The 127th Maintenance Group takes on the Thunderbolt

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Anthony J. Lesterson
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
The 127th Maintenance Group gives whole new meaning to the phrase "when pigs fly". Following a conversion from the F-16 Falcon to the A-10 Thunderbolt II, commonly known as the Warthog, the 127th MXG has maintained a necessary balance of aircraft to continue with the mission.

Despite technical problems such as wing cracks, re-wiring and computer upgrades the 127th Maintenance Group has continued to meet its many challenges.

"The health of the fleet is the biggest challenge," said Lt. Col. Gregory S. Holzhei, 127th Maintenance Group commander. "The jets came to us with significant problems. I am trying to keep a good balance of A-10s here for training while fixing and getting upgrades to them elsewhere. We are going through them with a fine tooth comb."

While dealing with the numerous maintenance challenges the jets are also required to receive complex upgrades. Each A-10 must have its computer systems modified from an analog A model to a digital C model in order to be ready for upcoming deployment opportunities. All 20 A-10 aircraft that are presently at Selfridge are now C models. One additional upgrade will take each aircraft to Boise, Idaho, to finalize all upgrades required. The last four A-10s assigned to the 127th Wing will be arriving at Selfridge throughout 2010.

As the Wing navigates through Air Mobility Command Unit Compliance Inspections, Operational Readiness Inspections, and a recent Logistics Compliance Assessment Program inspection, the 127th MXG has maintained a low profile to help the Wing excel as a team.

"Right now we are quietly doing what we need to do because of the (AMC) UCI and other inspections taking place," Holzhei said. "I am trying not to ask for too much (from the other units)." We are all on the same team and we are all going to win."

The 127th Wing deployed its 107th Fighter Squadron with aircraft maintenance and other support elements to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., on Jan. 9, for their first deployment since beginning the A-10 mission last May. The 127th MXG worked a rigorous schedule to ensure the aircraft were ready for the deployment. They worked long hours, and some Airmen even worked Christmas Day.

"I don't know if I can put a word on how hard they worked, but I can say that without their support and dedication we would have not been able to support this deployment or continue the mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Wayne T. Fetty, 127th MXG production superintendent, of the maintenance personnel.

Other challenges such as manpower, parts, resources and incorporating Guardsmen transferring from other organizations into the Wing have been among the priority issues. The A-10 was scheduled on two different occasions to be decommissioned, which led to parts going out of production. With new aircraft comes new guidelines and procedures for maintenance personnel to learn, said Maj. Kurtis P. Ring, 127th MXG maintenance officer.

"The knowledge factor and learning a new aircraft is a key issue; with the new aircraft things take additional time to accomplish necessary tasks," Ring said. "What takes two hours may take up to twice that to ensure we do what needs to be done."

The A-10 is a durable combat aircraft with the mission of protecting troops through close-ground support. The dual engine aircraft plays a crucial role in combating enemy tanks and other offenses. The A-10 has the ability to maneuver exceptionally at low speeds with a flight range of up to 800 miles.
The A-10 is scheduled to remain in commission for approximately two decades with the new upgrades and high demand to support global conflicts with U.S. and allied troops fighting battles on the ground.

"I believe the A-10s will be very busy due to the high demand for the aircraft in theatre and its importance to the battlefield," Ring said.