News>Mission critical parts keeps 451 ELRS in demand
Senior Airmen Stephen Moore, aircraft parts store technician, 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, perfroms a quick inventory on parts located in a storage shelf. The APS is responsible for stocking parts and items for the wide variety of aircraft assigned to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing located at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Capt. Frank Hartnett)
Senior Airmen Stephen Moore, aircraft parts store technician, 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, surveys rows of aircraft parts while walking through the aircraft parts store. The APS is responsible for stocking parts and items for the wide variety of aircraft assigned to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing located at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Capt. Frank Hartnett)
by Capt. Frank Hartnett
451 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
9/13/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan executes a variety of missions: close air support, armed casualty evacuation, traditional and remotely piloted reconnaissance, aeromedical evacuation and airlift--just to name a few.
These missions require a diverse fleet of aircraft and when parts break, they have to be replaced quickly.
Depending on the part, an aircraft can be grounded putting the mission at risk.
Some aircraft parts are plentiful and easy to acquire, while others can be in limited supply. When maintainers need a part that is not available they call on the Airmen of the 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.
The squadron oversees the ordering of mission-critical parts, commonly known as MICAPs, through a process that uses the Air Force Global Supply Network, Air Mobility Command airlift missions and commercial air carriers.
The support provided by the squadron is not limited to the airbase, they also cover the isolated units that are assigned to the wing but scattered throughout Afghanistan. The 25-person team has a mission reach that extends far beyond the fortified perimeter of Kandahar Airfield.
"When a customer needs a part we don't have on-hand, we work to get that part as quickly as possible so we can keep the mission moving on." said Master Sgt. Rhonda Russell, superintendent, deployment and distribution flight.
When a part is ordered, selecting the correct shipping method to use is a straight forward process.
"All hazardous cargo, classified items and oversized or overweight parts must travel through Air Mobility Command," said Russell. "It's the most efficient way to move heavy items and most secure for sensitive parts."
Small items, like fasteners, bolts or switches are usually shipped through commercial carriers.
Mission critical parts usually are aircraft related, but a variety of items can be labeled with the critical designation.
"Aircraft parts are the most common MICAP request, but communication components and even construction supplies can also be considered a MICAP," said Russell.
But before a MICAP request starts, the process begins with the Aircraft Parts Store.
"We are where it all starts, Combat Oriented Support Organizations in each maintenance unit, submit their orders to the APS and if we don't have it, the COSOs are notified of the non-availability and the hunt begins to locate an asset as quickly as possible." said Master Sgt. Monica Hunter, asset management section chief.
On average, up to 300 requests can come in a week. Over the course of a year, over 20,000 parts have been shipped, tracked and processed by the squadron.
While the unit is ready to submit parts requests, they also work to prevent a parts request if possible.
"With all the different aircraft, we see a lot of different MICAPS" said Senior Airman Stephen Moore, aircraft parts store technician. "We will check in-stock supplies, supply points and mobility readiness spares packages. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it can prevent us from having to send a request.
"A MICAP isn't always a big, expensive part," said Moore. "Sometimes it can come down to the tiniest washer or fastener and without it, the mission won't happen."