Metals techs build from ground up
By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 12, 2021
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
The 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology flight keeps 20th Fighter Wing F-16 Vipers flying at home station and downrange by embracing innovation in their operations.
The flight creates their own F-16 aircraft parts and equipment to reduce maintenance time and increase readiness.
“Making parts ourselves, instead of ordering them, lets us get jets in the air much faster,” said Airman 1st Class Edgar Flores, 20th EMS aircraft metals technology journeyman. “Parts take longer to deliver when we are downrange, so it’s even more critical that we make them ourselves.”
Keeping the maximum amount of aircraft fully mission-capable in a deployed environment is critical to executing the close air support.
The shop develops their own F-16 parts in a computer-aided design program and creates them out of raw material.
The 20th EMS metals team develops their own equipment to accomplish meet the standards of their maintenance technical orders.
The flight developed their own main landing gear wheel fixture to securely hold F-16 wheels in place for wheel bearing replacement. Bearings are critical in reducing friction during landings and maintaining wheel integrity.
Viper main landing gear wheels used to be sent to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for bearing replacement. This task can now be accomplished at Shaw, eliminating a supply delay.
“We are always looking for ways to improve our operations,” said Tech. Sgt. Raymond Russell, 20th EMS aircraft metals technology shift lead. “Gaining the capability to swap main wheel bearings at Shaw has really helped get parts to our jets faster.”
The shop developed several main landing gear wheel fixture prototypes and selected the best one for operational use. Russell intends to submit the design to Air Combat Command for use at other F-16 bases to remove the need to send parts to Hill AFB.
“We want to make our operations safer and smarter,” said Russell. “I look forward to submitting our ideas to other units and want to have a greater impact on the F-16 mission.”