ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. --
The 177th Fighter Wing is hosting a team of eight Air National Guard staff and field-level experts Feb. 22-25, to explore ways Airmen can increase the number of aircraft, in this case F-16C Fighting Falcons, ready and available for training and combat missions.
“As part of several large-scale initiatives underway in the Air National Guard, we are launching customized Production Assessment Teams to help wings find more efficient ways to increase aircraft availability,” said Brig. Gen. Donald K. Carpenter, Director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, National Guard Bureau, Air National Guard Readiness Center, Joint Base Andrews, Md.
During the four-day visit, the team will focus on the 177th’s maintenance and supply areas. Based on their observations, they will prepare a written list of recommendations for the wing commander to review and implement.
“This initiative is an opportunity to get an outside look at improving our aircraft maintenance operations and functions,” said Col. Joseph W. Leonard, 177th Maintenance Group commander. “We are looking forward to learning from the team.”
The Production Assessment Team’s goal is to increase the number of aircraft a unit can bring to the fight. This means focusing on the aspects of aircraft availability that the units can control – how well and how quickly they repair aircraft and how smoothly they perform scheduled maintenance.
“The Production Assessment mission is to increase long-term fleet readiness by collaborating and implementing best practices from across the enterprise,” said Carpenter. “Team members are selected based on their expertise and demonstrated performance in fleet and organizational management.”
This is all part of Carpenter’s goal of increasing the 90 Air National Guard flying wings’ aircraft availability rate.
“Like all process improvements and all change, some people are afraid of the things they don’t know or understand, but I’m open-minded,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jacob A. Wheeler, senior enlisted leader with the 177th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We want to capture that knowledge to further our operations as a line unit, use production best practices and lessons learned, and apply those tactics, techniques, and procedures to further increase our mission capable rate.”
Several Air National Guard fighter units, like the 177th, have some of the oldest F-16s in the Air Force inventory, adding to the challenges of keeping the aircraft flying.
“Any chance we get to maintain these aircraft more efficiently, to improve the training of our pilots, to accelerate change,” said Col. Derek Routt, 177th Fighter Wing commander, “We absolutely welcome the opportunity.”