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Ammo connection
A lightweight, mobile 30mm ammunition round linker connects rounds to MK-15 links using a hand crank or a conventional electric drill. The linker was created by the Munitions Materiel Handling Equipment Focal Point, a section under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Armament Directorate, specializing in developing locally manufactured equipment for the Air Force ammo and weapons communities. The new linker is one-tenth the weight and cost of the current ammo linker in use and will be delivered to Air Force Special Operations Command units in May. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
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Eglin munitions unit creates ammo linker for AFSOC

Posted 5/1/2013   Updated 5/1/2013 Email story   Print story


by Samuel King Jr
Team Eglin Public Affairs

5/1/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- A new lighter, mobile 30mm ammo linker system is set for delivery to Air Force Special Operations Command units in May.

The 89-pound apparatus that feeds 15 unattached 30mm rounds into MK-15 links via a crank system was created and designed by the Airmen of Eglin's Munitions Materiel Handling Equipment. The MMHE Focal Point, a section under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Armament Directorate, specializes in developing locally manufactured equipment for the Air Force ammo and weapons communities.

"The MMHE receives taskings via the major commands as well as through customer support visits," said Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Tangney, the MMHE focal point chief. "Our Airmen and engineers visit ammo and weapons sections and talk with maintainers and weapons crews. We explain to them how we can develop support equipment and tools that could make their jobs easier."

Those ideas and concerns are defined and passed up the chain of command for approval. If the idea is feasible, cost-effective and to the benefit of the Air Force, a design team begins the creation process on the product.

The initial AFSOC request was for a hand-held de-Linker to easily and safely remove the 30mm ammunition rounds from the links.

"The previous method of using the force of your hands was slow and potentially dangerous," said Tech. Sgt. Mike Stratton, the linker project manager.

Engineers and drafters went to work creating a new product to meet the specific requirements to accomplish the task.

The result became a seven-pound de-linker tool that resembles a very large set of plyers, but fit the 30mm round perfectly. The de-linker reduces the amount of force to remove the ammo to a minimum.

After trying out the de-linker prototype, Stratton and his team received feedback that AFSOC Airmen could use a quicker, deployable way of connecting the ammo into the MK-15 belts.

"We evaluated the linking process at Hurlburt Field, and the ammo troops told us the current machine is too large, expensive , complex and not very mobile," said Ben Chambliss, the linker project engineer.

Again the MMHE developers began designing to meet this new requirement.

MMHE created a new linker that weighed and cost one-tenth of that of the current linker in use. The linker requires no electricity with the use of a hand crank, but it can also be controlled with an electric drill for faster speed. It is 58 inches long and 18 inches wide.

"(The linker) can be tossed in the back of a truck or on an aircraft and taken to wherever it's needed," said Chambliss.

An MMHE project goes through two main phases, the prototype phase and first article phase. The prototype phase is the creation by MMHE and the testing of the designed product by the customer. In the first article phase, another product is created with the changes and corrections provided from the customer testing. The new (first article) product goes back to the customer for final validation. Once it's cleared by the customer and approved by an Air Force safety board for operational use, the blueprints become available to DOD personnel via a secure website.

The linker/de-linker prototypes are already in use by the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

"These tools allow AFSOC munitions personnel to support AC-130W and future AC-130J Gunship 30mm operations in a safe and rapid manner at home station or deployed to austere locations world-wide providing outstanding munitions support to the special operations force mission, "Any Time, Any Place'," said Richard McDonald, AFSOC armament systems section chief. "Both tools can stand up to the wear and tear of daily operations at home station or in the field, be locally manufactured and parts can be easily and rapidly replaced as needed."

At any time, the MMHE Airmen have as many as 25 new pieces of equipment in development for Air Force warfighters.

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