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Airpower anytime, anywhere: ABDR teams enhance DoD aircraft sustainment processes

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

Air Force expeditionary depot maintenance flights can deploy personnel for depot level-type maintenance and Aircraft Battle Damage Repair wherever needed.

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex’s 402nd Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is one of three flights in the Air Force that supports both depot level maintenance and the ABDR mission.

Master Sgt. Gian Santos, 402nd EDMX Flight chief, said EDMX flights belong to Air Force Materiel Command and are separated amongst the Air Force Sustainment Center’s three complexes to support program depot maintenance processes, but their primary mission is ABDR.

The 309th EDMX at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, maintains the F-16, F-35 and F-22 aircraft, while the 76th EDMX at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, maintains B-52, B-1 and B-2 bomber aircraft, as well as refueling tankers like the KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft. The 402nd EDMX at Robins manages the C-5, C-17, C-130 and F-15 aircraft.

The sustainment process for the 402nd EDMX Flight is handled by the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group, but its ABDR mission is handled by the Air Force EDMX Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

“You can categorize it as we have a wartime mission and a peacetime mission,” Santos said. “The wartime mission is the ABDR, and the peacetime mission is depot level maintenance, like time compliance technical order repairs and modifications. That is our bread and butter.”

Santos said the ABDR teams use Technical Order 1-1H-39, a technical order specifically developed to accomplish ABDR-specific repairs.

“This is all Vietnam War era kind of material, because that is where the ABDR teams started,” he said. “I know it sounds antiquated and old, but it still works in today’s aircraft.”

If a repair type is not stated in the TO, a request for engineer support is placed.

“We will put in a 107 request,” he said. “This is a priority request for engineer support to tell us how to do the repair, and they will get that back to us fast with a set of instructions telling us how to repair the damage to the aircraft.”

Santos said the EDMX flights send teams to support both missions globally.

“The EDMX flights are the only ones who train their people to do that level of work to aircraft airframes in the world,” he said. “Some of the depot level maintenance can be time consuming, and wherever the plane is stationed they can’t afford to lose their people for days or weeks from their mission, so they will send us to augment them.”

Santos said the ABDR mission is important to the Air Force because the field units are not capable of doing the work ABDR teams can.

“We had a C-130 aircraft in Bagram, Afghanistan, that received battle damage from a mortar that caused 85 holes to its fuselage,” he said. “The ABDR Program Office at Wright-Patterson contacted us with that information, and we got a team spun up and out the door within 72 hours.”

Santos said while the team was repairing the C-130 aircraft at Bagram, a C-5 aircraft received damage to its cargo door.

“The team there was asked if they could repair that aircraft as well,” he said. “So the team split in half to accomplish both repairs at the same time. That is how versatile the ABDR teams are and how important this mission is to the Air Force.”

Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Lyons, 402nd EDMX Flight superintendent, said the 402nd EDMX Flight Airmen are highly trained, and their training is top notch.

“When our guys are out on the road, they handle their business and they get back home,” he said. “When they get back, we hear the accolades telling us about the amazing job they did.”

Santos said he is proud for the ABDR Airmen and their mission.

“It makes me proud to hear accolades of our Airmen’s successes in the field,” he said. “That’s always a good thing to hear.”