Defense

February 14, 2014

‘Backbone’ of Real Thaw 14 pushes through final week of exercise

Tags:
2nd Lt Allie Delury
Monte Real AB, Portugal

In preparation for a Feb. 9, 2014, Atlantic storm, 14 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 31st Fighter Wing were lined up on the Monte Real Air Base flight line to protect them from overhanging foliage and debris.

Whether loading training munitions by day or turning wrenches at night, maintainers from the 31st Fighter Wing are continuing to support the 555th Fighter Squadron during their inaugural participation in Real Thaw 14, an international exercise hosted by the Portuguese air force at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal.

“The Portuguese are doing live exercises during these two weeks, so there’s a lot more work going on here as opposed to what goes on day-to-day at Aviano Air Base,” said Senior Airman Troy Coe, a 555th Aircraft Maintenance Unit support technician. “It’s pretty surreal being here.”

During Real Thaw 14, maintainers from the 31st Maintenance Squadron, the 555th AMU and various other maintenance flights are working together to cohesively load and unload training munitions, and maintain and repair F-16 Fighting Falcons involved in the exercise.

“During the day, we’re making sure aircraft get up in the air while repairing jets at the same time, then we transfer over to the night shift where the primary function is fixing the ‘hard broke jets,’” said Chief Master Sgt. David VanVlack, the 555th AMU superintendent. “The aircraft maintainers are trained to execute their mission as safely and efficiently as possible in accordance with technical orders.”

For many maintainers, the exercise is the first opportunity to work alongside other NATO countries outside the walls of Aviano AB. Despite language barriers and other operational differences between the various militaries, Portuguese and American maintainers have embraced their commonalities in the workplace.

“I’ve already gotten a couple of patches from the Portuguese military personnel here,” said Senior Airman Bryce Rutherford, an aircrew egress systems technician. “One guy gave me a patch right off of his sleeve, which was cool.”

In the U.S. Air Force, some occupations do not equate to positions in the Portuguese Air Force and can often be lost in translation. Although the rank structure is similar, the job duties between the individual ranks may differ.

A patch of the Portuguese flag is worn by a Portuguese maintainer during Real Thaw 14, an international exercise at Monte Real Air Base, Portugal. For many maintainers, Real Thaw 14 is the first opportunity to work alongside other NATO countries outside the walls of Aviano Air Base, Italy.

“Even in the American military, not everyone has a first sergeant,” said Master Sgt. Noe Chavez, the 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. “So, I’ve explained my role as to what I do to the Portuguese and I’ve built a lot of relationships just talking to them about my job.”

Of those maintainers is 2nd Lt. Eduardo Furtado, who has been a maintenance officer within the Portuguese air force since 2009.

“We are the connection between what the U.S. personnel need and what we as a base can offer them, logistically,” Furtado said. “Whether it’s tools, equipment or air cooling for the airplanes, I work with the U.S. maintenance officer in command and the chief to ensure that we have everything they need.”

This is also Furtado’s first time working with U.S. military in Portugal, he said.

“I like working with the American people because they don’t complicate things,”†Furtado said. “The F-16 is the one thing we have in common, so the way we work to support that mission is generally the same.”

In the end, maintainers are involved in long-range maintenance and logistical planning to ensure that the 31st FW is able to participate in international exercises – from being some of the first on the ground to welcome the pilots, to watching the last jets leave Monte Real AB after the exercise is completed.

Despite cultural differences, the mentality between the various maintainers and dedication to Real Thaw 14 is the same, no matter what uniform they wear.

“The public just sees the jets in the air, but these maintainers (are) the backbone – these are the people who make it happen,” Chavez said.




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


 
 

 

Headlines October 20, 2014

News: Navy grounds ‘Top Guns’ - The F/A-18s needs spare parts and in too many cases they’re being taken from brand new jets. This is a risk to national security and pilots’ lives.   Business: Boeing seeks revised schedule for U.S. aerial tanker - Boeing is revising its master schedule for developing the new U.S. Air Force...
 
 

News Briefs October 20, 2014

New military medical team to help with Ebola in U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the military to prepare and train a 30-member medical support team that could provide short-term help to civilian health professionals if there are more Ebola cases in the United States. His spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, says the team...
 
 

Dragon ‘fires up’ for flight

The Air Force and NATO are undergoing a cooperative development effort to upgrade the avionics and cockpit displays of AWACS aircraft belonging to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and the NATO E-3 Sentrys from Geilenkirchen, Germany. The Diminishing Manufacturing Sources Replacement of Avionics for Global Operations and Navigation, otherwise...
 

 
Boeing photographs

Boeing-built X-37B successfully completes third flight

Unmanned spacecraft concludes record-setting 674-day mission   Boeing photograph A third mission of the Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was completed on Oct. 17, 2014, when it landed and was recovered at Vandenberg...
 
 

Boeing concludes commercial crew space act agreement for CST-100/Atlas V

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket. NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing’...
 
 

AF to release small business research solicitations

The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program office is set to release its fiscal year 2015 list of topics Oct. 22, on the SBIR/STTR website.  Small businesses and research institutions with expertise to address the topics’ technology challenges are encouraged to submit proposals. During 2014, the Defense Department SBIR...
 




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>