Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spangdahlem helps get deployed aircraft back into the air, and into the fight

by Staff Sgt. Logan Tuttle
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/16/2008 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The 52nd Fighter Wing is playing a unique role in getting aircraft back into the fight downrange by helping perform repairs on A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft sent from a deployed location, originally from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Spangdahlem was able to provide not only a location close to the aircraft but, also working knowledge of the A-10 Thunderbolt II after 28 years of employing it actively.

The A-10's requiring repair were Thin Wing A-10's manufactured in the late 1970's and early 1980's. During the inspections, cracks were found in some critical areas of the wings.

"If they were allowed to continue to grow, it could possibly have caused major problems down the road for the A-10," said Master Sgt. David Hilton, Production Superintendant, 81st Aircraft Maintenance Unit, who acted as the 52nd Maintenance Group Liaison for this project.

A seven-person depot team was sent from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to help repair the jets and Sergeant Hilton said the depot team and Spangdahlem's maintainers had an outstanding relationship with each other.

Spangdahlem first recovered the aircraft, and conducted post flight inspections. The Spangdahlem maintainers then dismantled the jets so the depot team could gain access to areas that needed to be inspected and worked on. Maintainers also assisted the depot team with repairs and rebuilt the jets when they were done, as well as accomplished overdue operational checks and scheduled maintenance.

When all the repairs and inspections are complete, Spangdahlem will send the aircraft back to their deployed locations.

"Parts were a problem in the beginning," said Sergeant Hilton. "This area of the jet isn't usually torn apart. The success was after they sent us the parts. Everyone jumped in and made it happen in quick fashion."

A wing doesn't typically get tasked to set up and man a depot facility for another major command, in addition to maintaining their own flying schedule Sergeant Hilton added.

"Fear the hog, al-Qaida does," Sergeant Hilton said.


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