The Airmen assigned to the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., pride themselves on staying mission ready and recently hosted their first weapons load competition dressed in full chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives gear in more than three years Dec. 8, 2017, at Creech.
Like most Air Force maintenance units that use weapons load competitions to boost unit morale and highlight the team’s capabilities, Creech has held these competitions for its remotely piloted aircraft load crews since 2009. The event is composed of assessments such as a written test, tool kit evaluation, and a weapons load where safety procedures and time are closely monitored.
Three-person teams from the Tiger and Reaper Aircraft Maintenance Units compete against one another every quarter to maintain efficiency and earn the Load Crew of the Quarter title.
“[The competition] is an opportunity for the two units here to showcase what they do for the rest of the squadron,” said Senior Airman Colton, 432nd AMXS Tiger AMU weapons load crew member. “It helps keep that competitive spirit between us.”
This quarter, crew members faced a new obstacle. Participants wore full chemical suits while performing the mandatory tasks for their aircraft.
“This is the first time in more than three years that we’ve done this here at Creech,” said Chief Master Sgt. Marquell, 432nd AMXS Tiger AMU superintendent. “We don’t normally operate in chem gear like some other installations. It was a first for me to see that and I was really impressed at how the team did.”
CBRNE gear covers and protects as much of the body as possible in the event of chemical or biological warfare. Among the various pieces of gear are a pair of cotton and rubber gloves, rubber boots, a gas mask, pants and a hooded top to be worn over other uniforms.
“With chem gear, your visibility is reduced to right [in front of you], communication is harder and most movements become more difficult,” said Staff Sgt. Christian, 432nd AMXS Tiger AMU aircraft armament systems specialist. “You really have to trust your teammates and trust they know what they’re doing.”
The Air Force utilizes CBRNE training exercises at bases around the world to ensure mission readiness against any possible threat.
The 432nd Wing is setting programs such as these in place to prepare MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircrews to win any fight, anywhere at any time.