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The 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron... Keep'em flying

Senior Airman Daniel Tomlin, 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, welds on an aircraft tow bar used to taxi aircraft on the runway. Airman Tomlin is part of the metals technology shop, which is responsible for welding and machine maintenance for the F-15s. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Snow)

Senior Airman Daniel Tomlin, 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, welds on an aircraft tow bar used to taxi aircraft on the runway. Airman Tomlin is part of the metals technology shop, which is responsible for welding and machine maintenance for the F-15s. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Snow)

Airman 1st Class Benjamin Peterson, 48th EMS, trouble shoots an oil carton for leaks.
Airman Peterson is part of the aerospace ground equipment flight which maintains
equipment used to re-supply RAF Lakenheath’s F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike
Eagles. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Snow)

Airman 1st Class Benjamin Peterson, 48th EMS, trouble shoots an oil carton for leaks. Airman Peterson is part of the aerospace ground equipment flight which maintains equipment used to re-supply RAF Lakenheath’s F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Snow)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- People see RAF Lakenheath's F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles flying overhead almost every day.

These aircraft perform many tasks and run numerous exercises, but what most people don't see are the many hours of rigorous inspections and maintenance the Airmen of the 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron perform to keep RAF Lakenheath F-15s airborne.

The more than 300 Airmen assigned to the 48th EMS play a large role in maintaining and supporting the aircraft and pilots here. The 48th EMS is comprised of three flights, which are all vital to the mission. The flights include the maintenance, fabrication and aerospace ground equipment flight.

"I would have to say the most important thing EMS does is the aircraft phase inspections," said Master Sgt. Casey Osmonovich, 48th EMS lead production superintendent. "The inspections are a very large part of the 48th Fighter Wing."

Maintenance flight

The maintenance flight is responsible for phase inspections and crash and recovery. A phase inspection is done by the crew chiefs every 200 flying hours. It takes several days to complete the inspection and ensures the aircraft is in excellent condition for flight.

"Covering a phase inspection, they look for a lot of things including cracks in the airframe, any wire chasings, bad hydraulic lines, and the flaps and stabilators are checked to make sure they are adjusted properly," said Sergeant Osmonovich.

Crash and recovery flight

Crash and recovery is another part of the maintenance flight. Crash and recovery's main responsibility is to work on aircraft flight controls and landing gear. Crash and recovery performs regular exercises to stay proficient on the safest way to respond to in-flight and ground emergencies.

Fabrication Flight

The fabrication flight also plays a large part in maintaining the jets. The flight breaks down into three shops: structural maintenance, metal technology and the nondestructive inspection shops.

The structural maintenance shop Airmen manufacture and repair structures of the aircraft such as the skin and ribs. The corrosion section of structural maintenance, where the aircraft are cleaned of all corrosion, operates the wash rack. This clears corrosion from the aircraft which is caused by exposure to moisture in the air. Here structures of the aircraft can receive full body paint or just touch ups as needed, according to Sergeant Osmonovich.

The metal technology shop welds and conducts machine maintenance for the aircraft; any part on the aircraft can be manufactured here.

The nondestructive inspection shop analyzes oil and conducts x-rays to inspect the aircraft for any sub-surface cracks in the frame. Additionally, NDI looks for water that might have built up in the wings of the aircraft. They also inspect engines that have been removed from the aircraft for foreign object and debris.

Aerospace ground equipment

The aerospace ground equipment maintains more than 600 pieces of equipment. The equipment includes generators, heaters and engine stands.

Along with the everyday mission, the three flights of the 48th EMS is essential to every temporary duty assignment, deployments and Air and Space Expeditionary Force cycle.

"We have several shops that deploy, EMS is involved one way or another. We go on every TDY assignment and deployment that comes down for the wing." said Sergeant Osmonovich

The different shops of the 48th EMS share one goal: to keep the jets operational and off the ground.

"Maintenance, in general, is a tough job. You work long hours on aging aircraft to meet a demanding flying hour program," said 1st Lt. Victor Meyer, 48th EMS maintenance flight commander. "Nonetheless it's a rewarding job, and you get to work with some awesome people from all walks of life," he added