307th Bomb Wing maintainers Step Into the Breach
By Master Sgt. Ted Daigle, 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2017
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
When Air Force Global Strike Command needed new Conventional Rotary Launchers prepped for the B-52 Stratofortress inventory this year, they only had to look in their own backyard for help.
The CRL is a complex, new weapons platform, but Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 307th Maintenance Squadron volunteered for the task without hesitation.
“It takes about 300 man-hours just to get one ready and the active duty component just didn’t have the capacity to do the work alone,” said Lt. Col. George Cole III, 307th MXS commander. “So, we stepped into the breach to do the job with Air Reserve Technicians and Traditional Reservists.”
The CRL allows the B-52 to carry conventional GPS and laser guided munitions in its bomb bay. Prior to the implementation of the new digital launcher, the jet could only carry such bombs under its wings.
Up to eight Joint Direct Attack Munitions can be placed on the launcher, allowing the B-52 to potentially carry a wider array of munitions while using less fuel.
Converting more than 300 bomb racks and getting the CRL’s ready posed significant personnel and scheduling challenges, said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Pierce, 307th MXS armament systems superintendent.
“We are doing the work of 20 people with a crew of nine, converting the launchers while still keeping up with our regular maintenance,” he said. “It can be a scheduling nightmare, but the opportunity to take on such an important project was worth the challenge.”
In addition to the logistical challenges, the CRL was an unfamiliar and unique platform the 307th MXS had never encountered.
“We didn’t even know what the CRL looked like when we got the mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Danny Fischer, 307th MXS armament systems mechanic. “But the nature of the Reserves means we have a great deal of continuity in our team and that experience allowed us to really learn the platform and overcome the challenges.”
“Having active duty Airmen fully integrated into the 307th MXS allows us to have the extra capacity to take on projects like the CRL,” said Cole.
The total force integration model helped with keeping up with the maintenance schedule.
“Air Force Reserve Command should always be a forerunner, the tip of the spear,” said Pierce. “We can never be afraid to stand up and volunteer because the experience we gain from the challenges just makes us that much better.”
That continuity inspired the confidence Fischer and other Airmen of the 307th needed to complete the project.
“I was never nervous about taking on the CRL and I’m one-hundred percent confident we are doing quality work,” said Tech Sgt. Robert Carter, 307th MXS armament systems mechanic.
Working on the CRL also provided the 307th MXS with the opportunity to have a positive impact on training for air crews in the 307th Bomb Wing. “Looking five years down the road is critical to making things better for the Air Force.”
“If we had not taken on this project, the wing would have been just waiting on its allotment of CRL’s, but because of our efforts, the air crews are already getting familiarized with them,” said Pierce. “We took the time to process everything we learned from the project and use that information to benefit future airman that have to work on the CRL.
In spite of the learning curve and the logistical challenges, members of the 307th seemed to take the entire CRL mission in stride.
“Although, the scale of this project is the biggest I’ve seen, it is why the Reserves exists,” said Cole. “With the experience and excess capacity available in our unit, we can take on these types of missions.”