With a dry weight of 3,218 pounds, a length of 191.15 inches, a diameter of 44.60 inches and a max fuel flow of 49,964 pounds per hour, the F-16 Fighting Falcon F100-220 engine is a marvel to see when firing during take-off but jaw-dropping when viewed by itself awaiting maintenance.
This massive engine is housed in the body of the F-16, which is the main aircraft flown at Luke Air Force Base. Luke is an Air Education and Training Command base, so pilots learning to fly receive their training here, but who makes that engine turn over every time a pilot “turns the key” in the cockpit? The 56th Component Maintenance Squadron is who.
The 56th CMS is responsible for the inspection, repair and scheduled maintenance of aircraft propulsion, avionics, low altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night pods, pneudraulics, electrical-environmental, egress and fuel systems used by more than 190 organizations on Luke and throughout the southwestern part of the U.S. The 56th CMS is broken into four flights: propulsion, accessories, avionics, test and measurement and diagnostic equipment.
“I believe that working in the 56th CMS with the four separate flights makes everything a lot easier,” said Senior Airman Sean Caudill, 56th CMS Propulsion Flight programs monitor. “Not everything is relying on a single point for the mission to be accomplished. With all of us working in cohesion the mission is able to be completed in a more effective and timely manner.”
When it comes to repairs, the majority are completed in-house by the jet engine intermediate maintenance flight also known as the propulsion flight. Each repairing asset is worth $3.2 million dollars and that is money saved every time something can be fixed on base. When a component inside the core module cannot be serviced, it is sent out for repairs to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.
The JEIM works 24 hours a day with 28 people per shift with crews of four to five people. The 56th CMS can complete a disassembly and reassembly of an engine within 240 hours of receiving it. The crews work with each other day in and day out with civilians working alongside Airmen to complete the squadron’s mission.
“What I like most is being able to work with the younger people,” said Andrew Angulo, 56th CMS jet engine technician. “I get to see them from day one and when they leave three or four years later, I get to see how much they have developed. That is the best part of the job, being able to mentor and hopefully you pass on something good.”
Even though the shifts are long and repairing the same thing can become redundant, a sense of pride comes from hearing a jet roaring overhead and knowing that a member of the 56th CMS worked hard and carefully to ensure the safety of the pilot and the machine they operate.
“For me, when my friends who are not military hear an F-16 go over, they say ‘Hey man, did you work on that?’” said Airman 1st Class Joseph Nunez, 56th CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman. “‘Yea, probably,’ I respond. It’s just the fact that you can say, ‘Yup, I worked on the billion dollar aircraft flying over your head right now.’ It’s just a great thing to boast about and be proud of.”