Missile retrofit saves Air Force money

by Senior Airman Amanda Dick
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As part of the Air Force’s effort to modernize its air and space inventories, the 86th Munitions Squadron on Ramstein recently upgraded its AGM missile systems.

With the help of an Air Force Reserve Ammunition Team and the Maverick Systems Program Office team, the project was completed over 10 days in August with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of these missiles by installing an upgrade to the

guidance control section.

“Raytheon did an analysis on the software along with some live fire tests at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, which wasn’t good enough for them because they wanted to get closer to 100 percent,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Montaldo, 86th MUNS conventional

maintenance section assistant NCOIC.  

Process And Benefits Of The Upgrade

Before the upgrading process, or retrofit, could begin, 86th MUNS Airmen had to prepare their work stations to create a controlled atmosphere for handling the missiles.

“We had to set up one of our (maintenance) bays for a clean air environment where the SPO team set up a specialized tent in case humidity was too high,” Sergeant Montaldo said.

To move the missiles, the Airmen pulled them out of storage, filtered them through the work area and put them back into storage.

In order to complete this upgrade, the five-person AFRAT and 12 MUNS Airmen removed a section of the missile and positioned it in the clean room.

There, the five-person Raytheon SPO team upgraded and tested the section to make sure the install was done correctly.

The missiles upgrade also has an added monetary benefit.

“Other than the increased reliability of the assets, the Air Force will save $42.8 million by upgrading their existing stockpile,” said Sergeant Montaldo, who is also the assistant NCOIC. “They won’t have to pay for more new missiles or the shipping costs involved.”

About The Missile

The AGM is used on Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter aircraft.

The AGM uses a camera to track its targets, sending a picture of what it sees back to the pilot.

Once the pilot identifies and selects a target and the missile locks on, the pilot will release the missile to seek its designated target.

“Some models of these missiles have blast-fragmentation capabilities,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Fiske, AFRAT munitions inspector. “Others are designed as a penetrator missile for taking out things like heavy armored tanks. It will punch a softball-sized hole through several inches of armor plating and pretty much incinerate anything inside.”

Though Ramstein has no fighter aircraft, the missiles are stored here because of Germany’s proximity to locations downrange.

“Ramstein is a hub for munitions airlift,” Sergeant Montaldo said.