Misawa F-16 maintainers crank 100 percent mission readiness

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Readiness is a quintessential part of the Air Force, allowing for assets and personnel to be mission ready at a moment’s notice.

Due to the high-paced and demanding mission set the 35th Fighter Wing operates under, air superiority and readiness are critical because of the range, speed and agility of aircraft to respond within hours.

Airmen from the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit continually demonstrate not only a “fight tonight” mindset but also an optimum level of readiness.

“Mission readiness is what we provide on a daily basis; we are ready to bring the fight whenever we need, on a moment's notice,” said Senior Airman Garris Enoch, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician. “We do this only by working hard and staying focused on getting these aircraft fixed in a timely manner.”

The maintainers on the ground ensure the Air Force has a squadron with 100 percent mission capable F-16 Fighting Falcons, some of the most premier fighter jets in the world.

“Without teamwork, the Air Force would not be what it is today,” said Enoch. “I can focus on my job and help our unit meet 100 percent mission capability only because of the support of my wingmen working alongside me.”

A feat like this doesn’t come easy; it was the hard work and dedication from all members to achieve such a high mark, allowing pilots the ability to operate and dominate in demanding threat environments.

“It would be impossible to do what I do if I didn't have the support of the Airmen beside me,” said Enoch. “ Whether that’s the Airman next to me at the jet, the one checking out tools, the one who provides medical care, the one who processes the paperwork or the one mentoring and teaching me. We all ultimately have a role contributing to the bigger picture.”

When calling on the most elite fighter pilots in the world, readiness is indispensable when putting up some of the world’s greatest aircraft in the sky. With 27,000 pounds of thrust, a payload of two 2,000-pound bombs, two AIM-9 sidewinders, two AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and two 2,400-pound external fuel tanks and a range of more than 2,002 miles, it’s an obvious choice trusting the F-16 Fighting Falcons from Misawa AB if ever needed in a wartime mission set.

"If we didn't have dedicated maintainers to fix jets then we would not be ready to execute the mission,” said Capt. Jason Markzon, the 13th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “Our training would suffer without fully mission-capable jets and pilot proficiency would decrease. It takes an entire team to put a fighter jet in the air and without that team, there's no way we could operate at the high tempo we do and project airpower across the pacific region."

Due to the high-paced environment surrounding the fighter squadrons, it is paramount to mission success that every Airman is proficient in their job.

“There is a balance that must be kept between urgency and taking the time to do things the right way every time,” said Enoch. “I believe the Airmen in our unit have become proficient in doing just that.”

Having 100 percent mission capable Fighting Falcons allows for the Weasels to provide maneuverability and combat radius exceeding that of all potential fighter aircraft threats.

“The Wild Weasel mission of suppression of enemy air defenses is vital to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region because of it being the primary SEAD wing in the Pacific Air Forces' area of responsibility,” said Col. Travis Rex, the 35th Fighter Wing vice commander. “The mission would be obsolete without the maintainers’ continuous dedication to keep our aircraft fleet ready. Their 24/7, 365 efforts through rain, snow and bone-chilling winds made this unit 100 percent combat ready.”

As the Air Force continues to sustain power projection and air superiority throughout the world, Misawa's F-16s and Wild Weasel mission come to the spotlight because of the imperium SEAD mission.

“This accomplishment was only made possible by the outstanding maintenance practices performed by the maintainers, the flexibility of operations and scheduling, and all the wing supporting agencies,” said 1st Lt. Gabriel Byrd, the 13th AMU assistant officer in charge. “With our upcoming temporary duty location, the timing is perfect! It goes to show that the 35th FW is 100 percent ready for the fight!”