Avionics puts bombs on target, keeps Airmen safe

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Combat search and rescue operations, supply drops to forward forces, calculated strategic bomb runs and an array of countless other missions around the world, would not be possible without the tireless efforts of avionics specialists deployed here to the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron.

"We are the avionics centralized repair facility for the entire area of responsibility," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Falcon, the 379th EMXS avionics intermediate section production supervisor deployed here from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

Falcon and his crew are responsible for ensuring the avionics systems onboard F-15 Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-17 Globemaster IIIs and B-1B Lancers are ready to accomplish the mission day and night for every air base in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.

"We don't take this mission lightly," said Senior Master Sgt. Gene Sing, the 379th EMXS avionics flight chief deployed here from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. "Not only is our mission important but it also saves the Air Force money."

By having the CRF at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, the Air Force is capable of fixing these systems that provide pilots with a necessary function for performing the mission.

"Avionics gives the Air Force the ability to locate, track and destroy targets through precision and accuracy," said Staff Sgt. Craig Lewis, a 379th EMXS B-1B avionics technician deployed here from Robins AFB, Ga. "Where in the past, like during World War II, we would drop a massive amount of bombs and hope they hit something."

Lewis said avionics techs maintain many systems on an aircraft including guidance, communications, navigation, radar and surveillance. This ultimately prepares aircraft for low-altitude attack profiles, precision bombing, covert operations and reconnaissance missions.

"So we take care of much more than just the weapons systems," said Lewis. "We remove, install, check and repair avionics systems and line-replaceable units while performing and supervising alignment, calibration and bore sight of avionics systems using uploaded maintenance and operational software."

Avionics can be found on every Air Force airframe service-wide, said Senior Airman Benjamin Wagner, a 379th EMXS B-1B avionics technician deployed here from Ellsworth AFB, S.D.

Deployed avionics technicians do much of the same mission here as they do at home station.

"Same systems, same technical orders," Lewis said.

But the great thing about being deployed, Sing said, is that it allows his Airmen a chance to work on other airframes rather than just being knowledgeable on the specific aircraft their home unit flies.

"It gives our Airmen an opportunity to expand their job knowledge and become more familiar with other aspects of our career field," said Sing. "It allows them to see the bigger picture."

The 379th EMXS's AIS shop plays an integral role in keeping the Air Force's bombers, fighters and cargo planes ready to go whenever they're needed.

"If it flies and has avionics equipment, we can fix it," Wagner said.