Master Sgt. Michael Helm, 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, describes features of a composite tool kit to members of the Royal Moroccan air force on March 12. Members of the RMAF visited Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to learn about Air Force maintenance procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Ian Dean)
Chief Master Sgt. Robert Britton and Master Sgt. Michael Helm, 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, discuss features of the F-16 nose landing gear with a member of the Royal Moroccan air force on March 12. Members of the RMAF visited Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to learn about Air Force maintenance procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Ian Dean)
by DEBORAH SILLIMAN WOLFE
Thunderbolt staff writer
3/17/2009 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- To an outsider looking in, it may have looked like a typical briefing; military members gathered around a conference table discussing ideas while viewing a PowerPoint presentation describing aspects of the maintenance and operational side of Luke Air Force Base, the largest F-16 Fighting Falcon training base in the world. But this brief was anything but typical.
Four of the men at the conference table were members of the Royal Moroccan air force who are in the process of building an F-16 base in their home country. They traveled 6,000 miles to meet Luke Airmen, talk with them and tour the installation to get an insider's perspective on how an F-16 base operates.
"These guys are getting a squadron of F-16s in the near future and they are going to stand up an F-16 base from the ground up," said Capt. Matthew Kucia, 425th Fighter Squadron standardization and evaluations officer. "They are not just putting F-16s on an existing base; they are building the entire infrastructure."
Captain Kucia said the Moroccan team decided to come to Luke since it is the largest F-16 wing in the world with more than 180 jets. They wanted to see how the base integrates the jets, base operations and maintenance. He also said the team will visit the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., as well, since that is where international F-16 training is done.
Col. M'hamed Saufi, Royal Moroccan air force, said that the visit has been very helpful for him and his fellow airmen.
"Our base will be different in that it will be small compared to Luke," Colonel Saufi said. "The number of technicians and pilots will not be the same since we will have fewer facilities. But we can apply Luke's organizational points of view and the maintenance procedures applied to the aircraft, especially how to handle the foreign object debris on the field and the maintenance of the fleet."
Colonel Saufi said the most interesting aspect he saw at Luke is the infrastructure and the organization, especially in the maintenance squadron, civil engineering and the readiness supply section.
"I am amazed at all the questions they're asking," said 1st Lt. Kevin Mauersberg, 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer-in-charge. "The questions are spot-on, so they've done their homework. It's good to hear what they're asking; it tells me that they're engaged, and we're giving them the right information."
The U.S. Department of State describes Morocco as a moderate Arab state which maintains close relations with Europe and the United States. It is a member of the United Nations and belongs to the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Although not a member of the African Union, Morocco remains involved in African diplomacy. It contributes consistently to U.N. peacekeeping efforts on the continent.
"Morocco is one of the United States oldest and closest allies in Africa," said Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, 56th Fighter Wing commander. "It was great to be able to share information with members of a country that has many of the same ideals as the United States concerning conflict resolution, counterterrorism cooperation and public outreach."