35th Maintenance Group named best in Air Force

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Bulow-Gonterman
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For the first time in the award’s 60-year history, the 35th Maintenance Group earned the 2020 Clements McMullen Memorial Daedalian Weapon System Award.

The award is presented to the Air Force maintenance unit with the greatest weapon system maintenance record for the previous year. The selection identifies the 35th Fighter Wing as having the best weapon system maintenance record in the Air Force.

From Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020, Airmen from the 35th MXG advanced Pacific Air Forces’ Agile Combat Employment concept through planning and conducting combat generation exercises. Their ACE efforts resulted in the first historic operation validating ACE tactics and rapidly refueled and re-generated fighter aircraft in collaboration with Yokota Air Base C-130J Hercules aircraft bulk fuel distribution system.

The Airmen participated in 10 different exercises in eight locations throughout the Indo-Pacific region; capitalizing two Aviation Training Relocation exercises at Japan Air Self-Defense Force bases and enhancing the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Additionally, the 35th MXG performed the first Integrated Combat Turn in Pacific Air Forces in over 20 years, fulfilling Headquarters Air Force direction to rebuild this crucial combat capability. The Airmen rapidly authored local procedures and commenced monthly training, ultimately gaining capability and achieving regular integrated combat turn times in record time. Adding to this capability, the team authored and implemented the 35th FW’s first Rapid Crew Swap program, as stated in the citation.

“The men and women of the 35th Maintenance Group are simply the most talented team of dedicated mission generators I’ve seen in my 28 years of aircraft maintenance! This wing came together to enable our team to achieve this historic honor and I’m so proud to serve with them.” said Col. Rognald Christensen, 35th MXG commander. “This accomplishment epitomizes the hard work and dedication our maintenance professionals and their Wild Weasel team members uphold each and every day.”

With a total of 6,957 sorties and 8,843 flying hours accomplished, all while simultaneously implementing safety precautions against COVID-19, the maintenance Airmen made continual advancements and applied innovative management across all mission requirements by being PACAF’s only wing-based three-level avionics repair authority, allowing local repair of high use avionics components and consolidating Egress Time Change Items with major maintenance, returning over 2,000 hours to the fleet and increasing the annual aircraft availability to 74 percent, the highest for all Fighter Wings in PACAF.

“Our maintainers don’t know how to lose and they never quit, it’s just amazing to watch and be a part of this team,” said Christensen. “They thrived through a pandemic and ensured our F-16’s and combat aviators remained ready to ‘Fight Tonight.’ I am extremely proud of the 35th MXG women and men. This award shows what everyone already knew, that our Airmen are truly the best of the best in our Air Force.”

More than 1,110 maintenance personnel are assigned to the 35th MXG, who aid in maintaining the 35th FW’s two fighter squadrons by performing all field level maintenance activities for 44 F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft, engines, munitions, and support equipment. Misawa Air Base also houses PACAF’s sole Centralized Repair Facility, which repairs, controls, and stores 160 engines for the Pacific region.

The 35th MXG will go on to compete at the Department of Defense level.

“Congratulations to the women and men of the 35th MXG for winning the 2020 Daedalian Weapon System Maintenance Trophy,” said Col. Jesse Friedel, the 35th FW commander. “This award is a testament to hard work from motivated mission focused maintainers every day, and the innovative thinking they bring to outpace competitors. They overcame adversity during the pandemic and prevailed relentlessly. I am extremely proud of the 35th MXG.”