HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 419th Fighter Wing is on the forefront of military power, flying the combat coded F-35 Lightning II and providing vigilant deterrence for U.S. adversaries. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work required to keep the F-35 ready for action, and the 419th Maintenance Squadron makes it all possible.
Reservists in the 419th MXS provide back shop maintenance support and perform routine inspections to ensure the F-35 is fully mission capable before returning to the flightline. The squadron is made up of six areas of capability including fabrication, accessories, munitions, aerospace ground equipment, inspection, and propulsion.
“We work on the latest cutting edge airframe and system technology with the new F-35 aircraft,” said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Matysik, 419th MXS superintendent. “We build bombs, overhaul jet engines, work composite structures, and low observable coatings. We maintain the jets to keep them combat ready and flying on schedule.”
Half of the squadron’s more than 200 Airmen are traditional reservists, part-timers who train at least one weekend a month and two weeks a year to maintain the same proficiency standards as active duty Airmen.
“We’re like a big family,” said Senior Airman Kevin Davis, a low observable technician who works on the stealth capabilities of the F-35, which is designed to get in and out of combat before the enemy knows. “We’re always watching each other’s backs, so we take care of the pilots by making sure they’re not seen.”
Working together, the six MXS flights coordinate to maintain the highest standards of quality and safety, and provide the “elbow grease” necessary to keep the Air Force “machine” running.
“Our number one job is to keep the pilots safe,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Westover, an egress craftsman who works on the jet’s ejection seat structure. “Our (egress) system is the last resort for them to escape the aircraft, so we have to be vigilant and very meticulous with our work to ensure their safety.”
As a Reserve squadron, 419th MXS Airmen also work alongside the active duty 388th Fighter Wing to achieve total force integration. The wings train together so they are prepared to work as one unit in any deployed environment.
Within the past year, Airmen in the 419th MXS have put their skills and training to the test, deploying to Albacete Air Base, Spain, and most recently to Kadena Air Base, Japan, and remain ready to deploy anywhere in the world, whenever they are needed.