Finishing touches

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Senior Airman Brian Neeley, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance and low-observable technician, sprays on a gray coat of LO material for the laying of the Air Force Global Strike Command patch,  here Jan. 27, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations-- safe-- secure-- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Senior Airman Brian Neeley, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance and low-observable technician, sprays on a gray coat of LO material for the laying of the Air Force Global Strike Command patch, here Jan. 27, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations-- safe-- secure-- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Senior Airman Brian Neeley, 509th Maintenance Squadron, and Senior Airman Travis Smith, 131st Bomb Wing, structural maintenance and low-observable technicians, finish masking a B-2 before spraying on the new Air Force Global Strike Command patch to prevent over-spray, here, Jan. 27, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations-- safe-- secure-- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Senior Airman Brian Neeley, 509th Maintenance Squadron, and Senior Airman Travis Smith, 131st Bomb Wing, structural maintenance and low-observable technicians, finish masking a B-2 before spraying on the new Air Force Global Strike Command patch to prevent over-spray, here, Jan. 27, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations-- safe-- secure-- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Brian Geary, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance low-observable technician, uses a rubber tool to peel off the stencil from around the newly-sprayed Air Force Global Strike Command patch on a B-2 Spirit, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Brian Geary, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance low-observable technician, uses a rubber tool to peel off the stencil from around the newly-sprayed Air Force Global Strike Command patch on a B-2 Spirit, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Senior Airman Benjamin Seegraves and Brain Geary, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technicians, work together to remove the final pieces of a stencil from the newly applied Air Force Global Strike Command patch on a B-2 Spirit, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Senior Airman Benjamin Seegraves and Brain Geary, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technicians, work together to remove the final pieces of a stencil from the newly applied Air Force Global Strike Command patch on a B-2 Spirit, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -Senior Airman Benjamin Seegraves, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, removes the more technical pieces of the Air Force Global Strike Command patch stencil that replaced the Air Combat Command patch, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from ACC to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -Senior Airman Benjamin Seegraves, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, removes the more technical pieces of the Air Force Global Strike Command patch stencil that replaced the Air Combat Command patch, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from ACC to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. –Senior Airman Benjamin Seegraves, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, removes the more technical pieces of the Air Force Global Strike Command patch stencil that replaced the Air Combat Command patch, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from ACC to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. –Senior Airman Benjamin Seegraves, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, removes the more technical pieces of the Air Force Global Strike Command patch stencil that replaced the Air Combat Command patch, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from ACC to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Brian Geary, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, mixes LO material for use on the Air Force Global Strike Command patch on a B-2 Spirit, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Brian Geary, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, mixes LO material for use on the Air Force Global Strike Command patch on a B-2 Spirit, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -Airman 1st Class Kyle Miller, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, sprays on the new Air Force Global Strike Command patch onto a B-2 Spirit in preparation for Whiteman's transfer of commands, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -Airman 1st Class Kyle Miller, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance technician, sprays on the new Air Force Global Strike Command patch onto a B-2 Spirit in preparation for Whiteman's transfer of commands, Jan. 25, 2010. On Feb. 1, 2010, Whiteman AFB and its arsenal of 20 B-2 bombers will change commands from Air Combat Command to AFGSC. The mission of AFGSC is to "develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations -- safe -- secure -- credible to support the President of the United States and combatant commanders." (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE-Mo., -- Putting the finishing touches on the newly painted Air Force Global Strike Command patch, Senior Airman Brian Neeley, 509th Maintenance Squadron structural maintenance and low-observable technician, takes a moment to examine the result of more than 30 man-hours worth of work.

The Airmen of the 509th MXS LO shop have been working around the clock to complete the changing of the command patch on the B-2, in conjunction with the 509th Bomb Wing's change of command from Air Combat Command to AFGSC Monday.

"Everyone has been working diligently to get all of the patches changed over," said Tech. Sgt. Pamela Gibson, 509th MXS structural maintenance and LO assistant production NCO in charge. "While the LO material is drying, we are working on other parts of the process. We don't want to waste any time."

The process begins with the removal of the ACC patch. LO technicians meticulously remove the patch with a small amount of fluid and sandpaper, careful so as not to disrupt the layers of LO material beyond the surface. The process takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour.

Once the old patch is removed, technicians mask-off the area to be refinished to prevent over-spray. When the area surrounding where the patch will go is masked, they finish it to match the existing surface making the overall exterior of the B-2 uniformly gray in color.

While the finish dries for eight hours, technicians prepare the stencil for application, carefully cutting it to size.

"It takes about six people, throughout multiple shifts, to complete the overall changing of the patch," said Staff Sgt. William Roberts, 509th MXS LO shift expeditor. "This ensures the LO material has enough time to cure before putting the stencil in place."

After the stencil is cut, LO technicians "weed-out" the unnecessary portions of the stencil.

"We want to have the stencil ready to go, once the finish is dry, to make our process more efficient," said Sergeant Roberts.

The stencil is then put in place; LO technicians then mask the area in preparation for the final step of the process, the painting of the patch onto the B-2.

"After the patch is sprayed on, it has to dry for 24 hours before the aircraft is ready to go," said Sergeant Gibson. "The process may seem simple but there is a lot of coordination that must happen to make the process possible.

"We can't start a jet if we just want to start a jet," she said. "It has to not be on the flying schedule and available for more than 30 hours maintenance. We just can't go out there and start working every jet. Pilots have to keep flying and regular maintenance still has to be done on the aircraft."
While the ACC patch is being changed all areas of maintenance keep an open line of communication.

"When we spray the jet, we have to get everyone out of the area without a respirator and put respirators on for safety purposes, or everybody in the facility has to have a respirator," said Sergeant Roberts. "Obviously, there are more than just us working on a jet, so we have to call out to make sure they are clear of the area while we spray."

Although simple-sounding, this process takes careful synchronization as well.

"Our production superintendent has to coordinate with aircraft maintenance to ensure we can have a one to two-hour painting-window. This gives us enough time to paint and air-out the hangar.

"This means that particular aircraft has to be 'down' for the amount of time we are going to be changing the patch," he continued.

Teamwork is what makes all flightline processes flow smoothly, according to Sergeant Roberts.

"That's pretty much how the entire flightline works as far as maintenance goes, not just when we are changing patches out," he said. "Everything has to be coordinated so that multiple people can work on the aircraft at the same time or allotted times. We have a mission to do and we have to work together to get it done."