By Airman Elijah Van Zandt, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 08, 2021
Senior Airman Nishit Macwan, 741st Maintenance Squadron power, refrigeration and electrical laboratory technician, troubleshoots a missile alert facility chiller during the Global Strike Challenge July 26, 2021, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. PREL Airmen are specialists in electrical and refrigeration troubleshooting and repair. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Elijah Van Zandt)
The electrical components of missile alert facility chiller are shown, which the power, refrigeration and electrical laboratory team participating in the 2021 Global Strike Challenge was tasked to repair July 26, 2021 at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. PREL is a facilities maintenance career field, which is a branch of missile maintenance that specializes in electrical and refrigeration troubleshooting and repair. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Elijah Van Zandt)
The silent heroes of Malmstrom’s missile maintenance group are the power, refrigeration and electrical laboratory shop, who work tirelessly to maintain missile alert facilities, while also repairing equipment that is paramount to the success of missile maintenance teams.
PREL is a facilities maintenance career field, which is a branch of missile maintenance that specializes in electrical and refrigeration troubleshooting and repair.
It is an MXG back-shop that focuses on repairing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, specifically equipment in the missile field such as MAF chillers, auxiliary power units on payload transporters and transporter erectors and electrical related issues with breaker boxes and conduit lights.
Along with repairing equipment, they conduct emergency trips out to the missile field on a moment’s notice.
“If the temperatures at a particular alert facility is getting too high and the chiller cannot provide enough cooling, we’ll have to bring a fresh one out in the middle of the night or on weekends,” said Senior Airman Tommy Le, 741st Maintenance Squadron PREL team chief. “We also have to respond quickly to fixing support structures, which are the cages that missile maintenance teams use to work inside of the launch facilities.”
According to Le, the workflow of PREL depends on what equipment breaks, because the threshold of functional equipment must stay above a certain percentage. PREL prioritizes MAF chillers, which are mission critical, but still work to repair equipment that maintenance teams immediately need.
The PREL team put their expertise to the test in August 2021 during the Global Strike Challenge as a three-person team, completing checklist items on a simulated broken MAF chiller in front of a judge.
For the PREL team, the key to the challenge was mastering troubleshooting.
“We did studies on the procedures and familiarized ourselves with the possible issues that could be tripping up the system,” said Senior Airman Nishit Macwan, 741st MXS PREL technician. “The judge put faults in the wiring of the chiller and we were responsible for getting it up and running within time constraints.”
Malmstrom’s nuclear deterrence mission runs efficiently and effectively because the PREL shop operates as a foundational piece of the maintenance ecosystem on base.
“We do the unappreciated dirty work and we don’t complain about it,” said Le. “We don’t seek glory, we just do our jobs - and we love doing it.”