Team Ramstein helps Spangdahlem replace antenna

Story and photo by Senior Airman Aaron-Forrest Wainwright
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — Airmen from the 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron traveled north to Spangdahlem Air Base during icy road conditions to assist the 52nd Communications Squadron with replacing a malfunctioning Tactical Air Navigation system Jan. 16.

The TACAN antenna is a beacon for fighters and heavy aircraft that provides navigation and direction for pilots during approach.

“The old antenna was faulty,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Arnett, 1st CMXS craftsman. “It would randomly shut off.”

The $180,000 faulty antenna sat atop a 65-foot tower. The 1st CMXS, the 52nd CS and local contractors from Trier worked together through the cold weather for about 10 hours to ensure the mission would continue unhitched.

The six-man team from U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa at Kapaun Air Station, a local team of Spangdahlem Airfield Systems technicians and the contracted assistance of two cranes from Trier removed the problematic TACAN antenna from its tower and installed a refurbished antenna.

“We supported the (52nd CS and local contractors) with special technical support” Arnett said. “And the local work center and contractors provided a lot of support.”

The 52nd CS and local contractors demonstrated the execution of skillful maintenance of two different units that don’t usually work together and completed the mission timely and efficiently.

“It went (smoothly),” said Senior Airman Pedro Escamilla, 52nd CS airfield system technician. “It was cold, but (we were able to finish).”

The TACAN system will be put back online in three weeks and will be fully operational to provide a reliable system with critical signals of information to aircraft flying within 200 nautical miles of Spangdahlem AB.