Airmen in the Aircraft Armament System handle some of the most delicate weapons systems in the military. They make sure that these weapons can be deployed without danger to aircraft or fellow troops. Aircraft Armament Systems specialists test new weapons systems and load ordnance onto aircraft. It's up to them to make sure these weapons can launch safely and hit the intended target.
The Air Force categorizes this job as Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) 2W1X1.
Duties of Air Force Aircraft Armament Systems Specialists
On a given day, these airmen will load an unload nuclear and non-nuclear munitions, explosives, bombs, rockets and other devices on Air Force aircraft. They oversee and install the systems that launch, release and monitor bombs, rockets, and missiles. They also monitor guns and gun mounts and handle related munitions and test equipment.
An important part of this important job is testing suspension, launch and release systems for malfunctions and other problems. Not only do they prepare the munitions for launch, but they also inspect the munitions once they've been loaded.
In addition, these airmen test electrical and electronic circuitry for continuity, voltage, and proper operation, and ensure there are no unwanted or unexpected electrical signal or power issues. And they install ground safety devices on munition and gun systems to prevent inadvertent detonation, launching or firing, obviously of the utmost importance to the aircraft's crew.
They plan, organize, and directs aircraft armament systems maintenance activities, check methods and techniques used to load and unload munitions on aircraft, to repair and maintain aircraft release and gun systems, and to maintain, repair, and modify associated equipment.
Qualifying as an Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist
Recruits interested in this job need to score at least a 60 in the mechanical (M) Air Force Qualification Area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. Alternately, they can qualify with a score of at least 45 on the electronics (E) AFQA of the ASVAB.
A high school degree or its equivalent are required, and ideal candidates will have completed courses in mechanics or basic electronics. You'll need normal color vision and depth perception, and should have no history of emotional instability.
Airmen in this job must be U.S. citizens and have to be able to obtain a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense since they handle highly sensitive and dangerous material.
The security clearance requires a background check, which will examine the airman's finances and character. If he or she has a history of drug use or alcohol abuse or a criminal record, these may be grounds for denying such a clearance.
Training as an Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist
After completing 7.5 weeks of basic training, or boot camp, and Airmen's Week, candidates in this job head to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas for 86 days.
There they will learn principles of electricity, physics, and ballistics that apply to munitions launch, release and arming systems. They become familiar with all aspects of aircraft gun systems, how to use precision measuring tools and equipment and interpret schematics and wiring diagrams.
These airmen also learn how to safely handle both nuclear and non-nuclear munitions and how to safely dispose of hazardous waste and materials.
Trainees in AFSC 2W1X1 complete a basic armament systems course and an advanced armament systems course.