Defense

June 5, 2013

After three decades, maintainers keep B-1 on top

Tags:
A1C Charles V. Rivezzo
Dyess AFB, Texas

Senior Airman Jonathon Hartman, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, marshals in a B-1B Lancer during Green Flag-West 11-10 Sept. 20, 2011, at Nellis AFB, Nev.

With a career that spans across three decades and a war fighting reputation that rivals nearly every aircraft in the Air Force’s arsenal, the B-1 Bomber has established itself as one of the United States’ most crucial assets to maintaining air and ground superiority.

This achievement was built on the backs of hundreds, if not thousands, of Dyess [Air Force Base, Texas] maintainers who have kept this Cold War bird fighting well into the 21st century.

With the bomber’s ever increasing role in today’s combat operations, pushing the airframe to the limits of its original design, skilled maintenance professionals are crucial to ensuring mission success.

Located within one of Dyess’ most prominent landmarks the “Global Power for America” hangar is the 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron’s maintenance flight – a group of roughly 40 maintainers who strip this aircraft down to its frame only to inspect it, repair it and put it back together.

Airman from the 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron works on the rear stabilizer of a B-1 Bomber May 16, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Airmen from the 7th EMS provide on and off equipment aircraft maintenance, assuring mission readiness to meet higher headquarter taskings.

“Most B-1 aircraft are around 26 years old and require a lot of maintenance to keep mission ready,” said SMgt. Mark Mueller, 7th EMS maintenance flight chief. “The isochronal inspection, better known as ISO, is a vital part of this effort. With a keen eye and dedication to duty these inspections make the daily maintenance easier. The effort is about finding and replacing the parts that failed, or are about to fail, before they cause mission delays.”

Each year, this dedicated flight of airmen inspect more than a dozen B-1s inside and out, manually removing approximately 215 panels just to begin the process. This is the beginning of a tedious and painstakingly complex list of tasks that ensure this heavily-employed bomber continues to provide constant overwatch for troops on the ground.

“ISO has a specific flow of how the maintenance is accomplished to make sure everything gets completed on time,” said SSgt. Matthew Johnson, 7th EMS. “Day one is our de-panel day and most of the time if the jet is playing nice, we can de-panel 90 percent of the aircraft in just one day.”

A1C Eric Cipriani, 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, inspects a panel on the side of a B-1 Bomber May 16, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The B-1 Bomber is a highly versatile, multi mission weapons system capable of carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory.

From there, thousands of items are inspected for any discrepancies the aircraft may have and are repaired or replaced. The quality assurance shop then performs a follow-up inspection to ensure any repairs made to the aircraft were done correctly.

Once again, the tedious process of re-paneling the aircraft takes place, manually reinstalling each individual screw by hand.

“We then apply hydro-power and preform an operational check out of the components that have been disconnected or replaced,” Johnson said. “QA performs one last follow-up inspection and run the engines to complete the rest of our operational check outs.”

The 7th EMS maintenance flight is allotted 15 to 18 duty days to complete this entire process, a objective that isn’t friendly to the personal lives of these Airmen.

“For us, the duty day doesn’t end until the job is completed. If we get behind for some reason or we find something that requires labor intensive disassembly we will work right through the weekend to ensure everything is done correctly,” Mueller said. “Our main objective is to keep the aircrew safe, keep the aircraft in the air and ensure freedom for everyone,” he added. “One mistake on our part and we jeopardize that objective.”

Furthermore, unlike many Airmen who move from station to station every few years, Dyess maintainers rarely leave the B-1 platform, some spending their entire Air Force careers mastering every inch of the super-sonic bomber.

“This is a blue-collar, down-in-the-weeds type mission we have here,” Mueller said. “The job we do isn’t glamorous nor is it in the spotlight, but I could not be prouder of the men and women of the 7th EMS maintenance flight and their contribution to the freedom of the United States.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>