Maintainers keep Strike Eagles mission ready
By Senior Airman Damon Kasberg, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 06, 2017
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Airmen assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group work around the clock to keep F-15E Strike Eagles in the air to support Operation Inherent Resolve.
As the flight hours rack up, so does the need for closer inspections and more in-depth maintenance on the airframe. That’s where the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron comes in.
The phase team performs a series of inspections when the F-15Es accumulate 400, 800 and 1,200 flight hours.
“Generally we’ll receive F-15s from the aircraft maintenance unit and we break it down to almost barebones,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Burnett, the 332nd EMXS inspection section dock chief. “We inspect pretty much the guts of the aircraft, the structure and actual components. We take a solid look at them and make sure nothing is wrong.”
Like most crews in the Air Force, the phase team works closely with many other organizations to accomplish their job.
“We coordinate with eight different shops around the flightline and one of the key components is our nondestructive inspection,” he said. “That inspection is going to take a little deeper dive into the actual metal of the aircraft. You’re going to take a look at the ribs, the wing skin and other areas to find cracks that maybe the naked eye can’t see.”
At home stations these inspections usually take eight to 10 days to complete, but knowing every hour counts in a deployed environment, the phase team pushes their limits to complete hundreds of scheduled maintenance tasks in much less time.
“Here we’ve been doing it on an average of five days,” Burnett said. “I think the only reason we’ve been able to do that is the caliber of individuals we brought here and their motivation. Everyone is gung-ho about it. We have no questions whether these jets are going to be serviceable when we push it back out to the flightline.”
“I enjoy seeing all the hard work we put into these jets,” said Staff Sgt. Maxwell Spates, 48th EMS inspection section craftsman. “We brought a really good crew with us. I’m blessed to have all these guys from my shop here; we brought some of the best.”
The hard work and dedication of these Airmen doesn’t go unrecognized by the pilots who depend on them day after day. The speed and quality of work from the maintainers has helped allow the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing to continuously fly throughout their area of responsibility.
“The maintainers are the linchpin in the AOR,” said Capt. Nathan, 332nd AEW pilot. “To me they’re 100 percent all in. They’re working as hard as they can and aren’t looking for any kind of slack. The aircraft have been performing exceptionally well, even better than home station.
“I definitely appreciate everything they do,” he added.