Weapons load competition builds crew’s efficiency, confidence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Team Barksdale’s 2nd Maintenance Group hosted a quarterly weapons load competition between the 20th and 96th Aircraft Maintenance Units July 7, 2017.

The friendly competition, which began early in the morning to avoid the punishing Louisiana sun, is designed to bring the weapons community together, boost morale and increase training.

“The crews load a particular munition onto a B-52 Stratofortress in a face-off for one to be the winner,” said Staff Sgt. Adrian Stinson, 2nd Maintenance Group squadron lead crew member. “There are eight Airmen, with four representing each AMU.”

The unit flight chiefs select their load crew members to represent their respective AMU.

“They’re selected based on going the whole quarter without getting any decertifications or write-ups,” Stinson said. “The flight chiefs will then select the crew members to participate based on their performance during the quarter.”

Decertifications will disqualify an Airman from participating in the competition. Some of these pitfalls include failing to adhere to technical data, ladder safety, or otherwise failing to upload the missile in a safe, secure and reliable manner.

The Airmen are also prohibited from walking under a munition unnecessarily, as many of the weapons weigh between 500 and 2,000 pounds, thereby mitigating a potentially deadly fall hazard.

The Airmen loaded an AGM-158, also known as a joint air-to-surface standoff missile, or JASSM. For quarterly weapons load competitions, the munition to be loaded is chosen at random.

“We chose the [JASSM] because we don’t load it very often for a competition,” Stinson said.

Senior Airman Ja’Mouri Moye, 20th AMU weapons load crew member, has honed his uploading skills and teamwork over seven load competitions.

“My biggest concern is not getting any decertifications,” he said. “You also try not to lose points, so you make sure the ladder is placed properly, make sure you’re not in front of anything or doing anything which could hurt your performance.”

Moye said his first step in a competition is to consider anything he can do to minimize time to achieve victory against the 96th.

“If I can do two or three things in one spot, I’ll try to do that rather than going all the way to the other side of the jet,” he said.

Moye found the competition encouraging as a crowd gathered around the B-52s.

“I like seeing people come out - its motivating,” he said. “I want people to see what’s going on out here.” 

The quarterly competition also provided additional training for crew members who may not have as much experience or familiarity with a certain weapon, and all crew members must continually train on each weapon to maintain their certification. Should they be decertified, they will be unable to load that weapon for a combat mission.

“It builds efficiency,” Stinson said. “It also helps give the crew members more pride and builds confidence, especially when they win competitions.”

The weapons crews were given a strict 50-minute time limit, and the 96th AMU won the competition with an upload time of 23 minutes, 30 seconds.

“I’ll be back again,” Moye said.