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F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Hill's 388th and 419th Fighter Wings share F-16s

April 26, 2007 (by 388FW & 419FW Public Affairs) - A historic agreement was signed into place April 16, finalizing the association between the 388th Fighter Wing and 419th Fighter Wing.

Gen. Ronald Keys, Air Combat Command commander, and Lt. Gen. John Bradley, Air Force Reserve Command commander, signed a Total Force Integration Memorandum of Understanding outlining the way ahead for Hill Air Force Base's 388 and 419 FWs, which will begin flying and maintaining a shared F-16 fleet this summer.

TFI between the Reserve 419 FW and the active duty 388 FW is the Air Force test case for future fighter associate programs. The MoU provides a framework for how the two wings will organize and operate.

While the active duty retains responsibility for the fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons, operations and maintenance experts from both wings will work together on a daily basis to accomplish the flying mission.

Hill's fighter wings will integrate as part of the Air Force's TFI initiative, which aims to increase combat capabilities and efficiencies among like units while capitalizing on the high experience levels of Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard personnel.

"Our integration here is a necessity," said Col. Robert Beletic, 388 FW commander. "The Air Force is in a time of manpower cuts and consistent combat deployments in support of the Global War on Terror. We appreciate the support of dedicated reservists, like those in the 419th."

"Our reservists are typically older, highly experienced and offer long-term continuity of daily operations at Hill," said Col. Gary Batinich, 419 FW commander. "The TFI association will help maintain aircrew and maintenance expertise and experience levels by capitalizing on the active duty Air Force investment in training while exploiting the resident experience of our reservists."

The Air Force announced the TFI initiative in November 2004, and both wings have been working toward the association since. Several maintenance shops have been working side-by-side for nearly a year, and in-flight guides and standardization evaluation procedures have been completed and are shared by pilots from both wings.

In the next several months, the wings' pilots and maintainers will begin working together even more closely as 419 FW's F-16 block 30 fighter aircraft begin to depart Hill AFB for reassignment to Air National Guard and Air Reserve bases across the U.S.

Alternately, the 388 FW will receive approximately 15 F-16 block 40 aircraft from Cannon AFB, N.M., raising its total to more than 80 aircraft.

Later this year, 419 FW maintenance and operations personnel will deploy alongside the 388 FW's 4th Fighter Squadron.

"Our pilots and maintainers will serve as unrivaled wingmen to the 388 FW, and our support folks will continue to take care of 419th personnel," said Colonel Batinich.

"TFI has truly made us one team, one fight, one Air Force," said Colonel Beletic.

All 419 FW personnel will be administratively assigned to the 419 FW and will continue to carry out Air Force Reserve training requirements one weekend per month and two weeks per year. The 419 FW is also made up of about 500 support personnel who will not be integrated.

Republished with kind permission of Hilltop Times.

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