Peace of mind: Portable tester provides reliable capabilities to warfighters

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
When an AIM-9X air intercept missile is deployed from an Air Force weapon system, the pilot needs to be confident it'll get the job done.

Known as Common Munitions Built-in Test Reprogramming Equipment, this portable field tester and mission programmer is attached to various compatible precision-guided smart weapons, such as bombs and missiles, in order to ensure everything is working properly.

The Air Force recently received delivery of the 1,000th CMBRE unit - purchased for Belgium by the Air Force - from Orbital ATK. It's also used by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command and 31 foreign military sales countries. 

The testers are used to support countless weapons carried on the AC-130J, F-15, F-16, F-18, F-35 and others. The CMBRE program is managed at Robins Air Force Base, housed under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Automatic Test Systems Division. 

A small team of program managers, engineers and equipment specialists perform work here; however, CMBREs are located in over 200 facilities across  the globe. 

Small testing is supported at Robins to recreate potential problems as requested by a customer.  

"This is significant, a milestone for not only the Air Force but also our foreign military sales partners, U.S. Navy and Marines," said James Annis, CMBRE program manager. 

Along with the Air Force, the tester is also used by U.S. Navy warfighters.

Once the CMBRE is attached, it initiates the weapon's built-in test status, whether it's an advanced anti-radiation guided missile, massive ordnance penetrator, small diameter bomb or an advanced medium range air-to-air missile. 

Electrical signals are generated by the tester into a weapon to diagnose any problems and if it's working as it should. 

The CMBRE has the ability to test itself, reprogram the munition's operational flight program, upload mission planning data, and upload and download global positioning system data. It can also verify applicable software. 

Development began in 1996, with fielding of the CMBRE Block II configuration taking place in 2006.

Software upgrades will continue to be a challenge in the future in order to be compatible with various weapons, along with hardware obsolescence issues. The CMBRE is expected to be in use until at least 2035.