27th SOEMS tests newest torch

USAF photo: Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez Staff Sgt. Justin Darland, 27th SOEMS, demonstrates the new oxy-acetylene torch on Sept. 5. From left to right, Maj. Michelle Estes, 27th SOEMS commander, 27th SOW Command Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Fischer and Col. Timothy Leahy, 27th SOW commander.

By Airman 1st Class Elliott Sprehe: 27th SOW Public Affairs

As shards of hot, burning metal rained onto the floor, spectators, wearing alien-like protective glasses, stared intently at the light show.

Thankfully, this was not some close encounter of the third kind, but rather a display by the 27th Special Operations Equipment Maintenance Squadron and its Fabrication flight’s new oxy-acetylene cutting torch.

The cutting/welding torches the squadron purchased removes some of the constraints of their current torches.

“It’s user-friendly, smaller and gives a better cut,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Burton, 27th SOEMS.

The torch also removes the need for electricity, while reducing oxygen consumption by up to 70 percent.

“With the older (torch) you need electricity for it. It uses up more oxygen,” said Maj. Michelle Estes, 27th SOEMS commander. “This is a better, advanced torch.”

“It produces a cleaner, narrower cut with a smaller heat affected zone making for easier machining afterward,” said Burton. “The kit costs under $500 and can perform most of the same welds and cuts that more expensive plasma torches and MIG welders can.”

It’s also more readily deployable, as was demonstrated to Col. Timothy Leahy, 27th Special Operations Wing commander, who was one of the spectators.

“It improves the deployment capability of our AFSOC expeditionary operations,” said Leahy. “It also adds an enhanced layer of safety (as the tip of the torch stays cool and can be touched immediately when shut off).”

Because the torch operates with 70 percent less oxygen than the old torch, it allows their personnel into remote locations, proving itself invaluable in events such as the crash recovery of an aircraft or operating out of a forward base with limited facilities.

“With the nature of the 27th SOW, we may be in austere locations where we might not always have the necessary facilities,” said Estes, as she observed the demonstration.

“We’re always looking for new technology to benefit the 27th SOW,” said Estes. “When you stop doing that, you stop growing.”