Maintainers keep Max Thunder rolling

Senior Airman Bradley Baldus, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoots an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Senior Airman Bradley Baldus, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoots an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Staff Sgt. John Newhouse, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, performs flight control maintenance on an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Staff Sgt. John Newhouse, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, performs flight control maintenance on an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron, left, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Wilkerson, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoot an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. Major Mattioda is prior-enlisted with an electrical environmental background. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron, left, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Wilkerson, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoot an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. Major Mattioda is prior-enlisted with an electrical environmental background. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron, right, and Senior Airman Bradley Baldus, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoot an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. Major Mattioda is prior-enlisted with an electrical environmental background. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron, right, and Senior Airman Bradley Baldus, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoot an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. Major Mattioda is prior-enlisted with an electrical environmental background. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

(Left to right) Senior Airman Denise Russell, 36th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Master Sgt. Warren McCullough, 36th AMU, Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron, and Senior Airman Bradley Baldus, 36th AMU, brainstorm while troubleshooting an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

(Left to right) Senior Airman Denise Russell, 36th Aircraft Maintenance Unit; Master Sgt. Warren McCullough, 36th AMU; Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron; and Senior Airman Bradley Baldus, 36th AMU, brainstorm while troubleshooting an electrical system problem in an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Senior Airman Jonicko Dela Cruz, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, completes paperwork while an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon refuels Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Senior Airman Jonicko Dela Cruz, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, completes paperwork while an Osan F-16 Fighting Falcon refuels Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

36th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen go though post-flight checks on F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju AB, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

36th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen go though post-flight checks on F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju AB, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Maintainers from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, go though post-flight checks on F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju AB, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

Maintainers from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, go though post-flight checks on F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Oct. 20 during exercise Max Thunder 10-2 at Kwangju AB, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Burks)

KWANGJU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- This week, maintenance Airmen from Osan and Kunsan Air Bases have been working around the clock to keep their F-16 Fighting Falcons finely tuned and flying on schedule here during Max Thunder 10-02.

Max Thunder, a bilateral training exercise designed to demonstrate interoperability between U.S. and ROK military forces on the peninsula, kicked off Oct. 15 as more than 600 U.S. and ROK Airmen and 37 aircraft deployed here to execute and sustain flight operations. Out of more than 300 U.S. Airmen here, approximately 200 are maintenance personnel.

As of Oct. 22, only three Max Thunder sorties have been grounded due to maintenance issues, while 109 of 112 had successfully launched. This high success rate speaks to the dedication and keen attention to detail displayed by these Airmen.

"Max Thunder is a great opportunity for Airman stationed on the Korean peninsula to work together and hone their skills at a deployed location, said Maj. Daniel Mattioda, 8th Maintenance Squadron. "Aircraft maintainers from Osan and Kunsan are provided a unique experience to highlight their versatility and ability to provide mission-ready aircraft, giving our pilots the capability to fly, fight and win."

With day and night sorties being launched during Max Thunder, there are day, night and swing shifts for maintainers. Senior Airman Jonicko Dela Cruz, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, said the day shift personnel keep the sorties flying on time, troubleshooting and correcting any minor issues and ensuring the jets are safe to launch. Night and swing shift personnel perform any heavy maintenance necessary on the jets during longer overnight breaks between sorties.

Staff Sgt. Derek Doiron, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, said that having more time to work with the aircraft on the ground gives the night shift allows for more complex inspections at the end of the flying day.

"We go over absolutely everything ... routine maintenance, minor problems identified during the day shift and any necessary heavy maintenance," he said. "From changing tires and light bulbs to servicing hydraulic and fuel systems, we're here to ensure the aircraft is ready for the next day's mission."

Sergeant Doiron said the biggest challenge maintainers face during any temporary duty assignment is the supply and inventory of parts. "Everything we do is on a timetable, so it's critical to have aircraft parts when we need them."

Fortunately, he said, Kwangju is just 75 miles from Kunsan, so any parts needed have arrived very quickly.

But at the end of the day - or night - it doesn't matter whether the aircraft are flying out of Osan, Kunsan, or a TDY location. Maintainers simply keep the planes flying and ensure our ability to meet the mission.

The co-located environment also provided for the opportunity for maintainers from Osan and Kunsan to work together, sharing not only parts, but a wealth of job experience.

"If they need any help, we lend a hand, and if we need anything we have no problem asking them," said Sergeant Doiron.

Max Thunder 10-02 concludes Oct. 22.