April 30, 2009 (by 4th EAMU) - An F-16 Fighting Falcon #89-2092 assigned to the 4th EFS, deployed from Hill AFB, Utah, became the "first block 40" F-16 to surpass the 7,000 hour milestone during a recent combat mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A1C. Thomas Shepard, 332nd EAMXS assistant dedicated crew chief, and SrA. David McAdams, 332nd EAMXS avionics technician journeyman, inspect F-16C block 40 #89-2092 from the 34th FS after it landed recently. This F-16 became the first 40 block to surpass the 7,000-hour milestone. [USAF photo by SrA. Tiffany Trojca]
"'Block' refers to the variant of the jet, similar to the different trims of cars ... like EL (extreme luxury) versus SL (standard luxury,)" said 1st Lt. Andy Glindmeyer, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft maintenance unit assistant officer-in-charge. "The different blocks have different levels of upgrades and different capabilities. The Air National Guard had a block 25
go over 7,000 hours last year so that's why we had to delineate by block and not just say the first F-16 to go over 7,000 flying hours."
"I've seen many other aircraft with fewer hours that don't fly nearly as well as this one," said Airman 1st Class Thomas Shepard, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-16 crew chief. "She's a warhorse."
"What makes this ground-breaking achievement more significant is the fact that it was achieved in combat," Lieutenant Glindmeyer said.
From August 2007 to October 2008, the Falcon logged more than 1,400 combat hours and under the banner of all three of the 388th Fighter Wing's deployed fighter squadrons. Once again deployed, the F-16 has been true to form, leading the 4th EFS fleet with yet another 350 combat flight hours.
"The F-16 is an amazing aircraft--to have flown so many hours and to be capable of adjusting roles based on the theater of operations in which it is employed," said Col. Roger Rostvold, 388th Maintenance Group commander. "The hard work of the maintainers throughout our group's maintenance complex and the outstanding civilian workforce at the F-16 depot repair line are truly evident in its accomplishments."
According to Lockheed Martin officials, the F-16's forecasted design life is 8,000 flying hours. However, Air Force officials expect the F-16 to be in service beyond the year 2020 -- which will take the aircraft well beyond its forecasted 8,000 flight hours.
"Maintenance and fleet health definitely become more challenging as the aircraft age and manning shrinks; just ask anyone who owns an older automobile," said Capt. Erik Schmid, 4th AMU officer-in-charge. "Our maintainers on the line have responded and will be ready to keep these aircraft flying for as long as necessary. It has been an honor to serve alongside maintainers as this milestone is truly a representation of their hard work."
"Seven-thousand hours on an airframe doesn't just magically (occur) on its own," said Senior Master Sgt. Rob Webster, 4th AMU senior NCO
-in-charge. "For the aircraft to have reached this milestone is a testament to the maintenance professionals who work our aircraft every day."