TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Whether they’re on active or reserve orders, the Airmen of the 44th Maintenance Squadron keep Tyndall’s F-22 Raptors mission ready through the process of Total Force Integration.
The 44th Maintenance Squadron falls under the 44th Fighter Group, which trains and projects unrivaled 5th generation combat airpower through mission ready Citizen Airmen. With this high demand mission, the 44th requires expert maintainers to handle the jets.
The team is a tenant unit at the 325th Fighter Wing, as well as a subordinate unit under the 301st Fighter Wing, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. The group was relocated to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. on Feb. 5, 2014, as part of the Total Force Integration concept, combining active-duty and reserve units.
Together, the 44th FG and 95th Fighter Squadron support Air Combat Command missions.
Through its combination of traditional reservists and active-reserve technicians, the 44th MXS is able to keep up with the high demands of keeping a 5th generation jet at top performance just as well as a full active-duty squadron.
“The 44th MXS is an incredible team filled with immense experience from diverse backgrounds, to include F-22 Raptor maintenance,” said Col. Randall Cason, 44th FG commander. “It provides experience and continuity, which strengthens the production and maintenance capability and capacity of our integrated Tyndall Team.”
The F-22 is designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances, to counter and defeat threats that will attempt to deny access to any given battlespace, according to an official Air Force F-22 factsheet.
“We support the training for our pilots, so they are able to deploy at any time; we are also involved in the global response force,” said Tech Sgt. George Fredriksen, 44th MXS aircraft armament systems specialist. “We can pick up and go at a moment’s notice, under any time constraint and get overseas without anybody knowing about us.”
Recently the 44th deployed overseas with the 325th Fighter Wing as part of Rapid Raptor, with minimal forces and personnel in limited transport support. Despite these challenges, the 44th MXS Airmen were there alongside their 325th counterparts to load weapons and maintain the jet in the first-ever F-22 training deployment to provide support and bolster the security of our NATO Allies and partners in Europe.
The goal of Total Force Integration is to combine the resources and manpower of active, reserve and Guard components to better complete the air dominance mission.
“If an Airmen required life-saving surgical assistance while on the battlefield, he would be comforted with the idea that his Air Force surgeon was also one of the most credentialed and capable civilian surgeons in his field,” Cason said. “Reservists fulfill key and experienced professional roles in their civilian life, which they bring with them to the Air Force during their times of participation. The experience, qualification, and continuity that Reservists bring to the fight is yet another key enabler that helps strengthen our force and deliver combat airpower.”
The 44th MXS also upholds the same standards that a full active duty squadron would have. The main difference is that many of these Airmen accomplish this during the weekend.
“As traditional reservists, we come in one weekend a month to accomplish our mission goals,” Fredriksen said. “We have one day to work on the aircraft, and one day to get all of our training in. We have all the same requirements of an active duty unit, but we just have two days to do it.”
The ability to stay on par with their active-duty counterparts is thanks to the full time reservists who work alongside active-duty Airmen every day to keep their fellow reserve Airmen spun up on all the proper procedures.
“For the weapons Airmen, we have the weapons standardization crew,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Portz, 44th MXS aircraft armaments systems specialist. “We come up with the standards and time limits for the rest of the weapons crews. Our job is to make sure that our guys are ready to deploy just like on active duty. Though we’re reservist, we’re here all the time so we act as a kind of missing link between active-duty and traditional reservists.”
This type of integration has become more prevalent in the Air Force since the service recently completed an intensive analysis of all Air Force primary mission areas. The analysis provided active and air reserve component force-mix options and reliable data to inform future acquisition decisions. As a result, more than a dozen force-mixing recommendations were carried into the fiscal year 2018 strategic planning process.
Air Force senior leaders have been vocal about expressing their desires to continue to expand Total Force Integration since completing the analysis.
In the Air Force news article Air Force continues to pursue total force integration, dated March 11, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, “The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve provide the nation a vital capability that is functionally integrated and operationally indistinguishable from the active force. This maximizes our total force and secures our top priorities of taking care of people, balancing today's readiness with tomorrow’s modernization and making every dollar count."
With the Air Force leadership currently on a clear path of maximizing force integration, squadrons like the 44th MXS continue to prove that a fully integrated force can be a possible solution to today’s national security needs.
“Reserve and Active Duty Airmen work seamlessly in an integrated fashion to accomplish our mission,” Cason said. “While there are inherent differences between our components, we work to sew up the seams between our differences to execute the same mission from the same place. We all want to provide 5th generation combat airpower for America.”