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A-10 phase dock keeps OEF frequent flyers flying

by Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/7/2005 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft here flew 500 sorties in September over Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Direct close-air support missions accounted for 380 of those sorties.

Whether supporting ground troops in the war or conducting a training mission at their home station, A-10 pilots know where to park after collecting a set number of frequent-flyer miles.

Once an aircraft reaches 400 flying hours, phase dock maintainers deployed here from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., conduct a full inspection to ensure it is ready for the fight.

“We start by de-paneling the aircraft and inspecting vital components such as the engine, landing gear and flight controls,” said Master Sgt. Michael Walker, A-10 phase flight chief. “From there, we repair or replace any worn or unusable parts to ensure they continue flying.”

Support from A-10 back shops is vital to accomplishing phased maintenance on the A-10, Sergeant Walker said.

“From electricians and survival equipment specialists to sheet metal and armament technicians, we always come together as a team to get the job done,” he said. “It takes a lot of teamwork from everyone involved in phase maintenance to keep this ‘Warthog’ in the fight.”

“Since their arrival to Bagram, the team has really been working hard to get our A-10s back into the fight,” said Lt. Col. Francis McDonough, 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron director of operations. “Without them here, we would have to fly the airplanes to an interim location … to perform our phase inspections, which would greatly reduce our combat capability.”

Airman 1st Class John Kern, A-10 phase inspection technician, said he enjoys his job of supporting the warfighters.

“I could not have asked for a better time than this to get my hands dirty and support the troops on the ground,” Airman Kerr said.

Senior Airman Emmanuel Gamboa, A-10 armament systems specialist, said he is also glad to be here during a time when national elections are bringing the people of Afghanistan one step closer to democracy.

“It’s great that we’re out here doing something for the world around us,” Airman Gamboa said. “Our impact here will affect America and the rest of the world for ages to come.”

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