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Aerospace ground equipment: no airpower without ground power

Airman 1st Class Rachael Pennington, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, lubricates a liquid oxygen tank at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. AGE inspects hundreds of pieces of equipment which are essential to ensuring an aircraft’s mission readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Airman 1st Class Rachael Pennington, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, lubricates a liquid oxygen tank at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. AGE inspects hundreds of pieces of equipment which are essential to ensuring an aircraft’s mission readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Senior Airman Antonio Garcia, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, repairs a ground power unit engine at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. Repairs, updates and inspections are conducted on aerospace ground equipment to ensure everything is in proper working order. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Senior Airman Antonio Garcia, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, repairs a ground power unit engine at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. Repairs, updates and inspections are conducted on aerospace ground equipment to ensure everything is in proper working order. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Airman 1st Class Thomas Goethe, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, repairs a bolt at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. AGE Airmen repair equipment used by aircraft maintainers on the flightline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Airman 1st Class Thomas Goethe, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, repairs a bolt at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. AGE Airmen repair equipment used by aircraft maintainers on the flightline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Senior Airman John Vega-Guzman, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, repairs wiring on a ground power unit at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. The AGE shop inspects hundreds of pieces of equipment which are essential to ensuring an aircraft’s mission readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Senior Airman John Vega-Guzman, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, repairs wiring on a ground power unit at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. The AGE shop inspects hundreds of pieces of equipment which are essential to ensuring an aircraft’s mission readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Airman 1st Class Marcus Macalinao, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, detaches a ground power unit at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. AGE technicians support the Air Force mission with their expertise of maintaining, fixing and troubleshooting flightline equipment at Air Force bases worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

Airman 1st Class Marcus Macalinao, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, detaches a ground power unit at RAF Mildenhall, England, Oct. 23, 2019. AGE technicians support the Air Force mission with their expertise of maintaining, fixing and troubleshooting flightline equipment at Air Force bases worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brandon Esau)

RAF MILDENHALL, England --

As a global air refueling and combat support forward operating base, RAF Mildenhall projects airpower through unrivaled air refueling and provides combat support across Europe and Africa.

However, to complete this mission, it takes hard work and dedication from the Airmen of the 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment shop, who live by the creed of “there’s no airpower without ground power.”

“AGE is a 24/7/365 operation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jesse Crose, 100th MXS AGE flight chief. “There are 75 technicians to train, manage and lead here so we need to keep everything balanced. We support all aircraft which arrive or depart our flightline, so our team has a daily impact on Team Mildenhall’s flying forces and we need to be prepared for anything.”

The AGE shop inspects, repairs, modifies and delivers equipment to support the KC-135 Stratotanker, RC-135 Rivet Joint, CV-22 Osprey, MC-130J Commando II and any transient aircraft from throughout the European theatre.

AGE Airmen perform maintenance which includes replacing and repairing large diesel engines, generators, entire electrical systems, compressors and pumps. Amongst other tasks, the shop is ultimately responsible for about 650 pieces of equipment approximately $23 million.

“I enjoy having such a huge impact on the mission day to day,” said Senior Airman John Vega-Guzman, 100th MXS AGE technician. “We get to work with complex systems, and it’s our job to troubleshoot, maintain and get the job done. Hands-on learning helps develop us into experienced maintainers and allows for us to maintain all equipment in a timely manner.”

AGE is divided into three different sections: the inspection team which performs preventative maintenance so flightline operations run smoothly and safely, the maintenance team which repairs light and heavy equipment so it works properly once returned to the flightline, and the servicing pickup and delivery section which services, inspects and delivers AGE to all aircraft on base and provides around the clock support to operations at RAF Mildenhall.

Crose said his AGE Airmen are able to see the fruits of their labor on a daily basis and each Airman is proud of their work.

“Our shop has a great atmosphere and camaraderie so we’re able to create a hard working but fun environment and we know we’re a huge reason for keeping our jets in the air,” said Airman 1st Class Rachael Pennington, 100th MXS AGE technician. “I’ve always had the feeling that this was what I was meant to do with my life.”

Crose agreed.

“Our team is that… a team!” Crose exclaimed. “Every Airman in this flight has an important role in the overall mission. They work hard and it’s important on my part to ensure a good work-life balance exists for them. We make sure our Airmen are highly trained and each section is ready to meet the demands here at Mildenhall. I believe we are not just developing great maintainers, but we are developing great Airmen and citizens who are prepared for anything in life and in the Air Force.”