"As of now there are 15 different body armor systems available to the Air Force and we hope to narrow it down to two variations," said Tech. Sgt. Arvin Baldorado, 60th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. "The integrated system is more convenient for aircrew and saves time for mission preparation, meaning that the system is more adaptable to whatever the mission calls for."
Travis was chosen as the first base for testing because of the three airframes that operate here, C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-10 Extender, which made the location optimal for testing.
"This opportunity has benefited everyone," said Maj. Christopher Hoppin 60th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment Officer. "We are helping the 28th from Eglin gather their data and our AFE Airmen and aircrew experts are voicing their opinion about how this combat equipment can help us better perform our mission."
For the 1,400 active and Reserve aircrew members at Travis, there are approximately 50 AFE Airmen servicing and handling their mission required equipment.
"As an aircrew member we are put into situations in which our lives depend on our equipment," Hoppin said. "Our equipment has to be above all reliable and effective. This testing has been the opportunity to ensure that happens. With such an emphasis on physical responsibilities, this program could potentially save a lot of money. By identifying shortfalls now in testing as opposed to later in the field, we are able to positively impact future generations of Airmen."
The AFE technicians completed maintenance, sizing, fitting evaluations and support testing with aircrew.
"I believe with these advanced systems being implemented, we are replacing a lot of outdated equipment," Baldorado said. "Integrating the survival vest and body armor essentially kills two birds with one stone and improves aircrew performance and convenience."
"This has been a very unique opportunity that doesn't come up often," Hoppin said. "I am proud to be part of Travis AFE and see our AFE technicians apply their expertise into an important program. This testing could not have been accomplished without our AFE Airmen."
Capt. Jamie Leenman, 21st Airlift Squadron pilot, adjusts the seal on his aircrew chemical defense equipment with the help of Staff Sgt. Iva Marshall, 60th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, March 4 at Travis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Carranza)
Capt. Eric Deist, 21st Airlift Squadron pilot, reaches for the control panel while wearing an integrated aircrew body armor system to assess movement restrictions during pre-flight checks aboard a C-17 Globemaster III March 4 on the flightline. Deist said that after performing the tests and evaluations of the program, he understands the value of testing the equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Carranza)
Staff Sgt. Iva Marshall and Tech. Sgt. Arvin Baldorado, both 60th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technicians, demonstrate to aircrew how to fit the plate carrier vest of one of the integrated body armor systems March 4. Travis AFE Airman and aircrew tested and evaluated two integrated aircrew body armor systems for a week on Travis aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Carranza)
Staff Sgt. Iva Marshall, 60th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, adjusts an integrated aircrew body armor system on Capt. Jamie Leenman, 21st Airlift Squadron pilot, as he gives the thumbs up signal that all equipment fits well. Aircrew and AFE technicians went over IABA concepts and variations in a classroom training environment prior to testing aboard aircraft March 3 to 7. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Carranza)
Senior Airman Jessica Delaney, 60th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, adjusts the back of an integrated aircrew body armor system aboard a C-17 Globemaster III March 4 on the flightline. Approximately 50 AFE Airman maintain, service and handle the equipment of 1,400 active and Reserve aircrew members at Travis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Carranza)