Speak softly and carry a big stick … or a rocket launcher.
Luke Airmen expended 11,491 bombs, 611,156 20mm bullets and 1,486 rockets during the last fiscal year. Luke Air Force Base plays an important role in the training of dropping, building and handling 93 percent of the Air Education and Training Command’s munitions and 21 percent of the munitions in the entire Air Force.
“Munitions loaded onto aircraft are expended over various training ranges at a safe distance from any people or property,” said 1st Lt. Sarah Dugan, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions assistant flight commander. “Apart from the munitions that are loaded onto the aircraft, we also maintain explosive items for other units across the base such as 56th Security Forces Squadron and 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal.”
Training is critical when working with explosives, said Senior Master Sgt. Plez Glenn, 56th EMS munitions flight chief.
“We receive tons of training throughout our careers that focus on munitions safety and proper maintenance practices,” he said. “Additionally, numerous AFIs and technical orders walk us step-by-step through builds, deliveries and inspections to protect Ammo’s men and women as well as the base and local populace.”
When munitions are needed, Airmen from the 56th EMS begin to assemble the munitions on a bomb pad surrounded by mounds of dirt for precaution. The inspection process makes sure the munitions are properly assembled for safe transport.
“All components will be inspected prior to being assembled,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Youngblood, 56th EMS munitions maintenance crew chief. “Upon assembly of the completed product, the entire built-up round will be inspected by a seven-level in our career field. If a bomb is assembled and kept for a year without being dropped, then the components must be inspected again and verified against numbers in our combat ammunitions system. Every year thereafter, the ordnance is inspected until the asset is dropped or taken apart for good.”
Materials are a necessity for munitions assembly here at Luke. The Global Ammunition Control Point coordinates with Luke AFB for material shipments from various locations. Ammo is composed of nine sections that handle receiving the materials from the GACP.
“Each section has an important job from safely securing materials to building munitions and monitoring training,” Dugan said. “It truly takes a team to make the mission happen safely here every day.”
There is no question that Ammo Airmen are critical to the mission of the Air Force, Glenn said.
“Without Ammo, the Air Force is just another airline, he said.”