PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, Saudi Arabia --- While F-15C Eagles fly high securing U.S. CENTCOM’s skies, U.S. Air Force maintainers and crew chiefs from the 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron await the airframe’s arrival on the flight line below, anticipating the workload to come.
After their touch down, the F-15s taxi to their respective area where the crews, with tools in hand, prepare to begin maintenance. They immediately get to work loading the aircraft with armaments, checking fuel levels and refueling the aircraft in order to get the jet back in the skies as quickly as possible while the engines are still running.
Once all processes are complete, the F-15s are ready to take off and fly another sortie.
This rapid re-arming and refueling of the Eagle is known as an integrated combat turn. This platform is geared to reduce the pilot's ground time and quickly resume air dominance.
“Executing ICTs allowed the weapons crew to accomplish what they were trained to do, and that is, load reliable combat ready aircraft proficiently, safely and in a timely,” said Senior Master Sgt. Darrick Evans, 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron senior weapons lead. “It's the first ICT on an F-15C since the early 2000s.”
During the ICT, the aircraft goes through an accelerated servicing process of fuel and a full complement combat load of munitions.
“The standard load time for a full complement of munitions and refuel is less than one hour,” said Senior Master Sgt. Darrick Evans, 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron senior weapons lead. “If the aircraft is completely shut down, a cold start could take up to 2 hours. Performing an ICT will reduce this time drastically.”
Because of the speed at which the aircraft are armed and refueled, ICTs can increase the amount of combat sorties that are flown. This increase can be very advantageous for the Air Force in future operations.
“Performing ICTs in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility increases lethality and produce air superiority in the contested environment,” Evans said. “It also increases the operator’s rapid combat response capability.”
Prince Sultan Air Base has increased its readiness and lethality by executing ICTs. The application of this process is just one example of how the installation continues to provide depth, ensure our allies and deter malign actors in the region.