U.S. Airmen Make Historic Corrosion Repairs in Japan

U.S. Airmen discovered corrosion in the lower skin of the aircraft, making it inoperable until repair. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force.

Three U.S. Airmen with the 35th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) fabrication flight recently performed a historic corrosion repair on an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Maintainers or contractors typically conduct such depot-level repairs at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA, where they are certified to tend to severely damaged aircraft. Many of these cases require the use of specialized resources.

However, when the team discovered corrosion on the lower skin of the aircraft, making it inoperable until repair, the Hill office approved Misawa Airmen to rectify the issue in Japan. The local restoration, which saved significant time, required creative thinking along with high levels of maintenance competency and skill, according to the crew.

“In one month’s time, we aided in bringing this aircraft back to life,” says Tech. Sgt. Jordon Jones, an aircraft maintenance structural craftsman at Misawa. “Once we discovered the pinhole-sized corrosion, we removed seven major construction components, three skins, two ribs, and cut out a total longeron, which maintains the structural rigidity of the airframe. In more simple terms, we cut the aircraft in half and put it back together.”

While making these repairs, the team stayed vigilant for quality assurance and accuracy.

“My team remained cautious during the process because this was the first time in U.S. Air Force history a repair like this had been conducted at the field level,” Jones explains. “Being able to conduct this repair in-house aided mission continuation.”

“I am beyond proud of our fabrication personnel and Airmen,” adds Capt. Charles Glover, the 35th MXS operations officer. “These Airmen brought an aircraft back into the fight that would otherwise be awaiting repair for an indeterminate timeline. Not only was the repair accomplished under an estimated timeline, but I have been in multiple units and have yet to see approval for such a critical complex repair.”

Source: Misawa Air Base, www.misawa.af.mil.