Luke munitions not shooting blanks

  • Published
  • By Justin Oakes
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
What makes an F-16 Fighting Falcon a force to be reckoned with? Is it the aviator who pilots the aircraft? Partly, yes. Is it the aircraft itself or the people who keep it functioning? Again, partly yes. But it's the bullets, bombs and missiles fired from the F-16 that inflict damage upon the enemy.

Luke has 220 men and women who ensure the delivery of quality munitions to the flightline, as well as other areas on base, to support the training of the world's best F-16 pilots and maintainers. They are the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight.

"We have the largest munitions stockpiles in the Air Education and Training Command," said Master Sgt. Mark Jackson, 56th EMS munitions storage NCO-in charge. "We supply more munitions to the flightline than any other munitions area in the command, and we fly more sorties in one day than any other fighter wing does in a month."

In fact, Luke's stockpile possesses about 3,600 line items and is currently valued at around $71 million. Not to mention, Luke expends more ammunition than the Pacific Air Force and U.S. Air Forces in Europe commands combined, Sergeant Jackson said.

"We primarily deal with MK-82 munitions, 2.75 mm rockets and chaff and flare for the flightline," he said. "We additionally have 46 munitions accounts where we support 9mm and M-16 training, Honor Guard, security forces (combat arms training marksmanship), egress and explosive ordnance disposal units. If you want to see just how busy the people at the munitions flight really are, just look at how much ammo we used last year."

There are nine sections responsible for all that goes on within the flight to include control, accountability, storage, inspection, precision guided munitions, conventional maintenance, line delivery, equipment maintenance and support.

Twice a year the munitions flight undergoes a 100 percent inventory inspection, which generally takes two weeks to accomplish and effort from every division. The most recent inspection began the first week of September.

"The importance of the 100 percent inventory inspections are to ensure that we are accurately accounting for the munitions," Sergeant Jackson said. "This not only includes the munitions to train the pilots on the flight line, but also entails accounting for all the munitions on the installation, to include unserviceable assets. This validates that we have what we're supposed to have in our inventory and did not lose anything from negligence."

Recently, Luke went through a base-wide Unit Control Inspection where the munitions flight received an "excellent" rating partly due to their inventory inspections.

"It is very important that we show the Inspector General our auditable records so they can see when and where our munitions are going, and how they are being inspected," Sergeant Jackson said. "If we fail to prove this, it would show that we do not have control of our stockpile and it could potentially shut the wing down."

"There is no doubt that the men and women of the 56th EMS Munitions Flight will continue to perform outstandingly and keep contributing to the success of Luke," said Chief Master Sgt. Gary Easter, 56th EMS Munitions Flight chief.