Monday, June 29, 2009

The Engine that Could... Turbofan sets wing record for longevity

Released in Whiteman's base newspaper Mohawk, July 2009 public online PDF issue:

Crew chiefs John Ezell, left; David Greenberg and Bob Boye remove Engine 5036 from the A-10 (serial number 78-0605) it had been on for 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

By Maj. David Kurle
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

There was no fanfare or ceremony June 2, when four A-10 crew chiefs and a jet-engine mechanic removed an engine from the left side of a 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II. But maybe there should've been.

What looked like just another routine engine-removal, was, in fact, a testament to durability, craftsmanship and good aircraft maintenance.

When the General Electric-made TF34-100A turbofan engine, serial number 5036, was installed on A-10, tail-number 605, in June 1999, Bill Clinton was president and NATO had just stopped its bombing campaign in Kosovo.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Mike Pignotti, 442nd Maintenance Squadron engine-shop supervisor, the 10-year run for Engine 5036 is a new wing record.

"We know of another engine that went nine years one time but 10 years is a record for this wing," he said. "It's one thing to have it on 10 years but it ran over 3,400 hours since its last overhaul and that's significant."

In fact, Engine 5036 ran for 3,464.4 hours, propelling A-10 605 through the air for 2,621.9 of those hours, in the 10 years it's been mounted to the airplane. Part of that time was in the skies over Iraq when the wing deployed Citizen Airmen and A-10s for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

The "average time on wing" for the TF34 engine, used on all A-10s, is 1,180 hours across the entire Air Force, according to Steve Striebeck, the chief of technical services for the 538th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The 538th is responsible for the TF-34 engine program Air Force-wide.

"(Ten years and more than 3,460 hours) is quite a milestone," Mr. Striebeck said.

To put it in perspective, the average age of an American passenger car was 9.4 years in 2008, according to R.L. Polk and Company, which mines automotive data.

"I've never seen an engine stay on this long on any airplane I've worked on," Chief Pignotti said. "We must be doing something right." He should know since he's been maintaining Air Force aircraft since 1975 and turning wrenches on A-10s since 1984.

The chief shares the credit for Engine 5036's longevity – it's a combination of a good design, a well-crafted engine, skilled and experienced maintainers, as well as a testament to the team that overhauled it back in 1999, he said.

The engine crew chief for its last overhaul, finished in June 1999, was Master Sgt. William George, still an Air Reserve Technician and the TF34 Flight line supervisor in the 917th Maintenance Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

"We strive to make these things last," Sergeant George said. "If everything is good on that engine, our goal is for them to last 2,500 hours.

"When we build them in the shop, it's so critical you do everything correctly in that engine," he said. "I always look at it as if I were the one flying in that airplane."

Chief Pignotti estimated that the engine overhaul specialists at Barksdale have refurbished more than 300 to 400 TF34 engines.

"We've got to give credit to the ARTs (Air Reserve Technicians) down at Barksdale who did the last overhaul," Chief Pignotti said. "Where else but in the Reserve and Guard are you going to get that kind of experience?"

The chief also credited the aircraft's crew chief, Master Sgt. John Ezell, as well as other 442nd maintainers with how long Engine 5036 has been serving.

"We do extra things in phase (maintenance) that add to the reliability of our engines," Chief Pignotti said. "Between what's done in the phase dock and what's done on the flight-line, we have some of the best maintained aircraft in the Air Force."

Phase maintenance is completed on A-10s every 500 flight hours and requires a thorough look at all the plane's systems, including both engines.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Rusty Wedemeyer, the 442nd Maintenance Squadron's engine manager, it was a "timecompliance technical order" that finally forced Engine 5036 off the engine mount on A-10 number 605.

The turbine blades inside the engine are mandated to be replaced when they are subjected to high temperatures for a set amount of time, Sergeant Wedemeyer said. There were also other "life-limited" parts that needed to be inspected and replaced.
"That's the only reason it's coming off," he said. "There was nothing wrong with the engine maintenance-wise."

After an overhaul, Engine 5036 will be re-installed on an A-10 somewhere in the Air Force and might even set a new longevity record in the future.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

476th Fighter Group (AFRC) video clip released

This video clip was released on 442nd Fighter Wing's public website.

Interviewed are Capt. Brian Hatch, A-10 pilot, and Col. Greg Eckfeld, 476th Fighter Group commander.

