitions.
“Townsend Bombing Range is strategically placed so that the aircraft can access the range from the waterways off the coast,” said Bryan Corns, the range control officer at TBR. “Because of our location, our accessibility and flexibility, we are able to support training for every branch of service. We are very strategically placed and utilized often by all of the branches across the DoD.”
The Swamp Foxes, based out of McEntire Joint National Guard Base, did both practice and live runs, dropping 500 pound inert bombs and strafing with their cannons. Strafing is defined as the delivery of automatic weapons fire from aircraft to ground targets. This usually takes place at very low altitudes and is a key component of air-to-ground tactics. TBR was originally established as Naval Air Station Glynco Bombing Range in the 1940s. The 3,882 acre range was closed in 1972. The Marine Corps re-opened the range in 1981 and the land was transferred to the Marine Corps in 1991. Since then Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort has owned TBR. Until last year it was run by Georgia Air National Guard.
“Georgia Air National Guard managed the assets and operations of the range for the past 40 or so years and they did a fantastic job,” Corns said. “As of Oct. 1, 2017, MCAS Beaufort took over operations to continue with the expansion and modernization of the range. When we complete it, we will be able to support 100% of the training syllabus for the F-35B.”
Recently expanded from 5,183 acres to 33,834 acres, Townsend Bombing Range is being modernized for training operations. As the east coast’s premier air-to-ground training range, it provides the nation’s aircrews access to world-class training, which is critical to maintain a strong national defense in a world of ever-changing opponents, battlegrounds, and technologies.
“TBR is absolutely a national asset,” Corns said. “With our capabilities, location and training facilities, we are able to provide training to Marine Corps aviation units, Navy, Air Force and Air National Guard, and Army units from more than six states. We are increasing mission readiness across the DoD.”