May 22, 2017 (by SSgt. Heather Heiney) - Air Force Reserve Command recently announced that the 403rd Maintenance Group was one of 18 units that earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for 2015.
USAF C-130J #05-8156 from 815 AS undergoes maintenance at the 403rd Maintenance group hanger on December 21, 2016. [USAF photo by SSgt. Heather Heiney]
The 403rd MXG is responsible for the launch, recovery and routine care of 10 C-130J and 10 WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft worth $1.3 billion. These aircraft perform tactical airlift missions as well as the only Department of Defense weather reconnaissance mission.
"Devotion to mission accomplishment and selflessness in getting the job done is the 403rd maintainers' focus each and every day," said Col. Jay Johnson, 403rd MXG commander.
Although the full-time air reserve technician force was low manned at the time, the group brought traditional reservists in on orders to complete more than 33,000 maintenance actions. This allowed more than 3,500 hours to be flown by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and 815th Airlift Squadron.
"The 403rd Maintenance Group exemplifies the famous saying, flexibility is the key to air power," said Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Armata, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. "We support three dynamic flying missions and often cross utilizing maintenance group personnel, facilities and equipment in a very efficient way to make the missions happen."
Being among the first in the Air Force to maintain the J model of C-130 and the only in the Air Force Reserve, the 403rd MXG has implemented several innovative maintenance standards. These include changing the aircraft floor covering, which saves more than $62,000 per year as well as designing bleed air duct shrouds which is a safety standard that was adopted fleet-wide.
The 403rd MXG also plays a large role in spreading international awareness of the 815th AS, 53rd WRS and Air Force Reserve missions. They participated in the 2015 Caribbean and East Coast Hurricane Awareness Tours as well as the 403rd Wing's civic leader tour and the Paris Air Show.
During the 2015 storm season, the group launched 75 Hurricane Hunter sorties with more than 590 flight hours into 11 named storms, maintaining a 99 percent mission success rate. This allowed the 53rd WRS to collect data that was critical for the National Hurricane Center to increase the accuracy of their forecasts, saving $1 million per each square mile that didn't need to be evacuated.
"An all-hands approach kept our aircraft on point in researching the season's storms and kept us able to provide