Luke AFB maintainers earn title, ‘Best in the Air Force’

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Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, center, receives the 2018 Clements McMullen Memorial Maintenance Daedalian Trophy during a ceremony May 30 at Luke Air Force Base. Awarded annually by the Secretary of the Air Force, the award is presented to the Air Force unit with the greatest weapon system maintenance record for the prior year. The 56th FW goes on to compete at the Defense Department.

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, received the 2018 Clements McMullen Memorial Maintenance Daedalian Trophy May 30 during a ceremony.

Awarded annually by the Secretary of the Air Force, the award is presented to the Air Force unit with the greatest weapon system maintenance record for the prior year. The 56th FW, led by its more than 3,334 maintenance personnel, now goes on to compete at the Defense Department.

“The Daedalian award is not a management award, it is not a supervision award, it is absolutely on the backs of the men and women of 56th Maintenance Group,” said Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Vanderpuy, 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant superintendent. “They made it happen and without their hard work and production, we would never have had a chance to win at Air Force level.”

The unit maintains more than 200 aircraft and generated more than 35,000 sorties supporting the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s highest priority: training new pilots. Maintenance leadership and technicians overcame numerous aircraft availability and manning constraints on their way to leading the DOD’s F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet with 5,110 sorties from a single flying squadron, 402 more than any other F-16 unit.

Furthermore, Luke implemented the Lightning Integrated Technician program which garnered attention and praise among leaders throughout the DOD. This visionary program established 84 maintainers who no longer focus on one aspect of maintenance but are proficient in over 1,000 crew chief, low observable, avionics and weapons tasks. In just 450 sorties, this initiative drove aircraft availability up by 10% and reduced the sortie abort rate by 3%. Both accomplishments, undertaken by the active-duty 56th MXG and Reserve 944th MXG, shattered Air Force standards. Their total force efforts contributed to the ‘1K Maintenance Group’s’ first receiving the 2018 Air Education and Training Command Gen. Mark Welsh III One Air Force Award and then on to receive the Air Force-level award.

The 56th FW maintainers also made continual advancements within the combat fighter enterprise while applying innovative management and repairs across all mission requirements. The revisions ensured mission success while preserving U.S. resources, saving more than $101 million and 156,000 man-hours in one fiscal year.

During the trophy presentation, Canterbury congratulated the Thunderbolt maintainers on this achievement.

“You have represented the 56th FW at the highest level of the Air Force and shown that we are not only the best at training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen, but our commitment to mission is unparalleled by any other wing,” Canterbury said. “Every day, I trust you with the utmost confidence to safely keep the jets flying and our Air Force lethal. Today I share with all of you an incredible sense of pride in being able to celebrate what I already knew — that you are the best maintainers in the Air Force.”