MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
What has roughly 40 teeth, sounds like “brrrt” and occasionally needs a bath?
The 23rd Wing’s A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, also known as “Hawgs,” are subject to an assortment of scheduled maintenance appointments, to include washes, every 180 days or approximately 1,000 flying hours.
“It’s extremely important that maintenance keeps the aircraft clean,” said Maj. Thomas Harney, 75th Fighter Squadron director of operations and A-10 pilot. “Every time we fire the gun, gases flow up and cover the aircraft with grease which can affect operational components of the aircraft and the pilot’s visibility.”
Not only do the washes benefit the pilots, but they also benefit the maintainers responsible for keeping the $18.8 million machine operational. While it may seem like a simple washing process, one Airman compared it to the daily inspections that keep A-10s cleared to fly.
“The main reason we do washes is for corrosion control from all the residue from the gun and engine exhaust,” said Senior Airman Daniel Ioane, 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 75th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. “You don’t want corrosion to deteriorate the metals and the sealant on nearly every moving part on the jet.
“If deterioration sets in, you could possibly break a bolt and lose flight control,” Ioane added. “Same thing goes for the landing gear; it can seize-up and break. Ultimately, we’re putting a pilot in the seat and we want him to come home safely.”
In addition to helping ensure the safety of pilots, Ioane explained that washes offer teaching moments for newer Airmen.
“It’s good on-the-job training,” Ioane said. “It’s a tedious job that requires attention to detail. We go by [technical orders,] so I’m able to show newer guys what to look for and what’s expected so they know for future washes.”
Ioane said the situation is comparable to washing an average car, just more important. Contrary to an average car, washing a “Hawg” can take between eight and 12 hours depending on how many people are working it and how experienced they are.
“When you clean , you may find a dent you never knew was there,” Ioane said. "So, we’re looking at finding discrepancies or corrosion control and also gaining pride in a clean jet. Especially if it’s your jet you’re washing, you want that thing to look good when your pilot comes out.”
According to Harney, pilots from the 23rd Fighter Group don’t take for granted what their maintainers do day-in and day-out.
“Our maintainers are out there every day getting the job done,” Harney said. “They do it in a professional and incredibly efficient way that keeps us not only training effectively here at home, but allows us to do our real-world contingency operations supporting downrange operations.
“It’s no easy task and takes a lot of effort, but it’s well worth it so we can get the best effects on target to support a ground commander,” Harney continued.