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Airmen behind the aircraft

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Ellsworth's 27 B-1 bombers are a vital part of the 28th Bomb Wing's mission and require highly qualified maintenance personnel to keep them in the air.

These men and women, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs, ensure aircraft are properly maintained at all times. 

"Our mission is to fix and fly aircraft," said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Justice, 28th AMXS superintendent. "We provide safe and reliable aircraft for our aircrews and ensure our Airmen are trained for their missions abroad."

In addition to repairing the aircraft, the 28th AMXS ensures the B-1s are properly serviced with fuel, hydraulic fluid and liquid oxygen, while also performing scheduled inspections.

"We work the inspection schedule to ensure we have aircraft availability," Justice said. "We look to see what aircraft we can provide for the week, along with the aircraft we can set down for inspections or regular maintenance."

While regular day-to-day maintenance is performed on an aircraft, there are some days that take a little more planning.

"This week, we had our surge," Justice said. "A surge is when we gather all of our available aircraft that are fully mission-capable and put them into a flying schedule to fly more sorties than we normally would fly."

Justice added approximately 20 sorties are flown in a normal week, but with the surge the goal is to fly nearly double that number.

However, the 28th AMXS is not alone in the task of caring for the aircraft.
"We also work with the [28th Maintenance Squadron] and sheet metal shop in the mission of repairing and maintaining aircraft," Justice said.

The 28th AMXS handles the overall maintenance of the aircraft, while 28th MXS deals with the components and the Fabrication Flight who take care of the paneling.

Whether it is day-to-day maintenance or preparing for sortie surges, providing expeditionary combat airpower, anytime, anywhere with B-1 bombers would not be possible without these highly trained personnel.