JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
The 12th Maintenance Group has an indispensable role in ensuring the reliability and safety of the trainer aircraft that define Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph’s flying mission.
It also has a role that not only benefits the 12th Flying Training Wing, but other high-profile organizations at JBSA.
The 12th MXG Munitions Flight provides the 12th FTW’s fighter and flying training squadrons, the 902nd Security Forces Squadron and other units with the explosives they need to carry out their missions.
“We supply our customers with all of their munitions, from small arms ammunition to training bombs and missiles,” said Patrick Fox, 12th MXG Munitions Flight chief. “A lot of units depend on us for munitions items to maintain their proficiency, whether it’s for daily tasks, real-world events or mobility issues.”
One of the flight’s main responsibilities is supporting the 12th FTW’s flying mission, Fox said.
“We provide all the explosives required for each aircraft, usually the ejection system,” he said. “Pilot safety is extremely important. In case of a catastrophic event, we want to make sure the pilot can get out safely.”
The flight works closely with a variety of flying training squadrons in the 12th Operations Group, supplying them with some of today’s best precision-guided trainers, Fox said.
Among them are the Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance kit for the 435th Fighter Training Squadron and the Hellfire training missile for the 558th Flying Training Squadron.
The 902nd SFS is another frequent customer, Fox said.
“We always want our security forces to have everything they need to maintain security on base,” he said.
The flight provides security forces with all the munitions they need, including ammunition for combat arms training, Fox said.
“The squadron also requires explosives like dynamite and TNT for its canine training; that’s how they hone their skills,” he said.
Some of the flight’s other customers are the 12th FTW Safety Office’s Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard program and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Fox said.
“Our munitions tentacles go out to a wide variety of people,” he said.
The flight’s mission changed significantly when the Air Force started sourcing aircraft munitions from the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd., a British manufacturer of ejection seats, Fox said.
“Our tempo has increased because these items are still relatively new to the Air Force and are constantly evaluated and swapped out,” he said. “They’re used for our T-6 and T-38 aircraft.”
Every organization that uses munitions has a yearly allocation, Fox said.
“We maintain oversight of those balances until an item is expended or turned back in,” he said. “If a unit’s mission increases, we work with them to provide the necessary documentation and get the allocation increased.”
The munitions team strives to acquire the latest items for their customers, Fox said.
“We want them to see the latest in the field,” he said.
Precision-guided trainers are an example.
“Up until four or five years ago, we had no precision-guided trainers at Randolph,” Fox said. “We worked hard to acquire those trainers.”
Another function of the flight is to provide safe parking for commercial drivers hauling explosives.
“It serves a vital purpose to support those vehicles,” Fox said.
That capability will be enhanced in the next few years.
“We’re working with the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron to create a new download pad for commercial vehicles,” Fox said.
The flight comprises eight civilians – with a ninth member joining the team this summer. They are responsible for more than 400 line items worth in excess of $1.2 million, and their duties include receipt of munitions, inventory, deliveries and maintaining a stockpile.
Each team member brings a wealth of experience to the job, including an active-duty background for most, Fox said.
“All of us are career munitions professionals,” he said. “Most of us have more than 20 years of experience.”
The flight’s buildings include an administrative office, a maintenance and inspection facility where containers are opened and items are inspected, and two storage facilities where munitions are stored.
“Our 11-bay storage facility, which opened in 2008 and covers 4,500 square feet, was a significant upgrade over the previous structure,” Fox said. “It enhanced our ability to store explosives and eliminated the need to use storage facilities at JBSA-Lackland. That’s great for us and our customers on Randolph.”
The munitions team takes pride in ensuring their customers have the right item when they need it to keep their mission going, Fox said.
“We have a saying: the right munitions to the right place at the right time,” he said.