‘Maintenance is maintenance, our job never changes’
By Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 23, 2018
AMENDOLA AIR BASE, Italy -- F-15C Eagles assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron are continuously training at Amendola Air Base, Italy, and every sortie puts a toll on the aircraft. The constant dedication and skillful attention of the 493rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit keeps the Eagles in top form for the NATO Tactical Leadership Programme 18-4.
TLP is designed to help pilots develop tactical air expertise and leadership skills, but as a bi-product it gives maintainers a chance to use ingenuity and innovation to provide first-class support hundreds of miles away from their home station.
“Anytime we’re on the road, our job, maintenance wise, is to provide safe and reliable jets for the pilots to accomplish their mission, which here is joint training between some of our allies to develop a NATO mission commander,” said the 493rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit Officer in-charge. “Every new location presents a different challenge in how we get the job done, but the end goal for providing a safe jet for a pilot never changes. What does change is the environment in which we operate in.”
Within the year, the 493rd AMU has supported the fighter squadron on multiple trips to different countries including Iceland and Morocco. Each trip enhances the capabilities of the Airmen who participated, a fact that is clearly visible in their work ethic at TLP 18-4.
“Every TDY you go on is different, and it can be hard to start off,” said a dedicated crew chief assigned to the 493rd AMU. “It could be not having the parts we need on hand, or not knowing how the base operates to get the support we need. Over time you figure out how to acquire some of that on site, what to bring along yourself and how to solve a problem before it becomes one.”
The lessons learned from previous missions prompts Airmen from the lowest to highest levels to adapt to new scenarios. The 493rd AMU leadership has learned to maneuver jobs throughout the three shifts in their arsenal.
Day-shift, swing-shift and mid-shift each take an equal chunk of the 24-hours in the day to support the mission of the 493rd FS. The launch and recovery of aircraft, engine maintenance and servicing of life-saving equipment are just a few of the dozens of tasks they accomplish within a full day.
“We learn to operate in new environments, out here we’ve adapted our operations to give the best support possible,” said the 493rd AMU OIC. “Maintenance is maintenance, our job never changes, but how we execute the mission does.”
The 493rd AMU maintains its fleet of aircraft so the 493rd FS can execute air superiority and air defense missions in addition to maintaining interoperability with other branches of the military and NATO allies during training like NATO’s TLP 18-4.