Handle With Care: Tyndall’s munitions experts are the bomb

A 325th Maintenance Squadron munitions systems specialist connects an uplink cable while performing maintenance on a weapon system at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 4, 2016. Munitions systems specialists are tasked with handling, storing, transporting, arming and disarming non-nuclear weapons systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

A 325th Maintenance Squadron munitions systems specialist connects an uplink cable while performing maintenance on a weapon system at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 4, 2016. Munitions systems specialists are tasked with handling, storing, transporting, arming and disarming non-nuclear weapons systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Andrew Tree and Loreal Duque, 325th Maintenance Squadron munitions systems specialists, perform software update maintenance on a weapon system at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 4, 2016. Munitions can be optimized by software upgrades, much like many consumer electronics. Updating the software on the Air Force’s weapons systems is one way the U.S. military maintains air superiority. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Andrew Tree and Loreal Duque, 325th Maintenance Squadron munitions systems specialists, perform software update maintenance on a weapon system at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 4, 2016. Munitions can be optimized by software upgrades, much like many consumer electronics. Updating the software on the Air Force’s weapons systems is one way the U.S. military maintains air superiority. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Tyndall Air Force Base holds an arsenal of some of the most advanced weapons in the world as a base with 5th generation fighters, and the responsibility of munitions systems specialists here is to assemble and process these powerful non-nuclear munitions.

The Airmen of the 325th Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight, more commonly known as “Ammo,” operate with a high level of attention-to-detail and extreme care to handle, store, transport, arm and disarm weapon systems to ensure the safety of Airmen and the success of their missions.

These professionals establish and evaluate performance standards, maintenance controls and operating procedures that keep the F-22 Raptors in the fight.

“We process any ammunition that any unit needs on base,” said Senior Airman Andrew Tree, 325th MXS munitions systems specialist. “Whether it’s our security forces squadron or a unit from another base, they have to come through us to get their mission done.”

The 325th MXS as a whole conducts maintenance to support pilot training for the F-22 Raptor. According to the 325th MXS factsheet, the munitions flight manages and maintains a munitions stockpile valued at more than $275 million. Additionally, the flight supports the Weapons Systems Evaluation Program run by the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group. This program has the goal of assessing the effectiveness of many of the missiles and bombs in the U.S. arsenal.

“We have a unique mission here at Tyndall by supporting the WSEP,” said Senior Airman Loreal Duque, 325th MXS munitions systems specialist. “We’ll help the units that come for the exercise by ensuring they are spun up on Air Force procedures and operations. It can be a challenge when the unit we’re helping has such different operating procedures, but it’s great to support such a critical mission.”

The munitions flight provides testing assistance to other military units and services as well. These groups have included U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Canadian military.

Not all the work in maintaining a bomb is external. The ammo troops at Tyndall also have the task of updating the software in the bombs they store and upkeep. Without the proper software, many of the bombs would not function the way they are intended and would possibly impede the mission.

“It’s just like if you were to not update the software on your phone,” Tree said. “If it’s out of date, it’s not going to run right and most likely be really slow. The same goes for our bombs. We help them function the way they are supposed to.”

“Without us to maintain and update the bombs, Tyndall and the rest of the Air Force wouldn’t have anything to drop on the enemy,” Tree said. “We add the firepower to the mix.”