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Arming the RPAs

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Munitions Airmen assigned to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron build the weapons needed to arm Remotely Piloted Aircraft at Kandahar Airfield.

Every munition loaded onto an MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper aircraft at KAF is provided by these Airmen. Without them, the RPAs wouldn’t be able to provide combat airpower in Afghanistan.

“AMMO at KAF helps support the flight line,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez, 62nd ERS munitions systems technician. “We also manage, build, inspect and account for all munitions on the base ranging from 9mm bullets that security forces use to the Hellfire missiles and GBU-49 bombs; if they need a delivery we will make it.”

“Without AMMO we would not be able to operate, they secure and build the bombs, said Lt. Col. Michael E. Navicky, 62nd ERS commander. “They also provide the accountability for all our ammunition to include Hellfires, GBU-12s and GBU-49s. AMMO is essential to the mission of the 62nd ERS and we couldn’t do it without them.”

Arming the RPAs is important because it enables them to provide close air support to Service members outside the wire.

“It’s amazing that we can provide air support in the snap of a finger,” said Lopez. “We will be there to take out the enemy to support the Service members on the ground. We’re glad that we can help support the mission.”

Being deployed to a combat zone gives the munitions Airmen a greater sense of accomplishment from the training mission at home station.

“Being here renews the sense of this is what we train for, this is what we are meant to do, this is why we signed up,” said Lopez. “You’re using live explosives and we’re here to help protect our own in future occurrences. Back home it’s another day another dollar, it’s fulfilling but you know it’s not the real reason why you’re there. Coming out here to the AOR, this is why we’re here.”