Story by Airman 1st Class Cedrique Oldaker, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Agile Combat Employment Airmen at the Liberty Wing are testing an innovation in maintenance capabilities with new Theater Readiness Tactical Line Equipment (TRTLE) equipment packs.
Pitched on March 5 and completed on April 21, the TRTLE packs are a quick action toolkit enhancing maintenance personnel’s readiness for rapid reaction and execution during ACE exercises and missions.
Designed to hold the minimal tools and equipment necessary to work on aircraft in a deployed environment, the lightweight backpack-style carriers weigh roughly 20 pounds, allowing Airman to carry and transport them to austere locations much easier than a full toolkit. Master Sgt. Keli Manglona, Weapons Loading Element NCO in-charge for the 492nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, originated the idea.
“I thought it’d be a good idea to trim the fat off our weapon’s composite toolkits, and then only grab what we need to perform Integrated Combat Turns when we get the call for ACE,” said Manglona.
Between packing, checking, and loading the equipment up in preparation for a mission, these packs will save around 40 manpower hours for future ACE deployments on average.
According to Staff Sgt. Brett Hamblin, 492nd AMU Weapons load crew chief and an Airman involved in the design of the TRTLE packs, the packs ease the rapid deployment process by eliminating the need to generate an additional aircraft to bring complete toolboxes.
“We have what we need. We can just throw it on our backs, go to any austere location and load a jet with whatever it needs to get back up,” said Staff Sgt. Brett Hamblin, 492nd AMU Weapons load crew chief.
So far, the TRTLE packs design team have only created toolkits for weapons load crew personnel, but there are plans to expand them to other maintenance departments.
“Other sections need additional tools and gadgets,” said Manglona. “We can consolidate all of that and put it into these kits, cutting the manpower hours packing tools, as well as taking up less space in transport. This allows us to take more supplies and parts with us if a jet breaks down, that way we don’t have to wait for the part to arrive.”
The kits also cost less than half of what would normally be spent on the transportation process of a full tool kit. In total the packs save upwards of $5,000, greatly reducing the cost of rapid deployments and streamlining the purchasing process.
MSgt. Manglona believes these packs could be utilized throughout the wing and adapted for use with other aircraft as well,
“The idea started small, but with the guidance of my supervision and the input from my team, we think this could be taken, hopefully, across other airframe enterprises,” said Manglona.
This new innovation from Manglona’s team gives the Air Force another way of modernizing our force by providing multi-capable Airmen with new equipment to ramp up the speed of our readiness, while simultaneously cutting our spending for each deployment.