KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss: Airmen from three commands came together to prepare the Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcons in time for the Keesler Air Force Base airshow April 4 after inclement weather damaged five of the aircraft’s noses.
The damage from the weather occurred as the Thunderbirds arrived for the airshow and was limited to the red cones called radar domes, or “radome,” at the nose of the aircraft.
Air Combat Command, Air Education and Training Command, and Air Force Materiel Command Airmen worked together to replace the cones, which are structural, weather proof enclosures that protect the F-16s’ radar antenna from environmental conditions.
Thunderbirds radomes are painted red to match the Thunderbirds motif, a concept used since the team’s inception in 1953. Due to the quick demand, the replacement radomes are not painted red, but instead are the stock grey color.
As Thunderbirds maintenance crews pulled the damaged red radomes from the aircraft, 1,500 miles away at Hill AFB, Utah, five brand new, gray radar domes where being crated and prepared for shipment. Airlift was provided by a C-17 Globemaster III out of Altus AFB, Okla., to deliver the needed parts. Airmen at every level of the chain of command came together to provide their piece of the puzzle.
“I’m truly amazed at the teamwork and efficiency of our Airmen serving in the Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Greg Thomas, the Thunderbirds commander/leader. “After the inclement weather two days ago, I didn’t know how we were going to perform this weekend, but with dedication and commitment of everyone from AFMC and AETC to ACC, we were able to orchestrate delivery of the equipment, and our maintenance crews worked around the clock to ensure we could perform at Keesler. When you see so many different agencies and commands come together to help us perform our mission, you really see that pride and professionalism that’s in all Airmen.”