April 28, 2008 (by Deanna Shallenberger) - Airmen of the active duty 388th FW and Reserve 419th FW received their final block 40 F-16 to complete the Common Configuration Implementation Program upgrade April 21st.
The final 388th FW Block 40, #88-0421 from 421st FS to undergo CCIP upgrades is handed over to Col. Scott Dennis, 388th FW commander, in a ceremony on April 21, 2008.
The modifications, made by members of Hill's 309th Maintenance Wing, began in November 2005 to enhance the capabilities of the 30-year-old aircraft.
The upgrade focused on an improved interface between the pilot and the aircraft as well as structural and electrical software enhancements. Each aircraft underwent 5,530 hours of maintenance to install more advanced avionics systems such as Link-16 and Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System.
JHMCS equips pilots with a heads-up display in their helmet visor, enabling them to select a target without changing the jet's direction. Aircraft sensors follow the pilot's head, lock onto the target and display targeting information over the pilot's eyes to launch weapons in a nearly seamless "look, lock and launch" action.
The Link-16 data link brings U. S. and coalition partner aircraft into a joint service, multinational system, providing situational awareness data and command and control functions to a connected community of users.
Pilots from the active duty 388th Fighter Wing undergo several training sorties, dedicated to becoming familiar with the new CCIP
upgrade. 4th Fighter Squadron pilot, Capt. Steve Shallenberger has been flying with the CCIP upgrade for one year. He was deployed to Iraq
with his squadron last year, and they were the first to take CCIP-upgraded F-16s to combat.
"CCIP changed the way we employ in Iraq," said Captain Shallenberger. "It made the jet a much more effective weapon system."
"The upgrades give me more confidence in the jet I am flying, and my ability to employ with fellow wingman," he said.
Mechanics in the CCIP line are experienced and understand their contributions to the mission. "The entire CCIP team is committed to producing the highest quality product for the fighter squadrons we support," said Tim Landureth, an aircraft modification supervisor.
Work on the F-16s by the 573rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group, involved stripping out old systems, building a new electrical system, and adding new and updated parts throughout.
"The work was challenging and instilled a sense of pride in the 100 or so employees involved in the process," said Gary Price, cell four-day shift supervisor for the 573rd AMXS.
Each cell of the 573rd AMXS is responsible for different aspects of the aircraft during the upgrade. Aircraft are moved through the hangar to individual cells where steps in the upgrade are performed. Progress in each area is tracked and measured to improve efficiency. Price said it is rewarding when he sees the finished product out flying because he knows what he's done works.
"I appreciate the great work that the depot has done, putting this together," said Col. Geoffrey Bacon, 388th Aircraft Maintenance squadron commander. "The fact that this is the last one, that all of our jets now have the CCIP upgrade, it's just awesome. "
Col. Scott Dennis, 388th FW commander, accepted the combat-ready aircraft back into the fleet from Brig. Gen. Art Cameron, 309th Maintenance Wing commander, in a ceremony April 21.