March C-17 delivers HH-60 helicopter for Korean Air Lines depot maintenance

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Drzazgowski)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — A 943rd Rescue Group HH-60 returned to Davis-Monthan AFB Jan. 28 after a year at the Korean Air Lines Joint Depot Level Maintenance facility for its 78-month major overhaul.

This is the first time that the Air Force Reserve Command has sent one of its helicopters to Korea instead of using stateside depots.

“We were the first in the lower 48 to use KAL,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Hauck, 943rd Maintenance Squadron superintendent. “Pacific Air Forces (including the Air National Guard in Alaska) has been using this facility, but typically we’ve gone to Corpus Christie Army Depot in Texas and Elizabeth City, N.C., for this overhaul.”

The overhaul is essentially a complete refurbishment.

“They strip the airplane down to nothing, fix any corrosion, and then put it back together so that it’s as fresh as the day it came off the assembly line,” said Master Sgt. Alvin Benedict, the maintenance team lead for the project.

“Every aircraft the Air Force has goes through some kind of program depot maintenance,” said Benedict, a 17-year veteran of the career field. “There’s maintenance we can do in the field, and there’s maintenance our technicians aren’t certified to do; [depot] is the most intense form of maintenance, supported by engineers. They can fix anything that is an issue on the helicopter.”

The HH-60 from Davis-Monthan AFB went to Korea in January 2015. It underwent the same processes that stateside depots perform, and took about a year to complete.

“By using KAL, we were able to save both time and money compared to using a stateside depot,” said Maj. Dusty Dossman, 943rd MXS commander.