Two Vipers Reach 6,000 Hours

A pair of USAF F-16s assigned to the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in Southwest Asia surpassed the 6,000 flying hour mark during two recent combat missions over Iraq. Flown by Lt. Col. Mark Cline, the 421st EFS commander, and Capt. Nick Edwards, the Vipers were the first Block 40 aircraft to achieve the milestone during a combat sortie. Capt. Mark Sloan, the 421st aircraft maintenance unit officer in charge, attributes much of their long lives to engine and parts upgrades and improvements of the service life extension program. By the original service-life forecast, these two Vipers would have another 2,000 flying hours, but service leaders expect them to fly past 2020. CMSgt. Dave Edwards, senior NCOIC with the 421st AMU, credits the sterling performance of these fighters to “the blood, sweat, and tears the maintainers pour into these aircraft.”