OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ne. --
By definition, a kit is a set of articles, a set of parts, tools or supplies, which can be large or small and are packaged, mailed or transported by working sections.
For a support section within the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, a kit is something vital to ensuring mission accomplishment in a deployed location.
Manned by 25 Airmen, one of this support section’s many tasks is to ensure all tools and equipment necessary to repair 26 combat ready aircraft while deployed, are packed into large metal kits with equipment specific to each aircraft and its destination.
“These kits are very important to the overall mission when an aircraft is deployed or temporary duty. Without kit support, any aircraft issues would not have the required tools and equipment on hand for repairs” said Master Sgt. Douglas Franklin, 55th AMXS support section chief. “This would lead to significant downtime while assets are being shipped to wherever the aircraft is located.”
When empty, these kits, or Internal Sling Units, weigh roughly 1,200 pounds and are made of metal. They were originally designed to be hoisted or carried by helicopters and they cost approximately $10,000 when brand new. Currently, the support section has a total of six kits to support five different aircraft missions.
Each kit is packed based on the requirements specific to not only the aircraft but the aircraft's destination. They contain items such as basic and specialty hand tools, test sets to perform operation checkouts and required hazardous items such as sealants and solvents. Once packed, these kits can weigh up to four thousand pounds.
The support section maintains and packs these kits based on required timeframes.
“The kits routinely deploy to 11 operating locations around the world,” said Senior Airman Kaylin Matekovic, 55th AMXS unit deployment manager. “We have the ability to support the 55th Wing flying missions anywhere in the world.”
Managing and maintaining these large kits is not the section’s only task. They also check-in and out thousands of hand tools per day maintaining positive control so that no tool leads to a foreign object or debris incident on the flightline, while ensuring maintainers are assigned equipment and tools necessary to fix the aircraft.
The Airmen also pack and ship deployment kits and operate forklifts in support of maintainers on the road. In some instances, they deploy to help manage all the tools downrange.
In addition to maintaining their section at Offutt, the team also established an office at the Lincoln Airport in February. This will help support operations there for the 18 months as Offutt undergoes its runway replacement project.
In order to maintain the mission from both locations, the majority of the section is working out of Lincoln putting in more than 10 hours a day, four days a week, traveling an average of 115 miles roundtrip daily.
"The majority of all sections assigned in 55th AMXS are working out of Lincoln," said Franklin. "We will be working out there as long as the airfield at Offutt is under construction.”