April 30 (UPI) -- Six modified F-15E fighter planes completed their first delivery of munitions to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, this week, the U.S. Air force announced.
The planes are equipped with a carriage allowing them to carry up to 15 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which convert unguided bombs into all-weather precision-guided munitions.
The test of the configuration was meant not to drop additional bombs on targets, but to bring larger quantities of JDAMs to deployed locations and notably smaller airfields at risk by enemy forces.
The effort is part of the Agile Combat Employment initiative, an Air Force program to lessen reliance on established air bases.
The F-15Es of the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron are forward-deployed to the Middle East from Lakeheath Air Base, Britain. The fighter planes are essentially employed as delivery trucks would be used, hauling bombs to desired locations.
"These F-15Es are carrying what is called a 'tac-ferry load out,'" Lt. Col. Curtis Culver, 494th EFS Director of Operations, said in a statement.
"What that means is we can maneuver using Agile Combat Employment, and be postured to go forward from a main operating base. This is the next step for the Air Force in Agile Combat Employment," Culver said.
The planes left an undisclosed Middle East location and traveled to the UAE on April 25, the Air Force said Friday in a statement.
"We were asked to come out and support combat missions with a very short turnaround," said Capt. Jessica Niswonger, 494th EFS weapon system officer and mission planner. "By carrying more bombs than we'd actually carry to drop, we're setting up the initial days of combat."
The concept of placing extra bombs aboard an F-15E to rapidly deliver them to forward bases was first demonstrated in a proof-of-concept verification test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in February.
It showed that each plane could carry up to 15 500-pound JDAMs in a single trip.