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Arming the RPAs

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez, center, 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 weapon at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015.  The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/Released)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez (center), 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015. The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

A U.S. Airman assigned to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions flight, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 weapon at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015.  The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/Released)

An Airman assigned to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron Munitions Flight, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015. The flight ensures that every munition loaded onto a Predator and Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez, center, 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, unpacks a GPS-guided GBU-49 weapon at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015.  The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/Released)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez (center), a 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, unpacks a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015. The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

A U.S. Airman assigned to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions flight, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 weapon at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015.  The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/Released)

An Airman assigned to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron Munitions Flight, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015. The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez, left, 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, helps build a GPS-guided GBU-49 weapon at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015.  The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/Released)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez (left), a 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, helps build a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015. The 62nd ERS Munitions Flight ensures that every munition loaded onto an MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper will perform as expected when used. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron provide every munition that is loaded onto an MQ-1B Predator or MQ-9 Reaper at Kandahar Airfield; without them, the RPAs wouldn’t be able to provide combat airpower in Afghanistan.

“Ammo at (Kandahar Airfield) helps support the flightline,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Lopez, a 62nd ERS munitions systems technician. “We also manage, build, inspect and account for all munitions on the base ranging from 9 mm bullets that security forces use to the Hellfire missiles and GBU-49 bombs; if they need a delivery we will make it.”

Arming the RPAs is important because it enables them to provide close air support to service members outside the wire.

“It’s amazing that we can provide air support in the snap of a finger,” Lopez said. “We will be there to take out the enemy to support the service members on the ground. We’re glad that we can help support the mission.”

Being deployed to a combat zone can give the munitions Airmen a greater sense of accomplishment from the training mission at home station.

“Being here renews the sense of this is what we train for, this is what we are meant to do, this is why we signed up,” said Lt. Col. Michael E. Navicky, the 62nd ERS commander. “You’re using live explosives and we’re here to help protect our own in future occurrences. Back home, it’s another day, another dollar. It’s fulfilling, but you know it’s not the real reason why you’re there. Coming out here to the (area of responsibility), this is why we’re here.”

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