Houston & Peach

J-STARS engine mishap damages planes

Sr. Airman Robert Shropshire, left, gives a suggestion for Staff Sgt. Jason Balser while working on a JSTARS engine in this 2014 file photo.  A faulty engine scattered debris last week, damaging four planes.
Sr. Airman Robert Shropshire, left, gives a suggestion for Staff Sgt. Jason Balser while working on a JSTARS engine in this 2014 file photo. A faulty engine scattered debris last week, damaging four planes. jvorhees@macon.com

Four J-STARS planes at Robins were damaged last week after an engine failed and jettisoned debris, according to a J-STARS release.

Three of the four E-8C planes have returned to mission ready status, and the fourth should be mission ready soon, said the release sent Sunday. The incident happened Tuesday during a ground maintenance engine run.

Four airmen were examined by medical personnel as a precaution and released.

Personnel from the 461st Air Control Wing and the 116th Air Control Wing, which jointly maintain and operate J-STARS, worked around the clock to return the planes to mission ready status, the release stated.

A safety investigation board is scheduled to arrive at the base on Thursday to determine the cause.

“The teamwork of our integrated Guard and active duty maintenance complex is an example to every unit,” Col. James Long, 461st Maintenance Group commander, said in the release. “The men and women of the 116st and 461st Maintenance Groups used a disciplined and detailed inspection process to access and then repair the affected aircraft. It is an honor to serve among such an impressive team of professionals.”

Flying operations halted until Thursday to ensure that all debris had been picked up and no other aircraft was damaged.

“Our maintenance personnel are phenomenal,” Col. Thomas Grabowski, 116th Air Control Wing commander, said in the release. “There is nothing the men and women of Team J-STARS can’t do, they never cease to amaze me. Their ability to restore these aircraft to flight status in such a short period of time demonstrates the combat mission ready posture of this unique organization.”

J-STARS, or Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, flies decades old aircraft that are heavily used. The Air Force is in the process of buying new planes for J-STARS.

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