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Sustainment Dock: ANG Increases Tanker Reliability

Tech. Sgt. Zina Trimble, right, and Staff Sgt. Shawn Hines, left, both assigned to the 141st Maintenance Squadron, install a new high frequency long wire antenna on a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aircraft inspection June 5, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The KC-135 is undergoing an isochronal inspection, which is completed on each aircraft every 24 months to look for discrepancies and to repair those that they may find. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Kayleigh Phillips)

Tech. Sgt. Zina Trimble, right, and Staff Sgt. Shawn Hines, left, both assigned to the 141st Maintenance Squadron, install a new high frequency long wire antenna on a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aircraft inspection June 5, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The KC-135 is undergoing an isochronal inspection, which is completed on each aircraft every 24 months to look for discrepancies and to repair those that they may find. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Kayleigh Phillips)

A KC-135 sits in the sustainment dock hangar while maintainers from the 141st and 92nd Maintenance Squadrons work during an isochronal inspection June 5, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Airmen from 11 different specialties complete the process of dismantling, inspecting, repairing and sometimes modifying the aircraft during the isochronal inspection. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Kayleigh Phillips)

A KC-135 sits in the sustainment dock hangar while maintainers from the 141st and 92nd Maintenance Squadrons work during an isochronal inspection June 5, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Airmen from 11 different specialties complete the process of dismantling, inspecting, repairing and sometimes modifying the aircraft during the isochronal inspection. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Kayleigh Phillips)

Staff Sgt. Shawn Hines, an avionics systems specialist with the 141st Maintenance Squadron, installs a new high frequency long wire antenna on a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aircraft inspection June 5, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Hines is installing the antenna while the KC-135 undergoes an isochronal inspection; the process of dismantling, inspecting, repairing and sometimes modifying the tanker every 24 months. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Kayleigh Phillips)

Staff Sgt. Shawn Hines, an avionics systems specialist with the 141st Maintenance Squadron, installs a new high frequency long wire antenna on a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aircraft inspection June 5, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Hines is installing the antenna while the KC-135 undergoes an isochronal inspection; the process of dismantling, inspecting, repairing and sometimes modifying the tanker every 24 months. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Kayleigh Phillips)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --

In hangar 1033 a KC-135 Stratotanker undergoes an isochronal inspection as Airmen of the 141st and 92nd Maintenance Squadrons start the process of dismantling, inspecting, repairing and sometimes modifying the tanker. Hangar 1033 is home to the sustainment dock where 141st and 92nd Maintenance Groups put the KC-135 sustainment program into practice.

According to the memorandum of understanding, the goal of the sustainment program is to provide a dedicated proactive team to repair and enhance an aging KC-135 fleet. This program will produce additional reliable aircraft to Air Mobility Command and National Guard Bureau.

“The sustainment program is a guard-owned process that we perform alongside our active duty partners,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robb Schrock, 141st MXS fabrication section supervisor. “This new approach will train and equip the 141st Airmen with the knowledge of how to perform maintenance tasks in their entirety.”

In the past seven months the sustainment dock personnel have overhauled seven aircraft and have completed over 4,000 maintenance actions. Tankers can undergo hourly post, periodic and 900-hour inspections within the sustainment dock.

Personnel in 11 different specialties complete discrepancies on the aircraft requiring repair. The specialties include hydraulics, sheet metal, electronics, fuels, propulsion, crew chiefs, avionics, repair and reclamation, non-destructive inspection and metals technology.

“Instead of working in a continuous operation with multiple shift changes, we can work to a point, stop, and then start again the next day,” said Senior Master Sgt. Sky Schultz, 141st Maintenance Squadron inspection section supervisor.  “This structure allows us to follow a task through to the end instead of having another Airman finish the task that we previously started.”

Roughly 25 full-time and drill status Guardsmen pair up to train on tasks while supporting the sustainment program which has been implemented to ensure that the KC-135 Stratotanker is still flying until year 2050.

“The sustainment dock adds a unique work environment conducive to training that helps to further organize and train Airmen for the operational mission and consequently increases productivity, work ethic, and morale,” said Schultz. “Our Airmen give 100% and are proud of their end result; a product that they have completed from start to finish.”