OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Through ever-present threats and an imperative mission of defending the freedom of 51 million people, Osan’s aircraft need to be ready at a moment’s notice.
The Phase Hangar maintainers strengthen Osan’s fleet everyday by meticulously inspecting both the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft, performing preventative maintenance, which ensures mission safety, capabilities and lethality.
Between G-force and constant vibration these aircraft experience, they take a lot of abuse in the skies. Each jet must be fully examined when crossing flight-hour milestones with the A-10 coming in every 500 flight hours and the F-16 being checked every 400 flight hours.
During the tip to tail inspection and refurbish, the maintainers meticulously search for and repair damage such as cracks in the structure and aircraft coating, system malfunctions, frayed wires and broken hydraulic lines. They also clear out any foreign object debris found inside the jet.
“FOD is a big part of the inspection,” said Airman 1st Class Anthony Heise, 51st Maintenance Squadron tactical aircraft mechanic. “A little piece of FOD as small as a coder pin could take down a jet if it’s sucked into the engine. The inspection is all about preventative maintenance. If we find [a problem] here in the Phase Hangar, we can prevent it from becoming a major issue.”
During the average five to nine days of the jet’s inspection, it is common to have around eight to 12 people working on the aircraft at once. From engines and egress to corrosion control and sheet metal, every maintenance agency on the flightline has a hand in the phase maintenance, bringing the specialists straight to the jet.
“I definitely get an elevated since of pride with this job,” said Staff Sgt. Arron Nacey, 51st MXS aircraft structural maintainer. “My job is to cut out structural damage and restore the aircraft back to where it needs to be. It’s a good feeling when you do a big repair on something and see that jet go back up, able to do its job. If that repair wasn’t made, there could have been a crashed jet and a life possibly lost.”
Over the course of a year, Osan’s entire fleet will pass through the Phase Hangar doors for inspection.