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F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Team Hill unveils first squadron of upgraded F-16s

August 24, 2006 (by 2nd Lt Beth Woodward) - From the depot of the Ogden Air Logistics Center to the tarmac of the 388th Fighter Wing, the first squadron of Common Configuration Implementation Program block 40 F-16s was declared war-ready Monday thanks to members of Team Hill.

USAF F-16C block 52 #92880 was the first to receive the CCIP upgrade. [LMTAS photo ]

The F-16 Fighting Falcons of the 34th Fighter Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Tom Smith, completed the CCIP modification process within nine months. Each aircraft averaged four months' time in depot maintenance.

While most units travel across several states to reach the services of an air logistics center, the 34th FS had the luxury of just towing its jets to the 309th Maintenance Wing here.

"As a multi-role fighter jet, the F-16 is a vital part of our Air Force inventory," said Brig. Gen. Art Cameron, 309th MXW Commander. "We are maintaining and upgrading the avionics, engines, pylons and other areas using cost-effective methods and carefully working with the other units on Hill to meet their needs."

"The 309th is proud to be able to provide our war fighter neighbor - the 388th Fighter Wing - a state-of-the-art fighting machine," General Cameron said.

Ogden ALC Commander Maj. Gen. Kevin Sullivan, who is responsible for supervising the 309th MXW as well as four other wings, is also proud of the advanced capability Team Hill has achieved.

"It's important to remember that we are in a life and death business," General Sullivan said. "Our war fighters need the jets we produce in order to carry out their missions. The men and women of the 573rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron applied their collective intelligence to dramatically improve the block 40 CCIP modification process. By incorporating such 'lean' techniques as cellular flow, standard work, and visual management within their value stream, they are now able to return better F-16s back to the war fighter - faster, with higher quality, and at reduced cost."

The Upgrade Process

Development and planning for CCIP began in the mid to late 1990s at the combined F-16 Systems Program Office located here and at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. It began as a program to bring the approximately 650 Block 40 and block 50 F-16s to a common avionics configuration. By reducing the number of aircraft hardware and software configurations to be upgraded and sustained, CCIP reduces the costs to operate and maintain the F-16 fleet.

Along the way, it was determined that CCIP could also add significant new capabilities to the F-16. CCIP brings not only a new modular mission computer to the jet, but it also adds new cockpit color displays, a helmet-mounted weapon cueing system and an advanced communications data link system, which allows F-16s to share vast amounts of battle space information, not only with other F-16s but with other aircraft types and ground forces as well. Together, the suite of CCIP upgrades significantly enhances the F-16 pilot's situational awareness and precision war fighting capabilities.

"It's wonderful to see the CCIP program meeting its promise of increased commonality, enhanced war fighting capabilities, and reduced operating costs," said Col. Scott Jansson, commander of the 508th Aircraft Sustainment Wing here. "Since my days as a captain in the F-16 SPO more than 10 years ago until now, I have continued to be impressed by the mission-focused teamwork demonstrated by our 508th Aircraft Sustainment Group, the 84th Combat Sustainment Wing, 309th MXW, and more recently the 388th FW. This Hill team has ensured that the F-16 CCIP delivers its advanced capabilities to our war fighters on time and on cost."

Once program managers developed and procured the CCIP hardware and software capabilities, the upgrade process moved to the 309th MXW for execution where 250 maintainers work on the F-16 upgrades.

CCIP modifications began in 2002 with Block 50 and 52 models of the F-16 and expanded to the operational Block 40s in November 2005, beginning with the 388th FW. The upgrade gives the F-16 greater combat capability and puts Block 40, 42, 50 and 52 models on the same configuration and software.

Bringing Advanced Technology to the Warfighter

In addition to time required for programming and depot work, the pilots and maintainers of the 34th FS and 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit spent several months adapting to the new technology and capability of their CCIP F-16s.

The upgraded jets now include a joint helmet, which allows a pilot to lock onto a target with his vision instead of pointing the entire aircraft toward the target. Link 16 communication technology now allows pilots to communicate with Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, ground troops and all other aircraft - simultaneously.

"If one were to name three biggest advances in fighter aviation since World War II, they would be the jet engine, global positioning system and, now, CCIP," said Col. Robert Beletic, 388th FW commander and a command pilot with over 3,300 hours in the F-16. "CCIP gives us the ability to data link secure information among all the major players, have the most pertinent info projected on your helmet, and direct our sensors and weapons with our eyes. This is very powerful."

Colonel Beletic added, "We are fortunate to live and work with the professionals of the ALC. While this CCIP upgrade takes our combat capability to a whole new level, the ALC provides us with expert advice and material support everyday. And our brother wing, the 75th Air Base Wing, provides the foundation for almost everything we do. Without the 75th ABW's support, we could not fly and fix aircraft. Instead, with the 75th ABW, we and the 419th Fighter Wing form a super team providing air dominance for our nation."

Each component of Team Hill was instrumental in bringing these advances to the F-16.

"According to our pilots, the CCIP upgrade is a huge jump in the capability of the weapons system, and the 75th ABW is honored to have provided base-wide support to the 309th MXW and 388th FW in order to make it happen," said Col. Scott Chambers, 75th ABW commander.

The Ogden ALC commander and the four wing commanders involved in the CCIP process - the 508th ASW, 309th MXW, 75th ABW and 388th FW - flew together Monday to orient themselves with the new, powerful technology and to celebrate the great Team Hill achievement.

The 4th Fighter Squadron will be the second of three fighter squadrons in the 388th Fighter Wing to receive the upgrades. The projected CCIP completion date for the wing, including the jets coming to Hill from Cannon AFB, N.M., as directed by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, is March 2008.

Republished with kind permission of Hilltop Times.