477th Maintainers Support & Train with Hawaii Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Melissa Estevez
  • 477th Fighter Group

The 477th Maintenance Squadron and 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron provided two groups of Airmen to support and train alongside the Hawaii Air National Guard.

The 477th MXS and AMXS maintainers fully integrated into all aspects of the F-22 Raptor daily flying and maintenance operations with HIANG.

“We've been involved in routine maintenance to advanced troubleshooting from day one,” said Master Sgt. Gerald Ingram, 477th AMXS tactical aircraft maintenance flight chief. “Some examples include armament/gun breakdown and rebuild, radar troubleshooting, APU troubleshooting, engine maintenance.”

Prior to COVID, the 477th Fighter Group would TDY to Hawaii often. During the COVID era the TDYs were cancelled due to limited funding and global travel restrictions.

“Bringing our maintainers to Hawaii is a great opportunity to share best practices and crosstalk with our Guard counterparts," said Maj. Karen Johnson, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “We are able to practice our readiness requirements and work with our PACAF teammates to ensure we can operate effectively and efficiently in a wartime scenario.”

The most obvious differences between working on a F-22 Raptor in Hawaii versus Alaska are related to the climate and environment. Arctic Airmen need to be better trained and equipped to maintain the aircraft in wet weather climates, something they are not able to train for in Alaska.

“There are more maintenance events likely related to humidity and weather,” said Ingram. “The specialist section worked multiple aircraft with such related issues in the first two weeks alone.”

Higher instances of reversion along with materials and structural corrosion occur in the Hawaiian Islands which has provided for extra training opportunities for the low observable team.

During the trip the 477th AMXS and 154th AMXS were able to discuss agile combat employment and the development of multi-capable Airmen to share techniques to be more effective in both of those arenas.

“Being able to work together with our Guard counterparts allows us to practice our ability to operate in a different environment with alternative resources while maintaining our currency on maintenance actions,” said Master Sgt. Patrick DeBano, 477th AMXS tactical aircraft maintenance flight chief. As we work together, we learn from each other and can find ways to be “ready now” for a future conflict.”

In the event of a wartime scenario in the Pacific Air Force region, the 477th Fighter Group maintainers will be working closely with the HIANG as the two F-22 units in the Pacific area of responsibility. In a time-critical scenario, being able to quickly advance into smooth daily operations will be one of the keys to success.

“Total Force Integration allows us to have the benefit of experience along with new ideas.  Guardsmen and Reservists are great at remembering things that have been tried in the past which allows us to help active duty avoid wasting time on ineffective methods,” said Johnson. “Active duty turnover allows fresh ideas to be introduced preventing our maintainers from growing stagnant as new techniques are brought forward.”