Next month [February 2018], weapons troops at Edwards will compete to answer the question, “Is four really greater than three?”
Normally, weapons load crews are comprised of either three or four members. Fighter crews are made up of three individuals, and bomber crews consist of four loading personnel.
Since the Load Crew of the Quarter and Year programs were resurrected at Edwards in 2013, fighter and bomber load crews have not faced off in a head-to-head loading competition.
That all changes Feb. 5 as a weapons load crew from the bomber IMF has accepted the challenge and will compete for the title of Load Crew of the Year as well as all the bragging rights that come with it.
This year’s competition will feature load crews supporting B-1 Lancer, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II airframes. Along with the 412th Test Wing, participants from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron will be competing. The loadout for fighter aircraft will be a GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition and an AIM-120 missile. The B-1 will be loaded with two JDAM’s.
The load crew competition aims to showcase the efficiency of the load crew teams to safely and reliably arm a fighter or bomber within time constraints. The ability to quickly and safely load an aircraft with munitions is integral to provide combat-ready jets to combatant commanders in the Combat Air Force, but the skill also remains vital at Edwards in support of the test mission.
The competition consists of a uniform inspection, tool box inspection, written test on loading operations and safety, in addition to testing their skill to load munitions in a safe, reliable and efficient manner. The 412th Maintenance Group, Weapons Standardization, welcomes you to come witness the event 9 a.m., Feb. 5 in Hangar 1600 and find out if four really is greater than three.
Winners of the competition will be announced at the upcoming Maintenance Professional of the Year ceremony and receive both an individual award as well as a traveling trophy to display in their work center.