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Armament Airmen keep the Falcon fighting

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 455 AEW/PA
Airmen assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Armament Flight ensure that the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft’s weapons systems are always ready to support the combat airpower mission over the skies of Afghanistan.

The Airmen are deployed from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and their job here is to keep the Falcons’ weapons systems in working order, to include the 20mm Gatling gun system, so that the pilots can support the troops outside the wire.

“We make sure the jets have the equipment that they need and that it is serviceable’” said Staff Sgt. Max Kirschner, 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament system craftsman. “Everything that we do here is so the pilots have the necessary combat equipment in order to do their jobs.”

Having fully functioning weapons systems plays a critical role in the combat airpower mission of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

“It’s important to the mission here. Our main mission here is to drop bombs and provide combat air support to the troops out there,” said Kirschner. “Without the proper equipment the pilots cannot complete the mission and help the ground forces out that might be in combat situations.”

Supporting the combat airpower mission brings an extra sense of urgency to get everything correct before the jets go up to complete their mission.

“It’s a real mission over here,” said Airman 1st Class Johann Briones, 455th EMXS Armament Flight. “We always have to make sure every is done right and works correctly. It’s the real deal; if you mess up something here it could be somebody’s life.”

Knowing their importance to the mission here can be very satisfying to the armament flight Airmen.

“I like my job a lot, it’s very rewarding,” said Kirschner. “When we provide weapons system to the aircraft that just came from the back shop and we fixed it and it went up and possibly saved the lives of guys on the ground…it’s definitely a great feeling.”