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1000 and counting: deployed maintainers fight ISIS with Global Hawk consistency

By Air Force Senior Airman Tyler Woodward 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

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SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 3, 2017 — A 380th Air Expeditionary Wing EQ-4 Global Hawk, carrying a communications enhancing payload, completed 1000 continuous sorties without occurring a single maintenance cancellation while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve here. 

Members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a group photo after successfully completing 1000 consecutive sorties without a maintenance cancel in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location, April 1, 2017. These remotely piloted aircraft have provided a critical communication bridge between multi-national Coalition assets working to defeat ISIS in the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)
Members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a group photo after successfully completing 1000 consecutive sorties without a maintenance cancel in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location, April 1, 2017. These remotely piloted aircraft have provided a critical communication bridge between multi-national Coalition assets working to defeat ISIS in the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)
Members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a group photo after successfully completing 1000 consecutive sorties without a maintenance cancel in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location, April 1, 2017. These remotely piloted aircraft have provided a critical communication bridge between multi-national Coalition assets working to defeat ISIS in the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward) 1000 and counting: deployed maintainers fight ISIS with Global Hawk consistency
Members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a group photo after successfully completing 1000 consecutive sorties without a maintenance cancel in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve at an undisclosed location, April 1, 2017. These remotely piloted aircraft have provided a critical communication bridge between multi-national Coalition assets working to defeat ISIS in the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)
Members of the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron successfully recovered the remotely piloted aircraft on April 1, 2017, which utilized a battlefield airborne communications node (BACN) to facilitate communications between multi-national Coalition assets working to defeat ISIS in the area of responsibility.

Maj. Rolly, a recent 99 ERS Global Hawks director of operations, discussed the importance of the BACN program in U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“Everybody involved with the generation of the BACN sorties understands how important it is to safely get these jets airborne to do their mission,” Rolly said. “Hitting 1000 in a row speaks to the importance of the BACN mission regarding its direct impact on the warfighter and I think that it says a lot about the stellar professionals filling the maintenance ranks from top to bottom.”

The BACN payload works as a communications bridge between all personnel in the AOR. In layman’s terms, it’s a Wi-Fi hotspot in the sky for ground and air assets fighting against ISIS.

“Reaching 1000 consecutive BACN sorties in a row really shows how effective our maintainers are at turning around this aircraft,” Staff Sgt. Bradley, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief said. “Even when we do have an issue we’ve been able to fix it and still get that jet out in a single day.”

The BACN equipped Global Hawks regularly fly 25-30 hours on a single sortie to meet their 24/7 demand.

380 EAMXS Production Superintendent Master Sgt. Chad attributed the long term success of the BACN program to skilled and experienced Airmen working day-to-day to keep the RPAs on schedule.

 “This is a big milestone for us,” Chad said. “It proves that good maintenance practices and the capabilities of this aircraft ensure continuous support for the troops on the ground during their missions.”

July 4, 2014, was the last time a 99 ERS BACN Global Hawk canceled a sortie because of maintenance issues.

(Names have been removed for security purposes)