Face of Defense: Mechanics Maintain Aircraft on Guam
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam, May 21, 2014 The 36th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Wheel and Tire shop recently installed new equipment to fully accommodate the B-52 Stratofortress and any other aircraft using the flightline here, while saving roughly $32,000 annually.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jan Stevens and Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Ambrose conduct tests at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, April 11, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Veronica McMahon
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
This capability is due to the installation of universal adapters for the aircraft tire bead breakers. The adapter allows the bead breaker to separate the rubber from the rim on various tire sizes.
“Previously, we only repaired tires for the RQ-4 Global Hawk, but now we’ve begun expanding our capabilities to assist with the B-52s,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Ambrose, 36th MXS Wheel and Tire Shop specialist. “Now that we have installed this adapter we are able to work on any aircraft in the Air Force inventory, saving us time and money.”
Ambrose and his fellow airman, Staff Sgt. Jan Stevens a 36th MXS wheel and tire shop specialist, run the two-man shop and are thankful to have the new ability to repair tires.
“Until recently, brand-new tires were flown into Guam completely assembled,” Ambrose said. “Now that we have the capability to work on them, the parts can be shipped in by boat and assembled here. All repairs can also be conducted right here at the shop.
“It’s a major cost benefit considering that we are in the remote location of Guam,” he continued. “The tires are so heavy it cuts down tremendously on shipping costs alone.”
Since the equipment was installed so recently, the team has not yet repaired a B-52 tire, but they have repaired Global Hawk tires, along with tires from other aircraft during recent exercises.
“During Cope North, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, U.S. Navy and other U.S. Air Force units were able to use the shop to do minor repairs here instead of shipping in completely assembled tires from their home station units,” Stevens said.
According to Stevens, tires for the JASDF Mitsubishi F-2s and F-15 Eagles, U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets and the Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons were all repaired using the new equipment, and so far, the tools have worked to the shop’s expectations.
“Having the universal adapter makes the process a lot quicker, smoother and now we can accommodate anything we come across,” Stevens said. “This new capability also allows us to provide more services during joint exercises and support our international allies.”
While they are now capable to support any aircraft tire, Ambrose and Stevens said they expect most of their repairs to be on the Global Hawk and B-52 tires.
Along with repairs, the B-52 tires will soon be built on Andersen as well. The shop has already received 49 different parts that make up a B-52 tire and is equipped with roughly 75 percent of the parts to build the tires in-house. According to Ambrose, in the next few months the shop will have the ability to fully outfit an aircraft in a day if need be.
When the B-52 units deploy in for their six-month rotations, six maintainers will accompany the unit and assist with tire repairs to assist with the increased work load.
“The Global Hawks are always here, the B-52s are constantly deploying in and other aircraft are always using the flightline, so whatever tire problems come up we are ready,” Ambrose said. “Any tire obstacle we come across on Andersen, we are ready and able to play our part to keep the mission going.”