Related info:

Reservists build associate fighter group at Moody

by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2008 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Air Force Reserve Command has come to the Flying Tigers at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., in the form of Total Force Integration and, if the stand up of AFRC's 476th Fighter Group is successful as planned, the effort will likely be apparent to no one except perhaps the reservists themselves.

A goal of TFI is to blend active-duty with members of the air reserve component to the point that Guard, Reserve and active-duty members would be indistinguishable from one another in all aspects of their operations. Other TFI efforts in the Air Force Reserve are currently underway at Nellis AFB, Nev., Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Holloman AFB, N.M.

Started in June 2007, as Detachment 1, 442nd Fighter Wing, as part of an ongoing Air Force-wide initiative to more efficiently carry out its mission, the Group will work under its own command structure but will integrate its operations with the 23rd Wing's 74th and 75th Fighter Squadrons and 23rd Maintenance Group.

The unit will include the 76th Fighter Squadron, the 476th Maintenance Squadron and the 476th Aerospace Medicine Flight.

The 76th FS will have 20 members assigned, there will be 160 in the 476th MXS, the 476th AMDF is slated to have 23 medical personnel with the rest will be assigned to the Group staff. When all is said and done, more than 230 will be assigned to the Group.

Col. Greg Ekfeld, currently commanding the detachment, will be the Group's commander, 1st Lt. Alicia Warren, is the executive officer and Susan Sutter, is the Group's secretary.

Beside its several medical technician positions, the 476th AMDF will include flight surgeons, nurses and a dentist who will monitor the Group's medical readiness.

Most traditional maintenance disciplines, such as crew chiefs, loaders and munitions, will be assigned to the 476th MXS and will be commanded by Lt. Col. Pat Webb. Colonel Webb's "maintainers" include Capt. Melissa Tims, maintenance officer, Chief Master Sgt. Robin Chase, the MXS superintendent, Senior Airmen Tracey Robson and Jamie Losee, crew chiefs who are fully integrated into the 75th Fighter Squadron, Senior Airman Dunnuia Martin, a loader and Senior Airman Brandon Abel, munitions.

The flying operation currently has three pilots, Lt. Col. Mickey Moore, the director of operations, Capt. LaRue Russell, the director of training, and Capt. Brian Hatch who has been a mission planning cell chief with the 303rd FS at Whiteman AFB. The pilots are being fully integrated into the base's flying operations and will fly missions on the 23rd Wing's A-10Cs with the active-duty pilots as well as other Reserve pilots.

In June, Captain Russell became the first Reserve fighter pilot to fly an integrated sortie at Moody. Airman Robson was the crew chief for the mission. For the Captain, it was it was a great experience.

"It was very enjoyable to fly the C-model A-10 again," Captain Russell said. "The biggest challenges were remembering the things I learned about flying the A-10C and knocking the rust off."

Colonel Moore, an A-10 pilot with more than 3,700 flying hours, said flying the C-model A-10 is like the A-model but it has its own challenges.

"Flying the airplane is the same," Colonel Moore said. "The difficulty is how to employ the weapons and how to use the new 'toys' smartly. We have the situational awareness and the air sense. Now all of those things that accompany your flying abilities will marry up and we will be very good instructor pilots."

The focus of the reservists has been building up their unit and being able to fly again has been an important milestone in the process.

The unit will continue to train and build experience in the A-10C, said Colonel Eckfeld.

"We want to build a cadre of experience, both pilot and maintenance professionals," he said. "Our pilots are expected to continuously train and instruct Moody pilots."

Moody is proving to be a great operating location for the Group. The nearby range, so close that the sounds of the A-10's gun firing can be heard on base, will give the pilots an excellent opportunity to keep their skills sharp. The 23rd Wing's other flying mission with the 347th Rescue Group with its HC-130 Hercules and HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, will enable the A-10 pilots to practice combat search and rescue exercises regularly.

The emphasis for the unit to this point has been to build up their maintenance capabilities. According to Colonel Moore as more maintainers come on board and are able to turn more aircraft with their active-duty counterparts, the unit becomes better situated to accept a greater number of pilots.

"I'd rather see them get healthy with maintenance and have them turn a lot of airplanes," Colonel Moore said. "Then we can start bringing in more pilots."

The maintenance reservists work side-by-side with their counterparts and, according to Master Sgt. James Perdue, their 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron active-duty supervisor, each reservist is, "another one of the troops" on the ramp.

