Weapons Load Competition boosts pride, precision

By Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  – 432nd Maintenance Group weapons Airmen are trained to load and prepare one of the most demanded Air Force assets with weaponry to ensure the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing maintain dominant and persistent attack.

The weapons standardization section hosts loading competitions to showcase and highlight their wingmen for their proficiency and job knowledge. These Airmen also remain sharp through their required bi-monthly re-certification.

Competitions are held annually and quarterly to continue an Air Force tradition spanning back more than 50 years.

The first load competition was held at MacDill AFB, Florida, March 1958. This was one of several measures taken to hone the technical skills of load teams amid the Vietnam War era.

Similar to then, the demand for MQ-9s calls for mission-ready Airmen. The 432nd MXG holds competitions to keep them certified, technically sound, and ready to perform when duty calls.

432nd MXG competitions consist of a uniform inspection, the Airmen’s composite tool kit, a 25-question written test, and a specific set of missiles and bombs for them to load on an MQ-9 Reaper.

Each quarter, leadership nominates one crew from each unit that is the most proficient and has the best load stats to compete against each other.  

When the crews have been selected, preparation for the competition begins. Airmen study their career development courses, clean and organize their composite tool kits as well as schedule practice loads with the weapons standardization section.

The crews don’t know about which bombs or missiles they’ll be loading until the day of the competition. This is to test their knowledge and proficiency in loading weapons onto an MQ-9.

“The load comp is a great way to highlight our lethality, and how our weapons guys are ready to go at a moment’s notice,” said Master Sgt. Steven, loading standardization crew member assigned to the 432nd MXG.

Whether the result is victory or defeat, the Airmen participating are honored to be there.

“These competitions show the wing how proud the weapons guys are of the job they do,” Steven explained.

The winners take a traveling trophy back to their unit until the next competition.

“It’s always been a big morale booster for the best crews of that quarter or year to be highlighted so everyone else can see,” said Senior Airman Bailey, lead crew member assigned to the 432nd MXG.

Each competition brings cross-sections of the wing out to see weapons Airmen compete. This is often the first time others are able to see what they do on a daily basis.

Not only does the competition help bridge the gap between the many career fields here at Creech, but it also shows their impact on the wing’s mission.

“Load comps are extremely important because it builds pride in your job,” Steven said. “It builds confidence in doing your job and validates all the hard work you’ve put into being a good loader.”

Weapons Airmen are constantly striving for excellence in all they do, whether it be participating in the competition or cheering their wingmen on.

“It’s very humbling knowing that your aircraft maintenance unit wants you to represent them in the load comp for that quarter or year,” Bailey said.

Weapons Airmen get the opportunity to represent their unit in these competitions throughout the year and demonstrate their skills and professionalism. Normal operations take priority in the 24/7 fight but Airmen are always training to remain locked and ready to load in the next competition.