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 December 19, 2014

News: SpaceX’s attempt to land rocket on floating barge postponed - It’s set to be one of the most groundbreaking moments in humanity’s six decades of space exploration. Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law - President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion federal spending measure into law Dec. 16, officially ending any threat of a government...
 
 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Trial set for ex-Navy engineer in military secrets case A former Navy civilian engineer is scheduled to stand trial next summer on charges of trying to steal aircraft carrier schematics. Media outlets report that 35-year-old Mostafa Awwad of Yorktown, Va., pleaded not guilty Dec. 17 to two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and...
 
 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Army to launch cruise missile-detecting aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez The Army plans to launch an aerostat, part of the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor,” in late December 2014. The JLENS aerostat will be tethered to the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan

AF delivers Iraqi F-16s for training in US

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan Iraqi air force captain Hama conducts preflight inspections while inside a new to service Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon Dec. 17, 2014, located at the nearby Tucson International Airport...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn

Short-notice: A new way to exercise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepare for an aeromedical evacuation exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker Dec. 5, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The operation was executed in supp...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe

Japan, Australia to provide F-35 maintenance sites in Pacific region

Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe An F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter carrier variant prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 6, 2014. Japan and Australia will be sharing...
 




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>