Air Weapons: In The Belly of the Beast


August 2, 2007: The average U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier carries about half a billion dollars worth of munitions. These are stored in 32 magazines, most of them deep inside the ship. Before being hoisted to the deck, to be mounted on aircraft, the bombs have to be assembled. This involves inserting the right fuze, or adding a guidance kit (to turn a dumb bomb into a smart bomb.) Missiles, being rather complex electronic instruments, have to be checked to make sure they are still ready to work. The sailors doing all this are about 110 Ordnance Handlers. While there are missile technicians to deal with electronic manufacturers, the "Ordies" have to deal with increasingly complex bombs, and handling equipment. Attaching the smart bomb guidance kits to dumb bombs has become a major part of their job. With the addition of more motorized bomb handling equipment, the job basically requires more brains, and attention to detail, than brawn these days.


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