Moody AFB conducts live fire ICTs during Mosaic Tiger 24-1

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Leonid Soubbotine
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Moody Airmen conducted the first live-fire munitions load at a simulated contingency location at Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida, Nov. 15, 2023, as part of readiness exercise Mosaic Tiger 24-1.

The team of aircrew, maintenance, weapons and fuels Airmen worked together to perform an integrated combat turn, a military version of a racecar pit-stop. The experienced crew refuels and reloads munitions quickly and safely before relaunching the jet to continue its mission.

“By doing this training, we’re able to get these pilots back to the fight as fast as possible,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jacoby Madden, 23rd Maintenance Group wing weapons manager. “This is how we’re posturing our force for future engagements by positioning a small footprint of ready, lethal and multi-capable Airmen. The pilots don’t have to worry about coming back to the main operating base for their fuel or munitions, they can do it anywhere thanks to that group of exceptionally trained Airmen from a contingency location with limited resources.”

Getting the live munitions from Moody AFB in Georgia to Avon Park in Florida required coordination between multiple government agencies to ensure safety and protocol were followed, which is similar to real-world country clearances required for transportation of munitions overhead. Special caution and planning had to take place to prepare both the sending and receiving end of the transport.

“The biggest challenge was making sure you have the people and equipment here,” said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Muonio, 23rd Weapons Standardization Section loading standardization crew member and Mosaic Tiger Weapons Inspection team. “There are a lot of things that can prevent your plans from actually happening. Having a plan B, C, D is essential.”

One of those plans included launching a fully loaded configuration of two A-10s from Moody, which could then be off-loaded with the extra munitions used as stock for other sorties at Avon Park. Moody also had help from an Air Mobility Command Globemaster III cargo aircraft to transport personnel and equipment, to include an ammunition loading adapter. The ALA is a belt-fed piece of equipment designed to quick-load 30mm bullets into the A-10’s GAU-8 Avenger autocannon, which can shoot approximately 3,900 rounds per minute.

Planning for and training with live munition at contingency locations elevates the preparedness of the force even further through injecting more realism into the exercise. It provides a level of experience to Airmen who are then able to deliver airpower and support when rapidly deployed to geographically split contingency locations in austere environments.

“You always want to practice how you play,” said Tech. Sgt. Chad Eichmeier, 23rd Weapons Standardization Section loading standardization crew member and Mosaic Tiger Weapons Inspection team. “Loading live rounds or live munitions will give you the full concept of how it's going to go in the real-world situation.”

If working with live munitions wasn’t challenging enough, the Mosaic Tiger exercise takes place in a simulated austere environment with degraded communication, not to mention the week’s endlessly pouring rain and bulky exercise protective gear. This really tested the entire multi-capable Airmen team on their speed and efficiency to relaunch the A-10C Thunderbolt IIs as fast as possible.

A full turn can take up to three hours, but these rapid turns reduce the time to 45 minutes from the jet landing to taking off again. As experience builds and teams develop, it can even become even quicker, and jets can get back in the fight in less than half an hour.

“It's the same as any other sports team,” Eichmeier said about the pitstop mentality. “The longer the crews are together, the more cohesion there is, and the better it's going to go.”

In past readiness exercises, Airmen at contingency locations have conducted ICTs with training munitions, so the introduction of live munition was a natural steppingstone in their training and preparedness for the fight ahead.

“You have to build the first layer of your house before you build the walls and the roof,” Muonio said. “You have to have your foundation.”

The lessons learned from the live-munition ICTs and Mosaic Tiger 24-1 will undoubtedly contribute to the readiness and effectiveness of the 23rd Wing and Moody Airmen, especially during upcoming Air Force Force Generation deployments, to deliver agile and lethal airpower at a moment’s notice anywhere, anytime.