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Global Strike Challenge - A legacy of excellence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brian Stives
  • Eighth Air Force Public Affairs
The first-ever Global Strike Challenge culminates Nov. 16 -17 here and in the local community, welcoming top security forces, maintainers, and missile and bomber crews in head-to-head competition seeking to be recognized as the "best of the best."

After months of competition, teams will come to the Shreveport-Bossier City area for a strategic deterrence and global strike technology symposium, the security forces portion of the competition, and official score-posting and awards ceremonies at Hoban Hall on base.

Global Strike Challenge is an amalgam of the best of the historic bomb competition and the former missile competition held under previous major commands that owned the missile and bomber missions at the time.

Global Strike Challenge is unique when compared to those competitions because it includes operations, maintenance and security force participants from both the missile and bomber communities under the 1-year-old AFGSC. It also welcomes teams and weapon systems from other major commands.

From the bomber perspective, the competition is also distinct because sorties flown this year for the competition were longer and unlike the past included air refueling, said Lt. Col. Michael Petrosh, Air Force Global Strike Command project officer for Global Strike Challenge.

The new competition builds on a celebrated past. From 1948 to 1992 Strategic Air Command's best crews gathered to participate in the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition.

Over the years, the competitions helped build morale and sharpen the competitive edge of Strategic Air Command's bomber and tanker crews. 'Bomb Comp' served to test crew skills and equipment under exacting conditions.

The 40s, 50s and 60s

The Bombing and Navigation Competition had its origins in the late 1940s when America's strategic air forces were in a period of adjustment. In May 1948, Maj. Gen. Clements McMullen, the SAC deputy commander, instructed all bomber units to improve their effectiveness and so established a competition to reinforce this order.

The first bombing competition was held later that year with three aircrews from 10 B-29 bomber units throughout SAC at Castle AFB, Calif. Scoring was based on accuracy in three visual and three radar bomb releases from 25,000 feet.

The inaugural Bomb Comp was such a success in producing a competitive spirit among crews and improving bombing accuracy that the second SAC commander, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, made the competition an annual event in 1949.

Over the years, the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition evolved from a relatively simple bombing exercise to a challenging course testing all-around skills.

The missile community entered the arena in 1966 with their inaugural SAC Missile Combat Competition. Like Bomb Comp, the early missile competition offered something entirely new and challenging with extremely difficult simulator scripts designed around multiple problems and a provision for timing.

The Barksdale era - 70s through today
Canceled from 1970 to 1974, Bomb Comp was renewed with several firsts - including the first time held at Barksdale AFB and the first time to include a munitions loading competition. Barksdale AFB became the official headquarters for Bomb Comp in 1978.

The 1984 Bomb Comp introduced the use of inert practice bombs dropped on a bombing range. The Competition Headquarters at Barksdale AFB was renamed Hoban Hall in honor of Lt. Gen. Richard M. Hoban, a former Eighth Air Force commander who refurbished the building as the permanent Bomb Comp home.

By the mid-1980s, high- and low-level bomb runs, low-level navigation and terrain following, fighter intercepts, missile defense runs and a battery of other electronic counter-measures tests were combined to provide a full challenge for crews. SAC held the last Bomb Comp in 1992 when they awarded 17 different trophies, reflecting the diversity of expertise covered by the competition.

Air Combat Command conducted one Bomb Comp in 1994. In 2009, Eighth Air Force revived the tradition with a limited Bomb Comp that included five bomber wings and three airframes.

During this same time period, the missile competition tradition steadily continued with most competitions held at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. For the 2006 and 2008 missile competitions, the competitors gathered at Peterson AFB, Colo., for the score-posting, with security forces being the only competition held on-site, just like this year's first-ever Global Strike Challenge.

Bomb Comp Facts
  • 43rd Bomb Group (B-50) took the top unit honors and the 509th BG (B-29) won top crew honors at the first Bomb Comp in 1948.
  • For 1948 and 1949, the tournament was designated as the SAC Bombing Competition and from 1951 to 1992 the name was changed to the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition where it garnered the nickname Bomb Comp.
  • During Bomb Comps 45-year time span from 1948 to 1992, 34 competitions took place.
  • Bomb Comp became so big it was unofficially referred to as the "World Series of Bombing."
  • The 11th Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition in 1959 is the largest ever held. Two crews each from 47 participating bomb wings and 47 tanker squadrons competed.
  • During the 30th Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition in 1986, the 92nd Bomb Wing (B-52) dominated the competition taking nine trophies. Due to one bomber wing winning nine awards within one competition, the rules were changed to exclude aircraft specifically modified for the competition and the SAC Operations Staff would henceforth select the competing crews, not the wings. The Navigation Trophy began in 1951 was renamed the Bruce K. Holloway Trophy to recognize the top score in navigation during Bomb Comp.