Offutt maintainers support Royal Air Force during two week training opportunity

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  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Four maintainers from the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 55th Maintenance Squadron recently traveled across the pond to work side-by-side with their counterparts from the Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron.

The two week exercise was an opportunity to expand upon the co-manning process for both fighting forces as they provide support to the U.S. and U.K.’s RC-135V/W Rivet Joint fleet.

“Our goal was to integrate ourselves into 51 Squadron and becoming a part of the team,” said MSgt. Luka Hurley, 55th AMXS assistant lead production superintendent.

“It wasn’t whether co-manning would work, it was all about how we could make it work really well,” he added. “It didn’t take long to form common bonds with each other as aircraft maintainers and share a common goal of executing the RC-135 mission.”

The Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth Airmen who were chosen for the trip specialized in aircraft mission systems, avionics, aircraft structures and fuel systems.

Working alongside their RAF colleagues the two units ensured the 51 Squadron’s two available RJ’s met their operational taskings as required.

“This was a great opportunity for both parties to share engineering experience, further integrating engineering working practices which can often present challenges due to inherent differences between the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force procedures,” said RAF Sqn. Ldr. K.J. Bissett, 51 Squadron executive officer.

“Our co-manning partnership with the U.K. serves as a bridge for cross flowing ideas and technical innovations,” said Maj. Julian Thomas, 55th MXS commander. “It also gives the U.S. Air Force an opportunity to influence the maturation of the U.K.’s aircraft maintenance program.”

The Department of Defense and the U.K. Ministry of Defense came to an agreement in 2011 that allowed the RAF to purchase three RJs over a seven year period.

Since then the 55th Wing has trained all of the 51 Squadron’s 135 pilots, navigators, electronic warfare officers, intelligence operators and airborne maintenance technicians as well as their maintainers and avionics specialists.

Being welcomed into 51 Squadron and the Royal Air Force was a complete honor,” Hurley said. “Our co-manning relationship is sure to be a success.”

The two units are already looking at other ways to continue to grow their relationship and synergy in the future.

The exercise was hugely successful and enhanced the already excellent ties between U.S Air Force and Royal Air Force engineering,” Bissett said.

“Our cooperation at the technical level will help both nations achieve greater interoperability and warfighting effectiveness in the future,” Thomas said.