Rosecrans Hercs Face Threats, Show Muscle
By Lt. Col. Randy Parlett , 139th Airlift Wing
/ Published April 27, 2009
4 April, 2009 -- Another Air Expeditionary Force deployment will stress more than the activated members of the 139th Airlift Wing. C-130s assigned to the St. Joseph-based unit are now 23 years old - in some cases older than the aircrews assigned.
"The aircraft face threats everywhere from heat and sand that wear down components to a busy ops tempo that triples the normal flight hours to insurgents who watch the plane's every move," explained 139th Wing commander Col. Stephen Cotter. "In deployed conditions the weather, sand, and dirt will beat engines, brakes, tires, and aircraft components. It's a constant effort for maintenance."
Tires wear down because of the weather and rough surfaces from which the planes land and take off. Brakes suffer from weather extremes and the sand and dirt grind down surfaces. And engines run hot, according to 139th Maintenance officials.
"The sand and dirt eat away at exposed engine parts including compressor blades," added 139th Airlift Wing Maintenance commander Lt. Col. Andy Halter. "The sand and dirt can clog an engine sensor and filters and it'll take several hours to do an engine check."
Missouri Air Guard C-130s and aircrews can again expect 12-hour days. From the time the aircrews begin preflight briefings to post flight briefings, it can be 12 hours and any given aircrew will fly every two or three days on average. Once airborne, a C-130 will make several stops much like a regional airline picking up cargo and passengers before returning to base.
"Once we get home it can take a week of cleaning and repairs to get them back to pre-deployment condition," Halter added. "We'll strip them down to vacuum and clean them inside and out. Yet despite the beating the C-130H model takes, we have an excellent mission capable rate. Because of our home station maintenance personnel and our deployed folks, we can continue what we've done since 1946 - our commitment to excellence."