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"The airplanes do best when we can park them in our flow-through shelters to prevent the snow from accumulating on them," Niemi continues. The flow-through shelters are heated hangars with doors on two facing sides. The 90th has only eight of these shelters for its twenty F-22s, so the unit always has aircraft parked in the weather.
"Snow doesn't present a particular problem," Niemi explains. "It affects our schedule more than anything else because de-icing the airplane requires more time. We have to clear the wings and flight control surfaces of any ice before we take off.
"All of the jets have held up quite well," explains Capt. Mary Lent, maintenance chief for the 90th. "We have had a few flight control issues. But other than that, maintenance has been fairly routine." Aircraft take about one week to acclimate to a new environment. The F-22 is no different from any other fighter going between climate extremes of cold Alaska to warm tropics. "The low-observable coatings require a little more maintenance because of the tropical environment," Lent adds. "So we rinse the F-22 with clear water daily to prevent corrosion."