Cannon Air Force Base. Ever heard of it? I didn’t know of it until recently. But from what I’ve gathered, it hosts a variety of America’s most lethal aircraft and has quite an impressive inventory of ammunition, ranging from 9 mm and .50 cal rounds to huge bombs. DVIDS recently released an article, detailing Cannon Air Force Base and the aircraft that are assigned there.

One of the most notable aircraft is the AC-130W Stinger II gunship. Having a 105 mm M102 Howitzer, a 30 mm GAU-23 cannon, along with the ability to be modified with additional weapons platforms, this aircraft packs a big punch. Next in line is the MQ-9 Reaper. The MQ-9 is a remotely operated aircraft, carrying a wide array of missiles and bombs. Cannon is also home to the CV-22 Osprey. While the CV-22 is not considered a weapons platform, it does have .50 cal machine gun mounted on the ramp to provide a layer of protection for combat operations.

A U.S. Air Force AC-130W Stinger II returns from a training mission during Red Flag-Alaska 19-3 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 9, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Westin Warburton)

Of course aircraft with so much firepower, along with having a high training and deployment tempo, require a lot of ammunition. This is where the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron munitions flight — better known as the 27 SOMXS MUNS flight — comes into play. They are in charge of every single piece of ammunition on Cannon’s base.

Senior Airman Samuel Bartolotto, a member of the 27 SOMXS MUNS flight said it well: “We support all of the combat training here by supplying the ammo needed, and then when the need arises to use that training, we have pallets of all of the same munitions ready to go at a moment’s notice. Everything from small 9 mm rounds to massive bombs, we have it.”

The 27th houses all of its ammunition at a place they like to call the “bomb dump.” All ammunition that comes onto the base, goes to there. They deliver ammunition as necessary to units throughout the base. In order to manage this cumbersome task effectively and efficiently, stockpile managers lead the way, maintaining proper inventories, ordering, and organizing massive loads of ammunition.

Staff Sgt. Charles Canfil, a stockpile manager explained the process: “All of our units are allocated a certain amount of munitions for the year and if we don’t have everything we need, we’ll put in the order for it.”

The aircraft of the Air Force Special Operations Command

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When an ammunition order arrives at the bomb dump, the first individuals to look it over are the flight’s inspection team. Canfil said, “They’ll make sure everything is serviceable and safe, and then our storage section will forklift it to our facilities to sit until we need it. From there, our conventional maintenance section will build it up if it’s a piece that needs assembly and then line delivery will get it out to the aircraft that needs it.”

The work is demanding. Long hours and busy days are the norm.

Of course, safety is the number one priority. Staff Sgt. Noah Beltz, a conventional maintenance crew chief said that, “Emergency response forces like the fire department and explosive ordnance disposal are always on standby in case of an emergency. There is [sic] all kinds of protective equipment we have access to as well, such as grounding wires we wear while handling explosives to discharge any static electricity we might be holding.”

The men and women of the 27 SOMXS MUNS flight take their jobs very seriously and are very proud of what they do. Beltz summed it up well: “A lot of it comes down to just the nature of our job. Getting to handle explosives constantly, being among the first to know about high-impact missions because you have to get the rounds or the bombs ready for it, there’s nothing else like it.”