MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The A-10C Thunderbolt II has been flying Close Air Support missions for more than 40 years and Moody Air Force Base has the Air Force’s largest operational A-10 Fighter Group. Having fully serviced and functional aircraft at all times is critical to overall mission readiness.
To guarantee Moody’s fleet of 49 A-10s are in peak warfighting condition, Airmen from the 23d Maintenance Group dedicate over 10 hours washing each A-10 to ensure the aircraft is free of any surface or structural deficiencies that could present a safety hazard during flight.
“Corrosion and dirt can cause the aircraft to malfunction which could be dangerous for (pilots),” said Capt. Kyle Rassmann, 74th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot. “Washes are important because it allows us to have full visibility while operating the aircraft. We rely a lot on our maintainers to keep them functioning, so knowing that our A-10’s are getting that extra attention is reassuring.”
Every 180 days or 1,000 flying hours a team of six maintainers don personal protective equipment to eliminate dirt and corrosion in the lube points and fuselage of the aircraft. They also refurbish and lubricate all of its external panels to ensure pilots have a “Warthog” that’s ready for the fight.
“After a plane’s been flying for so long when it lands, grease will be splattered everywhere, so the wash prevents corrosion,” said Airman 1st Class Christopher Reel, 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) crew chief. “We want to get all of the grease off the aircraft and make sure corrosion isn’t building on (them).
“Washes are another important part of the overall maintenance process to ensure that the entire jet is getting properly serviced,” Reel added. “These washes give us a good opportunity to get extended time with the aircraft so we’re able to clean and inspect its finer parts.”
Aircraft washes afford maintenance professionals the opportunity to become more familiar with the A-10 because they have more individual time with each aircraft.
“On the flightline, we may get 30 minutes with the aircraft before it needs to take off, (but), with washes we get more time to work on it,” said Airman 1st Class Benjamin Jones, 74th AMU crew chief. “The extra one on one time with the aircraft really allows me the chance to examine the A-10 more closely than usual.
“The more time (we) get to spend with the aircraft, the more confident we’ll be in our ability to assess its issues,” Jones added.
An aircraft could be called to fly at a moment’s notice, so keeping each aircraft clean and serviceable is dire to ensuring the fleet stays airborne.
“Our aircraft washes are based off a scheduled time frame; if they are not washed within that time, the aircraft is grounded,” said Master Sgt. Scott Gossett, 74th AMU aircraft section chief. “We need all of our aircraft ready so we have more jets to train with which allows our mission to continue. When we prepare to deploy, the more aircraft we have fully serviced and ready, the more we can send down range.”