74th FGS trains for chemical warfare before Mosaic Tiger 24-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Deanna Muir
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
From inspection to take off, the 74th Fighter Generation Squadron Airmen work meticulously to ensure the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft can provide close-air support for any mission.

Exercise Mosaic Tiger 24-1 takes place from Nov. 13-17, 2023, and maintenance Airmen are taking a new look at an older process to prepare for any circumstance that may arise in a real-world future fight.

“We’ve been slowly building up our familiarization with Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear and how that operates with our daily tasks of launching, recovering and inspecting aircraft,” said Tech. Sgt. Jaymes Melvin, 74th FGS aircraft section chief. “We’re getting used to inspecting the gear, wearing the gear, making sure it's properly serviceable, and then getting used to working with the gear.”

MOPP gear is a system of layered overwear – suits, boots, gloves and mask – that protects the user from contaminants coming from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack. Donning the gear is no easy feat since it must be within reach and put on in seconds. It takes practice to get it right, and then even more practice to do a job while wearing the bulky material.

“Getting acquainted with how to use MOPP gear, how things are going to run during the exercise, and practicing real-world scenarios ensures when real-world scenarios happen, nobody's freaking out and we all know how to get the job done,” said Senior Airman Justin Jeffers, 74th FGS crew chief.

There’s even a special process to apply the necessary skills to decontaminate an aircraft and or pilot who has flown through hazardous materials.

“During Mosaic Tiger, we will be training on our ability to operate in a CBRN environment while maintaining aircraft, getting them to a safe location, or continuing to survive in possible contaminated locations,” Melvin said about how the fight must continue through these severe limitations.

While maintenance Airmen work daily to be proficient in their specialties, introducing additional gear and degraded communication challenges them with a new set of obstacles.

“They’re familiar with their daily operations but now there are physical limitations like less line of sight with MOPP gear, limited mobility with the vest and boots, and maintaining safety areas around the aircraft,” Melvin explained. “It’s slowing down and getting reps in on how to operate safely while still doing what needs to be done.”

The Air Force expects degraded communication in future contested environments, so preparation like this can prove to be crucial for flight line operations.

“Communication is going to be tested a lot between the maintainers on the ground (and) aircrew, with MOPP-4 level scenarios,” Melvin added regarding the most restrictive protective gear configuration. “It's going to be a lot harder to communicate what's wrong with the aircraft, who is needed to fix it, as well as operating and maintaining aircraft safely in chem gear and battle rattle.”

Melvin said he hopes the repetitions throughout the week leading up to Mosaic Tiger teach maintenance Airmen flexibility and patience as well as provide experience and lessons on optimal communication and operations in a more challenging environment.

Jeffers said that he believes through this exercise, Airmen will understand the importance of being ready for real-world missions and will gain the work ethic and experience to do so.

‘Practice how you play’ is a common philosophy and the 74th FGS demonstrated its commitment to doing just that as they prepared for Mosaic Tiger 24-1 to kick off.

“Doing a wash, rinse, repeat of seeing what issues will arise when jets are flying, what the process is to communicate those to your flight line leadership, seeing how those situations are handled through everyday operations and what the expectation is going forward is the best way to gain that experience,” Melvin said.