MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA,Ariz. -- A group of ordnance Marines from various units, station and visiting, added a new skill set to their repertoire here recently through training tangential to Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-06.
The Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 ordnance department, led by Ordnance Chief Master Gunnery Sgt. Ronnie Jones, Jr., taught the 11 Marines how to load an aircraft with bombs using Preload Accessory Suspension Equipment, which enables ordnancemen to quickly ‘hot load’ -- while the aircrafts’ engines are turning -- at a forward operating base.
PASE loading greatly reduces the time ordnancemen need to re-arm an aircraft, said Jones, who hails from Lithia, Fla.
The AV-8B Harrier, for instance, takes roughly 20 minutes to cool down after the engines turn off and another 20 minutes to start up again. Through PASE loading, two jets can refuel and reload in about 22 minutes, Jones said. Versus typical loading procedures, this technique saves about an hour at the FOB.
Here’s how it works:
After a jet lands and refuels at the FOB, it taxis to a designated loading area where the ordnance Marines stand by. Two teams of ordnancemen, one under each wing of the jet, PASE load a bomb to each side of the aircraft simultaneously to keep it balanced. In each team, one ordnanceman drives in the prepared bomb on a short-airfield tactical-site (SATS) loader, and then three other Marines attach the bomb via PASE equipment to one of the aircraft’s loading stations.
The training, which emphasizes speed, lasted about two weeks and began with three days of both day and night ‘cold’ PASE loading at the station Combat Arms Loading Area. On the fourth day at the CALA, the Marines practiced on a turning jet but with no live ordnance.
During the culmination exercises of WTI, these ordnance Marines PASE loaded high-explosive ordnance onto aircraft at the simulated FOB on Yuma Proving Ground’s Laguna Army Airfield.
This breakdown in training allowed the Marines to grasp the new skill in stages – to crawl, walk, then run, said Jones.
Thanks to Jones, who developed this training for WTI in 2002, the young ordnancemen who attend his course will be able to save Marine aviation units precious time at the FOB -- an hour in which these powerful and courage-inspiring aircraft can return to the fight and continue supporting ground troops in theater.
Ordnance Marines under the direction of MAWTS-1 build, maintain and load all munitions used during WTI. Depending on course size, between 150 to 200 ordnance
Marines from participating and supporting units join MAWTS-1 ordnance each course.
During WTI 1-06, jets loaded by these Marines dropped 272 tons of inert and high explosive ordnance, said Sgt. Evan Kramer, MAWTS-1 ordnanceman.
The MAWTS-1 ordnance department puts the ‘W’ in WTI, said Jones.