February 25, 2010 (by SSgt. Sanjay Allen) - Holloman AFB maintainers launched their F-22 Raptors into the near-cloudless skies over southern Nevada Feb. 22 kicking off Red Flag10-3, an advanced aerial combat exercise where air crews from the U.S. and other allied nations train in realistic aerial war scenarios.
USAF F-22A block 30 from the 525th FS (no. 07-4131 & no. 06-4121) and the 7th FS (no. 05-4092) fly to the Nevada Test and Training Range during Red Flag on February 4th, 2010. [USAF photo by SSgt. Taylor Worley]
The Raptors were inspected and serviced several hours before the pilot ever stepped to the jet for flight. In this case, the preflight, a rigorous inspection to ensure an aircraft is airworthy, was performed throughout a rain-soaked night.
After the preflight and before the pilot strapped into the Raptor, Airman 1st Class Jeremy Davidson, a crew chief with the 7th Aircraft Maintenance Unit from Holloman deployed to Nellis for Red Flag, walked around the jet to make sure there were no leaks or servicing that needed to be accomplished. By the time he was done with the brief, but detailed, inspection, the pilot stepped to the jet.
At this point, Airman Davidson performed another walk around, this time with the pilot, and disconnected ground wires and removed covers from the missiles and other safety locks and pins.
All the inspections that seem to be redundant are done to make sure everything is good to go on the jet, Airman Davidson said.
After the walk-around, the pilot climbed into the jet, they shook hands and the canopy lowered.
Almost immediately, the two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines, each capable of producing 35,000 pounds of thrust, ignited. Airman Davidson watched the engines start, while paying attention for leaks, and looked over the flight controls as the pilot checked to make sure they were are all working properly -- ailerons, rudders, elevators, etc.
To the naked eye it may seem redundant that the aircraft goes through so many inspections prior to taxiing out of the block, but it's a necessary practice to make certain the jet is ready for flight.
Senior Airman Arnee Pryor, a crew chief with the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Holloman deployed to Red Flag, said they go through all the checks to make sure the aircraft is airworthy.
After all the checks, a roll-over check for foreign object debris on the tires, and a final once-over inspection by a 7-level crew chief, the F-22 taxied out of it's block to the congested end of runway to take its place in line with F-16 Falcons, F-15 Eagles, a KC-135 Stratotanker, F-18 Hornets and a pair of B-1 Lancers.
Airman Davidson, a first-time Red Flag participant, said it was great to be around so many jets and people. He said there are a lot of things going on and a lot to learn while he is here.
With the minimal time the maintainers have down, they will make sure the few jets that remained behind are airworthy and then they may get a chance to meet with maintainers from other airframes, services and nations to get a tour of their jets until the Raptors return from their mission.
Airman Pryor said other than getting to see other jets, he likes coming to Red Flag -- his fifth installment -- because it's a different work atmosphere. He said it's almost like a real deployed environment where you have less to work with, but you get more done because everyone's goal is to get the jet off the ground.