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37th Bomb Squadron brings home Mitchell Trophy

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brittany Kenney
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

A team of four officers from the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, brought home the Mitchell Trophy for best overall bomb score at the 2023 Global Strike Challenge capstone event held at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, November 8, 2023.

Approximately 450 competitors, ranging from units within Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard, participated in the 23 GSC competitions from various locations.

As a requirement to secure the Mitchell Trophy, the 37th BS had to achieve the highest total score after completing a bomb drop to include how close the bomb came to its intended target, how close the team could get to their projected time on target, and how precisely the bomb was deployed.

“We were given eight to twelve hours to prepare during a mission planning day,” said Capt. James Alexander, B-1B Lancer weapons system officer. “It’s not a lot of time, but we train for missions like this frequently.”

During the challenge, aviators faced obstacles such as power interruptions that hindered mission planning. These scenarios were utilized to see how the team would work through a revision in their original plan. Additionally, it was discovered during the flight that the bomb targeting laser had malfunctioned. The team then changed their plans and used coordinates to drop the bomb on target.

“We had to work through the malfunction as a crew,” said Alexander. “Fortunately, we discovered that the laser wasn’t working before we released the bomb. We decided to withhold on our first pass, then dropped it on our second pass once we were certain we were safe.”

Despite the setback, the team still pulled ahead in the competition as they were within five seconds of their projected time on target, and their bomb landed within a foot of the target, making it the closest bomb to target.

For Capt. Kai Stridiron, B-1B Lancer pilot, this flight gave him more than just the opportunity to work with his teammates to win, but also gave him the training he needed to advance his career.

“I was able to use that flight as part of my upgrade training to become an aircraft commander,” said Stridiron. “Two months ago, I was a co-pilot, but now I’ve been trained to lead a flight and plan missions. As an aircraft commander, I’m responsible for making decisions concerning the safety of the flight.”

Armed with all the lessons learned, the team is excited to move forward and strive to make winning a tradition.

“Winning the Mitchell Trophy sets a standard for what the squadron is capable of doing,” said Alexander. “We’re all great aviators and I think it’s something that we can strive to achieve again.”