Arming the Eagle: weapons load members set standard

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter, that can fight its way to a target over long ranges, destroy enemy ground positions, and fight its way out. The 4th Maintenance Group Weapons Standardization Section here ensures aircrew are able to harness that capability if needed.

The 4th MXG WSS is responsible for certifying and ensuring weapons load crew Airmen stay proficient for the wartime skill of loading live munitions onto aircraft through academics, monthly training and evaluation.

“We want to train the best and we want the best of the best coming out of here,” said Staff Sgt. Alexandro Diaz, 4th Maintenance Group squadron lead crew chief. “We want them to come out qualified and better suited to execute the mission. As an evaluator, what we’re looking for is their knowledge, efficiency and that ‘want to’ motivation factor.”

The WSS team ensures the Wing’s 162 weapons loaders across the four fighter generation squadrons remain certified to load 14 different munitions through monthly Minimum Required Proficiency Loads. During these timed evaluations, standardization crew members ensure Airmen are able to load unarmed training munitions onto an F-15E quickly, while maintaining the safety of crew members and the aircraft.

“This is absolutely necessary,” said Diaz. “You don’t want someone out there not realizing people’s lives are at risk. Safety is key and when you have people out there who know what they’re doing, if something does go wrong we can handle it."

Senior Airman Mitchell Sanborn, 335th Fighter Generation Squadron weapons load crew member, said training helps Airmen stay proficient in their job and can expand upon their skillset.

“We can simulate the munitions are live, work on meeting the time standard and reduce deficiencies in a training environment," said Sanborn. "This training helps us know we will get it right the first time before we’re working with real bombs.”

From familiarization to practical training, Airmen maintain, and in some cases improve, their critical role in the fight: to arm the F-15E with what makes the aircraft combat ready and lethal. Without weapons it’s just another airline.

“When they go to that deployed area and load lives, this training really matters,” said Diaz. “We make that jet the mission … we make that jet scary.”

From the Airmen who load munitions to the pilots and weapon systems officers who deliver them, Airmen of the 4th MXG WSS play a critical role in maintaining and improving combat readiness across the 4th Fighter Wing and beyond.