There has always been a branch of the military dedicated to the preparation and production of explosive weapons since gunpowder was introduced to warfare. The US Air Force employs the Aircraft Armament System to prepare some of the most delicate military instruments in the country's arsenal. Since 1948, the Weapons Troop, officially bearing the AFSC 2w1 or 462, has been responsible for arming military aircraft with the necessary weapons for warfare. The nickname 'reaper' arose in connection with their rather dark mission statement, "Providing our enemies a chance to die for their country since 1948." Load Toads is how loaders of aircraft munitions refer to themselves.
The job of a load toad is very intense and dangerous and has stiff qualifications. Firstly, in order to begin one must have a prior knowledge of electricity and physics, aircraft armaments, the equipment used, relevant diagrams. all of the munitions in question, and safety procedures. Knowledge of mechanics, arming and launch systems, precision measuring tools, and application of maintenance directives is preferred. Qualified individuals must also have a record of complete emotional stability and perfect vision. Emotionally, this position can be very taxing and the individuals who hold it must stay very focused.
In terms of education. no degree is required. One must have a high school diploma followed by further courses on aircraft armament systems. After basic training/ boot camp, there is an 86-day training period. Furthermore, the education is not complete without experience in the loading and dealing with munitions and aircraft gun systems, performing and supervising these functions, and managing and controlling these systems. There are individual awards for the accomplishment of each step.
Once admittance to the specialty is granted, the duties of a load toads are as follows: loading and unloading munitions, managing and maintaining the installation of bombs and other weapons, attending to the launch systems, and mounting guns. They also test electrical circuitry for proper voltage and operation in order to prevent hiccups in the performance of the system. The airmen install safety devices as well where needed to avoid fatal accidents with the equipment or on the work site. It is of the highest priority for these workers to ensure that these weapons systems may be prepared and used without harming the aircraft or the troops involved. They have intricate techniques to perform all of these functions, loading and unloading, repairing and maintaining all equipment involved so as to ensure safety and efficiency.
These airmen are also required to renew their license every 30 days. The proficiency levels for each one of these exams is very strict with a limit of three errors, Naturally the intense degree of knowledge, skill, and danger involved in this job is highly taxing on those involved both mentally and physically. So there are also competitions and lighter events hosted in order to keep up the morale of the airmen. The teamwork system is also essential and builds camaraderie. We thank the Load Toads for the work that they do.