BEALE AIR FORCE BASE (CBS13) – They’re known as Beale’s munitions men and women, and they’re trying to make sure the Air Force base is armed and ready for combat. This month, Beale Air Force Base is celebrating 30 years of building ammunition.
It’s pretty amazing work, similar to an assembly line in a kitchen. But only in this case, they’re dealing with live ammunition. Airmen are responsible for building more than a thousand bombs a week in a program you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
“There is a lot of pressure, especially out here. There are a lot of moving people, a lot of moving parts,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Carlie Weidner.
It’s fast-paced, high-stakes work with live explosives delicately coordinated by a team of 70 airmen.
“These are tools and resources necessary that we would actually see if we were to deploy, whether it’s in Europe, globally – global operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Vega.
The students are on day four of a three-week munitions training program at Beale Air Force Base. Each 2,000-pound bomb is assembled in under than 12 minutes.
“It’s not a long process; there’s a lot of integral details that go into building these, but with that technical data that we have, and the experience that students gain here, it really helps out in the long run,” said Combat Advisor Sgt. James Herzog.
Students from 46 U.S. Air Force bases around the world train in the combat ammunition planning and production course, which is offered eight times a year. The so-called “iron flag” exercise they’re engaged in tests everything they’ve learned from textbooks and hands-on work to real-world experience building live munitions.
“They prep all of their components off to the side, so they load their munitions on the unload side. As it goes down the table, they’ll actually slap the components on, build them to whatever aircraft frame they’re specified for and then they’ll offload them onto the trailer,” said U.S. Air Force Sgt. Carlie Weidner.
The goal is for success downrange that’s on time and technically accurate.
“In the last 30 years, we’ve been able to culminate over 15,500 ammunition personnel to be trained with the superior performance and curriculum that we actually have here,” said Vega.
One thing combat advisors tell us they’re extremely proud of is that they’ve never had any incidents with bombs going off unexpectedly in the program’s 30-year history.