Military News

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Whether home station or worldwide, 100th AMXS Airmen keep tankers mission ready

by Senior Airman Christine Halan
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2015 - SON SAN JUAN AIR BASE, Spain  -- Airmen from the 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are heavily relied upon when it comes to maintenance during Exercise Trident Juncture.

Working long hours both day and night and in all weathers, the team has been assisting the 351st Air Refueling Squadron in the exercise.

The two KC-135 Stratotankers assigned during Trident Juncture have given the team many challenges - countering communication barriers with foreign military, having the necessary equipment available for repairs and handling everyday maintenance problems.

The two aircraft encountered a few problems during the exercise but were soon fixed, thanks to the maintainers.

"One aircraft had a gear that wouldn't retract," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Flanders, 100th AMXS production superintendent. "It took around seven hours to fix - the same amount of time at home.  We didn't have the equipment to jack up the aircraft, which is the preferred way, to troubleshoot it, so we had to troubleshoot the best we could with what we had.

The production superintendent explained that what takes the most time in getting the parts fixed is waiting for the parts to arrive from RAF Mildenhall. Back at home station, aircraft can be fixed quicker, without so much down time, because they would have the necessary components on hand.

Maintainers also fixed a problem with a boom bypass valve.

"The valve was allowing fuel in the aft-body undirected," Flanders said. "The aft-body is one of the main body tanks behind the wheel well - one of the bladder tanks in there - and the main issue with that is when you have fuel inadvertently going into that tank it messes with the center of gravity of the aircraft, so it's not going to fly as it should."
Even with the variety of challenges, the team was able to push through and accomplish the mission.

The deployed unit is comprised of 24 Airmen from across 100th AMXS, where nine different specialized units are available 24/7. Many of these units have a major impact on the aircraft including hydraulics, propulsions, fuels and aircraft ground equipment.

Unlike at RAF Mildenhall, where they're responsible for 15 aircraft, here Airmen only have to focus on maintaining the two aircraft assigned during the exercise.

"I think TDY maintenance is much easier than home station," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Kearney, 100th AMXS KC-135 Stratotanker crew chief. "There aren't as many airplanes to worry about; we know exactly when we're flying, what sort of work we're doing that day and roughly how long we'll be working."

Day shift maintainers only prepare the aircraft for launch and most of the maintenance and loading of the fuel to the aircraft is done during the night shift.

"We've got an amazing maintenance crew here," Flanders said. "They've busted their butts and have gotten the job done. They haven't had to work extremely long hours but they've focused on completing the mission. They've put the mission first and have done an amazing job of getting it done. I couldn't have asked for a better group."

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