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Avionics get it running

  • Published
  • By Maj. Nevah Jones
  • 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron

On September 8, the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s avionics flight went 100 percent green across the board on repair capabilities for the first time since the facility was established in 2003.  The Avionics Flight houses the only avionics repair facility throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility.

Since its inception, the fight’s test stations have been plagued with software discrepancies and intermittent firmware malfunctions.  Through intensive troubleshooting and engineering assistance, technicians were able to slowly resolve these discrepancies, driving a new-high of 92 percent mission readiness in March.  Additional months of focused attention by a new rotation of Airmen led to the final test station being repaired in early September.

The Avionics Flight supports multiple airframes throughout the USAFCENT area of responsibility.  Collectively, it is responsible for repairing 163 components and providing electronic countermeasure capabilities for the B-1B Lancer, C-17 Globemaster, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the A-10 Thunderbolt.

Supporting five diverse airframes in one deployed location takes a large amount of highly specialized equipment and an incredible amount of stateside support.  It is a daunting task to maintain the hundreds of different pieces of on-site test equipment and meet the associated ancillary requirements.  Many of the test stations were designed and built in the late 70’s or early 80’s, making replacement parts very difficult to acquire.  To further complicate matters, there are nearly 100 pieces of test equipment that require periodic calibration—at times driving off-station support to ensure serviceability.  The management of the recalibration schedule requires very close orchestration to ensure equipment availability is not degraded.

With Airmen assigned from 11 different installations and contractor support that spans the globe, the coordination required to maintain a high level of readiness is extremely challenging.  Strong relationships with stateside test station engineers and monthly software and firmware upgrades are paramount for in-country test station availability.

To define the significance of the accomplishment for those outside the Avionics community, the Avionics Flight Chief, Senior Master Sgt. Todd Langford, who is deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona said, “In 25 years of active duty service in the avionics business, I have never had a facility supporting a single airframe, reach this level of readiness.  Here at AUAB, we support five different airframes simultaneously. The current group of maintainers has fine-tuned their internal processes and honed their skills which resulted in an unprecedented level of mission readiness.  I am very proud of them!”