Mechanics Meet Conversion Challenge

Airman1st Class Matthew McEwen, Senior Airman John Broberg and Airman 1st Class Alicia Jenness conduct repairs on a dismantled F-16 Block 50 engine.  The engine repairs were being completed at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth Minn. Feb. 26, 2011.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Acton/released)

Airman1st Class Matthew McEwen, Senior Airman John Broberg and Airman 1st Class Alicia Jenness conduct repairs on a dismantled F-16 Block 50 engine. The engine repairs were being completed at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth Minn. Feb. 26, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Acton/released)

Senior Airman John Broberg and Airman 1st Class Matthew McEwen conduct repairs on a dismantled F-16 Block 50engine.  The engine repairs were being completed at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth Minn. Feb. 26, 2011.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Acton/released)

Senior Airman John Broberg and Airman 1st Class Matthew McEwen conduct repairs on a dismantled F-16 Block 50engine. The engine repairs were being completed at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth Minn. Feb. 26, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Acton/released)

DULUTH, Minn. -- The 148th Fighter Wing Propulsion Element, also known as the engine shop, has been faced with many new challenges with the conversion from Block 25 to Block 50 F-16's, the most complex conversion completed by the shop in the last 35 years.

Members of the propulsion element are going through a comprehensive training plan due to new procedures and special tools required by the engine in the Block 50 F-16. Shop members have attended courses on engine disassembly and reassembly at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. and Hill Air Force Base, Utah and continue to learn the complex new components and related systems, while unlearning the decades of Block 25 specific knowledge.

"The new engines provide the propulsion element a challenge--one that they have met head-on and with great results," said Senior Master Sgt. Pat Lustig, propulsion element supervisor. "Change is a good thing; the new jets allow us to deploy to different places that we couldn't have with the old jets."

Currently, the propulsion element is unable to test uninstalled engines in the 148th's Hush House without a necessary conversion kit, so the engines are wrapped and sent by truck to the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield, Ill. The engines are then tested and sent back--a trip that typically takes a week including a 12 hour road trip each way.

The 148th Fighter Wing is the only Air National Guard unit flying the Block 50 F-16, so the propulsion element has had to reach out to their counterparts in the active duty Air Force for tools specific to the new aircraft. The list of tools that the propulsion element lacks is considerable, but they, along with the Block 50 Hush House conversion kit are on order. In the meantime, the propulsion element will continue to collaborate with the active duty Air Force to allow operations to continue at the high level considered standard at the 148th.