By Captain Jarrad Baldwin
Over the past 17 years of C-130 Hercules operations in the Middle East, maintainers from No. 37 Squadron have worked hard to keep the workhorse in the air.
The maintainers of the Air Mobility Task Element (AMTE) C-130 Detachment have achieved their 50th rotation to the Middle East since the aircraft first deployed to the region in 2003.
Flight Sergeant Wayne Francis is currently the second-in-charge of the team, which works tirelessly to fix any issue that might arise.
“My team consists of 21 staff ranging from A Tech’s to AvTech’s, safety equipment and metal bashers,” Flight Sergeant Francis said.
“A typical day for us is working six to six, working two 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day dictated by the maintenance required on the aircraft and the flying program.
“The sort of maintenance we carry out here is just generalised, unless something goes wrong, then it’s all hands on deck to fix it and hopefully not let our guys on the ground down.”
Flight Sergeant Francis joined Air Force in 1988, initially as a Transport Driver, before remustering as an Aircraft Technician in 1992.
“This deployment has been an amazing experience, I’ve been in the Air Force 32 years and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to be deployed. You spend so much time in your career training and organising your life around the job and I finally got the opportunity to do it,” he said.
“I’m extremely proud of my team, they just do an amazing job. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to maintain an aircraft in theatre and bring all those diggers who need to move around back to the main operating base.
“After 17 years of contributing to the Middle East, it’s fairly well ingrained how we move people and equipment around the region, so it’s imperative that we stay here and do that to help our troops on the ground.”
Corporal Allan ‘Sid’ Reitfma is an Aviation Technician and has completed six deployments to the Middle East as part of No. 37 Squadron.
“My first deployment was in 2009,” Corporal Reitfma said.
“Looking back over this time, not much has changed, our work rate is just as busy. The aircraft and our job as maintainers is the same.
“Our job is simple; keep the aircraft flying so Defence personnel and cargo can move in and out of different operational theatres.
“The only major difference is the number of aircraft that has fluctuated over that time and until now based on operational needs and tempo.”
This article was published by the Australian Department of Defence on April 27, 2020.
Featured Photo: Leading Aircraftman Clement Mau works on the engine of the C-130J Hercules at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East. Photo: Leading Seaman Craig Walton