January 18, 2008 (by SSgt. Araceli Alarcon) - The 8th Fighter Wing received a squadron's worth of F-16 block 40 Fighting Falcons this week under the Common Configuration Implementation Program from Eielson AFB.
USAF F-16C block 40 #90-0733 now joining 80th FS lands after a flight from Eielson AFB on January 18th, 2008.
The 8th Fighter Wing received a squadron's worth of F-16 block 40
Fighting Falcons this week under the Common Configuration Implementation Program from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
The 18 CCIP
modified aircraft provide significant avionics upgrades, a joint helmet mounted cueing system and a modular mission computer to F-16 Block 40s and 50s. Currently, the 80th Fighter Squadron is flying Block 30s which will transition to the aggressor squadron based at Eielson. The CCIP upgrades ensure state-of-the-art, combat capability well into the 21st century.
Shortly after the arrival of aircraft from Eielson, the 80th FS
will begin their movement of 16 F-16s back to the Alaskan-based unit.
This week's swap out is larger than the original one in October. Lieutenant Colonel Shane Riza, 80th FS director of operations, explained that the experience from the last swap out will make it a lot easier this time around.
"This swap will definitely be easier for both operations and maintenance Airmen given our three months of experience with our first four Block 40 CCIP airplanes," he said. "Over 80 percent of our pilots are now qualified to fly the new jets, something we accomplished in two and a half months with only four jets."
Although, the new aircraft provide better combat capability, the arrival of the new Block 40s does present some challenges.
"The reality is there are always unique variables that make each swap different." Senior Master Sgt. Naehu, 8th Maintenance Squadron armament flight chief said, "Unforeseen problems or last minute adjustments always arise, but with additional training it is nothing we can't overcome."
Even with these challenges, the 80th maintainers continue to push themselves to be on top of training and familiarization of this new system
"Our maintainers have spent the last three months getting to know the differences between the Block 30s and our new Block 40s," said Colonel Riza. "They've done a fantastic job keeping those jets flying before the support structure and logistics system for block-specific parts caught up to us here at the tip of the spear."
The colonel said he is confident there will be a seamless flow as they ramp up to full combat capability in minimum time with the new aircraft.
This week's arrival of Block 40 aircraft from Eielson concludes the wing's swap out for the 80th FS under the CCIP upgrade.