WSINT: Behind the Boom

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Airman 1st Class Mattias Jacobson, 57th Munitions Squadron line crew member, loads a mod so they can be delivered to the respective unit in need of the flares at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 4, 2019. While handling flare mods, line delivery Airmen wear a band that grounds their hands to a copper wire to ensure no electric sparks set off the flares. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Tabatha McCarthy)

The 57th Munitions Squadron is the boom behind Weapons School Integration.

The beginning process of munitions begin with the respected MUNS shop within the storage area.

Once everyone is accounted for and at their assigned positions, ear protection and gloves are immediately worn. One Airman sits down at a panel and awaits for further instruction.

As soon as the Airmen received the thumbs-up, they push a button that starts the belt that clangs as it begins separating 30mm ammunition from their plastic containers.

“There are 14 separate aircraft maintenance units and nine mission designed series who participate in WSINT,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Byron, 57th MUNS Line Delivery section chief. “As a whole, MUNS provides about 100,000 separate munitions a week to all the different players.”

The process to deliver all necessary munitions to the respective AMUs begins with the different shops who deal with the different size and type of ammunition.

Airman 1st Class Stephen Luna, 57th Munitions Squadron (MUNS), small bombs crew member, and Airman 1st Class Christopher Conley, 57th MUNS small bombs crew chief, ensure the thread of 30mm round containers do not get jammed in the GFU-7 while being processed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 4, 2019. The machine processes the 30mm rounds by counting all serviceable and non-serviceable rounds as well as separating the brass from the ammunition downloaded from A-10 Thunderbolts and returns good rounds into another container. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Tabatha McCarthy)

“Our shop is Small Bombs and we work with a variety of small munitions such as 20mm rounds, 30mm rounds, flares, small arms ammunition, smoke grenades, BDUs, and rockets,” said Airman 1st Class Aisha Bailey, 57th MUNS small bombs crew chief. “Today we worked on 30mm rounds for the A-10’s [Thunderbolt]. We process the munitions so they can be transferred to the flight line through another shop.”

Small bombs is one of 11 different shops within MUNS that handle specific munitions.

“Precision Guidance Munitions (PGM) shop maintains, inspects and upkeeps all live and inert missiles before being delivered to Line Delivery who then delivers to the flight line,” said Airman 1st Class Zachery Staack, 57th MUNS PGM crew chief.

Regardless of the shop, each section then sends their armaments to Line Delivery before it makes its way to WSINT players and their respective AMUs.

“We have a unique mission here at Line Delivery,” said Byron. “We not only deliver all munitions from other shops to the line, but we also process chaff and flare.”

The GFU-7 displays the number of usable rounds as well as separates the 30mm brass from plastic containers at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 4, 2019. The machine is used to separate the 30mm ammunition downloaded from A-10 Thunderbolts and returns the good rounds to another container, making them reusable for reloading onto the aircraft. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Tabatha McCarthy)

Chaff allows pilots, to include the playing adversaries, to counteract other incoming missiles and radar interception. Flares create a heat source for those incoming missiles to target instead of hitting the aircraft.

With the help of MUNS, WSINT will have all resources necessary to be successful.

“Our guys work hard and are the busiest in the Air Force due to being the largest maintenance group,” said Byron. “We provide the tools to enable real time and real experiences for each aircraft to hone their skills as fighter pilots and weapons officers.”

Airman Michelle Finkbone, 57th Munitions Squadron small bombs crew member, operates the GFU-7 machine that is processing the 30mm rounds at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 4, 2019. When the machine gets jammed or the team needs to pause to wrap empty round containers, Finkbone can stop, start and reverse it to prevent issues and ensure its effectiveness. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Tabatha McCarthy)

 
Airman 1st Class Stephen Luna, 57th Munitions Squadron (MUNS) small bombs crew member, wraps empty 30mm round holders at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 4, 2019. Luna works in the small bombs section of MUNS where he processes and accounts for all small ammunition used and unused. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Tabatha McCarthy)