“I think our job is really important and it’s critical that we do it right,” said Airman 1st Class Raquez Kelly-Jones, 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment mate. “We take extreme care in our work and mistakes can happen, but we have been given an environment in which we can train and learn from them.”
Aircrew Flight Equipment Technicians manage, perform, and schedule inspections, maintenance, and adjustments to assigned AFE, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear assets, associated supplies, and aircrew inventory.
The disassembly, assembly, inspection, fabrication, cleaning, repair and packaging of aerospace weapon system components such as protective clothing, flotation equipment, fire escape systems Emergency and recovery and personnel parachutes are also part of the AFE mission.
Pitch Black 22 is a model opportunity to expand engagements with allies and partners across the globe, and demonstrates the drive to promote security and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
During the exercise, RAAF Base Darwin hosted an open day, which attracted thousands of participants to visit and learn more about the multilateral exercise and each nation’s respective air forces. Cea and Kelly-Jones, along with other American Airmen, were able to interact with the local community and educate them about the capabilities of the U.S. Air Force.
Many participants have joined Pitch Black since its inception in 1981, with the goal of improving combat readiness and interoperability between partner nations. This year is the first year that the Republic of Korea Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and German Air Force have fully participated.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Cea, 18th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment Craftsman, has been stationed in Europe, the Republic of Korea and now Japan and was excited to work with all of these nations at once.
“Whenever I’ve worked with either partner, I’ve found them to be incredibly kind and hospitable,” Cea said. “I can see the excitement on their faces to be here in Australia and doing missions with us. Seeing how excited our partners are to work with us makes me want to do what we do.
AFE supervisors like Cea conduct ongoing crew training, instruct crews on the use, operation, and capabilities of equipment, and provide crew techniques to ensure the survivability of those using the AFE.