The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a highly specialized aircraft capable of close air support, combat search and rescue and airborne forward air control. The secret behind the speed and power of the A-10, however, lies in its two General Electric TF-34 turbofan engines.
Keeping a number of the TF-34 engines serviceable and mission ready are the men and women of the 355th Component Maintenance Squadron’s A-10 engine backshop at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. These Airmen are fully equipped to handle the mission of keeping the 355th Wing and other units properly equipped and ready for the high-end fight by delivering safe and reliable aerospace propulsion systems.
“The shop is essential to the smooth operation of the A-10 because 95 percent of the work done here is preventative,” said Tech. Sgt. Philip Hayes, 355th Component Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Flight production supervisor. “One of the main reasons this weapons system has survived for 54 years is due to propulsion flights like this one providing strong, reliable engines.”
The 355th CMS Propulsion Flight works around the clock examining the engines and performing necessary maintenance in a timely and efficient manner.
“Turnaround time for an engine depends on the scope of maintenance that’s required for each engine, but most of the engines we see come into the shop for a 12-duty day turnaround,” Hayes said. “However, if a complete teardown and rebuild is required, we can get that done in 20 duty days.”
The A-10 engine backshop is in charge of overseeing all TF-34 engines from 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, the 924th Fighter Group and 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan, and the 66th Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, totaling approximately 263 TF-34 engines.
“We ended fiscal year 2020 by producing 77 engines,” Hayes said. “Generally we will produce somewhere between four and seven engines a month.”
Airmen in the backshop work hard to analyze what maintenance the engines need when they are brought in and how to fix the problems to ensure turnaround time meets production standards.
“We have certain goals that need to be met during each day of an engine build and it is my job to make sure we meet or exceed those goals,” said Senior Airman Kai Enright, 355th CMS Propulsion Flight aerospace propulsion journeyman. “By providing serviceable TF-34 engines, we enable the A-10 to be mission capable at all times. The A-10 is essential not only to Air Force combat missions today, but also training missions that prepare us for the future.”
As the highest producing TF-34 shop in the Air Force, the Airmen of the 355th CMS A-10 engine backshop strive for nothing but the best. Providing safe and quick maintenance allows A-10 combat operations to continue to provide support for combatant commanders anywhere in the world.