Luke changes F-16 paint scheme to single color

0
342
Senior Airman Nicolas Pages, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, masks an F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron scheduled to be repainted June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Whenever a full paint is performed, parts of the aircraft that arenít going to be painted or sanded have to be taped and masked off. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Advertisement

A team of nine 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Low Observable Aircraft Structural Maintenance personnel at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., painted an F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron a solid medium-gray color.

The process took approximately a week and a half, including sanding, priming and painting.

While the single color is used at other Air Force bases, it represents a first for the 56th Fighter Wing, said Master Sgt. Michael Cleary, LO ASM senior noncommissioned officer in charge. Never before has there been an F-16 that has a one solid paint scheme at Luke; Luke’s F-16s traditionally have been painted dark gray on top and light gray on the bottom of the aircraft.

Senior Airman Nicolas Pages, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman (left), prepares to paint the inlet lip of an F-16C Fighting Falcon while Airman 1st Class Justin Beverly, 56th EMS Low Observable ASM apprentice, assists June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Specialized paint is used on the inlet lip of an F-16 to help prevent rain erosion. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

A recent change to the technical data authorized the change in paint scheme, according to Cleary.

Cleary said painting the aircraft a solid color decreases the total time it takes to repaint the aircraft. The time saved, allows the Airmen to complete other tasks.

“When an aircraft comes in for a full paint, we will most likely be doing one color instead of two,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Douget, ASM craftsman. “It just makes sense money and time-wise.”

F-16s receive full paints every six to seven years and follow guidance from the technical order (TO) which outlines directions on each project.

It typically takes four Airmen a week to sand, prime and paint the aircraft. However, the time repainting aircraft may vary due to different cure times of the primer and paint, which dictate the amount of work that can be done in a day.

“After it’s done drying, we make sure that everybody goes back, takes a look at everything again and makes sure they don’t miss anything,” said Douget.

Throughout the entire process of painting the aircraft, ASM personnel wear protective equipment to prevent chemicals from entering their body.

“We wear respirators with forced air, tie backs [white suit worn to protect every inch of skin], gas masks, and gloves,” said Douget. “The respirator filters the air so you’re not breathing in the harmful substances.”

Aside from full paint jobs on aircraft, ASM Airmen also provide minor or major touchups on F-16s owned by the U.S. and foreign nationals, add or remove stencils and paint aerospace ground equipment. They also construct name plates for the F-35A Lightning II. Each task takes a different amount of time depending on the varying degree of the task.

Senior Airman Nicolas Pages, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, sprays specialized paint to prevent rain erosion on the inlet lip of an F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. F-16s receive a full body paint every six to seven years and the last one performed at Luke was April 2019. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

“For AGE equipment we strip it for metals technology so they can weld something and we strip for non-destructive inspection so they can inspect something we paint,” said Cleary. “Sometimes equipment comes in for a full paint because it’s not up to standards or it has to be a different color.”

Corrosion and rain erosion prevention are important considerations for ASM Airmen, said Douget. Humidity is a significant factor in corrosion, fortunately Arizona’s humidity level is low. However, the Airmen apply specialized paint to prevent rain erosion on the inlet lip and other parts on an F-16 to provide added protection from corrosion.

“We have to remove any and all corrosion from the aircraft because if you don’t remove all of it, then it will continue to spread,” said Douget. “That’s really our goal here; to keep that corrosion at bay.”

There’s critical thinking that goes into getting the amount of work done needed to complete the mission. If individuals don’t apply their critical thinking skills, then the mission suffers because we’re not able to do things effectively, said Cleary.

Painting the F-16 one color versus two is just one example of how the AMS Airmen are thinking critically while supporting the mission.

“Our Airmen are killing it,” said Douget. “I appreciate their hard work every single day.”

Senior Airman Nicolas Pages, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman (left), and Airman 1st Class Justin Beverly, 56th EMS Low Observable ASM apprentice, review a technical order, June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The ASM Airmen painted specialized paint to prevent rain erosion on the inlet lip of an F-16C Fighting Falcon assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
A team of nine 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Low Observable Aircraft Structural Maintenance personnel pose for a photo June 27, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The team painted an F-16C Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron, a solid medium gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom. The process took approximately a week, including sanding, priming and painting. (Courtesy photograph)
Tech. Sgt. Chase Douget, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance craftsman (left), and Master Sgt. Michael Cleary, 56th EMS LO ASM senior noncommissioned officer in charge, inspect the topcoat of an F-16C Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron, June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. The process is sped up when an aircraft is painted one solid color because there is less time spent waiting for the colors to dry, which allows more time to complete other tasks. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
A freshly painted F-16C Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron, sits in a Low Observable Aircraft Structural Maintenance hangar June 2, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. Airmen repaint F-16s owned by the U.S. and foreign nationals, add/remove stencils and paint aerospace ground equipment. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Senior Airman Json Victor, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Low Observable Aircraft Structural Maintenance journeyman, removes leading edge tape on the front of an F-16D Fighting Falconís wing June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Replacing leading edge tape on an F-16 takes two days because of the strong bond it creates along the aircraftís surface. Airmen care for F-16s owned by the U.S. and foreign nationals, add/remove stencils and paint aerospace ground equipment. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Senior Airman Nicolas Pages and Airman 1st Class Elijah Carpenter, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeymen, mask off the tail of an F-16C Fighting Falcon, preparing it to be primed, June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. In preparation to paint an F-16, Airmen tape and mask parts of the aircraft that are not going to be painted or sanded. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Senior Airman Nicolas Pages, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, puts on a gas mask before painting an F-16C Fighting Falcon June 22, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Throughout the entire process of painting an aircraft, ASM personnel wear protective equipment to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Air Force guidelines. For the first time at Luke, AMS Airmen painted an F-16 one solid medium-gray color versus the traditional dark gray on top and light on bottom in an action that will save the Air Force time and money. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)
Advertisement