Armament Airmen lay down the steel

By Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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The 43 Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems flight work around the clock to guarantee the weapons and launchers on F-16CM Fighting Falcons are ready to eliminate their target when fired.

This flight is tasked with maintaining the machinery needed for Falcons, and the pilots who control them, to accomplish their primary mission of suppressing enemy air defenses.

“In order to help the pilots complete their mission they will need proper weaponry,” said Master Sgt. James White, 20th EMS arms and military equipment NCO in charge. “We check to make sure that all equipment going on the aircraft is torn apart, inspected and sent back out for installation, ensuring pilot and aircraft safety.”

These Airmen maintain armament to include the M-61A1 20 mm multi-barrel cannon, LAU-117/118 armament launchers, and the weapon pylons used for equipping launchers onto the aircraft.

On average the Airmen assigned to the armament flight inspect, repair and send out approximately 1,800 pieces of equipment and weaponry annually to support worldwide SEAD operations.

“Being the flight that maintains and supplies the steel for the pilots is pretty impactful, said Airman 1st Class Spencer Laird, 20th EMS aircraft armament systems technician.

“When you get to assemble the pieces that make up these guns and launchers, it gives you a better understanding of the power that they provide for the aircraft,” said Laird.

Working around the clock, 20th EMS armament flight Airmen provide F-16s with the firepower needed to accomplish the mission.


Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Shaw Air Force Base website.