"For the most part, I treat them just like my guys from active-duty," Sergeant Perdue said of Airmen Robson and Losee. "Their training records are set up the same, they go to the same appointments and they are part of the same training process."

Sergeant Perdue understands the level of experience reservists can bring. When reservists passed through the F-16 maintenance course he had taught at Sheppard AFB, Texas, he felt that their presence was positive and beneficial.

"I learned from those guys," he said. "There were times when I had technical sergeants in my class who had been working the same airframe for 20 years. Airmen Robson and Losee are motivated and they (also) bring a lot of experience to the table."

"Sergeant Perdue is great," Airman Losee said. "He really takes care of us and you can't ask for too much more than that."

Airman Robson, with ten years of active-duty behind her as an F-16 crew chief, is glad for the opportunity to be working on the line again. She said one concern she had was a perception if the "older" reservists could hack it.

"Some of these guys think anything beyond 30 is old," Airman Robson joked. "But I think both (Airman Lossee) and I have proven that we can handle the job."

She's quick to add that they've developed a good working relationship with the active-duty Airmen in the process.

"If we have questions," she said, "the guys here are pretty good about answering them and they've been asking us some questions too."

Conversely their active-duty counterparts on the flight line feel the reservists are a good addition.

"They fit in fine," said Airman 1st Class Dave Whiting, a 23rd AMXS crew chief. "They handle everything here the same as everyone else does and I think their being here will really benefit both sides."

"I'll take as many reservists as we can get," Sergeant Perdue added. "Especially if they are of the same caliber as the two we have."

The reservists' experiences integrating with the active-duty is helping to iron out any transition wrinkles that yet-to-be-assigned reservists might face. When an issue of how the reservists would be handled in the maintenance tracking system came up everyone worked to solve it.

"We tracked that down," Sergeant Perdue said. "Now that we have that process, we'll apply those same techniques to the next reservists."

Despite an unforeseen delay caused by an environmental impact study, TFI is a venture that's working slowly but surely at Moody and as the group grows and matures, it is proving to be just what was hoped for.

"It's different than being in a unit-equipped (organization) but different doesn't make it bad," Colonel Webb said. "It's one air Force, one team, one fight and this really is the best way to secure a viable future for the Air Force Reserve. I recommend that people embrace it."

(Airman 1st Class Frances Locquiao, 23rd Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)

Lt. Col. Mickey Moore, a pilot with the 442nd Fighter Wing, Detachment 1, prepares to climb into the cockpit an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a training mission at Moody AFB, Georgia. Colonel Moore is one of several Air Force reservists at Moody laying the groundwork for an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 associate fighter group that will be teamed up with Moody's active-duty 23rd FG. The 23rd FG's parent organization, the 23rd Wing, traces its Air Force roots to the legendary Flying Tigers of World War II. Detachment 1 will become the 476th FG and it will share that lineage. The detachment is a geographically separated unit of the 442nd FW, an AFRC A-10 wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)



Wing may lose three A-10s, 101 positions, according to Air Force proposal

from 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/26/2009 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The Air Force Reserve's 442nd Fighter Wing, based here, could lose 101 positions and three of its A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, according to the Air Force's Fiscal 2010 force-structure realignment proposal released today.

The force-structure realignment for Fiscal Year 2010 proposes a decrease of 90 part-time, or traditional reserve, positions, as well as 11 full-time, or air reserve technician, positions sometime after December 2009. The manpower cuts would accompany a decrease in aircraft for the wing from 24 to 21.

The 442nd Fighter Wing flies, maintains and supports a squadron of A-10 attack aircraft used primarily for close-air support of combat ground forces and for combat search and rescue missions. The unit moved its A-10s to Whiteman in 1994.

Currently, the 442nd Fighter Wing is authorized 1,048 positions, including 282 full-time air reserve technicians at Whiteman.

"While we don't know exactly which positions the proposal covers, we know that they will probably be tied to the loss of our three aircraft," said Col. Mark Clemons, 442nd Fighter Wing commander. "The positions would most likely be in the areas of aircraft maintenance and operations."

Under the proposal, the 101 positions would be distributed among other mission areas in the Air Force Reserve.

Today's announcement addresses the Air Force's force structure, realignment and management actions supported by the president's fiscal 2010 budget and summarizes the civilian and military personnel changes, as well as the reassignment of aircraft at bases for the upcoming fiscal year.

