Global Strike Command retires final conventional air-launched cruise missile
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – The final conventional air-launched cruise missile package was disassembled at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Wednesday, according to the Air Force.
In early spring of 2019, Air Force Global Strike Command retired the CALCM weapon system as more advanced long-range, stand-off weapons entered the active stockpile.
“I’ve loaded this weapon system well over 300 times,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Paul LaFlame, former weapons superintendent at Barksdale. “This has been the primary weapon system on the B-52 for decades now.”
Minot AFB and Barksdale AFB have B-52 bombers.
The CALCM has been employed in combat operations to include Desert Storm, Desert Strike, Desert Fox, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Decades later, the final missile package was disassembled to become demilitarized.
“It’s incredible to see the tail end of a weapons system come full circle,” said Tech. Sgt. Carlos Solorza, 2nd Munitions Squadron weapons system bay chief. “I don’t think I’ll ever be a part of another weapon retirement and the fact that I’m here right now is pretty special.”
The CALCM missile is a small, winged missile powered by a turbofan jet engine, able to fly complicated routes through terrain with the guidance of a GPS aided inertial navigation system.
Although missile design began in the mid-1970s, CALCM wasn’t employed in combat until January 1991, during Operation Secret Squirrel, a mission in which seven B-52G Stratofortresses took off from Barksdale toward Iraqi targets, launching 35 CALCM missiles.
Opening the first strikes of Operation Desert Storm, the then-new CALCM missiles devastated Saddam Hussein’s forces and marked the first time GPS has been used to guide a missile to a target.