NEWS | Dec. 13, 2017

Arming 35th Fighter Wing Operators with Munitions, Purpose

By Xiomara M. Martinez 35th Fighter Wing

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 35th Maintenance Squadron conducted a weapons and ammunitions tour for operations personnel at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 8.

Maintenance and ammunitions Airmen immersed pilots, intelligence, aircrew flight equipment and squadron aviation resource management personnel into their day-to-day operations in order for them to gain a better understanding of war reserve materials.

This tour also educated operators on Misawa’s limitations on generating and sustaining combat operations. The leaders in charge of the event encouraged these operators to think tactically and strategically as they plan and execute daily training scenarios in the future, using their general knowledge of weapons systems in tandem with their specific job knowledge sets. 

“This experience helps operators understand all the different roles that go into performing the mission,” expressed 2nd Lt. Lance Kapral, the 35th Operation Support Squadron Officer in charge of systems and mobility. “I have a better appreciation for how important my role is in the overall mission and could see it manifested in maintenance when I was putting together the weapons. I feel it’s significant for everyone to understand how their role affects Misawa's mission, and this tour has given me a broader perspective of how that plays out on the flightline.”

Attendees assembled a Joint Direct Attack Munition GBU 31 (v) 3/B and Laser JDAM GBU-54, and weapons load crew members taught safety mechanisms of weaponizing an aircraft. The tour participants also received a tour of combat missiles and the conventional shop. 

“It’s not just intelligence personnel and pilots who make sure the aircraft is ready to go,” said Kapral. “There are people who make sure the weapons are armed on the aircraft. There’s survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists who need to come to the rescue in case anything goes wrong. There are air traffic controllers who control the airspace for pilots to operate their aircraft safely. So many people play a part in making sure the mission is a success.”

This tour is just one of the ways Misawa is integrating different units across base. Last month, the 13th Fighter Squadron offered familiarization flights to Airmen from sections as varied as security forces, maintenance, and aircrew flight equipment in order to acquaint them with the F-16 and the missions these Airmen make possible for pilots to complete every day. Understanding the mission at all levels allows an individual to have a greater sense of purpose.

“The tour gives you almost a direct connection to the mission and what we’re doing here,” said Maj. Jason Markzon a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 instructor pilot. “Being a Wild Weasel fighter pilot, seeing how weapons and munitions are assembled gives you insight to what happens when bombs and missiles are being loaded, what Airmen go through and how the mission is directly impacted. It's hugely beneficial to me to understand this process.”