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Maintenance crews prep fighters at Cope North

by Marine Lance Cpl. Danny Restivo
Det. 10, Air Force News Agency

6/22/2007 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- Maintenance Airmen from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., know how to pack a punch as they are deployed to Andersen AFB and currently participating in Exercise Cope North with Japan Air Self Defense Force members.

The Cannon AFB Airmen load 2,000-pound bombs onto multimillion dollar aircraft as part of the bilateral field training exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and interoperability of the United States and JASDF.

Airmen of the 27th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Cannon AFB, deployed here for four months, understand how to perform the delicate and dangerous process. 

Airmen loaded 12 2,000-pound MK-84s as part of a live-weapons drop at this year's Cope North training exercise. The MK-84 is nonguided, freefall ordnance used for maximum blast and explosion. The weapon was first used in the 1950s, but is still used today by the Air Force as well as the new JASDF F-2 fighter at Cope North.

"It is a very safe job, with all the safety precautions that are taken in with everything else. Those bombs can't be armed unless they're dropped," said Senior Airman Shawn Dietz, a weapons load crew member for the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

After the ordnance was loaded, it was dropped at the Farralon De Medinilla range located 160 nautical miles north of Andersen AFB. Cope North's live bomb drops play an important role in strengthening the security alliance between the Japanese and American military, but they also give the weapons load crew members a sense of accomplishment.

"It makes me feel like a part of the Air Force to load bombs. To go over, and actually help defend the country," Airman Dietz said.

The live bomb drops are one of the last scheduled events at this year's Cope North exercise, which ends in late June. 

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