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96th AMU maintainers provide mission success to BTF 20-1

By Senior Airman Stuart Bright 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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The U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress has been in service since the 1950’s and is still a major player in the mission of deterrence to our adversaries.

The maintainers of the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, deployed out of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, traveled to RAF Fairford, England, to ensure the success of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1.

“Our mission is to give confidence to our allies to show we are capable of going anywhere, anytime,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Braedon McMaster, 2nd AMXS 96th AMU electronic warfare journeyman.

Maintainers accomplish their mission by providing routine and unscheduled maintenance to the B-52s to ensure it is ready to fly at a moment's notice.

“Back home, people are focused on their job and will occasionally help out here and there,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Crowe, 2nd AMXS 96th AMU B-52 expediter. “Here, what seems to work is that everyone is all hands on deck. You may have an electronic countermeasures Airman change an engine or an electrical environmental Airman helping crew chiefs change brakes.”

The maintainers are proud of the fact that they are the Airmen charged with making sure that the B-52 takes flight when called upon.

“We are the last ones to touch the jet and the first ones to catch the jet,” said U.S. Airman 1st Class Thomas Chase, 2nd AMXS 96th AMU crew chief.

There are many sections and jobs throughout the 96th AMU and all of them have an important role to play in the mission, from the crew chiefs who take care of the overall state of the jet, to the weapons Airmen who load munitions onto the B-52.

“My job is to fix the electronic countermeasures on the B-52,” McMaster said. “It is essential to mission success because it provides defense for the aircraft in case of hostile threats or enemy engagement.”

The Airmen of the 96th AMU are excited to be a part of the BTF for a variety of reasons.

“Being able to join with our allies is exciting,” Crowe said. “We [join them] from home too, but here it feels different.”

Spending time in England not only allows the maintainers to accomplish extra training, but they also use it to become closer and build trust with each other.
“Once everyone is deployed, that is when everyone builds the bonds with each other,” Crowe said. “Everyone gets excited because it is easier to learn new things and gain new experiences.”

Without the 96th AMU at RAF Fairford, the B-52s would not be able to fly.

“It’s like your car,” Crowe said. “If you are driving your car and you don’t have anyone to take care of any of the parts that break, you may be able to drive it once or twice but that will be it.”

The mission of the BTF is to assure our allies and deter our adversaries, and maintainers play a major role in ensuring we are able to accomplish our mission to respond at a moments’ notice

“The B-52 is capable of going anywhere and in any point of time,” McMaster said. “It launches fast and it puts fear into the hearts of our adversaries.”