"The force structure announcement reflects our best effort to meet the expanding Air Force mission areas and growing joint demands," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff.

The Air Force is planning an updated force structure announcement, which will be provided to Congress in November or December 2009.

The Air Force also outlined proposals for 30 other Air Force Reserve Command locations.

For more details about the Fiscal 2010 Force Structure realignment, read the Fiscal Year 2010 Force Structure Announcement or review the Fiscal Year 2010 Force Structure Briefing.


Civil Air Patrol tours 917th Wing

6/24/2009 - Major Aristotle Rabanal, 47th Fighter Squadron Scheduler, shows the A-10 aircraft to about 80 cadets from Louisiana and Texas during the 2009 Civil Air Patrol Encampment at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, June 18 – 28. (Photo by Mrs. Betty Stephens, 917th Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res


Friday, June 26, 2009

81st Fighter Squadron A-10 caught at Nörvenich

On June 24, 2009, A-10C 81-0988 and A-10A 81-0951 from the 81st Fighter Squadron made a rare formation low approach at Fliegerhorst Nörvenich (Norvenich Air Base - ETNN), Germany, possibly on their way back home from the training range.

A-10C 81-0988 with Sniper XR targeting pod on station 10, CATM-65 Mavericks on stations 3 and 9, but without AN/ALQ-131 deep ECM pod and combination of CATM-9 Sidewinder and ACMI pod on Dual Rail Adapter. (Photo by Oliver Jonischkeit) Full size

81st Fighter Squadron A-10 caught at Spangdahlem AB, June 25, 2009

A-10 81-0951 lands at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Jonischkeit) Full size

81st Fighter Squadron A-10s caught at Spangdahlem AB, June 22, 2009

Logged during approach:

A-10 81-0991 17:20 local time
A-10 81-0951 18:07 local time
A-10 81-0654 18:18 local time
A-10C 81-0980 18:19 local time

A-10 82-0654 lands at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, June 22, 2009. The aircraft is wrong marked as 81-0654! (Photo by Philipp Jakob Schumacher) Full size

A-10C 81-0980 lands at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, June 22, 2009. New antenna behind the cockpit. (Photo by Philipp Jakob Schumacher) Full size

A-10C 81-0980 lands at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, June 22, 2009. Clear visible on station 10 is Sniper XR targeting pod. (Photo by Philipp Jakob Schumacher) Full size

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Col. Raymond Strasburger relinquished command of the 455th EOG

The following news article was released today by 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs in the Bagram News Express, June 23, 2009, public online PDF issue:

Falcon pilot takes command of 455th EOG

By Staff Sgt. Jason Lake
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

A tearful A-10 Thunderbolt pilot redeployed home and an F-16 pilot took command of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group during a change of command ceremony June 19.

After serving a year as commander, Col. Raymond Strasburger relinquished command of the 455th EOG to Col. Patrick McKenzie as aircraft engines hissed on Bagram's close air support ramp.

Col. Steven Kwast, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, thanked Colonel Strasburger for his dedication after completing his fourth deployment here since A-10 Thunderbolts first arrived in 2002.

"The accomplishments of the operations group in the last year have been extraordinary," said Colonel Kwast who presided over the ceremony that followed a tradition dating back to eighteenth century Prussia. "When a man like Colonel Strasburger has accomplished and sacrificed so much, you can't help but leave without a deep sense of sadness and joy. 'Donk,' you're actions as an officer and a warrior have been exemplary."

Shortly before handing over the guidon to his successor, Colonel Strasburger was awarded the Bronze Star for leading his unit through a historic year.

Just last month, the two fighter squadrons under his leadership tallied more than 5,000 combat flight hours in a single month – a feat typically accomplished in nearly six months back at home station.

Some of the other accomplishments recited in his award citation include:

Colonel Strasburger led the group as nine squadrons flew more than 16,800 sorties and spent nearly 1 million pounds of munitions while responding to more than 930 troops-in-contact situations. The group also scrambled alert aircraft more than 160 times, transported more than 53 million pounds of cargo and air evacuated more than 600 patients throughout Afghanistan.

"The opportunity, friendships and memories will remain vivid for the rest of my life and when the day comes that I'm lying on my deathbed, I will hearken back to the days and nights we spent at Bagram," said the 25-year Air Force veteran. "I will remember the blood, sweat and tears. I will remember the maximum effort to serve our brothers and sisters on the ground. I will remember how the team pulled together to serve our Nation when she needed us most. But most of all, I will remember each of you and what you did here, this day and every day."

