KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A group of Airmen here are part of a unique shop created to help identify maintenence issues in MC-130 aircraft faster. The 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron wire analysis shop is a test bed for automatic wire test sets. Air Force Special Operations Command officials initiated the AWTS program about four years ago in order to provide special operation maintainers a program to help pinpoint maintenance issues with MC-130s in significantly less time. Each test program set is built to specifically identify wire malfunctions on the aircraft.
"Typically, it can take a maintainer about one minute to test two or three wires by hand with a multimeter," said Tech. Sgt. Don McKenzie, a member of the wire analysis shop. "This system can test more than 3,000 wires in just one minute. This means what may take one maintainer days to identify, this system can catch something in less than a 10-minute period." Each program is written locally to identify specific maintenance issues. McKenzie along with Staff Sgt. Robert Walker are the second generation of Airmen assigned to the wire analysis shop. Between them and the three NCOs before them, they have written five difference test program sets used to help maintainers identify issues with the engine, anti-skid systems, radar systems, missile warning systems and fuel quantity systems. "AFSOC decides which program we need to build based on the number of maintenance issues we may have with a system AFSOC wide," McKenzie said. "We write the program here and get it approved for local use before sending it on to the Depot in Warner Robins who helps distribute the program DoD wide."
Last summer, McKenzie was working as an expediter during the Foal Eagle exercise in Korea when he witnessed the value of AWTS first-hand. "We had an MC-130 down for radar issues," McKenzie said. "We were working 12 hour shifts, 24/7, and still couldn't fix the issue. Finally we called the wire analysis team out and within one hour they told us that there was a broken ground wire. Once the issue was identified the hard part was over for us."
One of the goals of the wire analysis shop is to train their fellow 353rd SOMXS maintainers in the next few years to use the AWTS system so they will be able to simply check out the AWTS from the tool room as need.
By increasing the use of AWTS, the wire analysis shops expects to decrease the amount of aircraft down time by not only shortening the time it takes to trouble shoot hundreds of wires found on an aircraft, but also help their fellow maintainers proactively identify out of tolerance wiring even if the aircraft system still works.
"I think it is amazing," Walker said. "We create something out of nothing and then we get to see how it can help not only locally, but the entire military if they chose to use it."