Iwakuni Maintainers for F/A-18 Hornets


11/02/2014: Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 Maintainers makes sure their fighter jets are operational and ready when they go up in the sky.

Credit:American Forces Network, Iwakuni JAPAN:8/18/14

And this story was published earlier this year about the maintainers working to keep the F-18s flying in Thailand during an exercise.

Cpl. James R. Smith | Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni | February 19, 2014

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Kingdom of Thailand –

FA-18D Hornets continue to fly through the skies as Marines with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, constantly maintain aircraft aboard Wing One Royal Thai Air Force Base, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.

CG 14 is a joint, multinational exercise conducted annually in the Kingdom of Thailand aimed at enhancing and increasing multinational interoperability.

Five separate shops make up the maintenance division of VMFA(AW)-242 including airframe mechanics, avionics electrician technicians and ordnance. Each shop performs different functions, but all have a common goal; ensure aircraft are able to get in the air.

“We understand that there is a mission, and if the time comes where we need to engage the enemy, our unit is going to be one of the first to go,” said Cpl. Jacob Scott, air frames mechanic with VMFA(AW)-242. “It’s not just about maintaining aircraft, but more of having an objective that needs to be completed, otherwise, we won’t have the necessary firepower to fight back.”

The maintenance division also provides Marines the opportunity to learn from one another.

“Working with four other shops is great because I get to learn about different platforms, different aircraft and you get to work with other squadrons as well,” said Scott. “You get more experience on the job than with the people you’re used to working with.”

While maintainers put maximum effort into fixing aircraft, operations may not go exactly as planned. These challenges can introduce opportunities for Marines to come together and figure out a solution. This can become difficult when the issue requires certain needs.

“The only issue with being in a different country is the supply system,” said Sgt. Victor Castellanos, avionics electrician technician with VMFA(AW)-242. “It makes it really hard for us to get parts to fix the aircraft.”

 For maintainers training in CG 14, their culminating efforts is what keeps aircraft in the air and ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice


And this story focused on the maintainers involved in RIMPAC 2014.

Lance Cpl. Alissa Schuning

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

July 22, 2014

In the world of Marine Corps aviation, pilots tend to be superstars of the show, flying jets and dropping bombs, but behind the scenes are the Marines on the ground who make it all possible.

Maintenance Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 work day and night, repairing and preparing F/A-18C Hornets for their scheduled flights during Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2014 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Rim of the Pacific is a multinational maritime exercise that provides a unique training opportunity which helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of the sea lanes and security of the world’s oceans.

According to Marine 1st Lt. Jeffrey Kennedy, the assistant aviation maintenance officer with VMFA-122, three-fourths of the Marines with VMFA-122 in Hawaii are involved in aviation maintenance. Those Marines inhabit eight shops: maintenance control, quality assurance, flight equipment, ordnance, powerline, maintenance administration, seat shop and airframes.

“Each shop plays an important role in getting the jets up in the air,” said Kennedy. “Without every one of them doing their job, the pilots can’t fly.”

The squadron’s F/A-18C Hornets, approximately three decades old, require roughly 15 hours of maintenance for every hour they are in the air, said Kennedy.

“The maintenance time fluctuates, but 15 hours is a relatively low number,” said Kennedy. “The older the jet, the more maintenance that has to be done and the more complicated it becomes.”

 Routine maintenance is the Marines’ day-to-day job and that is exactly how they look at it, explained Kennedy.

“An error made by someone in aviation maintenance could be disastrous,” said Kennedy. “Any error could end in loss of aircraft or loss of life.”

According to Marine Sgt. Michael Lincourt, a safety equipment mechanic with VMFA-122, the slightest error could have dire consequences, so maintainers have to stay focused on the job at hand.

“By the book maintenance is what we live by,” said Lincourt, who works in the seat shop. “Thinking about what could go wrong while working on an aircraft can make a

Marine nervous and that is when errors are more likely to be made.”

Kennedy said there is a certain amount of trust pilots put into the Marines maintaining their jets. Pilots have to trust that the Marine Corps trained the most qualified Marines who get their jobs done quickly and safely.

“As a pilot, you put your life in the hands of the maintainers and without them, you aren’t flying,” said Marine Capt. Cody P. Buras, an F/A-18C Hornet pilot with VMFA-122. “These Marines work so hard, do a great job, and give me an amazing and trustworthy aircraft to fly.”