HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
The 388th Maintenance Group completed a validation and verification exercise of its Lightning Technician Program last week.
The Lightning Technician Program (LTP) is a section within the 421st Fighter Generation Squadron that is comprised of 48 multi-capable Airmen from five different AFSCs.
LTP Airmen go through an 18-month training cycle in order to become qualified technicians with cross-functional capabilities. This cross-functional capability allows the 388th Fighter Wing to be more flexible in combat by increasing our ability to support operations with a smaller footprint.
“We have avionics technicians who are performing egress specialties and we have F-35 crew chiefs who are now fuel systems and low observable technicians,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Christopher McLeod, 421st FGS Director of Operations.
Additionally, at the basic level all LTP technicians are trained in Core 54 tasks. These core tasks allow all Airmen to become Multi-Capable by performing basic aircraft generation skills like servicing, launching, recovering and the pack out of aircraft regardless of their AFSC.
“We’re accelerating change, specifically in the realm of Agile Combat Employment and 5th Generation Multi-Capable Airmen”, said McLeod. “Our team has the ability to do approximately 70 percent of the capabilities that a main operating base affords but with a much smaller footprint.”
Similar to a deployed environment, Airmen were assigned to six F-35s with a sole focus on maintaining and generating these aircraft during the exercise. This afforded LTP techs the opportunity to exercise muscle movements they don’t use on a day-to-day basis.
Exercises like this afford the LTP section the ability to validate everything that they’ve done up to this point and allows them to understand where their stress points are for future operations.
After the week-long exercise McLeod says the team successfully generated 36 of 36 sorties, accomplished 79 cross-functional tasks, and demonstrated what a highly trained, multi-capable team can do, reducing a normal personnel footprint for a 6-ship by 50 percent.
“The data we get from this exercise allows us to strategically shift our training programs, refine our LTP constructs and define our overall composition in order to have the strongest possible team in a combat environment,” said McLeod
McLeod said the LTP team will exercise one more time before employing their capability at Red Flag with a 35% decrease in manning footprint compared to a traditional unit.
Red Flag is an advanced aerial combat training exercise that is organized at Nellis Air Force Base and hosted on the Nevada Test and Training Range.
“Our LTP Airmen are incredibly hard working, and mission focused” said McLeod. “Bottom line, our LTP program is exactly where it needs to be to take the 388th FW into the next fight: lethal and agile.”