A Royal Saudi Air Force AWACS aircraft recently left Tinker for duty in Saudi Arabia after a nearly year-long restoration by the 76th Maintenance Squadron.
Danny Simon, Middle East support chief located in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, praised the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group for taking on the additional work among its many other depot maintenance obligations.
The E-3 Sentry, which bears the words “God Bless You” in English on its fuselage, is one of five in the Royal Saudi Air Force. It was inactive for over three years after overheating during flight causing catastrophic damage to the radar antenna located inside the rotodome, Mr. Simon said.
After aircraft arrival in May of last year, Tinker technicians removed and replaced the radar antenna much quicker than expected which allowed continued repair work on the aircraft’s radio systems, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) radar and hydraulics systems.
“Collectively as a group, we have almost completely rebuilt the entire support structure that controls radar,” Mr. Simon said. “We had to replace what we call the big white parts — all of your high-voltage section, high-power parts. That’s not a small task. In fact, it’s never been done before this airplane.”
More than 40 crewmembers that entailed Saudi pilots, radar operators and maintenance crews stayed in Oklahoma City recently to conduct the check flight before the plane was accepted and flown back to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Simon’s section coordinated all aspects for delivering the military aircraft to Tinker AFB and ultimately back home.
“This was a monumental effort, which required multiple agencies involvement including daily interaction at the highest levels of the United States Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force.”
Mr. Simon attributes the success of aircraft 1804’s return home to great teamwork amongst all of the players and a united front of support from senior leadership.