Friday, January 13, 2012

Maintaining operational readiness

by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/12/2012 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Aircraft not only fight wars, but they transport war fighters. This makes them an important factor to any deployment. During an operational readiness exercise the generation of aircraft is a major aspect. D-M held its first ORE of 2012 Jan 9-11 and the 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron played a pivotal role.

During an ORE, the 355th AMXS is broken up into cells. Each cell spends its days loading fuel tanks and munitions onto A-10C aircraft on the flightline.

"Our goal during an ORE is to generate 22 aircraft in 24 hours," said Master Sgt. Andrew White, 355th AMXS maintainer and the cell boss of Cell Six. Squadron members work 24-hour operations split into two 12-hour shifts to meet this deadline.

"These exercises are about practicing the steps required to deploy our A-10s to any overseas conflict," White said. "If a real-world deployment order dropped we would have to work around the clock to get the planes ready. So we try to play like we work."

During this 24-hour manning, the focus is kept on pumping out combat-ready aircraft.

"We have to strip the name from the aircraft for operational security reasons, check the in-flight refueling then load the guns," White said.

After the guns are locked and loaded, maintainers hang avionics pods, missile racks and a roughly 600-gallon external fuel tank that takes a minimum crew of three to lift.

A group of Airmen perform these tasks simultaneously, with it all culminating in a combat-ready aircraft.

"The planes cannot fly without all of its components, such as the engine, in working order," said Tech. Sgt. Omar Wright, 355th AMXS aerospace propulsion mechanic. "We maintain the parts so that the plane can fly. As long as the planes can fly, the mission gets done."

Airmen from the 355th Component Maintenance Squadron and 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron collaborate with members of the 355th AMXS to ensure that all tasks were completed on time.

"It is a team effort from across the group and the wing to make a successful ORE happen," White said.


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