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Metals techs build from ground up

Photo of Airman holding aircraft part.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Edgar Flores, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron (EMS) aircraft metals technology journeyman, holds a part for an F-16 Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 11, 2021. Flores designed the part in a computer-aided design program and executed the production using 20th EMS equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Photo of Airman working with metal.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kimorri Lobe, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron (EMS) aircraft metals technology journeyman, performs a cleaning sweep on a block of metal at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 11, 2021. The 20th EMS aircraft metals technology flight creates their own F-16 parts and equipment to reduce maintenance time and increase readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Photo of Airman working with metal.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Peter Lockett, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron (EMS) aircraft metals technology journeyman, cuts threads onto an F-16 Viper engine coolant injector at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 11, 2021. The 20th EMS aircraft metals technology flight creates their own F-16 parts and equipment to reduce maintenance time and increase readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Photo of Airman using computer.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Edgar Flores, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron (EMS) aircraft metals technology journeyman, inspects a computer-aided design part schematic at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 11, 2021. The 20th EMS aircraft metals technology flight develops their own F-16 parts in a computer-aided design program and creates them out of raw material. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

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.”