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    125th munitions specialists prepare for F-35A arrival at AMMO Rodeo



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Chelsea Smith 

    125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    JACKSONVILLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Fla. – Two munitions specialists from the 125th Fighter Wing made a dynamic appearance at the 5th annual AMMO Rodeo competition held at Volk Field in Wisconsin July 19 -30.

    Tech. Sgt. Nikolas Kozdras and Staff Sgt. Anthony Bolante, of the 125th Maintenance Squadron, Munitions Flight, joined about 50 other Airmen from 24 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units to receive hands-on instruction on how to assemble various bombs for aircraft such as the A-10, F-16s, B-1s, F-35s, and F-15E models.

    The two-week competition required participants AMMO Troops to work as part of teams to build bombs of various configurations on a fragmentary order, transport components and disassemble and restore packed munitions assets, and tear down assembled assets. Yet, attending the course wasn’t so much about the competition, but rather the ability to grow proficient at assembling bomb components in preparation for the forthcoming F-35A II Lightning mission, said Kozdras.

    “This is the first year anyone from the Wing attended this event,” said Kozdras. “As we prepare to transition to new aircraft, we wanted to increase our proficiency in that area. We don’t build bombs every day so it’s a skill that we can easily loose.”

    By the end of the event, Bolante blew past the competition as one of three Airmen to receive the Superior Performer Award. However, the most prized takeaway was the ability to network with other Guard units and return to home station with a new set of skills to share with their Wingmen, said Kozdras.

    “The experience was valuable in not only getting the hands-on training, but the ability to create connections with other Guard units,” said Kozdras. “This event opened doors for us to collaborate as munitions specialist and lean on each other if we ever need assistance or advice on the systems and programs we use.”

    Earlier this week, the release of the final Environmental Impact Statement confirmed the 125th Fighter Wing as the next beddown location for the F-35A Lightning II. The 125th Fighter Wing will be the first unit in the Air National Guard to covert from a strictly Air-to-Air airframe to an Air-to-Ground mission. Crews from the 125 FW Maintenance Group will undergo ongoing training on the new airframe in preparation for its arrival around 2024.



    Date Taken: 08.17.2021
    Date Posted: 08.17.2021 09:04
    Story ID: 403216
    Location: JACKSONVILLE, FL, US 

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