MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Sheets of snow blanket Misawa, one of the U.S. Air Forces snowiest base, leaving a picturesque view of the flight line. However, the accumulation of snow, ice and frost disrupts the mission of the 35th Fighter Wing (FW) by degrading aircraft and grounding flights.
Aircraft deicing is an integral part of mission readiness during inclement weather. Once the aircraft is deiced, the aircrew performs a pre-flight check to deem it 'airworthy' before takeoff.
After the primary deicer broke down beyond repair, 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) members coordinated the arrival of a new deicer to resume the mission of clearing off Misawa Air Bases’ F-16 Fighting Falcons.
“It was quite the process to get the deicer over here,” said U.S. Air Force MSgt Konrad Goolsby, 35th LRS vehicle management flight chief. “Once we located the asset in Osan, it had to be shipped here by boat where it fell over while being off loaded at a port in Hachinohe.”
Goolsby was then able to source a second deicer; however, this one was at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. With Misawa’s winter season fast approaching, transportation by ship was not a viable option. The 35th FW coordinated efforts with Pacific Air Forces and the 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron to come up with a plan to get the asset to Misawa before the inevitable snow season.
“Instead of flying in a deicer from Al-Udeid, we did a shuffle where we were able to quickly acquire a deicer from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while they were backfilled by the one from Al-Udeid,” said Goolsby.
The Airmen of the 35th LRS were able to complete the procurement, navigating various obstacles and unique efforts, including a special assignment airlift mission that delivered the new extended deicer to Misawa Air Base, Japan, on December 17, 2022. This is the first time Misawa AB has had this extended capability, improving the efficiency and capacity of aircraft maintenance.
“These types of assets are the only vehicles that can be raised high enough to reach C-5s and C-17s. Without proper deicing planes can’t take off which means that if the deicing capability is not available, then the base cannot accept the airframe and therefore the aircraft can end up being stranded if it snows or freezes,” said Goolsby.
The upgraded deicing capability allows the 35th FW to launch F-16 aircraft, as well as larger aircraft, through the snowy season, ensuring the base can continue the mission of defending U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.