By Senior Airman Rita L. Jimenez, 122nd Fighter Wing
/ Published December 26, 2018
Tech. Sgt. Joel A. Smith, an aircraft repair and reclamation crew chief assigned to the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Ind., inspects the wheel well of an A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, Dec. 12, 2018, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Aircraft maintenance crew chiefs routinely conducted inspections as part of post-flight procedures during Guardian Blitz II. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Rita Jimenez/Released)
FORT WAYNE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. (Dec. 26, 2018) - Blacksnakes from the 122nd Fighter Wing here recently participated in Guardian Blitz II, Dec. 3-14 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. where the Air Force core competencies of technology-to-warfighting, integrated operations and developing Airmen were essential parts of the mission.
“This is the second iteration of Guardian Blitz,” said Lt. Col. Joshua “Deuce” Waggoner, 163rd Fighter Squadron commander here and 122nd FW Guardian Blitz II detachment commander. “We created this exercise in the fall of 2017 and executed it for the first time in January 2018 as a spin up for our 2018 deployment to Afghanistan. The primary mission for the first exercise was Combat Search and Rescue training and qualifications.”
During this iteration of Guardian Blitz II, the mission focused on technology-to-warfighting training with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, 123rd Airlift Wing, Louisville, Ky., in Basic Surface Attack, Close Air Support and the use of the A-10C Thunderbolt II’s Night Vision Imaging Systems technology at Avon Park Air Force Range, Fla. The 122nd FW Blacksnakes also accomplished aerial refueling with the 328th Air Refueling Squadron, 914th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls N.Y. and the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron, 927th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill AFB, Fla.
MacDill AFB provided the 122nd FW ideal weather conditions for flying, large accessible air spaces and ranges, and the ability to fly sorties at night. Much like a real world deployment, the 122nd FW Blacksnakes established a home away from home in a Deployed Unit Complex that enabled the 163rd FS A-10C pilots to perform training operations.
Performing integrated operations while in a deployed location was the responsibility of the 163rd FS Aviation Resource Management office here. Effectively collecting information and communicating with commanders was an essential part of flying operations at Guardian Blitz II.
“Specifically, at this TDY, we are responsible for performing the squadron aviation resource management function, which is all about the daily flying schedule,” said Master Sgt. Adam P. Bollinger, Superintendent and Functional Manager of the 163rd FS/ARM. “Preparation for the daily flying schedule actually occurs the day prior to flight. We ensure that all outstanding training is reviewed for accuracy and flying time is reviewed for appropriate logging and input into the system. At which point, we provide commanders with detailed and tailored reports that support an effective aviation management decision in their units.”
Commanders used reports provided by the 163rd FS/ARM to create a flying schedule for crew members. The Aviation Resource Management Office used the flying schedule to coordinate with other units and support agencies to generate weather forecasts and ensure that maintenance had the right number of aircraft to support the mission.
Having enough aircraft to support the mission took a team effort. Approximately 70 Blacksnake maintainers spent 11-13 hours per day at the DUC performing tactical aircraft maintenance tasks like quality assurance tests, end-of-runway, post-flight, preflight and thru-flight inspections.
“Maintainers are an essential part of launch and recovery, arming and de-arming and ensuring the overall health of the fleet both short and long-term,” said Capt. Cody C. Bohachek, 122nd Air Mobility Unit Officer in Charge of Guardian Blitz II. “These deployments also help expose our Drill Status Guardsmen to higher levels of maintenance that they may miss out on with just a two day RSD.”
“These small trips help to develop our footprint for future operations,” said Master Sgt. Nathan A. Swineheart, Assistant NCO in charge of Guardian Blitz II. “We have the opportunity to put new people into roles that are outside their normal job positions and help them become the next generation of leadership."