Wolf Pack maintenance gives F-16 new wings
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 8th Fighter Wing has built a legacy from the hard work, dedication and leadership of those who have had the privilege of being part of the Wolf Pack. The experiences that Airmen gain from an assignment here have lasting effects throughout their careers and lives. Airmen assigned to the 8th Maintenance Squadron and 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are tasked to ensure one aircraft is ready to fly, fight and win with a simultaneous double wing replacement.
Senior Master Sgt. Casey Hall, 8th AMXS lead production superintendent, said, "Aircraft maintenance doesn't happen in one section; it takes the entire team, day in and day out. This double wing change is a perfect example of how different sections in different squadrons all come together to make the mission happen."
This procedure requires crew chiefs and maintainers from aircraft fuels systems, aircraft armament systems and aircraft structural maintenance working in harmony to ensure the replacement of the wings is done correctly and the aircraft is returned to duty.
Technical Sgt. Rene St. Hilaire, 8th MXS aircraft fuels systems craftsman, has nine years working on F-16s and has been a part of four double wing replacement procedures.
“For the Airmen here it is a great training experience,” said St. Hilaire. “The team working on this double wing replacement have different experience levels with the F-16 and for some this is a once in a lifetime experience.”
While single replacements are common, a simultaneous double wing replacement is rare, and the amount of maintainers with experience doing it is even rarer.
“When they told me it was a double wing replacement on the same jet it seemed kind of daunting,” said Staff Sgt. Dwight Hunter, 8th AMXS, aircraft armament systems team lead.
Considerable planning and preparation happen before embarking on a project of this magnitude.
Senior Airman Samantha Cash, 8th MXS aircraft fuels system journeyman, is part of the fuels systems team replacing the wings.
“You don’t see a double wing change very often, so while the challenge is exciting, you have to do your research and make sure everyone knows their role and is comfortable in that role,” said Cash. “Crosstalk between the different career fields is key to everyone being on the same page and that the steps required are completed so that the procedure can be done timely and correctly.”
The work and dedication that frontline supervisors and team chiefs put into each new team member is key to building highly capable, technically proficient maintenance professionals working in a high-tempo, operational environment.
“This is a group effort and with the multiple Air Force Specialty Codes working together it went a lot smoother than I expected,” said Staff Sgt. William Wattley, 8th AMXS aircraft armament systems team lead. “It’s exciting to see young Airmen take direction as I use my experience to guide them through the process.”
As Airmen depart from this remote assignment, the experience they take to their next duty station and beyond is paying dividends for the rest of the Air Force.
“To come to a base like Kunsan, straight from technical school, and work on a project of this magnitude for the first time and excel is amazing,” said Hunter. “It’s emotional to me to see how far our Airmen have come.”