The field maintenance unit is a part of the R3 Maintenance Company, where R3 stands for rescue, remove and repair.
“Our job may briefly be described to be clearing the field of rubbish or FOD (Foreign Objects Damage). This means doing all sorts of things like sweeping, vacuum-cleaning or clearing away snow from the runways to chasing away birds and filling joints in the surface. Our job is very important for the security; a stone that is less than a centimetre in size may not cause an aircraft to crash, but it may cause engine damage that is expensive to repair,” says Mr. Modin.
During the exercise everything is up and running when the morning shift arrives, the big cleaning session starts just before 8 a.m. It all starts by the field maintenance chief inspecting the field, and then the maintenance vehicles roll out vacuum-clean the whole of the military part of the air field, including taxiways, aprons and link roads to the runway.
“We normally do not make such a thorough cleaning of the military part every morning, but for this exercise our guests have that requirement,” says Mr. Modin.
On Their Toes
There is a special routine for the vacuum-cleaning of the runway. During an exercise such as Loyal Arrow, there is ongoing activity from early morning till late at night.
“Besides inspecting the runway system once every hour when there is flying going on, we go out as soon as there has been a landing or a take-off. We have to be especially observant when the large US Air Force tanker aircraft or any helicopter has been in action. The disturb large amounts of sand and stones,” continues Mr. Modin.
The air field maintenance unit at the F 21 Wing takes care of the maintenance of the whole air field, both the military and the civilian sections. The unit has seven sweepers/blowers, ten front loaders with snow blowers and snow blades, three trucks with vacuum-cleaners and a couple of excavators, just to mention some of their resources.
“We have the resources for both major and minor work, during this exercise we have besides the normal maintenance also built fences and helped with the erection of the wire system for the US Air Force. It involved quite extensive work with excavators in order to anchor it in the ground. As an interesting point I would like to mention that every year, we use about 80 tons of topsoil to repair the damage to the grass surface on the field caused by clearing the snow,” ends Mr. Modin.