As the new operations group commander, Colonel McKenzie is responsible for leading hundreds of Airmen conducting air operations ranging from combat search and rescue to close air support.

"I'm delighted to be a part of this team of warriors and look forward to leading this operations group through a very critical mission," said the F-16 command pilot with more 80 combat missions in Southwest Asia, Bosnia and Kosovo. "I'm confident we will ensure our mission is conducted with professionalism, purpose and pride. Our mission of providing integrated and synchronized kinetic and non-kinetic effects, airlift of supplies and personnel, electronic warfare and attack, air space management, air traffic control and airfield operations is critical to the success of the Central Command mission."

The 21-year Air Force veteran thanked his predecessor for setting high standards and challenged his Airmen to take the unit's achievements to new heights.

"I demand that you remain brilliant in the basics of your craft and disciplined in the manner in which you execute," said the University of Kansas ROTC graduate. "Those are the enduring characteristics that will enable quick and sound decisions that will render proper execution."

Col. Patrick McKenzie, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, delivers his first address to his Airmen shortly after taking command June 18, 2009. Visible in the background is A-10C 80-0226 from the 74th Fighter Squadron, originally deployed as part of the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron's aircraft package. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erik Cardenas)


Related info:
Wing surpasses historic 5K combat hour mark in single month
A-10 unit reaches 10,000 hour milestone

Col. Raymond "Donk" Strasburger (left), 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Sam "Spam" Milam, 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, completed a mission on February 24th, 2009, that brought the 75th EFS's total combat flight hours during one deployment rotation over the 10,000 mark. This was the first time a squadron deployed here reached 10,000 combat hours. The 75th EFS arrived here from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, in September for a four-month deployment, but was extended to six months. The A-10C in the background, flown by Col. Strasburger, must be 80-0228 from the 74th Fighter Squadron (according to the numbers on the ejection seat and on the canopy rail). (U.S. Air Force photo) Hi-res

- Unfortunately, I can't find any official online biography of Raymond T. Strasburger.
- As a Lieutenant Colonel, A-10 pilot Raymond T. Strasburger participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom as 75th Fighter Squadron operations officer. For the Air Force Museum he donated a desert flight suit, desert boots, dog tags, squadron patches, a mini flash light he said came in very useful on OIF missions and an American flag he said flew with him. He also presented, on behalf of 1st Lt. John Blocher, an A-10 pilot who served as a battalion air liaison officer with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, a map of Iraq and a forward air controller kit he used to call in air strikes on Baghdad.

Flying coveralls worn by A-10 pilot Lt. Col. Raymond Strasburger during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The mini flashlight attached to the suit's zipper proved especially useful to pilots. (Photo by National Museum of the U.S. Air Force) Hi-res

According to a 75th Fighter Squadron fact sheet Lt. Col. Raymond Strasburger was the commander until 8 Jun 2003; followed by Lt. Col. Richard Turner, 2 Apr 2004; and followed by Lt. Col. Tim Rice, 10 Jun 2005-. Please note: This info will be upgraded.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

81st Fighter Squadron A-10s caught during Volkel Airshow 2009

Updated 2 July 2009

As static displays, A-10 81-0962 and A-10 82-0654, both from the 81st Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem AB, Germany, joined the Volkel Airshow 2009 (officially called Luchtmachtdagen 2009 by Netherland's Koninklijke Luchtmacht) on June 19-20, 2009.

A-10 81-0962 arrives at Volkel AB June 18, 2009. (Photo by Eelco Vonk) Hi-res

A-10 81-0962 arrives at Volkel AB June 18, 2009. (Photo by Eelco Vonk) Hi-res

A-10 82-0654 arrives at Volkel AB June 18, 2009. (Photo by Eelco Vonk) Hi-res

A-10 82-0654 arrives at Volkel AB June 18, 2009. (Photo by Eelco Vonk) Hi-res

A-10 81-0962 taxies after arrival at Volkel AB June 18, 2009. (Photo by Frank van de Waardenburg) Full size

A-10 81-0962. (Photo by Toon Cox) Full size

A-10 81-0962: First known cockpit shot of an upgraded A-10C from the 81st Fighter Squadron. (Photo by Sander Vlekke) Full size

