52nd FW Ammo: building bombs and bonds

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Warren Spearman
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 52nd Maintenance Squadron ammunition flight is doing their part to aid in the mission success of the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021, taking place June 7-18, at Kallax Air Base, Sweden.

During the ACE 21 mission, the ammunition flight is responsible for building up GBU-12s, a laser-guided bomb, and the GBU-31s, and GBU-38s, GPS-guided bombs that are loaded onto F-16s and used for training purposes throughout the exercise. During the exercise all bombs are inert, but the 20mm training ammunition is not live.

They are also loading chaff and flare to the aircraft, which are the defense countermeasures the jets use in case of an enemy missile attack.

U.S. Air Force SSgt Aaron Jones, 52nd MXS munitions accountability supervisor NCOIC, speaks of the importance of the unit’s mission here in Sweden, and its importance to the greater Air Force mission.

“Our job is important because without us, the jets have no offense or defense mechanisms,” said Jones. “With our 20mm, that’s what they use for the attack and chaff and flare, that’s what they use for the defense.”

The ammunition flight has built 30 inert bombs that will be dropped this week during the exercise to support various missions including; air to ground strike missions, defensive counter-air and close air support.

The 500 pound and 2,000 pound warheads are precision guided bombs. In real-world, live bombs can do extreme damage to targets such as a car, tank, or buildings.

For this exercise, the 20mm rounds are for target placement, but in times of an actual engagement they can be either incendiary which cause fires upon impact, or armor piercing, which can perforate targets such as trucks, tanks, and buildings.

“My goals for our people out here are to make sure everything is done safely and in a timely manner and that everyone can look at us and say they really work hard and everything is done efficiently,” said Jones.

Building bombs can be a high stress, high pressure environment, but having a cohesive team and strong culture makes the difference.

“Our career field is very tight,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Myco Wilson, 52nd MXS munitions, combat plans, training and mobility NCOIC. “Probably the tightest in the Air Force.”

No matter where they go within United States Armed Forces Europe, the 52nd ammunition flight continues to help the 52nd Fighter Wing mission of delivering airpower options to deter and combat aggression.

“Ammo’s always there,” said Jones.

All in a day’s work.