BALTOPS B-52 mining operations: The Build
By Senior Airman Sahara L. Fales, 5th Expeditionary Operations Group Public Affairs
/ Published June 16, 2016
ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, United Kingdom -- Hours before the U.S. Air Force's BALTOPS 2016 mine-drop exercise, Airmen and U.S. Navy seamen were cutting wires, turning wrenches, and hoisting munitions in preparation for the mission.
Twelve MK-62 Quick Strike inert mines were built and loaded onto two B-52H Stratofortresses for an exercise mission where the bombers tested their ability to precisely drop munitions into a target zone.
"The mines were built so we can show our allies that we can come out here and assemble them whenever we need to," said Seaman Clarence Burns, a mineman from the Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit Charleston.
This was Burns' first time participating in exercise BALTOPS, which provides an opportunity for personnel from different services and nations to engage in realistic maritime training to build experience and teamwork and strengthen interoperability.
"This opportunity allows us to see what happens after we build them," Burns said. "We don't always get to see the loading process, we normally just build them and that's it."
Operating out of RAF Fairford also provided Burns the opportunity to practice building the inert mines in an unfamiliar environment.
"It's different from my shop because we have an assembly line built specifically for the mines," Burns said. "Here there is less space and it's a lot leaner."
Although they face challenges such as using new equipment and learning the other services' acronyms and lingo, the mine build allows the services to see the skills and knowledge each member brings to the table.
"It's an honor to be here and to get the chance to work with the other services and see how it all fits together," Burns said. "It puts my job into perspective and really shows what I'm doing."
Senior Airman Kody Regelbrugge, 5th Munitions Squadron conventional maintenance crew chief, agreed that it's important to get to work with other services because it paints the whole picture to show what the entire effort is about.
"Working day-to-day I just see the Air Force," said Regelbrugge. "But here I get to see the Navy, Air Force and Royal Air Force -- everybody working together."
"It's humbling and it definitely puts our job and mission into perspective," he added. "Over here you feel like you're a part of the bigger picture."