49th EMS conducts first ever depot-level repair on Holloman F-16s

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Paczkowski
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
For the first time at Holloman, Airmen from the 49th Equipment Maintenance Squadron performed F-16 Viper depot-level repairs, and maintenance which included the overhaul, upgrading, rebuilding, retesting of weapon systems, parts, components, and other key parts of the aircraft.
Depot-level repairs are typically done at the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. However, Hill has begun to send request forms out to other bases which allows them to ensure that squadrons, like the 49th EMS, are equipped to start doing depot-level repairs. 
Hill will review the request forms and see if the squadrons are capable of doing depot-level repairs and then send the contractors out and train the Airmen on how to perform the repairs. After reviewing the 49th EMS’s request form, Hill determined that they are qualified to have a contractor help train certain Airmen. 
“With this knowledge set, we can perform the repairs here instead of sending them to Hill,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Braden Gibson, 49th EMS sheet metal shift lead. “This will enable us to get the F-16s back to mission readiness in a shorter time span.” 
Cutting down the time it takes to perform these repairs, helps Hill by alleviating the amount of aircraft sent over to them. This also helps Holloman, because instead of the F-16s waiting to get these repairs done over at Hill, they can find out the problem here and get the F-16 back into working order. 
In the past, a depot-level repair would take about a year and a half to complete or from start to finish, but now with the newfound ability for contractors to train Airmen at different bases, this time can be cut down to only 11 weeks. 
“The Airmen from the 49th EMS are great to work with because they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done,” said Jared Heilig, 309th Software Engineering Group F-16 structural engineer. “Since we have a backlog of aircraft, sending these engineering techs to assist in the training allows us to save time.”
The 49th EMS will need to complete three more depot-level repairs before they are qualified and knowledgeable to do it on their own. 
“We’re able to take the three or five level Airmen out to the aircraft and teach them how to do the repairs,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert McPherson, 49th EMS aircraft structural maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge. “It gives them a good understanding of what a depot-level repair is and how to go about completing it.”
This depot-level training allows the 49th EMS to develop multi-capable Airmen that are increasing the efficiency of the workshop, overall increasing the amount of accomplished F-16 training.