Munitions Airmen lock'n'load FTD success

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano
  • 52nd FIghter Wing Public Affairs
What do you call an airplane that has no munitions? An airplane!

Jokes aside, the 52nd Fighter Wing doesn't just fly airplanes; the 52nd FW flies the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft.

That same airframe, assigned to the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, and the Airmen entrusted with flying, maintaining and supporting them are all currently serving on flying training deployment in Souda Bay, Greece, Jan. 22 - Feb. 15, 2016.

The scenarios involve notional events as well as combined flying operations between the countries to help identify and negate coordination concerns that may arise during real-world events. Through engagements such as these that strengthen relationships with allies and partners, the U.S. demonstrates its shared commitment to a safe and secure Europe.

"Our job entails everything with weapons, from the armament systems on the jet to the suspension racks, the gun and to everything we load on their such as the bombs, missiles, chafe flare countermeasures, etc." said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. John Denny, a 480th EFS weapons load crew chief. "It's important because, without us, we would just be flying a bunch of airliners around. We would have no force in the air. It might be cliché but it would be like a gun without ammo."

The F-16 has many configurations of its load out, consisting of bombs, missiles, 20-mm shells and flares.

"For this training, we are using a lot of inert practice bombs, such as the Bomb Drop Unit-50 and missiles with different kinds of guidance packages attached," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Faith Olson, a 480th EFS weapons load crew chief. "It's to help the pilots practice, and it's also practice for us for loading, getting the feel and into the groove of loading them in short time frames in the different configurations and bomb racks."

The objectives for this bilateral training exercise are to develop realistic scenarios to prepare aircrews for combat operations and further partnerships with the host nation. Greece offers unrestricted, live ranges as well as access to infrastructure and support facilities to house the Airmen on the FTD.

"Training with our partners is important to broaden our knowledge of how we do things and why we do it," Olson said.

The weapons loaders are constantly preparing and loading the munitions on the aircraft throughout the more than 15 training sorties per day.

"We practice like we play, so there should be no difference between what we do at our home station, here or downrange," Denny said.