SOUTHWEST ASIA (August 28, 2015) – In the distance you can hear aircraft
launching from the runway, leaving an echoing roar from the engines as it soars
past. It’s a constant reminder that Airmen across the flightline are doing
their part to generate sorties to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant, or Daesh.
Of the many maintenance sections operating across the long patch of concrete,
there is one which every maintainer needs to keep that echoing roar a reality
during Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Aerospace ground equipment is responsible for providing and maintaining items
such as ground power units, air conditioning, hydraulics and munitions loading
equipment to aircraft maintainers and other back-shops which support the
aircraft,” said Senior Airman Dominique, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance
Squadron, aerospace ground equipment mechanic. “Our goal is to maintain and
deliver a successful product to the flightline so we can get power to and load
bombs on the aircraft.”
Like blood vessels carrying oxygen throughout the body, aerospace ground
equipment or AGE, provides critical assets to meet several unique mission
requirements. Each piece of equipment varies in size and function, but is
necessary to breathe life in to the aircraft.
Without items like hydraulic test stands, diesel generators, gas turbine
generators, heaters, jacks, maintenance stands, nitrogen carts, and lights,
much of the flightline would remain silent.
“It’s like an equation; you can’t solve an equation without certain parts of
the problem,” said Sr. Airman Dominique. “If you don’t have AGE, you’ll cut out part
of the equation. We wouldn’t be able to put missiles on targets. You can see
what you’re doing to further the mission, and there’s a lot of satisfaction in
Satisfaction doesn’t come without hard work and sacrifice. Every day the AGE
mechanic’s roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to deliver equipment
to six different airframes.
“There are days where there’s a lot of pressure on us to get equipment out to
jets. Equipment breaks; you can prevent it to an extent, but things are going
to break,” said Staff Sgt. Bobby, AGE day-shift lead. “Our days are full of
working on different equipment. We may not catch a break, but we show up and
get through it. My guys show a lot of perseverance, doing whatever they can to
fix the equipment to get it back on the line.”
In addition to delivering timely products, every aircraft has its own unique
aerospace ground equipment; it requires the mechanics to quickly and
effectively learn the equipment inside-out to enable combat sorties.
“Each airframe needs a different set of tools and equipment. Fortunately, we
have about a dozen different AGE flights from all over the Air Force on our
team to help us understand how the equipment functions,” said SSgt. Bobby.
“They know how certain types of equipment operate which makes them our subject
matter experts on those assets. They’ve done a great job of getting the other
mechanics trained on how to work on them.”
Understanding the equipment and training has been beneficial to all the
mechanics, including SrA Dominique, who typically works on equipment for the
“It can be difficult trying to learn about all the new equipment; there’s a lot
of things I’ve never seen before or worked with,” Dominique said. “But it
falls back on the principles of being a mechanic. You have to rely on that
basic knowledge, once you catch on it becomes natural.”
As long as U.S. and Coalition forces continue airstrikes against ISIL, the AGE
mechanics will continue servicing and providing the equipment which enables air
“Being here, seeing the jets fully loaded with munitions, it’s special to me
knowing that I’m helping out the mission,” Dominique said. “I love my job.
It’s something bigger than me. When you look at the big picture, why wouldn’t
you want to serve your country?”
(Editor’s note: Due to safety and security reasons, last names were removed.)