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Maintainers keep Eagles airborne
U.S. Air Force aircraft maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron perform routine maintenance on a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle during Exercise Beverly Bearcat 12-1, a readiness inspection on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 22, 2012. The inspection is to ensure 18th Wing Airmen are meeting mission requirements for contingency operations within the Pacific theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)
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18th AMXS keeps Eagles airborne during inspection

Posted 10/31/2012   Updated 10/31/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

10/31/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- In the event of a contingency in the region, Kadena's Airmen and various air frames must be capable and ready to deploy to support operations at any given time.

It's this capability as the Keystone of the Pacific that has been under meticulous scrutiny by inspectors since last week to ensure the base's combat readiness and compliance - one major piece being the demonstration of combat air power by Kadena's F-15 Eagles.

When it comes to showcasing air superiority the F-15 is the perfect example of aircraft dominance, said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Martin, 44th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant aircraft maintenance superintendant and 20-year Air Force veteran.

"I feel as though the F-15 on this base provides stability in this region of the world," Martin said. "It generates quickly, has a phenomenal record, and the radar is outstanding. It's nice to know you have a stable platform that can be generated quickly to demonstrate U.S. air power."

However, without the countless hours devoted by aircraft maintainers on the flightline day and night, it would be all but impossible to get the air combat assets off the ground and return them safely following each sortie.

"There is a great collective effort between the 67th AMU and 44th," Martin said. "We pull together during exercises and generate these air frames. It's truly impressive to see how quickly it's done and how much communication there is between the two."

Even with a fantastic working relationship, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Allison, 67th AMU F-15 crew chief, said each day working on the jets presents a different challenge.

"We come in and you never know what's going to be wrong with the aircraft," Allison said. "There's a multitude of different things that could go wrong - any (hydraulics) component, flight controls, landing gear. It's just getting in and making sure that we do the troubleshooting so that we get them ready for the next day."

Despite the daily challenges, however, Allison said it's worth seeing the jet's wheels leave the flightline.

"Nothing beats it after you put 10-12 hours in on the jet, then you go to run it, and everything's fixed," he said. "You fixed (the) leaks that you found, and you fixed (the) malfunctions you found, and then the next day you come in and see that aircraft in the air and know you did a good job the night before. It's an awesome feeling."

Though the inspection will push the limits of the Airmen, Allison said the inspection is just another way of ensuring mission readiness in the event of real-world operations.

"We have to make sure we provide safe, efficient aircraft for combat," said Allison. "This is just testing us out to see if we can do this if the real deal happens. We just make sure we can generate in time and that the aircraft are safe and the aircrew is safe and good to go."

Allison says the Eagle maintainers are more than ready to showcase their skills and professionalism under the magnifying glass and prove that the U.S. Air Force is the best in the world.

"The guys out here, the work ethic, the way we put these jets in the air - no one even comes close," Allison said. "We're definitely ready (for this inspection). We've been pushing through all night; we're going to keep pushing, and we're staying one step ahead."

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