A-10 81-0962: The new A-10C stick. (Photo by Sander Vlekke) Full size

A-10 81-0962 with watchdog. (Photo by Sander Vlekke) Full size

A-10 82-0654. (Photo by Sander Vlekke) Full size

The Hog's business end. (Photo by Sander Vlekke) Full size

A-10 81-0962 with "human watchdog". (Photo by Davey Slingers) Full size

A-10 82-0654. (Photo by Davey Slingers) Full size

A-10 82-0654. Yellow version of air intake cover (Panther Maintenance - 81st AMU). The aircraft is wrong marked as 81-0654! (Photo by Davey Slingers) Full size

A-10 81-0962. Black version of air intake cover (Panther Maintenance - 81st AMU, with serial number). (Photo by Davey Slingers) Full size

MXU-648 baggage pod. (Photo by Davey Slingers) Full size

A-10 81-0962. (Photo by Johnny Chocholaty) Full size

Both Hogs in one shot. (Photo by Philipp Schumacher) Full size

Note: This post will be further updated by additional pictures, taken by different photographers. I'm still in the process to get their permissions.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

81st Fighter Squadron A-10's caught at Spangdahlem AB, June 17, 2009

The following picture was first-posted on German FlugzeugForum on June 17, 2009:

A-10 81-0962 lands at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, June 17, 2009. (Photo by Tino Hintze) Full size

After contacting the photographer, I also got permission to post his following additional pictures:

A-10 81-0962 (Photo by Tino Hintze) Full size

A-10 81-0956 (Photo by Tino Hintze) Full size

A-10 81-0980 with new antenna behind the cockpit. (Photo by Tino Hintze) Full size

Let me also post this failed shot to document the entire four-ship:

A-10 81-0988 with new antenna behind the cockpit. (Photo by Tino Hintze) Full size

Special thanks to Tino Hintze for his O.K. to post his nice shots on my blog!

Friday, June 19, 2009

JROTC cadets attend leadership school at Barksdale AFB

Released today by 917th Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Jack Bissell, 47th Fighter Squadron, scheduler, fields questions on the capabilities of the A-10 Thunderbolt II from Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, June 18, 2009. The cadets are involved in an eight-day "Summer Leadership School" involving more than 300 JROTC cadets and senior officers. The basic school is designed to encourage each individual cadet's leadership skills. Each cadet is chosen by unit officials after passing certain criteria. Cadets must also maintain a "C" average in school. Participants, who range from sophomore to seniors, come from high school JROTC units in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston)

A-10 Thunderbolt II load competition at Whiteman AFB

Today, 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs released the following pictures from an A-10 Thunderbolt II load competition held at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, June 13, 2009. The competition is designed to hone the loaders' skills in safely and quickly rearming an A-10 after a combat sortie.

Master Sgt. William Porterfield, weapons load crew chief, ensures his team's compliance with the technical order checklists. Sergeant Porterfield is an Air Force reservist in the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, part of the 442nd Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danielle Wolf) Hi-res

Senior Airman Richard Fennewald attaches the guidance control unit to the laser-guided bomb. Airman Fennewald is an Air Force reservist in the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danielle Wolf) Hi-res

Airman 1st Class Clinton Bowers positions an ammunition loading assembly. Airman Bowers is an Air Force reservist in the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, part of the 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danielle Wolf) Hi-res

Right: Master Sgt. William Porterfield and Staff Sgt. Lincoln McCoy connect the ammunition loading assembly to an A-10 Thunderbolt II. Sergeants Porterfield and McCoy are Air Force reservists in the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danielle Wolf) Hi-res

Left: Master Sgt. William Porterfield attaches the ammunition loading assembly to an A-10 Thunderbolt II. Sergeant Porterfield is an Air Force reservist in the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danielle Wolf) Hi-res

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A-10 'assembly-line' maintenance concept a model of efficiency

A team of Idaho Air National Guard maintainers from the 124th Wing at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho reinstall the leading edges on the wing of A-10 78-0705 from the 104th Fighter Squadron, 175th Wing (Maryland ANG), Martin State AP Air Guard Station, Baltimore, Maryland. The aircraft received a new AAR-47 infrared missile warning system as part of the A-10 Consolidated Install Program June 16, 2009. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Tom Gloeckle) Hi-res

by Capt. Tony Vincelli
124th Wing Public Affairs

6/17/2009 - GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- A-10 maintenance personnel from the 124th Wing here are in the early stages of a new "assembly line" maintenance concept that may serve as a model for how Air Force aircraft maintenance is performed in the future.

