Air Force ICTs make a comeback

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Airmen from the 355th Maintenance Group perform an integrated combat turn on an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 18, 2019. During and ICT, Airmen must work together to rearm and refuel an aircraft as quickly as possible.

While A-10 Thunderbolt IIs fly high above the desert mountains, U.S. Air Force maintainers and crew chiefs from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona await the airframe’s arrival on the flight line below, anticipating the workload to come.

After their touch down, the A-10s taxi to their respective sun shades where the crews, with tools in hand, prepare to begin maintenance. They immediately get to work loading the aircraft with armaments, checking fuel levels and refueling it in order to get the jet back in the air as quickly as possible while the engines are still running. Once all processes are complete, the A-10s are ready to take off and fly another sortie.

This rapid re-arming and refueling of the A-10 is known as an integrated combat turn. ICTs have been utilized by the Air Force in the past, but are making a comeback and Davis-Monthan is leading the way in that effort.

“We’ve decided to bring these ICTs back because rapidly turning these aircraft will give us a competitive edge on our near-to-peer adversaries,” said Col. Barton Kenerson, 355th Maintenance Group commander. “We realized over the years we’ve been fighting in the [air and space expeditionary force] construct that having this capability is something we need.”

Airmen from the 355th Maintenance Group secure a Guided Bomb Unit-38 onto a munitions loader during an integrated combat turn at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 18, 2019. ICTs are comprised of a highly trained and proficient workforce that have spent an extensive amount of time perfecting their craft.

ICTs are comprised of a highly trained and proficient workforce that have spent an extensive amount of time perfecting their craft. This experience allows the crews to load and maintain an aircraft in a fraction of the time it usually takes.

“During a normal combat turn, all of the servicing we do is performed at different times,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Terasas, 355th Maintenance Group load standardization crew member. “During an ICT, we tackle all of these processes at the same time. We constantly practice to ensure that we don’t get in each other’s way and can get the job done safely.”

Because of the speed at which the aircraft are armed and refueled, ICTs can increase the amount of combat sorties that are flown. This increase can be very advantageous for the Air Force in future operations.

Airmen from the 355th Maintenance Group prepare to use an ammunition loader assembly to reload an A-10 Thunderbolt II during an integrated combat turn at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 18, 2019. During an ICT, and ALA is used to transfer 30 mm into the GAU-8 Avenger cannon.

“This is absolutely a capability that our Air Force needs,” said Kenerson. “When we go to fight our adversaries we have to be able to rapidly deploy combat operations across the full spectrum to meet our combatant commander’s requirements.”

Davis-Monthan has increased its readiness and lethality by implementing ICTs. The application of this process is just one example of how the installation continues to push forward and lead the way.

“We have to think in different ways to solve problems for combatant commanders and the Air Force when it comes to high-end readiness,” said Kenerson. “We are doing just that with ICTs, and none of that would be possible without our innovative Airmen, great maintainers and pilots.”

Senior Airman Austin Debaugh, 355th Maintenance Group load crew member, loads munitions onto an A-10 Thunderbolt II during an integrated combat turn at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 18, 2019. ICTs are comprised of a highly trained and proficient workforce that have spent an extensive amount of time perfecting their craft.

 

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II parks on the flight line during an integrated combat turn at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 18, 2019. ICTs involve rapidly rearming and refueling aircraft in order to get them back in the air as soon as possible.