340th AMU: “Turning fuel into freedom”
By Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 11, 2007
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- With more than 20 KC-135s, members of the 340th Aircraft Maintenance Unit here provide invaluable support to the Global War on Terror.
During the past four months, members of the 340th AMU supported more than 3,200 sorties, which in turn provided 107 million pounds of fuel to more than 14,000 aircraft in support of GWOT.
The 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flies between 20-30 flights, or sorties, a day, said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Kuehn, the Specialist Flight expeditor for night shift.
"We have more planes here than we have parking spots for, so we always have aircraft in the air," said Sergeant Kuehn, who is deployed here from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.
As maintenance professionals perform their launch and recovery procedures, flightline operations appear normal for a deployed location.
However, it isn't long until one discovers things are not always as they seem.
Keeping in mind everyone's morale and welfare, the 340th AMU supervision developed a new system to keep everyone out of the heat as much possible. Each member of the Specialist Flight has been trained to launch and recover aircraft.
"It takes a few launch and recovery operations to fully train one of our guys," Sergeant Kuehn said. "This is the only base where the entire specialist flight performs launch and recovery, not only in the area of responsibility, but also Air Force wide."
"This squadron is a key to the persistent, unblinking and lethal airpower we need across the AOR to keep our combat edge in a very tough fight," said Colonel Robert Gass, 379th Expeditionary Maintenance group commander.
To provide full coverage for maintenance and flying, the 340th AMU has overlapping shifts, one beginning at Midnight and another at 10:30 a.m. with turnovers arriving 12-hours later.
"Normally (specialists) launch the jets here and the crew chiefs recover," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Wade, 340th AMU and deployed from MacDill AFB.
The beginning of the shift is usually fairly light, Sergeant Kuehn said. Most of the take-offs occur midday and don't land for the day until late at night.
The majority of the 340th's flying is conducted during the day leaving most of the maintenance up to the night crews.
And though the aircraft may not breakdown often, when they break - they break
"If you aren't launching or recovering jets out here, you're working maintenance issues," Sergeant Kuehn said.
All in all, the members of the 340th AMU support more than 90 percent of U.S. aircraft assigned throughout the AOR by "turning fuel into freedom."