1 SOCMS: Backshop keeps planes on frontline

Airman 1st Class Zachary Barkley, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems journeyman, looks over a technical order prior to working on equipment at the 1st SOCMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. Technical orders are step-by-step instructions which guide Airmen on how to repair equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Zachary Barkley, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems journeyman, looks over a technical order prior to working on equipment at the 1st SOCMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. Technical orders are step-by-step instructions which guide Airmen on how to repair equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Zachary Barkley, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems journeyman, makes adjustments to a bit oscillator on a KU band- antenna at the 1st SOCMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The bit oscillator provides a three-dimensional image of precision ground-mapping and detects weather for the MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Zachary Barkley, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems journeyman, makes adjustments to a bit oscillator on a KU band- antenna at the 1st SOCMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The bit oscillator provides a three-dimensional image of precision ground-mapping and detects weather for the MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Llyod Long, left, and Staff Sgt. Sean Francis, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems technicians, prepare an APQ- 180 radar strike antenna for diagnostic testing at the 1st CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The APQ-180 radar strike antenna is multipurpose radar for the AC-130U Spooky gunship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Llyod Long, left, and Staff Sgt. Sean Francis, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems technicians, prepare an APQ- 180 radar strike antenna for diagnostic testing at the 1st CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The APQ-180 radar strike antenna is multipurpose radar for the AC-130U Spooky gunship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Llyod Long, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems apprentice, prepares tools for use on an APQ- 180 radar strike at the 1st CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The APQ-180 radar strike antenna is multipurpose radar for the AC-130U Spooky gunship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Airman 1st Class Llyod Long, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems apprentice, prepares tools for use on an APQ- 180 radar strike at the 1st CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The APQ-180 radar strike antenna is multipurpose radar for the AC-130U Spooky gunship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Senior Airman Nicholas Siegler, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems journeyman, works on an APQ- 180 radar strike at the 1st CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The APQ-180 radar strike antenna is multipurpose radar for the AC-130U Spooky gunship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Senior Airman Nicholas Siegler, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems journeyman, works on an APQ- 180 radar strike at the 1st CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 7, 2013. The APQ-180 radar strike antenna is multipurpose radar for the AC-130U Spooky gunship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Staff Sgt. Justin Anderson, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems craftsman, operates an APM 364 test station for an APQ-150 Radar System at the CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla. Aug. 7, 2013. The APM 364 test station is used to diagnose problems with the APQ-150 Radar System. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

Staff Sgt. Justin Anderson, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron mission systems craftsman, operates an APM 364 test station for an APQ-150 Radar System at the CMS on Hurlburt Field, Fla. Aug. 7, 2013. The APM 364 test station is used to diagnose problems with the APQ-150 Radar System. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Whether making a landing in a dusty desert or navigating through rugged mountainous landscapes, radar systems contribute to a combat aircraft's ability to complete an objective at hand. The 50 Airmen and civilian staff at the Mission Systems Section,1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron, ensure mission-critical radar systems are fully functional.

The section repairs and maintains three different radar systems on Hurlburt Field, Fla., the APQ-170, APQ-180 and APQ-150.

"We work on radar antennas that do terrain avoidance, terrain following, weather and ground mapping," said Airman 1st Class Zachary Barkley, mission systems journeyman of 1st SOCMS.

The radars, revamped by the airmen, assist aircraft such as the AC-130U Spooky and the MC-130H Talon II in successful sorties that may support ground troops in combat with aerial strikes.

"The [APQ-150] radar can pick up beacon radio signals from ground troops which can help air crew members locate them, along with their enemies," said Senior Airman Ryan Shaifer, mission systems journeyman of 1st SOCMS.

Repairing radars in the component maintenance workshop saves the Air Force millions of dollars a year by utilizing processes that catch antenna problems before they have to be sent to outside agencies.

"We're basically the middle man," said Senior Airman Nicholas Siegler, mission systems journeyman of 1st SOCMS. "We troubleshoot and repair radar antennas as much as we can before we send them anywhere else."

Aircraft Radar Testing Stations simulate an operations check and analyzes the 170 radar antenna, which is used on the MC-130H Talon II, and Electronic Electrical Test Set which can identify "pointing errors" which could cause an aircraft to fly off track.

Even though they're considered the back shop, the component maintenance shop plays a role in our mission's frontline.