CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
At the 12th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, communications Air Commandos find themselves working not only on their usual networking and computer equipment, but also on cutting edge aircraft components in support of Air Force operations around the world. Their adaptability is put to the test as they enter a new environment and take on a unique responsibility as an expeditionary launch and recovery element, one of Cannon’s MQ-9 Reaper missions.
“It's unique to maintenance in that, especially as a MQ-9 GCS person, your pilot control station is separate from the aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bryan Jones, 12 AMU MQ-9 ground control station (GCS) maintenance specialist.
The technical skills that communications Airmen use to maintain MQ-9 control stations are critical to support MQ-9 sorties from start to finish.
“We spend our time getting the equipment ready with our pre-flight checks and support them until they land,” said Senior Airman Nicholas Runyan, 12 AMU MQ-9 GCS maintenance specialist.
Once the aircraft lands, Airmen perform post-flight checks and execute any maintenance actions that are required to make the Containerized Dual Control Segment (CDCS) ready for additional field operations. The CDCS is a mobile ground control station that is used to operate and sensor the MQ-9 aircraft.
The 12 AMU, 727 SOAMXS communications Airmen help execute the mobile MQ-9 mission anywhere they are needed.
“We provide strategic information to the battlefield. And having the ability to do it from anywhere… halfway across the world, that's very unique,” said Jones. “We have the ability to take the containerized dual control station from here to anywhere in the world, and be able to set it up and operate it.”
With the ability to do their job from anywhere, the multi-functional Airmen at the 12 AMU epitomize Agile Combat Employment doctrine thanks to their unique operational footprint.
“The multi-capable ground control station maintenance airmen not only perform the duties of GCS maintenance, but they also perform actual communication duties in an ACE environment for network and radio setup,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jared Gunn, 12 AMU production superintendent. “This allows the 12th AMU to maintain the smallest manpower footprint, achieving part of what our concept of ACE is.”