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Hydraulics steer the BUFF in the right direction

By Airman 1st Class Andrew Moua 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Pumps, pistons, brakes and actuators are the backbone of hydraulics, a science that allows Barksdale's B-52H Stratofortresses to maneuver through battle space and deliver bombs on target.

To accomplish this mission, the 2nd Maintenance Squadron Accessories Flight Hydraulics Section has the responsibility of maintaining and repairing brake systems and flight controls, and making sure anything that enables the aircraft to move is in proper working order.

The hydraulic system allows the aircraft to maneuver and brake through the use of pressurized fluid, while the fluid pushes and pulls pistons inside the aircraft and is much more efficient than gas or electric power, said Staff Sgt. Daniel Fenimore, 2 MXS Accessories Flight Hydraulics Section shop chief.

"Without hydraulic systems, the aircraft can't run," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Bridges, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Unit hydraulics section NCO in charge of hydraulics. "Without hydraulics, the aircraft is unable to open its bomb-bay doors, deploy landing gear, steer or maneuver. These vital systems allow the aircraft to get to where it needs to, when it needs to."

The hydraulics shop uses 12 personnel to overhaul and maintain all of the B-52's hydraulics systems on Barksdale. Like most maintenance shops, Airmen new to the field must go through a rigorous process to become efficient with the B-52's flight control systems, brakes and sections of the aircraft that require hydraulics to move.

"We just received four new Airmen from technical school," said Senior Airman Richard Cota, 2 MXS Accessories Flight Hydraulics Section. "Until they earn their 5 skill level, which can take up to a year, they are not allowed to work on any part of the aircraft without supervision."

During this time they are constantly training to become proficient in their craft, he added.

The majority of the hydraulics section's work involves overhauling pieces of equipment sent to them by their flightline counterparts, testing and evaluating parts being sent back to aircraft and ordering replacements for parts damaged beyond repair. Parts are also produced in-house, as any part needed to be put on the aircraft can be made within the hydraulics section.

Once parts have been fixed, they are placed in a hydraulic test bed which simulates conditions within the aircraft. Afterwards, the parts are sent back out to the flightline to be reinstalled.

Hydraulics is split into the flightline and phase hangar sections. The flightline hydraulics section mainly handles red-balls, situations that require immediate maintenance during take-off procedures, and the phase hangar section handles major inspections.

"A red-ball is what occurs when an aircraft is preparing to take-eoff and emergency maintenance needs to be done," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Bridges, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Unit NCO in charge of hydraulics. "This could be anything from low hydraulic pressure, leaking hoses or a part requiring immediate replacement."

Although the hydraulics section is split into different sections and poised to handle different situations, they all have the same mission: to Get Barksdale's aircraft back in the air, on time and on target.