Airmen supply munitions, ensure mission success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Stuart
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
One of the differences between regular, commercial aircraft and an Air Force aircraft is munitions. Without defensive munitions, flying units would be vulnerable to enemies when providing critical close-air support to ground units.

The 86th Munitions Squadron supports U.S. Air Forces in Europe and three combatant commands by acting as a supply depot, housing munitions that get shipped to support worldwide operations. They also build, test, inspect, and supply weapons and ammunition.

"We handle delivering munitions to combatant commands for air-to-air support or air-to-ground support depending upon the mission," said Master Sgt. Raymond Lego, 86th MUNS senior inspector and munitions inspection NCO in charge. "Ramstein's ammo mission, on the conventional side of the house is the delivery of countermeasures to [C-130J Super Hercules] and [C-20Hs, C-21s, C-37s, C-40Bs] for operational and training use."

Chaffs and flares are countermeasures these MUNS Airmen supply the C-130J with to disrupt an adversary's attack. Chaff is a dispensing system that spreads tiny pieces of metal in the air to misguide projectiles away from on aircraft. A flare is a decoy that creates heat to distract heat-seeking missiles.

"It's basically a tool that deploys a decoy to divert an attack if a C-130 is getting shot at," said Senior Airman Richard Taylor, 86th MUNS conventional maintenance crew chief.

After everything is marked and logged into a computer, it takes about two and a half hours with three to four Airmen to build one load of 420 countermeasures, which supports one C-130, additionally it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to load chaff and flares onto a C-130 if the load crew is ready.

A safety measure during chaff and flare operations includes MUNS Airmen remaining grounded while handling the electrically initiated "squibs" or countermeasures they're installing. All explosive tasks require a minimum of two people to ensure the tasks gets accomplished safely. The Airmen have to follow the guidance of step by step procedures, from squadron and local operating instructions.

Although munitions can be used offensively for operations downrange, 86th MUNS Airmen keep bombs and bullets readily available for transport and dissemination in support of widewide combat operations.