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What life would be like without AGE

Staff Sgt. Brian Brewer, power support systems technician, removes the combustion can from the “Dash 60” unit to inspect the igniter and atomizer as part of an inspection. Sergeant Brewer has inspected and repaired AGE equipment since he joined the 162nd in 2000. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones)

Staff Sgt. Brian Brewer, power support systems technician, removes the combustion can from the “Dash 60” unit to inspect the igniter and atomizer as part of an inspection. Sergeant Brewer has inspected and repaired AGE equipment since he joined the 162nd in 2000. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones)

Staff Sgt. Louis Suarez, power support systems mechanic, grinds a piece of 3/8 inch round stock to fabricate a replacement brake rod for a C-10C air conditioner. The unit was damaged during a deployment to Edwards AFB, Calif. By fabricating parts like this one instead of ordering replacement parts, the AGE shop is able to maintain a 95 percent in-commission rate for 427 pieces of equipment. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones)

Staff Sgt. Louis Suarez, power support systems mechanic, grinds a piece of 3/8 inch round stock to fabricate a replacement brake rod for a C-10C air conditioner. The unit was damaged during a deployment to Edwards AFB, Calif. By fabricating parts like this one instead of ordering replacement parts, the AGE shop is able to maintain a 95 percent in-commission rate for 427 pieces of equipment. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones)

Tech. Sgt. Jackie Vernon, AGE technician, services a hydraulic test stand used to test the hydraulic systems on the aircraft. Sergeant Vernon has 26 years experience in AGE. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones.)

Tech. Sgt. Jackie Vernon, AGE technician, services a hydraulic test stand used to test the hydraulic systems on the aircraft. Sergeant Vernon has 26 years experience in AGE. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones.)

Airman 1st Class Ana Canillas, AGE technician troubleshoots the starter and electronic systems on a MJ-1B bomb lift to ensure it is getting enough voltage to start the engine. The unit was in the shop for a yearly and special inspection when problems were discovered with the starter and lift cylinders. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones.)

Airman 1st Class Ana Canillas, AGE technician troubleshoots the starter and electronic systems on a MJ-1B bomb lift to ensure it is getting enough voltage to start the engine. The unit was in the shop for a yearly and special inspection when problems were discovered with the starter and lift cylinders. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Jones.)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A mighty roar erupts close by; but the area is shrouded from sight. Into the summer sky with a jet blast strong and bold, an F-16 Fighting Falcon climbs quickly above the buildings that once blocked it from view.

In stark contrast to the mighty roaring Falcon, the attention now focuses on the quiet and virtually unnoticed building that seemed to only block the view a few moments before. But without those in this building, the Falcon's mighty roar would never be heard. On the door there are three letters - A-G-E.

"The mission of the Aerospace Ground Equipment shop is to provide the cleanest, safest and best maintained equipment for aircraft support," said Senior Master Sgt. Frank Paredes, AGE section supervisor. "With a 95 percent in-commission rate for equipment to be ready for use by flightline personnel, we accomplish that mission pretty well."

Without the Airmen working in the AGE shop, the 162nd may not have the tremendous safety record it enjoys, and it may not be the unit of choice for more than ten foreign nations to send their pilots to learn the F-16.

Even with more than 500 pieces of equipment to maintain owned by the United States Air Force, allied air forces, the Alert Detachment and Operation Snowbird, the AGE shop here goes above and beyond.

"The average level of experience for an AGE technician here is 15 years. Because of this experience, technicians have the ability to rebuild components that would otherwise be removed and replaced," said Sergeant Paredes. "These types of maintenance practices enable AGE shop personnel here to research parts and associated costs keeping expenditures to a minimum."

Among the items AGE repairs are the fuel control units and gear cases for the gas turbine generators and lift cylinders for the bomb lifts.

"Each lift cylinder we repair saves the Guard nearly $2,000. A cylinder goes bad about two or three times a year," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Strange, production control.

But that's not all they do. Despite a lower ratio of personnel to equipment than an active duty base, the AGE personnel here also find the time to maintain the Fire Department's Jaws of Life and generators, the Hush Houses' air conditioners, and assist Civil Engineering with their shop compressors, hanger generators and other equipment around the base, said Sergeant Paredes.

One unit in particular that the AGE shop works on is the A/M32A-60A gas turbine generator or "Dash 60" to those who work on it.

"It's basically a jet engine - a turbine engine," said Staff Sgt. Brian Brewer as he serviced the machine during its annual inspection.

"Vibration is a big issue with this machine," said Sergeant Brewer as he clipped a safety wire off the atomizer.

Its operating speed is 42,000 revolutions per minute with the gear case stepping that down to 7,000 RPMs for running other components such as the cooling fan and fuel control, he said.

"There's no airpower without ground power", said Staff Sgt. Louis Suarez, power support systems mechanic.

So with a firm knowledge of what the 37 men and women working in AGE do for the 162nd, perhaps now is the perfect time to take a moment and wonder what life would be like...without AGE.