51st MXS pioneers field level repairs, traditionally outsourced

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brittany Russell
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In a historic first for the 51st Fighter Wing, the 51st Maintenance Squadron's aircraft structural maintenance specialists successfully performed repairs on a 25th Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II wheel pod that would traditionally be outsourced to a specialized stateside facility at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Feb. 8, 2024.

Field level units such as the 51st MXS typically oversee minor repairs such as replacing structural components. When those components require in-depth maintenance, such as a complete disassembly and reassembly, they are shipped out to specialized facilities more equipped to handle complex repairs. The 51st MXS, however, is breaking boundaries and creating history by taking on the repair at their level.

During a routine training flight, an A-10 panel unlatched and caused severe damage to integral structural components of the aircraft. The pilot landed safely, but the wheel pod, which houses the landing gear wheel assembly, was in need of substantial maintenance. The 51st MXS fought to tackle the challenge here at Osan AB.

“The engineers were slightly doubtful that we would be able to do this at the field level,” said 2nd Lt. Logan Molaschi, 51st MXS depot engineer liaison. “We were persistent. We kept coordinating with the engineers and sending information, and we ended up receiving the approval to do it here.”

The specific parts needed to make this a quick and easy repair are no longer made, so the 51st MXS had to get creative. They utilized resources from decommissioned aircraft, sourced from their supply system, and even manufactured their own components. They maintained ongoing coordination with advanced engineers from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to ensure precision and accuracy in every task.

“We like to call it frankensteining,” said Staff Sgt. Alan Roseman, 51st MXS aircraft structural maintenance craftsman. “We utilized existing parts from a decommissioned A-10, meticulously adapting them to fit this specific aircraft as seamlessly and precisely as if they were brand new and made specifically for it.”

Though a repair of this magnitude has never occurred at the 51st MXS, Airmen have worked diligently to identify issues and find innovative solutions.

“We are really getting creative and thinking outside of the box here,” said Molaschi. “Our Airmen are truly the last modern day artisans. They never said, ‘We can’t do this.’”

The 51st MXS continues to work rigorously on this innovative project and looks forward to the new opportunities this historic repair will bring.