Red Flag-Rescue maintainers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cheyenne A. Powers
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

During any high-end readiness exercise there will be constant aircraft launches. Whether it’s for a search and rescue mission, aerial refueling or transporting cargo, aircraft will always need to take off from the flight line. Aircraft maintainers work tirelessly behind the scenes to launch these vital aircraft and Red Flag-Rescue 20-2 is no exception.

Red Flag-Rescue is the Department of Defense’s premier combat search and rescue exercise. During this high-end training exercise, Airmen and partners are put through realistic combat scenarios located in simulated contested, degraded and operationally limited environments.

Included in this training are aircraft maintainers who are pushed to spin up aircraft rapidly to allow pilots and other aircrew to execute their missions effectively and efficiently. During the training they are thrown into conditions they wouldn’t normally face while at home.

“This prepares my Airmen in a lot of ways for what deployments are going to be like,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Damon Chase, 855th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron expediter. “This is where we will have minimal manning, we don’t have all the parts we necessarily want, and you’re seeing a lot more of the deployment type breaks. For example, at home station we don’t do a lot of ‘brown outs’, we don’t land in a dusty environment where the rotors kick up a lot of dirt and rocks and the pilots can’t see. This helps prepare them for the sort of environment they will be working in when they do deploy.”

Not only are these Airmen getting the technical training they need to be successful downrange, they are also networking and meeting their peers across each airframe.

“It’s great for them to work here and meet these folks from the other squadrons and units while building friendships,” Chase said. “This way when you’re downrange you’re not walking into an unfamiliar hangar and asking for parts or for help, you’re going to an old buddy and asking. This also helps them when a problem pops up, they are able to reach out to one of their peers that may have seen this problem before and get aid that way.”

During these uncertain times, the importance of high-end readiness has only grown more important. Personnel recovery has always be an essential mission during and will continue to be after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Air Force’s aircraft maintainers strive to ensure the safety of all Air Force assets in order to complete those critical mission sets.