This would never be possible without the precision measurement equipment lab technicians, and a single flaw could mean the difference between a missile being off target by a few inches or hundreds of feet.
As if supporting the F-16 Fighting Falcon was not enough, the shop is responsible for supporting the entire base by calibrating and maintaining approximately 4,600 items.
“Before I joined, I thought I was just going to be working with a few pieces of war-related test equipment specific to aircraft,” said Senior Airman Jeffery Lerma, the 35th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory production control manager. “To learn about [my job] now and seeing [the processes], the job is very different than what I expected. It definitely blew my mind verses how I thought of it before I came in the Air Force.”
The flight’s job is to calibrate and repair measurement and diagnostic equipment, providing customers with reliable, safe and accurate equipment that exceeds expectations. This includes everything from the scales used to weigh food to calibrating sights on an F-16.
“We have a constant flow of work,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Brannon, the 35th Maintenance Squadron test, measurement and diagnostics flight chief. “There is rarely any downtime for personnel.”
Brannon added that on top of having to cover items that randomly break while being used, they also have what the shop calls interval items, which are parts that must be recalibrated over various time periods. It could be five months to a couple of years, based on factory calibration requirements per item.
“We are the support of the support,” Lerma said. “Biomedical may calibrate medical equipment, but we calibrate their calibration tools. For maintenance we fix their equipment they use to fix the engines.”
Although they are tasked with covering the whole base, they know they must prioritize the F-16s and their mission.
“Our shop is the only one in Pacific Air Force with an avionics calibration adaptor for the F-16,” Brannon said. “Those who use aircraft testing equipment wouldn’t be able to test the F-16 and all of its systems without us.”
Senior Airman Amber Whitney, a 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics team member, said the avionics calibration adaptor ensures their shop can execute F-16 testing by generating the alignment factors for frequency, time, DC voltage, AC voltage, resistance and synchro and resolver signals for their equipment.
“The CAL adapter helps to align our $2.8 million test station,” said Whitney. “This allows us to functionally test line-replaceable units without error and make sure the munitions hit on target when deployed.”
Brannon added by calibrating the test station pilots can read correct diagnostics on the aircraft panels, ensuring a safe flight by alerting them of any mechanical changes.
With the wide spectrum of squadrons they support, PMEL members know their role in making an impact for the overall mission.
“We support so many different agencies so frequently,” Lerma said. “I know our shop has a lot of value.”