The hub for munitions

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Veronica Stamps
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
With 216 Airmen preparing missiles, bombs, flares, chaffs and 20 millimeter rounds, munitions are always ready if an F-22, MQ-1 or MQ-9 is called into service.

Falling under the 49th Maintenance Squadron, ammo airmen carry and support all ammunition for 34 accounts both on and off base within 70,000 square feet of storage space.

There are three functional sections that fall under the ammo shop: systems, production and material.

"It's interchangeable. As ammo troops, we can work any one of those areas," said Master Sgt. Adam Jez, 49th Maintenance Squadron munitions accountable systems officer and systems superintendant. "It's all one [career field education training plan] where we can do any one of those tasks."

The systems section is responsible for mobility, combat plans and training. They record all accountable transactions in the combat ammunition system. This provides real time visibility for combat commanders to see what is where.

"We monitor and control all munitions activities out here in the bomb dump," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Chad Parker, 49th Maintenance Squadron munitions control NCO in charge. "We meet the flightline demands by building bombs, complying with periodic inspections and fulfilling the flying schedule."

From expendables of small arms to war-ready reserve explosives, what happens in the bomb dump is continually being watched to ensure effective scheduling and use of available resources.

The production section assembles and builds bombs, chaffs and flares. Sometimes there is no assembly required, but others require maintenance.

When the bombs and missiles are ready to be loaded onto the aircraft, the line delivery team will then tow them on handling trailers to the flightline.

"Our job is the least exciting, but probably one of the most important because we're the last people to see the munitions before they actually get loaded onto the aircraft," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Travis Neitch, 49th Maintenance Squadron NCOIC of munitions line delivery.

"We're the last line of defense for the bomb dump," he said.

The material section warehouses and monitors the accountability of munitions kept in 18 structures known as 'igloos.' All of the igloos combined hold enough space to store approximately 400,000 pounds of net explosive weight and store the ammunition up to one year.

"We receive assets," explained Jez, "from the factory, other depots or other bases from commercial transportation where the materials section stores them in the igloos and facilities until ready for use."

Another part of their job is visually and physically inspecting and testing the bombs to ensure they have integrity and are serviceable. Using specialized tools and test sets, they have inspected up to 250 munitions within the past year.

Being a drop off point for explosives already on the ground, on-base accounts support facilities such as the 46th Test Group's high speed test track, where rocket motors are needed for almost every test.

Explosions happen with the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordinance Disposal team when they train with their munitions.

Another user of the 'bomb dump' is the German Air Force Flying Training Center, which stores MK 82 bombs and flares needed on the Tornados.

"The German ammo guys deliver it to their aircraft, but we provide it," stated Jez. "They assemble, we give them the components where they build and deliver them."

Whether it is using ammunition to train on aircraft or testing a system, the ammo troops have what everyone needs to keep the base combat ready.

There are more than 2,500 security forces personnel who require ammunition, from the Office of Special Investigations to Combat Arms Training and Maintenance to the patrolmen at the front gate.

Rounds of 5.56 mm and 50 caliber ammunition can stretch out to security forces Airmen who are training at Texas Air National Guard Desert Defender Regional Training Center at Fort Bliss in El Paso and the Airmen partaking in Joint Task Force North border patrol homeland defense missions.

"The Air Force [tactical air control party] that's embedded with the Army in El Paso is provided with ammunition for their training used in deployments as well," Jez explained.

"The biggest thing about ammo is there is no other career field in the Air Force with our camaraderie hands down. Ammo is loud and proud and always has been. I've done it for 19 years and I don't want to do anything else. This is what I've done and this is what I like to do."