KC-10 maintainers work around the clock to keep aircraft fuel flowing
by Senior Airman Stephen Linch
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
10/29/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Airmen of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron generate KC-10 Extenders to refuel aircraft providing combat support in Afghanistan.
"Everything that we do on this ramp directly supports the troops in Afghanistan," said Staff Sgt. Charles Powers, a crew chief from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
"These planes go up and refuel fighters providing combat support for the troops on the ground," said Sergeant Powers, a Los Angeles native deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
The operations tempo is much higher here, requiring additional shifts that are longer. It is a lot hotter, he added.
Regardless of the temperature or how many hours have been worked, 380th EAMXS Airmen, such as Sergeant Powers, remain steadfast while servicing the aircraft.
"We are responsible for maintaining the aircraft -- from minor to major servicing," said Sergeant Powers, who is on his fifth deployment. "The most important thing we do is put fuel on the aircraft."
Although the KC-10's primary mission is aerial refueling, it can combine the tasks of a tanker and cargo aircraft by refueling fighters and simultaneously carry the fighter support personnel and equipment on overseas deployments.
This aircraft will hold 350,000 pounds of fuel. That is important for all the fighters that need to put bombs on target, he added.
The KC-10 offers the flexibility to off-load fuel to both boom and drogue equipped aircraft and on-load fuel from other tankers to stay on station longer, said Lt. Col. Michael Rickard, the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron commander.
It carries about twice the fuel as a KC-135 Stratotanker, so it can deliver much larger off-loads, he added.
"Maintenance works hard to keep these jets operating at a high operations pace, Colonel Rickard said. "Comparative to home station, they have very little time to catch the jets from a mission, fuel and repair them for the next mission, and launch them out. This cycle is never ending and they do a great job keeping the jets as healthy as possible."
Members of the 380th AEW provides intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and aerial refueling in support of operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom.
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