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 June 29, 2015

News: SpaceX Falcon 9 explodes moments after launch – A SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station blew up June 28 shortly after liftoff.   Business: How serious a setback is SpaceX rocket explosion? – Elon Musk had never come face to face with that rule before — at least not in space travel —...
 
 

News Briefs June 29, 2015

Iraqi pilot in Arizona plane crash found dead Officials say the body of an Iraqi pilot who had been training in the United States and crashed in southern Arizona has been located. Iraq’s Defense Ministry said June 26 that search teams found the body of Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sadeeq at the crash site five...
 
 
Huntington Ingalls Industries photograph

PCU John Warner delivered to Navy

Huntington Ingalls Industries photograph A dolphin jumps in front of the Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John Warner (SSN 785) as the boat conducts sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. Navy ac...
 

 
navair-helo

HX-21 completes first flight with developmental electronic warfare pod

On June 8, 2015, a UH-1Y from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 completed the first test flight with a developmental electronic warfare pod.  The pod would represent a new tactical capability for U.S. Marine Corps rotar...
 
 

Northrop, Navy celebrate legacy of EA-6B Prowler

Northrop Grumman photograph by Edgar Mills The U.S. Navy’s last operational EA-6B Prowler, designed and built by Northrop Grumman, lifts off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. in a ceremonial fly-away June 27 from its long time operational base. The Navy is retiring the Prowler after nearly 45 years of service.   The U.S....
 
 
Air Force photograph by Capt. Tania Bryan

NORTHERN EDGE provides environment for testing new capabilities

Air Force photograph by Capt. Tania Bryan Aircraft from test and evaluation squadrons across the Air Force line up on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flightline. Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise d...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>