September 22, 2009 (by SSgt. John Gordinier) - The 20th Fighter Wing's F-16 Fighting Falcons are going through modifications now to improve a communications capability called beyond-line-of-sight.
"Beyond-line-of-site enhances the capabilities of the jet by allowing us to use satellites to relay our radio communications," said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Hollis, 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit lead production superintendent. "Essentially this means we can now communicate, unhindered by terrain, to anywhere in the world."
Beyond-line-of-site modifications began Aug. 17 for the 79th Fighter Squadron and are expected to continue to the other two squadrons, the 77th and 55th Fighter Squadrons, through March 2010.
The modification is scheduled to take seven days per aircraft to install, said Jerry Kimsey, 573rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, depot field team chief.
"There are three phases each aircraft must go through - preparation, BLOS modification and post," Mr. Kimsey said.
The preparation involves getting the aircraft towed into the hangar and removing the engine and all of the panels necessary to have access to the wire harnesses inside the aircraft, he added.
Mr. Kimsey said the BLOS modification basically runs from the cockpit all the way back through the engine bay and up through the tail.
The post-work is reinstalling the engine and all of the removed panels as well as performing operational checkouts, he said.
"The home aircraft maintenance unit supports the preparation and post-BLOS modification maintenance, while the depot field team from Hill AFB
has installed the modification itself," Mr. Kimsey said.
"Normally, we would start the modification after all of the prep work was completed and start the post work after the completed modification was installed," Mr. Kimsey explained. "However, there were concerns that the team would not be able to produce modified aircraft fast enough due to limited time -- some aircraft are scheduled to deploy soon."
To speed up the process, Shaw's AMUs and the DFT have been successful by integrating all of the tasks from different phases, he said. The DFT would start installing the modification as soon as the aircraft was accessible, working side by side with the AMU. The AMU started post work on the aircraft as soon as each section of the modification was complete.
"Basically, each aircraft was being taken apart and modified at the same time," Mr. Kimsey added. "Later, as the post work began, the BLOS modification was nearing completion."
"Working together in this manner compressed the schedule and has allowed the AMU and the DFT to be in a position to complete all aircraft in time for deployment," Mr. Kimsey concluded.