Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Or login with Facebook

    640th ASB makes historic Gray Eagle repairs

    640th ASB makes historic Gray Eagle repairs

    Photo By Bert Blanchette | Army National Guard sheet metal repairers in Company B, 640th Aviation Support...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Ian Kummer 

    40th Combat Aviation Brigade

    The California National Guard’s 640th Aviation Support Battalion, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, is making history at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Or perhaps more precisely, “repairing history.”

    The 640th ASB’s sheet metal repairers – who work two 12-hour shifts around the clock – have taken on a new mission no other ASB in history has ever done before: repairing unmanned aerial systems in overseas operations.

    MQ-1C Gray Eagles are the U.S. Army’s latest answer to increasing demand for armed reconnaissance aircraft in stability operations around the world. Capable of greater agility and longer endurance without risk to a human pilot, Gray Eagles are a valuable tool to ground and aviation commanders.

    Like any other aircraft, if a Gray Eagle sustains any damage to its airframe or other components, it must be repaired before it can fly any other missions. As a fairly new system, no Army technical manual exists for it yet. Up until last year, damaged Gray Eagle components, particularly the composite protective shell, had to be sent to the manufacturer for repairs. If these civilian repairers were unable to mend a part, it was discarded and replaced completely. This entire process often took a Gray Eagle out of the fight for weeks at a time.

    All of this changed with the arrival of the 640th ASB in the Middle East last December. For the first time in history, a deployed ASB took on the role of directly repairing Gray Eagle parts.

    “We took a shot at this, instead of waiting three weeks and spending $40,000 on a new part,” said Staff Sgt. Francisco Lopez, the sheet metal shop team leader in Company B, 640th ASB.

    Though the sheet metal shop is comprised of just 15 Soldiers, their impact on the overall mission of the 40th CAB is substantial.

    “We are able to keep the Gray Eagle aircraft in theatre, in the fight, and manage the composite repairs through the 640th ASB without effecting the combat mission,” said Rick Lunnemann, a logistics assistance representative with the Aviation and Missile Command who coordinated Gray Eagle repairs with the sheet metal shop in the spring of 2016. “That is not only a Combat multiplier, but enables the combat commander to have his [noncommissioned officers] and warrant officers control the maintenance work order flow to the 640th without effecting any mission.”

    As the 40th CAB operates throughout the rest of the year, these drone repairs’ impact on mission readiness and saved tax dollars continues to grow as well.

    “When we keep repairs in house instead of going outside [to civilian companies] to get repairs down, we save the Army money and we get the experience,” said Staff Sgt. Jesus Romero, a sheet metal repairer.



    Date Taken: 05.17.2016
    Date Posted: 05.19.2016 08:11
    Story ID: 198331
    Location: CAMP BUEHRING, KW 

    Web Views: 553
    Downloads: 2
    Podcast Hits: 0