New air-to-ground munitions mark historic growth for FLANG

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brian Cleary
  • 125th Fighter Wing

JACKSONVILLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Fla. -- The 125th Fighter Wing received its first inert training munitions as part of its historic air-to-ground mission addition for the upcoming conversion to the F-35 Lightning II, Aug. 24, 2022.

The inert general purpose bombs, called the MK-84s, are the first air-to-ground training assets to arrive for the new mission. These assets are the first tangible indication of our upcoming F-35 conversion, and will enable our members to begin training, thus ensuring that they are ready for the first aircraft arrival.

“Today is a great day in the 125th Fighter Wing,” said Col George H.H. Downs, the 125th Fighter Wing’s commander. “The arrival of these training munitions is the first physical sign of our upcoming conversion from the venerable F-15C Eagle to the F-35A Lightning II. I’m thrilled that our Airmen will now be able to conduct hands on training at the 125th Fighter Wing, a critical step in our successful F-35 conversion.”

"As of today, we are an air-to-ground mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Curtis, the 125th Maintenance Squadron's Munitions flight chief. "We have the fuses, cables, lanyards, and tail kits to build a GBU-31, version 1, which could be loaded on an F-35."

The multirole combat aircraft possesses air superiority as well as air-to-ground capability. The 125th Fighter Wing’s primary mission has been an air defense mission since 1961. With the delivery of the MK-84s, the Florida Air National Guard is returning to its roots, where it flew F-84s during the Korean Conflict employing a mix of 1,000 and 500 pound bombs.

In 2020, the 125th Fighter Wing was awarded the F-35 Lightning II to replace the F-15C Eagle that is reaching the end of its service.