Spangdahlem conducts first ever Air Force-wide electric vehicle training

  • Published
  • By Airman Sydney Franklin
  • 52nd Fighter Wing

The Department of Defense has mandated that all U.S. military branches convert their gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2035. This will be a massive transition for the DoD, and it is in no small part because Air Force vehicle mechanics have never trained on EVs. It’s a challenge that the 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron is spearheading for vehicle maintenance instructors across the Air Force.

52nd LRS made history by hosting the Air Force’s first-ever EV maintenance training course here from Sept. 21 to Sept. 29, 2023.

The students in attendance were instructors at the vehicle maintenance schoolhouses located at Naval Base Ventura County, California, Kadena Air Base, Japan and Spangdahlem AB. The training was led by a field services technical instructor from the United Kingdom. Since completing the course, the students are qualified to teach vehicle maintenance Airmen how to operate on and around EVs.

“The overall goal of this is to make sure we get the training to build a course, teach our technicians how to work on high voltage vehicles and to make sure they know what to do regarding safety procedures,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Ladino-Rios, a Fleet Manager and Analysis NCO with the 52nd LRS Vehicle Maintenance Flight. “We’re trying to build that so we can teach our technicians across the military.”

The most important aspect of the training was instructing the students on the key components and safety requirements for electric and hybrid vehicles. Working on EVs can be dangerous if safety measures are not followed properly.

“With a diesel engine, you can hear it or see smoke–you can see something,” said Ladino-Rios. “With EVs you don’t hear the problems in the same way you do with conventional gas vehicles. You don’t see it. It can be difficult to tell if EVs are even on. You think you might have unplugged the cable correctly, but it could still be running in the background.”

Students also practiced honing their abilities to operate on high voltage systems without needing to contract help from outside of the Air Force.

After completing this training, the three schoolhouses that participated will coordinate to develop standardized courses for EV maintenance. They will then share it with their installations and help their respective commands execute the DoD’s EV mandate.

“As an instructor, my job is to take all this information, write a course, and teach all the other bases and technicians in PACAF (Pacific Air Forces command),” said Staff Sgt. Jordan McCollum, a vehicle management instructor with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan. “We have two other schoolhouses. The schoolhouse here will be teaching in Europe, and there’s another schoolhouse in California that’s going to take the same information. We’re all going to build a course that is going to satisfy the technical needs for working on EVs safely.”

The completion of the mandate for EVs might be far in the future, but the need for a reliable training curriculum starts now. 52nd LRS will ensure that vehicle mechanics at Spangdahlem AB and across the Air Force are prepared to safely maintain EVs and guide vehicle operations towards a green, sustainable future.