TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
With more than 90 aircraft
participating in Checkered Flag-17-1 and Combat Archer 17-3, keeping them in
the sky can take a huge toll on the men and women in the maintenance sector.
To complete this tasking, maintenance
Airmen from several units and different airframes must integrate their
skills and efforts to make the mission happen.
“By forcing these folks to
integrate, it creates a huge academic learning environment,” said Lt. Col.
Jeffrey Rivers, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron commander. “[Just as there is]
diversity of the aircraft and aircrew with their mission capabilities, [there
is a] very similar story with the ground folks as well. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes
action that goes on between weapons, ammo and crew chiefs working together and
While combining Checkered Flag and
Combat Archer may present some challenges, the training Airmen receive is vital
and allows them to provide for today and prepare for tomorrow.
“It’s invaluable -- to be able to
coordinate with so many airframes in such short notice,” said Airman 1st Class
Dylan Kronebusch, 391st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. “It just shows the effectiveness
of the United States Air Force. Every day, we [train] out here. So that when we
actually go downrange, we do our job to the best of our abilities.”
Each unit participating in the
exercise brought their own group of highly skilled maintainers to help ensure
“Maintenance is important because
these jets wouldn’t be flying if we weren’t here,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Gallegos,
55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon crew
chief from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. “We’re here to fix these planes and get them up in the air, so the pilots can do their mission. It makes me feel
good, the fact that I’m providing a safe aircraft for the pilot, so when he
goes up there and does his training sortie, he’s safe.”
With each unit being specialized,
communication and sharing resources is vital to integration success.
“We don’t really integrate people
much; we integrate processes and potentially equipment,” said Master Sgt.
Shannon Wadas, 391st AMXS lead production superintendent. “When we got here,
one of our tankers didn’t make it, and we didn’t have all of our tools, but we
were able to talk to [Shaw AFB Airmen] and get the tools we needed to
facilitate our recovery.”
As challenges such as time, space,
coordinating logistics, de-conflicting the ramp and sharing resources arise,
communication is the key, Wadas added.
The combination of exercises, forces
units to be more proficient with resources, allowing more to be accomplished in
today’s fiscally constrained environment.
“[It is important] to find niche
areas where we can get the maximum amount of training for the least amount of
cost,” Rivers said. “Together with a massive amount of aircraft and live
munitions, you couldn’t ask for a better academic environment for massive