Air crew provides proven support for pilots

  • Published
  • By Lance Cpl. Ethan Hoaldridge, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Northern Edge Joint Information Bureau-Elmendorf
From hydraulic fluid leaks to servicing the struts on an F-15C Eagle, the 12th Aircraft Maintenance Unit’s trade has been essential to mission accomplishment and pilot safety during Northern Edge 2006. 

The maintainers at the 12th provide daily up-keep and maintenance on 16 F-15s to prepare them to fly in different warfare scenarios during the joint training exercise.
The planes fly lengthier missions in the exercise – up to five hours – than during normal operations; a typical mission might run two hours. Increased flight time creates added maintenance time for the 12th AMU. 

“For Northern Edge, the planes are up in the air longer, which means more chance for leaks or other usual maintenance problems,” said Staff Sgt. Dwayne Lujan, 12th AMU maintenance crew chief. “A good plane’s post-flight inspection time is four hours, but if it’s more serious, it could take 12 hours for just one plane. 

“Easy fixes are changing tires or replacing fasteners, but if there are hydraulic leaks or the landing gear is damaged, that’s where the extra hours come in,” he added.

The 12th AMU has three scheduled maintenance shifts, and each crew tries to get ahead of the game by conducting thorough inspections and fixing things correctly the first time to reduce the overall maintenance required. 

“Preventative maintenance is key for us. We want to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to prepping planes for flight,” said Senior Airman Marshall McCord, 12th AMU maintenance crew chief. “During the exercise my crew has done an outstanding job of that.” 

“Without maintenance, engine, specs and weapons crews, the pilots wouldn’t get off the ground, and we’re here to support them,” he added. 

The two-week Northern Edge, which ends today, is one of a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises held this year designed to prepare joint forces for worldwide deployment, enabling real-world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air, and on land.