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    Farewell B-1: The B-1B Lancer sets rotational records before leaving AOR

    Farewell B-1: The B-1B Lancer sets rotational records before leaving AOR

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Terrica Jones | Crew chiefs from 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron perform an engine...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Terrica Jones 

    379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar - The B-1B Lancer is scheduled to leave Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar mid-January for a six-month hiatus, to receive aircraft modifications stateside, but before its departure back home, it achieved some rotational milestones.

    The B-1B Lancer has been under the operational support of the 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and has set records during the July-January rotation with military members deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.

    “This rotation has supported a total of 490 sorties and enabled 4,850 bombs to be dropped in six months,” said Capt. Abraham “Abe” Smith, 379 EAMXS officer in charge. “When the B-1 leaves this will be the first time since 2001 we won’t have B1s in the area of responsibility.”

    “Our mission has been to provide safe and reliable combat aircraft to the bomb squadron,” Smith said. “We’ve supported more bombs dropped in one month than any other B-1 unit.”

    The previous B-1B Lancer unit supported 1,068 bombs dropped in one month and our unit has supported 2,224 bombs dropped, which doubled compared to the previous unit, he added.

    Accomplishments of this magnitude do not come easy, and being able to maintain such a high operational tempo does not come without challenges.

    “Hundreds of thousands of manpower hours have been put into the past six months to keep these aircraft running and it’s been a very challenging and an exhausting deployment; however, we’ve found ways to make it enjoyable,” said Smith.

    Smith also added that getting parts of the aircraft they need is a big challenge because of the age of the airplane, but he went on to say that nothing is more satisfying than when they overcome the challenges and fix it. He also said that being able to get the aircraft turned around and back in the fight in a timely manner brings a lot of satisfaction to the team.

    “We try to be prepared for the unexpected, but we can never predict what is going to go wrong on the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Daryl Ackerman, 379 EAMXS crew chief. “However, we combine our knowledge and resources to make sure the aircraft get fixed.”

    “Some challenges we faced were the weather, trying to encourage the new airmen to stay positive, making sure they pay attention to detail, and staying focused,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Kwawegen, 379 EAMXS lead crew team chief.

    In order for the B-1 to continue, its daily operations there are teams of airmen that ensure the B-1 capabilities are ready for its mission.

    “We train, certify and evaluate all the load crews,” said Kwawegen. “When we deploy as a unit we evaluate the load crews throughout the deployment, as well as load and do the maintenance to ensure everyone is loading safely and efficiently.”

    “We make sure all the jets and their engines are nice and healthy to ensure the planes get off the ground,” said Senior Airman Dan Ando, 379 EAMXS aerospace propulsion technician. “We work a lot, but when you see the jets take off you know that it’s a direct correlation of the work you’ve put in; you get to see the fruits of your labor.”

    Ando added that once the team learned how to work together the hard times were worth it, and now because of the B-1 achievements during his rotation it makes him feel that he is a part of history.

    “Watching the B-1 take off because you know the hard work that you’ve put in to get it ready has paid off, and now they can go and accomplish their mission,” said Ackerman.

    The B-1 has a mission that it is able to accomplish with the assistance of the airmen who work with it daily. The maintainers shared their thoughts on supporting the B-1B Lancer’s mission.

    Kwawegen said that the best part is knowing there are troops in contact that the B-1 has enabled to return home safely and that it gives him a sense of pride knowing his unit had a part in this accomplishment.

    “We protect the troops on the ground and without jet engine mechanics the plane would not be able to do its mission,” said Ando. “We directly put jets in the air that are able to save our troops on the ground.”

    “It will be well missed. There is nothing that can do the mission that the B-1 does and it’s an amazing aircraft that flies at supersonic speed to go drop bombs and come back home,” said Smith. “To be able to have that sort of mission, it is unique and this has been an awesome experience to be out here and be a part of it,” said Smith.



    Date Taken: 01.14.2016
    Date Posted: 01.15.2016 06:40
    Story ID: 186376
    Location: AL UDEID AIR BASE, QA 

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