On Wednesday April 22, U.S Central Command announced that its A-10 thunderbolt had to make an emergency landing at the Al Asad Airbase in Anbar province (an old, unused airbase shelter). According to the U.S. Air Force, the thunderbolt had to make an emergency landing because the engine was suffering from damage, which occurred during the routine refuel procedure. The Iraq’s airbase released the A-10 back into the air after the engine damages were fixed.
The pilot was able to land the aircraft safely on the base premises; however, the aircraft was not in a secure location. Therefore, the commander of the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, Col. Michael Stohlerneeded, needed the A-10 out of the airbase and back into the air as quickly as possible.
The Al Asad Airbase is located near Ramadi, which is a city that has experienced many fight sightings between Islamic State groups and Iraqi forces. Since the aircraft problem was not combat, it was still dangerous to have the U.S. aircraft in an Iraq airbase due to it flying overhead for Operation Inherent Resolve. A nine member team, from a nearby unnamed base, went to the Iraq airbase to determine the cause of damages to the thunderbolt. They put together a list for the needed parts to fix the engine and, within days, Iraq’s airbase released the A-10 back into the air.
The Air Force and the Marine Corps conducted daily aircraft missions to bring the needed parts to the airbase as soon as they received the list of needed equipment, in order to fix the engine damage. Due to a lack of moving equipment, the team had to contrive a way to move the jet uphill to the airbase hangar for maintenance. Once the team made it to the airbase shelter, however, lights, phones, and internet connections did not work. The team had to work for five days and nights to get the job finished faster than the estimated week it took to fix the damaged engine. Commander Stohler said, in a release, that his number one priority was to get the aircraft out of there as quickly as possible.
Stohler also stated the nine team members did a great job getting the needed materials, the pilot did an amazing job flying the difficult to handle jet into a safe landing, and the maintenance team was excellent at getting the attack jet back into the air as quickly as possible. According to the U.S. Air Force, the engine damage was not surprising for the jet, but is something that is expected to happen when high-performance aircraft is being operated.
The maintenance team fixed the engine damages by removing and replacing the aircrafts most important parts, which is usually not done. The commander told Air Force Times they worked in extreme weathers of dryness with minimal protection from the heat, and everyone slept in a tent. No showers were taken due to the lack of development; they worked long hours to test, rebuild with minimal equipment, and fly out the aircraft.
The date the plane engine damage occurred, as well as the fact that the Iraq airbase was releasing the A-10 back into the air, was not stated in the U.S Air Force announcement. However; in February, 400 troops were stationed at the Al Asad Air Base, at a time when Iraqi forces fought 20 to 25 Islamic State Fighters that attacked the base.
By Krystle Mitchell
Photo By Master Sgt. William Greer Creativecommons Flickr License