By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
455th Air Expeditionary Wing
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Every day, maintainers deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base work round-the-clock to maintain a fleet of combat-ready C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft.
Without these highly trained Airmen the C-130 flying mission at Bagram would come to a standstill.
"Maintenance is everything, a plane cannot fix itself," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Fargo, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "From engine changes to switching out avionics, maintenance is needed."
The role maintenance Airmen play keeping the aircraft mission ready is critical to the 455th AEW being able to deliver decisive airpower in support of NATO's Resolute Support mission and Operation Freedom's Sentinel, as well as other requirements in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
"Recently we have been doing a lot of trips to Al Udeid Air Base, swapping out F-16's," Fargo said. "Right now we are the main aircraft here delivering cargo to all the forward operating bases to resupply them."
"We support operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel flying missions throughout Afghanistan and to Iraq," said 1st Lt. Matthew Carrowan, C-130J Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. "If we didn't have the ability to maintain the aircraft, none of these missions would get accomplished."
Being in a deployed environment can bring different obstacles not faced at home station.
"We have more challenges in the ATO (Air Tasking Order), a lot of times things here are not planned and we have to do whatever is needed to complete the mission," said Carrowan. "We have people ready to go at all times to meet whatever challenges may arise. Deployed, we do not get to see a long range of what is required of us like we do back home. Here we have a smaller window to meet the aircraft requirements and repair downed aircraft to ensure continual support of multiple real world operations."
Even though the deployed environment brings challenges to maintainers at BAF they are always ready to support combat airpower.
"Every day we launch, recover, repair and maintain aircraft," said Carrowan. "We make sure they have the proper equipment and ensure they are maintained and configured to meet all the mission's needs. We set that airplane up so that mission can happen. The Air Force stands on maintainers, without us airplanes would not be able to fly."