Full speed ahead: 18th CMS, 44th AMU conduct joint training

by Senior Airman Kristan Campbell
Kadena Air Base

The term ‘full throttle’ is often translated as doing something completely or without restraint. Here at Kadena Air Base, the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron and 44th Aircraft Maintenance Unit are training to do just that – powering aircraft full speed ahead.

The two units integrated inside one of the base’s engine testing facilities known as a ‘hush house’ to conduct joint aircraft training on an F-15 Eagle, July 16, 2018. Hush houses, which are built using noise-dampening materials, quiet the engine within its walls and are ideal for testing scenarios.

“Our job here is to keep engines war ready,” Chief Master Sgt. Ryan Gretlein, 18th CMS Propulsion Flight Chief said, “our shops test ‘em, inspect them, take them apart, and rebuild them.”

Airframes such as the F-15 play an integral role in delivering unmatched combat airpower to contingency operations. In order to support these operations, every Airman performing engine maintenance must become familiar with the airframe they’re assigned to, as well as its engine limits, emergency procedures and technical orders.

“Kadena is unique because we do such a broad spectrum of troubleshooting on more than just one type of engine, the F-15’s stationed here as well as the A-10 engines down at Osan Air Base,” Gretlein said. “We conduct training days every month to make sure our Airmen are knowledgeable to the task at hand.”

During on-the-job training in the unit’s bay areas, Airmen become meticulous at servicing engines in three difference steps or phases: the fan module, core module, low pressure module, gearbox and augmenter. These engine components can be broken down further for servicing repairs, before being rebuilt and used in the aircraft.

“We’re capable of diagnosing anything and everything on the engines using equipment such as borescopes, which are a kind of camera we use to see into the component,” added Master Sgt. Jeremiah D. Roper, test cell section chief.

When testing engines, it can be done two ways: installed in the airframe, or uninstalled from its intended airframe. While the hush house allows testing of installed engines, a separate area known as the test facility – gifted by the government of Japan – allows 18th CMS maintainers to run uninstalled engine tests; both facilities make joint training a possibility.

By conducting joint training, maintainers working on both the flightline and propulsion shop are able to integrate and stay highly trained to fuel the fight.

“Taking full advantage of these rare opportunities to hone our technical skills alongside our flightline counterparts allows us to share capabilities, knowledge, and best practices among jet engine experts from many different backgrounds and experience levels,” Gretlein said. “Training together helps each entity grow stronger individually and in turn helps us work better together to ensure we are providing safe, reliable engines, keeping the 18th Wing’s F-15 Eagles mission ready at all times.”

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