SOUTHWEST ASIA – KC-135 Stratotankers have a huge mission at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, supplying nearly 40 percent of aircraft fuel used daily for U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
With such robust operations, they depend on a number of maintenance back shops, like the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron hydraulic section, to keep them operating safely.
“The hydraulic shop here supports theater-wide mishap prevention for mainly KC-135s,” said Senior Master Sgt. Sean Garrison, the 379th EXMS accessories flight chief deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and a Dallas, Ore., native.
They specialize in repairing the aircraft’s hydraulic break assemblies, actuators, accumulators, boom nozzles and drogue assemblies.
“We provide the ‘muscle’ of the KC-135, supporting all its moving parts,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Ortiz, a 379th EMXS hydraulic section journeyman deployed from MacDill AFB, Fla., and an Easthampton, Mass., native. “Without us, the landing gear doesn’t go down and the plane doesn’t stop.”
Beyond tankers, the shop supports other weapons systems and aircrew ground equipment by testing and fabricating hydraulic hoses.
Hydraulic lines and testing capabilities support not only the Air Force assets at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, but also the tenant units and coalition partners, to include the host nation, Garrison said.
By repairing and recycling assets, they help to reduce Air Force spending. In fact, services provided by the hydraulic shop saves the Air Force $2.4 million annually in shipping and repair costs.
“In the last year, the hydraulic section has overhauled 176 major components, built and leak/pressure tested 156 hose assemblies and serviced an additional 132 miscellaneous hydraulic components brought to the shop for inspection and testing,” Garrison said.
Upon receipt of a damaged part, it is processed into the shop’s maintenance system and they perform a quality verification check.
“We disassemble, inspect, repair and order assets to fix the parts,” said Tech. Sgt. Mohammad Abouhashem, the 379th EMXS hydraulic section noncommissioned officer in charge deployed from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and hails from Brooklyn, Ohio. “After the part is assembled, we perform an operations check on the hydraulic test stand before returning the serviceable asset back to the supply system.”
The supply system, maintained by the 379th Expeditionary Logistic Readiness Squadron, makes the serviceable parts available to all KC-135s throughout the AOR.
There are only four airmen assigned to the hydraulic section keeping operations running 24/7.
“It helps the mission because it allows four different airmen from four different bases to bring something different to the table,” Ortiz said. “All of our different experiences allow us to bounce ideas and methods off each other to make maintenance run more efficiently. This also helps on aspects aside from maintenance because we can implement the best methods and programs from different shops into one.”
Through their collaborative efforts, the hydraulic section directly supports flying missions throughout the AOR.
“When you restore a part for an aircraft knowing those aircraft are going to support an important mission, you get a sense of ownership,” Abouhashem said. “Our support keeps refuelers up in the air, which supports bombers, fighters and several other airframes, ensuring they can successfully accomplish the air tasking order.”