by Airman Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
12/3/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- With
thousands of working parts, the F-15E Strike Eagle relies on Airmen
from several maintenance squadrons to keep the jet in the air. While
some of these Airmen work directly on the flightline, others work
quietly behind the scenes to ensure Strike Eagles are ready-to-go.
One of those silent warriors is the 4th Component Maintenance Squadron
test, measurement and diagnostic equipment shop, also known as the
Precision Measurement Equipment Lab, or PMEL.
The 4th CMS PMEL shop calibrates, troubleshoots and repairs more than
8,500 pieces of equipment on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North
Carolina, Pope Army Airfield, N.C. and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter
Diligence, out of Wilmington, N.C.
The flight is broken down into three different sections: scheduling, quality assurance and PMEL.
The scheduling section is responsible for the entire inventory from
various squadrons on base and at other installations. This includes
every piece of equipment that has measurement capabilities.
The PMEL section is responsible for the proper functioning of all
equipment in the inventory. Ranging from gauges and maintenance tools
for the F-15E, to the drug scales used by the 4th Security Forces
Squadron and Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment,
these Airmen calibrate and repair everything to specific standards,
which are inspected and signed off by the quality assurance section.
"Everything we do here is directly related to how the jet is able to
function," said Staff Sgt. John Loving, 4th CMS NCO in-charge of PMEL
quality assurance program. "While we may not be exactly on the jet
itself, everything they're using out there on the flightline to service
that jet is calibrated in our lab."
PMEL handles more than 637 pieces of equipment on a monthly basis coming
from various squadrons on base. They also support an inventory of more
than 1,280 items from outside the installation.
"If PMEL didn't come out and test our diagnostic equipment, which gives
us all of our readings and parameters for the engine, we couldn't
guarantee it was actually serviceable," said Staff Sgt. Spencer McGraw,
4th CMS aerospace propulsion flight technician. "If we placed (an
unserviceable) engine in a jet, it could result in an in-flight
emergency or even loss of an aircraft. It's really important that PMEL
comes out and calibrates our equipment or we can't do our job
According to Loving, there is a constant flow of equipment coming in and
out of the shop. Even when jets aren't flying, PMEL still works around
the clock to service the equipment needed to keep the flying mission
"If we're not here to service that equipment for a day, a week, things
are not going back to the customer and all of sudden those weekly
checks, monthly checks, before flight checks, they can't get
accomplished because they don't have certified equipment to do it,"
With anywhere from 20 to 60 items coming into the shop on a daily basis,
the more than 20 PMEL technicians have to prioritize the work while
still getting items back to the customer in a timely manner.
In addition, the flight maintains a rapid assistance calibration lab, or
RASCAL, that operates as a mobile PMEL module. This component, manned
by eight technicians, can be sent out in support of overseas contingency
operations at a moments notice.
"We have one of only two [RASCALs] in the entire Air Force," said Airman
1st Class Alexis Kogel, 4th CMS TMDE technician. "The RASCAL has to be
ready 24/7, so that way if there is a need overseas for it, we can have
it ready to deploy within 24 to 48 hours."
According to Loving, all the equipment in PMEL is calibrated to an
accuracy four times better than the test equipment's minimum standards.
These calibrations can take anywhere from a few hours to several days
depending on specifications needed.
"We're kind of the unsung hero, where you don't really know we're here
until something bad goes down," Loving said. "In that respect, the more
that you don't know about us the better we're doing our job."