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B-2 LO maintainers make it happen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Carissa Morgan
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
In what Air Force job would one use 160 different chemicals, wear Tyvek suits, use respirators and work with putty knives, sandpaper and razorblades? 

The answer is B-2 Spirit low observable maintenance. 

Approximately 40 LO maintainers are currently deployed to Andersen from Whiteman AFB, Mo. They are the biggest B-2 maitenance Air Force Specialty Code deployed to Andersen. The B-2 LO maintainers are 14 percent of the deployed force performing 52 percent of all B-2 maintenance man hours.

"When people think about maintenance on the world's most advanced bomber, a person with sandpaper, a razor blade and a putty knife probably isn't what they picture, but these are the tools of the trade for many LO repairs," said Capt. Christopher Hague, 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

 "Our LO technicians have to literally hand craft every repair to exact tolerances to maintain the aircraft coatings. The patience and skill required to do this amazes me every day."

It can take hours and even days to repair one small area, but this is the dedication it takes to keep the B-2 combat ready and the LO technicians make it happen. 

The motto in the LO maintenance shops says "without LO, ...(they) would glow." This means the jet will show up on radar if the LO on B-2s is not up to par. That's why their work is so important; the jets have to be kept stealthy.

"We use many kinds of safety gear because of all the harsh chemicals we work with, said Senior Airman Leah Porter, a B-2 LO maintainer, 36th EAMXS.  If people had a chance to see our hazardous materials book, they would probably freak out over what we work with everyday and what it can do to you. Our main safety gear includes nitrile gloves, safety glasses, face shields, coveralls, Tyvek suits and, our all time favorite, respirators." 

LO maintenance makes 10,000 square feet of the B-2 bomber invisible under radar systems. The procedures must be done to specification every time. Due to this, B-2 LO maintenance is a high tempo career field. However, there is no rushing LO; the chemicals used must process specific allotted times.  

"LO maintenance is a 24/7 job because the maintenance we do requires a lot of time, and there is usually little or no other maintenance that can be done while our repairs are in work," said Tech. Sgt. Brad Whitt, 36th EAMXS B-2 LO maintenance section chief. "The weekend is where we 'make all the money.'  That is when we have the B-2s all to ourselves to prepare it for the next week's missions."