The 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., implemented a new program to accelerate training for three-level Airmen on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35A Lightning II.
Throughout an Airman’s career, on-the-job-training and career development courses are required to progress in career and skill level. These skill levels range from an apprentice, three-level, to a superintendent, nine-level, and play a significant role in an Airman’s career growth.
The new 32-day program consists of both classroom and on-the-job training and was designed to efficiently train three-level Airmen on five-level core tasks.
“The main objective of our new program is to expedite training for our three-level Airmen on five-level core tasks,” said Staff Sgt. Garret Jimenez, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron AGE training instructor. “What would normally take months to get Airmen spun up on, now takes only four weeks with our new program.”
Throughout the four-week program, Airmen are trained to provide service inspections on F-16 and F-35 equipment, flight line driving and operational fundamentals on support equipment. Some of the support equipment AGE Airmen typically service include diesel generators, hydraulic test stands, and flood lights.
“We conduct a short classroom session that provides a brief overview of what we go over that day,” Jimenez said. “After classroom training, we go out into the field to evaluate the students on their job performance, which allows them to display their knowledge of what they’ve just learned in the classroom.”
Since the implementation of the program, 12 Airmen have graduated, completing 22 out of their 29 core tasks.
“This program has helped me tremendously,” said Airman Alejandro Gil, 56th EMS AGE apprentice. “You not only learn how to do your job, but you learn to do it well. In technical school, we don’t get the training needed for the F-35, only for the F-16. Having this training here is very useful in getting us proficient at what we do.”
With the high-pace tempo of the F-35 program and influx of new Airmen, the AGE flight continues to prepare for the future.
“We’re currently training six Airmen in each class; however, in the future we’re looking to increase that number and continue to expand the program,” Jimenez said. “This program helps the productivity of our flight because we’ve drastically reduced the amount of time and manpower it takes to train our three-level Airmen to get them out into the field and mission-ready.
As the fleet of F-35s continues to grow, the AGE flight continues to adapt their training methods to ensure Luke continues to build the future of airpower.