Dubbed the Consolidated Install Program, this program began June 1 and is projected to save thousands of man hours and millions of dollars over the next year by installing up to 12 modifications at one time via Time Compliance Technical Orders (TCTOs). The program is designed to improve combat capability for the warfighter without impacting aircraft availability when compared to past ways of upgrading aircraft systems, said Idaho Air Guard Capt. Eric Newman, officer-in-charge of the project.

The Air Force's standard operating procedure for performing modifications of this type has typically been to release TCTOs that directed individual units to perform any required maintenance modifications to assigned aircraft at home station.

But after witnessing the recent success of A-10 wing repairs using a similar assembly line concept, Senior Master Sgt. Eric Krentz, Headquarters-Air Combat Command functional area manager of A-10 Avionics Functional Manager systems, thought there may be a better way.

Enter the 124th Wing. Idaho Air National Guard maintainers, who have a proven track record of success for past modifications on their own A-10s, will upgrade more than 130 of the Air Force's 356 A-10s over the next year. According to Krentz, this is the first time an Air National Guard A-10 unit has been tapped to implement a Total Force Initiative in the A-10 community supporting active duty, Guard and Reserve A-10 units.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog," the Air Force's premier close air support aircraft, is in the midst of a series of upgrades as part of the Precision Engagement modifications. These improvements to the aircraft's avionics, weapons delivery and communications systems are expected to extend the life of the aircraft - once slated for decommission prior to the first Gulf War - as far out as 2030 and perhaps beyond.

According to Krentz, these consolidated modifications go beyond the A-10C model, or precision engagement upgrades, and contribute to sustained warfighting capabilities.

"The A-10 is not going anywhere. It is still the premier platform in the overseas area of operations," said Krentz.

Maintenance personnel here are in the midst of a coordinated effort, "attacking" each aircraft with a laser focus on speed, efficiency and safety, said Newman. By cutting the average down time of each aircraft by as much as three weeks if the repairs had been done at their home station, the captain and other maintainers hope to show the Air Force a new way of doing business.

"When an aircraft lands, it is like ants crawling on a hill," Newman said.

With so much to do and a self-imposed short timeline to do it, maintainers get to work right away. Infrared sensors that automatically dispense chaff and flare are installed on the wings and tail. The radio system integration that allows for easier management for aircrews and significantly enhances communication with ground forces is getting an update that will allow communication beyond the line of sight. Additional memory is being installed in the computer systems and many other modifications further increase the combat capability of the A-10. The engines will run more efficiently thanks to a new fuel management system.

The project has also created some real ingenuity and out-of-the box thinking for maintainers. Things like custom-made storage crates, maintenance stand-mounted tool bins and other ideas are already shaving time off of the repairs to each aircraft, which will really add up in the long run, Newman said.

Air Force leaders have taken note. Col. Jon Sutterfield, chief of ACC's combat aircraft division, visited Gowen Field June 16 to assess the progress of the program.

"The teamwork, creativity and innovation of the team are very evident. They are constantly thinking about how to do it better, faster and more effectively. I am very impressed with what they've done so far," Sutterfield said.

This new mission for the 124th Wing couldn't have come at a better time. The project gives 45 Air National Guard members full-time employment. Many of them were supporting the former C-130 airlift mission, which was recently relocated due to a Base Realignment and Closure decision. Many first-class maintenance facilities were also left vacant as a result, including the hangars where the A-10 upgrades are taking place.

Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Jason Fontaine, a former C-130 loadmaster, are learning new skills and gaining valuable experience that will allow them to make a more educated decision when it comes time to formally retrain to a new Air Force Specialty Code.

"( Fontaine) and several others came highly recommended, so we picked them up for this project," said Newman. "They have worked extremely hard to learn quickly and have become great assets to the team."

Newman and all the members of this important project know full well this is a marathon, not a sprint. He said many personnel will rotate through different duties in the project to avoid burnout.

"We want the avionics people to learn structures, the structural people to learn the electrical piece and so on," Newman said.

Everyone is focused on exceeding expectations, which might equate to more work of this type in the future. "This project is a pathfinder in a lot of ways. It may show us ways of doing things better, faster, smarter and cheaper to get new capabilities on jets," said Krentz.

