Saturday, November 14, 2009

Building-boom for the BOOM builders

Munitions flight hopes new construction will enhance mission effectiveness

Tech. Sgt. Eric Sampson, a munitions technician in the 442nd Maintenance Squadron's munitions flight, inspects an umbilical cable on a AIM-9 air-to-air missile October 3, 2009. Three building projects are currently underway to expand the storage capabilities of the flight so it's better able to provide for the 442nd Fighter Wing's explosives requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tom Talbert)

By Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 442nd Maintenance Squadron's Munitions Flight is looking forward to the completion of three new buildings, which flight members believe will enhance their ability to provide the 442nd Fighter Wing with all things explosive.

The 442nd Munitions Flight, located on the East side of Whiteman's runway, is preparing to expand its real estate with two new munitions-storage igloos and a three-bay maintenance facility once construction is complete.

The Air Force Reservists in the flight, also known as "ammo" troops, supply the wing's A-10s with the ordnance required to take out ground targets and protect the airplanes in combat. Flight members supply ordnance on a daily basis for the 303rd Fighter Squadron's training sorties. This is in addition to explosives needed by other units within the wing.

"Basically we're going to supply everything for the mission from bombs, missiles and even explosives for the security-forces dogs to sniff out while training," said Chief Master Sgt. Russ Rackers, assistant flight chief. "Anything that goes boom, goes through us," he said.

Munitions personnel can be seen frequently on the flight-line transporting bombs for loading onto A-10s but there is a lot of preparation that may not be visible unless one makes the journey to the 442nd Fighter Wing's Munitions Storage Area on the other side of the base.

"Storage, handling and building the bombs are our issue too, so having more space will help us store more net explosive weight," said Chief Master Sergeant Jeffrey Schneider, one of the flight's section chiefs.

The new storage buildings will allow the ammo troops to double their storage from 3,000 pounds to 6,000 pounds.

"At this point in time we don't store any live bombs but future we might be able to handle them," Chief Rackers said. "We have to order things and get them directly to the line because we don't have a place to store them."

Another obstacle for the munitions flight is the number of they have in their rapidly-growing unit.

"I remember a time when we had 69 people here, but now up to 109 Airmen, which makes it difficult to get them the time they need to train on a computer," said Capt. Lisa Gaines, the officer in charge of munitions.

There's a lot of new people here who are fresh out of and they can't work alone until they get their 5-level," she said. "It will be nice to have a new building with lots of so we can get them the quality training they deserve."

With so many new faces, the 442nd Munitions Flight will have new spaces to help them serve the wing, and the Nation, more efficiently.

An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 442nd Fighter Wing drops a MK-82, 500-pound, high-drag practice bomb over Cannon Range near Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. Members of the 442nd Munitions Flight build, handle and store the ordnance used by the wing's A-10 pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle)

Note: I extracted this news article from 442nd Fighter Wing's base newspaper Mohawk (November 2009 public online issue). At least on the moment, this info is not available as HTML file with associated JPG files.

COVER PHOTO: Senior Airman Pat Williams, right, and Staff Sgt. Randy Benedict of the 442nd Munitions Flight, part of the 442nd Maintenance Squadron, wire an inert MK-82, 500-pound bomb, fused for air burst during the October unit training assembly. The munitions flight is eagerly awaiting construction to be completed on three new buildings that will enhance their contribution to the wing's A-10 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tom Talbert)

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