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Ensuring the Standard

Weapons Standardization crew members evaluating  a load crew

U.S. Air Force 33rd Maintenance Group weapons standardization crew members evaluate a 33rd MXG weapons load crew during a weapons load competition April 16, 2021 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Weapons standardization members ensure steps are done accurately within the given time limit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Leandra Garcia)

Overall view of the weapons load competition.

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deliver GBU-12 bombs into the weapons bays of two F-35 Lightning II fighter jets during a timed and graded load competition July 9, 2021, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. GBU-12 is a 500lb class laser guided bomb that uses the MK 82/BLU-111 warhead. This weapon is primarily used for precision bombing against non-hardened targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Colleen Coulthard)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Florida-- Weapons standardization is an essential part of the 33rd Fighter Wing mission. The weapons standardization section helps train and certify load crew members, provide weapons troops academic training, and evaluate weapons load crews. 

“Anytime you have any kind of aircraft or airframe that’s going to be loading weapons on a base, you have to have a standardization crew there,” said Staff Sgt. David Dilbeck, 33rd Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member. “We help train and make sure things are being done properly and by the book.”

Every month, the weapons standardization shop has three days set aside for training. Crew members use this time to remain certified on all their munitions. They go over and interpret any new changes to the joint technical data for the F-35A Lightning II. They also use this time to train standardization lead crew members on how to standardize. 

Weapons standardization means teaching safe, effective and reliable steps on how to load munitions. Joint technical data plays a vital role in weapons standardization. It is a very detailed step-by-step list of how to correctly perform a load that is constantly being re-evaluated and improved. This leaves less room for error.

“Each month, we have a minimum proficiency requirement load for the weapons unit,” said Dilbeck. “To remain certified, members from the unit must perform everything accurately or be able to correct their own mistakes and complete the load within the given time limit.” 

Weapons standardization provides calibrated training in order to supply weapons troops with a reliable weapons system. 

“Without the training and certifications we give the unit load crews, they wouldn’t be able to load the munitions effectively and reliably, which in turn means that the pilots can’t get their training done,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Mihacsi, 33rd MXG weapons lead standardization crew member.

Crew members are hand selected by their unit as experienced senior airmen or staff sergeants to fill the weapons standardization positions. The shop is made up of one lead standardization crew (LSC) and three standardization lead crews (SLC). Each crew is made up of three members. 

The LSC is appointed over the SLC. They have the most experience and are the most knowledgeable on the different positions. 

SLCs complete the monthly inspections and certifications of everybody that is assigned to the 33rd MXG weapons section.

“Weapons standardization is for individuals who are good at loading, enjoy teaching Airmen and helping people learn, and understand the importance of a correct load,” said Dilbeck. “It’s a proud feeling when you're selected for this position.” 

The main priority of individuals selected for this position is guiding and educating. Weapons standardization members ensure the Air Force mission succeeds by providing combatant commanders professional Airmen that guarantee reliable weapons systems. 

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