Total Force Airmen provide F-16 jet engine expertise

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — While 388th and 419th Total Force Fighter Wings here replace their F-16 Fighting Falcons with F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, not all assigned Airmen will transition to the Air Force’s newest platform.

Select Airmen assigned to the 388th/419th Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Flight will continue providing 7-level Jet Engine Intermediate Maintenance (JEIM) for F-16 units long after the last Fighting Falcon leaves Hill AFB later this year.

Propulsion flight Airmen tear down, rebuild and test “expired-hour” F110-GE-100 engines from Hill, Holloman and Nellis Air Force Bases.

“Air Combat Command’s position to leave our centralized repair facility (CRF) in place after the departure of our F-16s reveals how critical their mission is, and how much value they deliver to our Air Force,” said Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander.

Engines are put in “expired” status when they exceed their Total Accumulation Cycle. TAC tracks and measures the life of major engine components and determines when an overhaul is required.

The shop produces anywhere from 30-50 overhauled engines a year, while also performing maintenance on some depot jet engines; they also support deployed units.

“The base’s engine shop is not an intermediate level shop,” said Master Sgt. Justin Perez, flight chief for the 388th MXS Propulsion Flight, “so if there’s a condition they can’t support, rather than shipping an asset home, we support it here.”

Propulsion Airmen deploy to strategically located CRFs around the world to support F-16 units down range. The shop has also sent Airmen to work with foreign military partners to train their maintainers how to perform JEIM on their jet engines.

The work environment and assets produced by the shop are a testament to the benefits of a total force arrangement.

“The active-duty guys roll in and I learn a lot from them. I get exposed to the experiences they’ve had and to different management styles,” said Senior Master Sgt. Donald Roose, flight chief for the 419th MXS Propulsion Flight.

“(Air Reserve Technicians) are our continuity,” added Perez. “There are no negatives.”

“My hope is that our propulsion flight will remain here long term providing the same awesome service, regardless of the type of aircraft we fly in our wings,” concluded Miles.