July 7th, 2006 15:25 EST
Airmen go operational with new small-diameter munition by Airman 1st Class Michael Hess
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (AFPN) -- Airmen from the 48th Munitions Squadron here have been trained on the handling procedures for the first small-diameter munition to enter the Air Force inventory. The Airmen are the first to handle the weapon in an operational environment.
"This is the first time an Air Force fighter has carried the small-diameter munition, and it's an honor to be on the first team to take it downrange," said Master Sgt. Perron, 48th MUNS conventional maintenance supervisor.
The instructors from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, taught two groups of Airmen here, including instructors from Detachment 16 of the 372nd Training Squadron. Those instructors will teach 48th MUNS Airmen as the munitions become commonplace in the RAF Lakenheath inventory.
The introduction of a new weapon isn't a small feat, according to Sergeant Perron.
"This is the first time I have been part of a weapon introduction, and I've been in for 25 years," said Sergeant Perron, who has deployed six times since Operation Desert Storm.
The Ramstein instructors are part of the initial validation-verification process, which ensures the plans on paper match properly with the materials and tools.
"I am here to ensure the unit gets the training, tools and equipment to deploy," said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Peters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters superintendent of conventional munitions.
Based on their training, munitions Airmen are impressed with the new system.
"This is a great weapon for us on the ground. It's the ease of it. It requires less manpower. It requires less maintenance. When you are on the fighting front that's important," said Tech. Sgt. Corey Hammond, 48th MUNS production supervisor whose deployment in September is his fourth.
Though the weapon gets rave reviews from training Airmen, the deployment will be the true test for these Airmen and their new equipment.
"I am looking forward to taking this to the desert," said Airman 1st Class Richard Capuano, 48th MUNS conventional maintenance crew member.
"I feel fortunate for this opportunity. I feel like a true pioneer," Sergeant Hammond said.