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What’s It Take to Gear Up: Preparation by F-16 pilots and maintainers from Aviano AB, Italy, for their deployment to Balad AB, Iraq, was extensive, reports Air Force journalist SrA. Sarah Gregory. The maintainers of the 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit started a year early, ensuring they got any major scheduled maintenance completed on time. The pilots of the 510th Fighter Squadron began prepping months early, with short deployments, including trips to Hill AFB, Utah, for a Combat Hammer, and Nellis AFB, Nev., for Red Flag. That prep work enabled the Aviano airmen to start conducting combat sorties within less than six hours after landing at Balad.