News | Nov. 6, 2020

"AGE" of Improvements

By Rossi D. Pedroza-Bertrand 940th Air Refueling Wing

Tanker Town, nestled in between farmland and mountains, is the name Reserve Citizen Airmen who support the flying mission at Beale Air Force, California, refer to when describing the 940th Air Refueling Wing and its fleet of KC-135 “Stratotankers.”  

Just over ten years ago in 2009, the 940 Air Refueling Group converted to the 940th Wing to C2ISR (command, control, intelligence and reconnaissance) mission that flew the RQ-4 “Global Hawk.”

Later in 2016, the 940 WG reverted back to air refueling and became the 940 ARW again. It continues its worldwide support mission from Beale AFB located in the northern part of the state.

“We support all of the KC-135’s that are out here. The 940th has a fleet of nine tankers, total,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jesus Fernandez, Aerospace Ground Equipment flight chief for the 940th Maintenance Squadron. “I have been here for three years and I supervise five full time employees.  The AGE shop is responsible for maintaining 160 pieces of support equipment.”

Fernandez and his team have been looking forward in recent years awaiting the day when they would have a new wash rack and jack-tester available to them to help get their mission accomplished more thoroughly and efficiently.

Fernandez explained, “There’s a big piece of machinery out there called a jack tester. It was ordered and after it arrived it sat here in limbo for a while, for a few years or a lot of years. We had to wait to get the big project started. Contracts were being submitted and one of them was to build the new wash rack and then other was for the jack tester facility that is now out in the back.”

According to Chief Master Sgt. David Stoutenburgh, 940th Maintenance Squadron superintendent, the AGE wash rack and test stand together was a military contract project funded by the Air Force Reserve Command.  The government construction agent was United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The primary contractor was Nomlaki Technologies, LLC.  Stoutenburgh commented the design started in early 2018 and the contract was awarded in December 2019 and the value was approximately $986,000. The project was under construction for 11 months including 57 days of delay contributed to COVID-19.  The project completion and government acceptance date was October 28, 2020.

So what exactly is a jack tester? Fernandez briefly described it.  “The purpose is to test multiple pieces of jacks and basically anything that lifts or supports aircraft. For example, we often need to test the frame to make sure it is capable of holding an aircraft off of the ground.” 

“It’s really going to benefit us and the 9 MXS,” (which falls under Air Combat Command, and shares the facility with the 940th MXS). Fernandez continues, “Especially with the jack tester, because before to be tested all of our jacks had to be trucked down to Travis Air Force Base, California. The larger pieces had to be broken down and involved a lot of work instead of testing the complete assembly here. It was a whole day to get down there and two or three days to process get the equipment ready and put it back into service.”

“We just do everything else. We test the equipment they’re going to use on the airplane. We test power units, air conditioners, most of the equipment has to have at least two to three inspections a year which involves routine maintenance and scheduled maintenance and also a wash every six months.”

Another observation that was evident at the AGE building was the squadron acquired additional and much needed space. The back half of the shop was previously used to store logistics equipment and supplies. The AGE staff had only the front half of the bay to do any maintenance. After the other unit vacated, an equipment cage was added and well as other personal and office space in the front half of the building while the back in now properly housing equipment.

“It’s nice for them to have the tools they need to do the job without it being harder than it has to be. For example the room they have in that wash rack is amazing,” commented Fernandez.  “And the universal maintenance stand which is a very large piece of equipment, now we can raise it up but before that we couldn’t do it because there was only a ten foot high ceiling on the old wash rack. The UMS goes up to 40 feet.”

Stoutenburgh confirmed the wash rack is 1,036 square foot in size and the test stand measures 520 square foot with four foot deep cement footings consisting of 26 cubic yards of concrete.

As the wing and the mission grows Fernandez expresses his thoughts that the squadron is on the right track. He stated the working relationship the Reserve wing has with the 9 MXS is both squadrons accommodate each other with tools, equipment and usable space.