Regionald Collins, contracted field team aircraft worker, sprays off an F-15 Eagle during the washing process, Feb. 26, 2019, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. CFTs aid in aircraft inspections by finding deficiencies, fixing and refurbishing aircraft and aerospace ground equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristan Campbell)
Regionald Collins, contracted field team aircraft worker, sprays off an F-15 Eagle during the washing process, Feb. 26, 2019, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. CFTs aid in aircraft inspections by finding deficiencies, fixing and refurbishing aircraft and aerospace ground equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristan Campbell)

Wax-on, Wax-off: CFTs provide clean, corrosive-free aircraft to Kadena Ops

by Senior Airman Kristan Campbell
18th Wing Public Affairs

Here on the island of Okinawa, Japan, many who own and operate vehicles have likely heard stories about the island’s high corrosion rate. Living in a sub-tropical climate means dealing with weather anomalies such as heavy rainfall, high humidity, typhoons, and high winds -- which can spell trouble for aircraft stationed at Kadena Air Base.

To combat corrosion exposure in a highly corrosive environment, Team Kadena has enlisted the help of contracted field teams to service its aircraft fleet. The CFTs specialize in maintaining airframes and equipment through quality corrosion control, paint touch-ups, refurbishments and lubrication.

“On average, the Department of Defense spends over $9 billion dollars on corrosion control,” said Michael Ward, CFT quality assurance manager. “It’s worse on Okinawa, so every aircraft asset owned by Kadena has to be washed at least every 30 days.”

Joe Baker, CFT field supervisor, said the 30-day rule factors in harsh environmental aspects such as moisture from the high humidity, and sea salt aerosol carried on wind from the surrounding ocean.

“We also work closely with the AGE (aerospace ground equipment) and sheet metal shops to maintain aircraft,” Baker said.

Since Kadena sports a large airframe inventory, washing the base’s entire fleet is a tall order; therefore, the CFT operations are split into two categories between 60 personnel: North side and South side.

Fighter, helicopter and training aircraft are typically washed on the south side, while heavier airframes such as the KC-135 are traditionally serviced on the North.

“It can take eight hours between a 10-12-man crew to wash and lubricate just one of some of our heavies here,” Ward said. “We also have to score the airframes for any deficiencies and spray corrosion prevention compounds on it before it can be passed.”

Once an airframe receives a passing score, it can be passed on to resume its normal aircraft operations at the 18th Wing, 353rd Special Operations Group, Navy Commander Task Force 72.2, or one of its associated units.

Whether it is supporting the Kadena flightline through the maintenance, repair and modernization of aircraft, vehicles, weapons systems and other equipment, the CTF Program provides top quality services to fit the military’s war readiness needs.

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