Magic Mule Ends Falcon Flushing and Waste

Maintainers at Holloman AFB, N.M., recently pioneered new F-16 ground equipment that cleans the aircraft’s hydraulic system during maintenance, saving time and maintenance cost. The new hydraulic test “mules” incorporate a purification system that constantly strains the aircraft’s hydraulic fluid while it’s connected and running. The system is constantly “removing all the moisture, air, and particles out of the hydraulic fluid in the systems of the aircraft,” SMSgt. Ian Hall, 54th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace air ground equipment flight chief, said in a release. Mules operate the aircraft’s hydraulic systems to facilitate ground maintenance and operational checks without requiring the F-16’s engine to be running. System contamination is not an uncommon issue with the F-16, and the new mules “will increase the system reliability,” saving maintenance costs and up to 230 gallons of hydraulic fluid each time the aircraft is drained and flushed, added Hall. The new mules are already used on several other aircraft types and the 54th AMXS conducted the first F-16-scrub on Nov. 4.