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Dedicated to troubleshooting: Transition from maintenance to aircrew

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emma Anderson
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

A feeling of nostalgia and surprise hits the new weapons system officer his first time launching a B-1B Lancer as he recalls the routine operational checks he used to perform in the same seat.

Beginning at Dyess in 2011 as a young Airman, Capt. Joshua “Menace” Cover enlisted as an electronic warfare specialist. He operated and maintained electronic warfare, radar surveillance and computer systems.

Over eight years of maintaining the offensive and defensive electronic attack systems, he developed a passion for troubleshooting and became ready to move closer to the mission. Rather than being on the mission support team, he knew he wanted to join the mission execution team.

Transitioning from having systems knowledge to employing it, Cover became a WSO for the 9th Bomb Squadron.

“It was a heartwarming feeling walking back into the 9th BS,” said Cover, 9th EBS WSO. “In 2011, it was my first unit as a young maintainer. Returning as a young aviator and employing a named bat was a completely new experience.”

While flying, the primary duty of a WSO is to manage all weapons. Additionally, they manage sensors and target off of the radar or the sniper pod, while also guaranteeing the aircraft is in safe parameters throughout the flight via their defensive receivers.

“The best part about flying the B-1 is the culture,” said Cover. “We are a four-person team; the pilots and WSOs are always cross-checking each other; making sure we are on the same page and flow, working towards completing whatever the mission is that flight.”

Along with flying missions as a WSO, he is currently the Bomber Task Force 24-2 electronic warfare officer. He is the liaison for the wing weapons officer on all electronic warfare concerns involving the B-1B fleet at Dyess, coordinating training, resources, and software for various units. He strives to push the warfighter requirements for future capabilities.

“Utilizing their expertise to identify and engage targets, evade threats, and navigate through challenging environments, a WSO plays a vital role in operations,” said Lt. Col. Philip Atkinson, 9th EBS director of operations. “During BTFs, they collaborate closely with pilots to ensure effective mission execution, demonstrating the readiness to respond to potential crises or global challenges. The ability to precisely deliver munitions and the value WSOs bring to the mission is essential to deter our adversaries.”