USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea --
The systems military aircraft use for defense, navigation, and communications are essential to ensure mission accomplishment.
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 avionics technicians work on aircraft before and after flights to test and ensure all systems are fully operational. If an issue is found, it is the technician’s duty to correct the problem.
The squadron is currently deployed aboard the USS Enterprise in support of maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility and to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Issues we face at our level can be caused from bad wires, defective circuit boards, failing radar systems and much more, which all need to be tested,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Grant, avionics supervisor of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251.
The avionics division is divided into sections such as radar, micro repair, cryogenics and Consolidated Automated Support Systems.
Most of the squadron’s avionics division performs operational maintenance and a few technicians along with assistance from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 complete the more complex maintenance at the intermediate maintenance level.
Marines from the intermediate level would be contacted by a technician from VMFA-251 to replace a system, like an entire circuit board. After the squadron swaps the old component, the intermediate maintenance level avionics technicians repair the old one to replace the next component that stops functioning.
“We are able to save the Marine Corps a lot of time and money because some of the circuit boards we repair can cost well over $10,000 and all of our work is done in house instead of sending them back to the company,” said Cpl. Jay Sweeney, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 micro miniature technician and native of Atlanta.
One malfunctioning system can also affect the operability of other systems on the aircraft, which can increase the difficulty of finding the main source of an issue.
“The work we do in avionics makes flight operations successful because if we didn’t do our job to fix electronic components, the overall mission of Marine Corps aviation could be affected,” said Grant, a native of Beaufort.
Lance Cpl. Joshua Ochoa, left, and Cpl. Victor Castellanos, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 avionics technicians, review a circuit board diagram while aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, March 19. The laptops allow the Marines to download various diagrams to increase job proficiency.
Lance Cpl. Karissa Hendrickson, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 Consolidated Automated Support System technician, takes apart a heads-up display system aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, March 24. Various shops are present in the avionics branch to provide support for aircraft aboard the carrier.
Lance Cpl. Spencer Holm, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 avionics technician, removes a panel while aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, March 19. The technicians are sometimes required to remove panels and other various aircraft components to access electronic systems.