News | Aug. 10, 2021

Maintainers carry the load during RF-N 21-3

By Tech. Sgt. Robert Hicks 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Aircraft maintainers have the unique challenge of maintaining more than 100 aircraft from over 14 different units during Red Flag-Nellis 21-3.

Maintainers are responsible for generating and recovering approximately 100 realistic combat training sorties a day throughout the exercise.

Red Flag increases interoperability across the joint force as Airmen, Navy, Marines and Guardians train together against high-end, realistic scenarios.

“This exercise requires for all units to come together and share resources to get the mission accomplished,” said Lt. Col. Jordan Smyth, 1st Maintenance Group deputy commander.” “In order to accomplish a mission of this scale, it is vital that members from aerospace ground, maintenance operations control, supply liaisons and others pool their resources together to meet the challenging needs of the mission.”

To execute the mission, jets are required to perform at a “high level,” and maintainers have to meet the operational demands asked of them during Red Flag, he said.

“This is a tough group of professional maintainers,” Smyth said. “They have had to battle the extreme heat upward of 110 degrees and volatile monsoon conditions. These men and women have done an outstanding job of keeping the aircraft ready for combat and adjusting to the changing conditions.”

For the younger Airmen out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Red Flag is a valuable experience in launching, recovering, inspecting and servicing the F-22 Raptor while working on the flightline with aircraft they typically don’t see.

“Red Flag has been fun and challenging said,” Airman 1st Class Adam Sickles, F-22 Raptor crew chief, 192d Wing. “It has been different learning how to deal with other airframes and adapting to everyone else’s needs, not just your own. At home, I know exactly what’s going on, and when it’s going to happen, here it’s a little more chaotic and you get tested, which is helpful for my growth.”

The training centers on readiness through completing combat-realistic missions in a contested, degraded, operationally-limited environment. Despite these challenges, the participating maintainers are managing to come together to take care of daily maintenance operations and each other.

“My favorite thing thus far is just coming together and building that comradery within the unit,” Sickles said. “As a Guardsman, you’re looked at little different, so it’s a great opportunity to work with active-duty Airmen and get to know them and show them I can do the job just as good as them.”

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