SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
Pilots from the 480th Fighter Squadron received training from the 52nd Maintenance Group on F-16 Fighting Falcon refueling, and munitions arming and disarming at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 1, 2020.
The training is part of the Air Force’s ongoing Agile Combat Employment academy designed to develop multi-capable Airmen and increase operational flexibility.
“We looked specifically at what the pilots could do to increase our flexibility and operational readiness,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Dominic Collins, 480th FS F-16 pilot and assistant director of operations.
The first part of the training was an hour lesson on F-16 refueling.
“It is following the ACE concept, meaning that if our pilots get to a location where they do not have the support to refuel the aircraft, then they can do it themselves,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Bradley Pippin, 52nd Maintenance Group development and instruction element chief.
The second part of the maintenance training focused on arming and disarming F-16 munitions.
“This training shows the pilots how to arm and disarm their aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Aaron Taylor, 52nd MXG weapons loading crew chief. “When a pilot lands at a different location where their typical crews are not there, a supporting agency will come, put a ladder up for them and the pilots can ‘safe-up’ the aircraft. We are training them to be able to safe-up themselves so they know which stations they need to pin.”
Pins are used to safeguard the munitions when they do not need to be in an armed status, similar to the system on a grenade.
“When the pilots fly, everything is armed in case they need to jettison something, there are no pins impeding that,” Taylor said. “When they land, they want to make sure those stations are pinned and it cuts off the arming system.”
This training is to prepare 480th FS pilots for operations in areas that lack the ground support available at Spangdahlem AB.
“We do not really have a lot of capacity to help at forward operating site operations because we are so busy with mission planning and getting ready for the sortie,” Collins said. “However, we did see an opportunity to increase our flexibility at cooperative security locations where we are not going to have any support like we are used to with our phenomenal maintainers and ammo troops to load up, safe and refuel the jet.”
The members of the 480th FS were particularly grateful for the efforts of the 52nd MXG.
“A huge shoutout to the 52nd MXG, specifically the maintenance training flight,” said Collins. “It is very difficult to get this stuff organized. I sent about four emails and before I knew it I had world-class training lined up. I am super thankful to these guys for taking some time out of their busy day to help us out."