Maintaining The Fight - FMT Airmen Support Code Change
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan McElderry
October 17, 2018
The 91st Missile Wing in July 2018 began its U.S. Strategic Command directed code change program, updating codes for all 150 launch facilities and 15 launch control centers assigned to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
The annual code change requires maximum effort across the wing. From defenders and facility managers to missile maintainers, every member plays a vital role in ensuring mission success.
A key unit involved is the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron facilities maintenance section. The facilities maintenance section is comprised of more than 50 maintainers charged with the responsibility of maintaining all of the base’s launch facilities.
“Our job is to go to multiple sites and perform maintenance for the electro-mechanical team members to change the launch codes,” said Senior Airman Mason Fruit, 91st MMXS facilities maintenance technician team chief. “We perform inspections on various components at the sites, including diesel generators, fuel systems, cooling systems and batteries.”
During code change, FMT teams are also able to work ahead of schedule for other annual required maintenance. They work around the clock to complete all required maintenance tasks and prevent any discrepancies.
“Since code change is done annually, we also perform other annual maintenance tasks while we’re out here as well,” Fruit said. “Some tasks include servicing batteries to ensure voltage levels are where they should be so the facility can function properly.”
Consistent training ensures maintenance technicians are confident in their ability to complete the mission.
“We’re all thoroughly trained before we’re qualified to perform maintenance at the sites,” said Airman 1st Class Ronald Demers, 91st MMXS FMT team member. “Before we dispatch to the sites for code change, we are also retrained on maintenance procedures to ensure we were ready to go. Our training prepares us for anything we could encounter out at the sites.”
This is Fruit’s first time being a team chief during code change and he takes pride in knowing how their role is critical to nuclear deterrence.
“It’s great to know we have such a large impact on the mission because without us, EMT wouldn’t be able to do their job as quickly,” Fruit said. “Our preventative maintenance keeps problems from arriving at the sites, which allows the longevity of the sites and ensures the success of our global mission.”