Maintenance keeps Mad Hatters in the fight

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron have been logging a lot of flight time in support of exercise Red Flag 16-4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Each sortie puts a lot of wear and tear on the aircraft, and without the skillful attention of the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, they’d never make it off the ground.

For U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Gabriel Roth, 48th AMXS, dedicated crew chief, Red Flag is an opportunity to embrace the challenges of a large scale exercise and a chance for Royal Air Force Lakenheath Airmen to come together with other participating aircraft maintenance units to work as one cohesive team.

“This is my first Red Flag and it has been an excellent experience,” said Roth. “We’ve been able to bond with the other supporting AMU’s like we’ve been working together for years.”

Roth’s inspiration to join the Air Force derived from his father; who retired from the service as an aircraft loadmaster. When he discovered that there were no open loadmaster positions open at the time of his enlistment, Roth selected what he felt was the next best position, tactical aircraft maintenance.

Maintaining a squadron of F-15E’s is no simple task, and is hardly accomplished by the sweat of one Airman. It’s arduously long hours and requires crew chiefs, electrical and environment systems, integrated avionics, aerospace propulsion and aircraft armament specialists working together to ensure that every aircraft is mission capable, even in the most austere conditions.

“This is a demanding job,” said Roth. “We all work long hours, sometimes in the extreme heat or bitter cold, but it’s worth it, because we all feel like we have a direct impact on the mission every single day.”

Red Flag is the U.S. Air Force’s premier air-to-air combat training exercise and one of a series of advanced training programs that is administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and executed through the 414th Combat Training Squadron.