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News: Inside look into 20th CMS (part 2): TMDE and avionics support bases worldwide

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Inside look into 20th CMS (part 2): TMDE and avionics support bases worldwide Senior Airman Krystal Jeffers

Airman 1st Class Anthony Edgar, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron technical maintenance data equipment technician, tests the accuracy of a digital micrometer by using precisely pre-measured gage blocks at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 17, 2013. The micrometer measures anything that has diameter or length like landing gear pins, clamps and frames used to ensure landing capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)

Editor’s note: This article is the second part of a three part series on the mission of 20th Comptroller Maintenance Squadron, the work of the airmen do and how they affect not only Shaw’s mission but the mission of the Air Force.

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – The 20th CMS is composed of five flights which work together to support the F-16s and maintain all the different systems that compose them. They are the programs; accessories; propulsion; avionics; and test, measurement and diagnostic equipment flights.

Maintainers on the flight line uses multiple tools to keep the F-16 Fighting Falcons and other aircraft in prime condition and combat-ready, but how are the tools maintained for accuracy, and what happens when they break?

Maintainers on the flight line uses multiple tools to keep the F-16 Fighting Falcons and other aircraft in prime condition and combat-ready, but how are the tools maintained for accuracy, and what happens when they break?

One of 20th Comptroller Maintenance Squadron’s responsibilities is maintaining the precision of the tools used to keep Shaw’s aircraft able to fly, to any challenge, anytime and anywhere.

Along with maintaining the tools, the 20th CMS has a vast array of other responsibilities like maintaining the system that is use in combat to jam enemy’s radars along with the F-16’s radar system, the radio system and other similar systems aboard the F-16s.

Two flights of 20th CMS – Test, measurement and diagnostic equipment flight and the avionics flight – are different that the other flights because they support not only Shaw’s mission but the mission of multiple other U.S. Air Force bases and government agencies. The TMDE flight is in charge of maintaining the precision of the maintainer’s tools of many bases in addition to Shaw. The avionics flight maintains a system used in combat to jam enemy’s radars for Shaw and Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

The TMDE flight is also known as the precision measurement equipment laboratory and they support 16 bases, with some as far away as Al Udeid Air Base, Southwest Asia. They provide support to Shaw and other bases by recalibrating, aligning, repairing and troubleshooting pieces of equipment and ensuring their accuracy.

“Equipment can be as mundane as the scales airmen use in the gyms to weight themselves or as complex as test sets used to ensure the F-16s are capable of putting bombs on targets,” said Master Sgt. Steven Arnold, 20th CMS lab chief.

The flight maintains the precision of approximately 9,800 pieces of equipment and the frequency a piece of equipment requires recalibrated varies from three months to five years.

“There is no acceptable margin of error when lives are on the line,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremiah Nix, 20th CMS NCO in charge of waveform analysis section. “That's why PMEL is such an integral part of the success of the U.S. Air Force. As specialists in this field, we're responsible for calibrating equipment used in virtually every phase of maintenance, for virtually every piece of equipment in the Air Force.”

The physical dimensional section is one of the three sections that compose TMDE. The section measures, calibrates, and repairs everything that involves optical, tension, linear, mass, volume, or temperature.

“These measurements can be as simple as the torque wrench used to apply appropriate force to a bolt on the aircraft to the fixture used to align the aircraft's ability to deliver precision munitions,” said Arnold. “When it comes to weight these airmen can measure up to 60,000 pounds of force or as little as .15 milligrams. In essence, they could tell you how much a single strand of your hair weighs.”

The second section of the flight is waveform analysis and they maintain equipment that receives or transmits radio frequency signals.

“This section calibrates navigation test equipment used to verify the operation of aircraft guidance systems,” said Nix. “These systems allow the pilots to properly align the aircraft with the flight line to safely land. The section also calibrates the identify friend or foe system which allows pilots to determine if an approaching aircraft is an ally or enemy and prevent ‘friendly fire.’”

The last section of TMDE is electrical standards and they maintain equipment that measures voltage, resistance, and ability to store an electrical charge. Some of the equipment they recalibrate, realign and maintain includes 20th Civil Engineering Squadron’s portable multimeters, hospital’s medical equipment, and aircraft testing equipment.

This section calibrates weapons test equipment such as the preload armament test equipment which is used to verify the static voltage on the aircraft prior to loading weapons,” Arnold said. “[This is important because] the presence of static voltage could inadvertently launch the weapons during loading. Additionally, the airmen calibrate the guidance control system which is used to verify that ordinance will track targets properly.”

In addition to supporting Shaw’s mission and the mission at other bases, TMDE also supports other government agencies and assist in the war against drugs.

“We support Cudjoe Key Air Force Station, Fla., which uses the Tethered Aerostat Radar System’s moored balloons for drug interdictions missions to assist the drug enforcement administration,” said Nix. “We also support equipment utilized by Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to support National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, launch pads located on base.”

The TARS, is an aerostat-borne, surveillance program primary used by U.S. Northern Command in support of Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Southern Command in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South to counter illegal trafficking operations, according to The U.S. Air Force website,

The TMDE flight isn’t the only flight within 20th CES that supports other air force bases in addition to Shaw. The other flight is avionics which has two sections: the electronic warfare systems section and the avionics intermediate shop section.

In the avionics intermediate shop section the airmen maintain aircraft electronics.

“We maintain the aircraft electronics on F-16s like the radio, the radar system and the flight control system,” said Airman 1st Class Devin Peatt, avionics team member.

Unlike the accessories flight’s hydraulics section that maintain the physical items of the flight control system which move the wing flaps, avionics maintain the electronics at that route the signals of the pilot’s movements to the wings.

The other section of the avionics flight is the electronic warfare systems section which is where they maintain the 184 electronic attack pods. The pods are used in combat to jam radars and they are attached onto not only F-16s but also A-10 Thunderbolt II. In addition to supporting Shaw’s F-16s, the section also supports the A-10s at Moody and their pods.

The multiple different flights of 20th CMS like TMDE and avionics all work together to keep the F-16s combat ready while also supporting the missions of other bases and government agencies.


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Public Domain Mark
This work, Inside look into 20th CMS (part 2): TMDE and avionics support bases worldwide, by SrA Krystal Jeffers, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:06.04.2013

Date Posted:06.04.2013 16:34

Location:SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, SC, USGlobe

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