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News | May 13, 2022

Maintainers keep RED FLAG-Alaska flying

By Airman 1st Class Shelimar Rivera Rosado Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

Every time an aircraft launches, there’s a team of maintainers on the ground who made it possible. 

At Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Airmen from the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, train for deployed maintenance in support of large-force deployed air operations.  

Maintainers are in charge of performing pre-flight and post-flight checks to ensure every system in the aircraft is on the green, as well as recovering the aircraft after every flight. 

”Every specialty is unique," said Airman 1st Class lan Johnson, an aerospace propulsions journeyman assigned to the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Kadena Air Force Base, Japan. "We have big jets and a lot of systems, so every specialty has an important role, and one can't work without the other."

Each specialty is in charge of a different system – such as armament, hydraulics, electrical and fuel. During exercises such as RED FLAG-Alaska 22-1, Airmen are challenged to work in various environments with resources different to what they might have at their home stations. 

"What I like about this is that we are a smaller, bare-bones crew," said Staff Sgt. Jeff Britton, a crew chief assigned to the 718th AMXS. “If we run into a problem, it's everyone coming together to get the problem solved."

During RF-Alaska, they prepare for real-life situations they might face during deployments and learn to respond to them accordingly.

"Somebody from every shop is doing everything they know with their systems for us to get the whole picture together," said Britton. "It’s a lot more fun on the road, because at home station there would be 20 or 30 guys doing it over the course of two or three shifts. Over here, there are 12 guys doing it over the course of 12 hours." 

RED FLAG-Alaska displays the professionalism of these Airmen as well as their ability to work with maintainers from different units. 

“It’s a good chance to come out here and work with the local units to grow a strong esprit de corps  and sense of pride in our mission,” said Staff Sgt. Terrance Vu, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron crew chief from Kadena Air Force Base.

Maintainers are key to preparing mission-ready aircraft, ready to deploy when needed and ensuring the safety of the crews who fly in them.