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Left: Following installation of the AAR-47 infrared missile warning system, 124th Maintenance Squadron electrician Master Sgt. Scott Johnson conducts a continuity check to ensure the system is running properly. The Idaho Air National Guard based at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, has employed 45 maintainers full-time for at least one year to perform this assembly line-style Consolidated Install Program on roughly one third of the Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Tom Gloeckle)

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Right: Idaho Air National Guard avionics technician Senior Airman Dustin Martin, 124th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, completes installation of an aircraft panel from a Maryland Air National Guard A-10 after a final inspection of video lines as part of the A-10 Consolidated Install Program June 16, 2009, at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Tom Gloeckle)


Related info:
A new mission for Boise's Gowen Field: Upgrades

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets visit the 917th Wing

by 917th Wing Public Affairs

A small number of Air Force Academy cadets are spending three weeks of their summer at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, learning about their future Air Force life from the inside. They are involved in a summer program called Operations Air Force, where cadets are "randomly chosen to integrate into Air Force bases" around the world. One of the goals of the program is for the cadets to experience the Total Force Integration. The group of cadets also visited the 93rd Bomb Squadron where they were briefed on similar activities concerning the B-52 Stratofortress.

The following pictures were taken on June 15, 2009.

Cadets Tony Onitsuka and John Kuconis (from left) get take a close look at the 30mm Gatling gun on an A-10 Thunderbolt II at the A-10 Hangar. Cadet Onitsuka is from Ewa Beach, Hawaii and is part of the Class of 2011. Cadet Kuconis calls Boston, Massachusets, home and is part of the Class of 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

Master Sgt. Carl Whitaker, 917th Operations Support Flight, aircrew flight equipment technician, briefs U.S. Air Force Academy cadets about A-10 Thunderbolt II egress procedures during their visit to the 47th Fighter Squadron at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

Tech. Sgt. Andre Menard, 917th Operations Support Flight, aircrew flight equipment technician, assists Cadet Stephen Vrabic, in the life support egress trainer at the 47th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets look on as their classmate Cadet Stephen Vrabic, receives firsthand experience in the life support egress trainer at the 47th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Stephen Vrabic demonstrates the donning of an anti-G suit for his fellow cadets during a visit to the 47th Fighter Squadron. The G-suit, as it is also called, inflates around vital areas of the body such as the abdomen and thighs to hold blood in place to keep a pilot from blacking out or losing consciousness during flight. Cadet Vrabic, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is part of the Class of 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ATK will deliver 30mm PGU-15 Target Practice (TP) ammunition for the A-10 Thunderbolt II

Press release by Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK):

ATK Receives $31 Million in Medium-Caliber Ammunition Contracts for U.S. Navy Phalanx and U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog

June 15, 2009

Awards include 20mm and 30mm Training and Tactical Ammunition

ATK Produces Over Eight Million Rounds of Medium-Caliber Ammunition Annually

MINNEAPOLIS, June 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) has received $31 million in awards under two contracts from the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Contracting Center, Rock Island, Ill., to produce 20mm and 30mm tactical and training ammunition.

Under the first award, ATK will deliver 20mm Mk244 Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) rounds for the U.S. Navy 20mm Phalanx anti-missile system. The award consists of a base year with four option years and deliveries beginning in December 2009. The Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) is a fast-reaction, rapid-fire 20mm gun system that provides U.S. Navy ships with a terminal defense against anti-ship missiles that have penetrated other fleet defenses.

Under a separate award, ATK will deliver 30mm PGU-15 Target Practice (TP) ammunition for the U.S. Air Force's A-10 Warthog. Deliveries on the multiple-year contract begin in 2010. Specifically designed for close air support against a variety of ground targets, the A-10's combination of large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven invaluable to the United States and its allies. ATK's Mesa, Ariz. facility was awarded the contracts. Production will take place at the company's facilities in Lake City, Mo., Radford, Va., and Rocket Center, W.Va.

ATK produces more than eight million rounds of medium-caliber ammunition per year, including the revolutionary air bursting rounds it developed for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and a complete suite of ammunition for ATK's new Lightweight 25mm chain gun.

ATK is a premier aerospace and defense company with more than 18,000 employees in 22 states, Puerto Rico and internationally, and revenues in excess of $4.7 billion. News and information can be found on the Internet at

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30mm PGU-15 Projectiles - Medium Caliber Ammunition prior to painting and adding the rotating band (Photo by Alliant Techsystems Inc.)