509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron streamline loading processes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hailey Farrell
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron has a new weapons loading system designed to make the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber more lethal.

Maintainers with the 509th AMXS trained with the new Launcher Load System (LLS) recently at Whiteman Air Force Base.

The idea for LLS came from Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) at the end of 2022. Other bombers, like the B-52, have similar systems and AFGSC wanted to add the capability to the B-2. 

After developing the LLS concept for the B-2, AFGSC sent the 509th AMXS their first LLS adapter.

“When we got the first prototypes for the adaptors we performed a dry run with the engineers, special programs office, and equipment managers to ensure this capability was feasible,” TSgt Scott Nystedt, 509th AMXS, weapons expeditor said. 

The LLS adapter acts as a connection between the MHU-83 bomb lift truck, commonly known as a jammer, which lifts munitions into an aircraft, and the Rotary Load Assembly (RLA), a rack which holds munitions for easier loading into an aircraft.

With the LLS, instead of requiring a large MHU-204 trailer to load the RLA onto the aircraft, load crew members use the jammer to load the RLA. This streamlines the process of loading and swapping out weapons configurations on the aircraft.

Once the technical order guide was written, it was published for load crews to use day to day, Nystedt said. In mid-January 509th AMXS started applying the system and getting load crews certified and trained to use it.

By implementing the system, the 509th AMXS proved the concept works.

“A large portion of the task will require an eye for detail but that can be obtained through practice,” said SrA Steven Peters, 509th AMXS, weapons load crew member.

The system could save the Air Force money and resources by requiring less equipment to load, less cargo space used, fewer man-hours spent loading, and less wear on the landing gear.

The launcher load system creates an environment where weapons load crew members are more self-sufficient, Peters said. For example, crews no longer have to raise the jet to load the RLA, reducing the need for aircraft ground equipment and saving time.

With the previous system a large trailer was needed to load the RLA into the aircraft. However, the trailer takes up too much cargo space to be taken on deployments. So, Smart Bomb Rack Assemblies (SBRAs) were taken instead since they only require a jammer to be loaded into the aircraft. 

“With this new process we are able to bring our RLAs so we can carry larger smart munitions,” Nystedt said. “SBRAs are limited to 500-pound munitions, but with the RLAs we fly up to 5,000-pound munitions.” 

This system is intended to make the B-2 more lethal in deployed environments, by increasing the stealth bomber’s mobility and contingency capabilities to execute nuclear and conventional operations and global strike anytime, anywhere.