On Jan. 23, 1979, the first operational F-16A Fighting Falcon arrived at Hill AFB as part of the then, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, making Hill the first Air Force base to stand-up an operational F-16 unit.
For nearly 40 years, the iconic F-16 has been one of the most visible missions on the installation.
Over the past several months, however, sightings of F-16s in the skies of northern Utah has greatly diminished with the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings successful transition to F-35A Lightning II.
Though Hill’s operational F-16s have departed, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex continues to sustain and fly one of the world’s most widely recognized and widely used fighter aircraft ever to take to the skies, with ongoing regeneration, depot-level maintenance and modifications on C and D model F-16s.
Some of the oldest Falcons in the world are kept preserved in the hot, dry Arizona desert at Davis-Monthan AFB, in the massive long-term storage area overseen by the Ogden ALC’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group; a national level airpower reserve providing a service not found anywhere else within the Department of Defense.
The 309th AMARG is responsible for in-house regeneration of aircraft for the QF-16 full-scale aerial target program, along with withdrawing, disassembly, and shipment of airframes and associated parts to Hill AFB for foreign military sales and providing specific parts needed to extend the life expectancy of F-16s that are still in flying status.
Hill AFB is known as the Center of Excellence for F-16s worldwide and the Ogden ALC’s 573rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is the lead organization responsible for all depot-level maintenance performed on the weapon system.
With the help of other organizations within the Ogden ALC, the 573rd AMXS is able to perform a wide range of inspections, modifications and maintenance on F-16s that arrive at Hill as often as twenty or more each month to have different types of work performed on them.
These organizations are responsible for performing sub-system maintenance on items that are both large and small to include aircraft wings, landing gear, the M61 A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon, heads-up display, auxiliary power units, and many different types of electronic and hydraulic parts.
This level of F-16 workload has no signs of slowing down and is expected to grow over the next few years, according to Ogden ALC officials.
“This year we will see five new workloads arrive, the biggest being the high-speed data network, upper block flange modifications, which is a series of structural modifications along with electrical upgrades that is like changing out a phone line in your house to a network high-speed data line,” said Joe Gardenhour, 573rd AMXS director.
Foreign F-16 workload
Twenty-five Air Forces of countries around the world also fly F-16s and many of them have military members assigned to the F-16 Support Program Office International Branch worldwide headquarters, also located at Hill AFB.
One of those countries is Indonesia and over the past five years, the Ogden ALC was employed in an unprecedented foreign military sales deal to deliver twenty-four Block-25 variant F-16s, all of which had been in long-term open-air storage at AMARG for many years and was one of the most complex production efforts within the F-16 depot.
Each aircraft was carefully dismantled, prepared, and shipped in crates 800-miles north from Davis-Monthan AFB to Hill AFB. The final six aircraft were delivered to Indonesia in December 2017 and January 2018.
To help facilitate the delivery of all twenty-four aircraft, small cadres of maintainers from the ALC formed into Depot Field Teams and provided necessary maintenance on the aircraft during scheduled stopovers at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and Anderson AFB, Guam.
While speaking to a small group of 573rd AMXS maintainers involved in the Indonesia workload, Brig. Gen. Stacey T. Hawkins, Ogden Air Logistics commander, recently praised them for their dedicated hard work.
“You were able to strengthen our industrial base by being able to regenerate, produce and deliver those aircraft so our industrial base partners will now be involved in sustaining them through contracts and partnerships with the Indonesian government,” Hawkins said. “Very few times in our business do we have that great of an effect. Your efforts directly contributed, not just in producing another jet, but actually strengthening the power of the United States.”