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Malmstrom's electronics lab technicians put their skills to the test

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
In the missile field, keeping mission essential components in top-performing condition is a priority. Throughout the year, missile systems go through multiple security checks, dry runs and simulations, and are constantly running to keep facilities ready to launch at a moment's notice.

At Malmstrom Air Force Base, a critical component of the nuclear deterrence mission which helps keep these systems operational is the electronics lab.

"In the ELAB, we troubleshoot and repair launch facility and missile alert facility support equipment," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Setts, 341st Maintenance Operations Squadron ELAB team chief.

Almost every technical piece of gear that is removed from a LF or MAF for service is sent to the ELAB, Setts said. Once removed, this equipment then starts a process of being checked and rechecked in order to figure out what went wrong, and how to fix it.

For many technicians, the most challenging part of the job is troubleshooting a piece of gear. The majority of equipment the technicians service on a daily basis was implemented more than 50 years ago and has rarely seen any changes.

Due to adherence to uniquely older technology, the MAF and LF systems are almost impregnable when it comes to being hacked or electronically damaged.

"It is pretty impressive to think about exactly what the maintenance we do here enables," Setts said. "The national nuclear deterrence mission is serious business and if we don't keep our standards high, the entire country will know."

For many critical components, a two-person accountability system is implemented to ensure proper care is applied during repairs. Teamwork is paramount and reliability plays a substantial role in accomplishing the mission.

For Master Sgt. Jason Robinson, 341st MOS ELAB NCO in charge, being able to work with great Airmen and NCOs makes the job a little easier.

"The technicians work well together and look out for each other on- and off-duty," Robinson said. "Their dedication to the nuclear enterprise surprises me every day."

"When the mission requires, they have no hesitation to go above and beyond what is required of them," he continued. "It makes my job pretty easy when I know I can call them anytime day or night and they're willing to drop what they are doing to help out."

With more than 2,400 work orders and 100 missile guidance sets being processed a year, the facility continues to support our nation's most important nuclear deterrence mission.

"Working in ELAB has been the best experience of my career," Setts said.