"Adir" (F-35I) Maintenance10.06.2019 | Dor Palkovic | Photography: Celia Garion
The 140th ("Golden Eagle") Squadron's Technical Department is responsible for the entirety of the "Adir" (F-35I) fighter jet's maintenance process. "The 'Adir' is unlike any aircraft we've ever heard of", said Maj. H', commander of the squadron's technical department.
"The 'Adir' is very advanced in the field of maintenance, capable of participating in a sort of 'discourse' with the technicians", elaborated Maj. H. "The aircraft provides notifications whenever its parts need to be changed. It also has countless sensors constantly overviewing the aircraft, and we're immediately notified when any sign of wear is detected".
These systems – as well as several others installed in the "Adir" - do not exist in other aircraft in the force. In addition, the aircraft's literature is written entirely in English, seeing as the aircraft was manufactured by the US-based Lockheed Martin Corporation. This requires the Technical Department's service members to operate accordingly.
The Secret: Precise Planning
Even though the 140th Squadron is already operational, the aircraft is still in development. "There are some scenarios that we still encounter for the first time. We have no resources to rely on, which means we have to be very aware of everything we do", added Maj. H'. "The Technical Department's personnel are pioneers in the field of fifth-generation maintenance, and the department continues to acquire new capabilities as time goes by".
One has to pass a series of tests and a designated training course before arriving at the Technical Department, which demands that one be as precise as possible in their operation. "This makes everything easier for the technical crews", explained SMaj. Dima Chervets, Head of the Squadron's Munitions Crew. "We also have emergency standbys in case of unplanned events".
The "Adir" and its unique capabilities require the technical crews to be especially careful. "We can't use the tools fighter squadron's usually use, and the soldiers usually work with gloves on", said MSgt. Chervets.
"Doing maintenance work on such a unique, innovative aircraft is challenging", added MSgt. Chervets. "The malfunctions we face usually aren't mechanical like they are in different aircraft, but mostly electronics-related".
A New Division
"I think every technician in our department is proud of taking part in the operation of such an advanced aircraft", shared Maj. H'. "We understand that this is bound to be the main platform utilized in the future, and following its development from its earliest stages is an amazing experience. The work we do today will influence the division for years to come".
The 116th Squadron - the second "Adir" squadron, due to be opened in 2020 - recently held a ceremony marking the establishment of its first building. "We work in full cooperation with the 116th Squadron even now, before its official establishment", concluded Maj. H'. "We are considering our cooperation to be the beginning of a new division".