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Test cell Airmen ready engines for launch

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A vast array of colors ranging from reds and oranges to purples and blues are released from the afterburner of a Shaw F-16 Viper engine in a 15-foot pulse. Meanwhile, the engine sends readings to the Airmen testing, telling them how much power it’s exerting.

For Airmen from the 20th Component Maintenance Squadron engine test facility, their mission is to troubleshoot and live-test the General Electric F110-GE-129 engine, the powerhouse of the Viper.

By maintaining constant communication with the engine during inspections, ETF Airmen ensure every Shaw F-16 Viper engine exerts a stable 29,000 pounds of force, maintaining the overall well-being of both pilot and aircraft.

“Performing inspections is important in ensuring the serviceability of the test stand, hush house and applicable equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Halsey, 20th CMS ETF craftsman. “These procedures help provide an accurate and safe environment for both engine and personnel. If any leaks are found during engine operation, we will troubleshoot the area in question and tighten or replace parts as necessary.”

Following the inspection, the engine test facility, or the “hush house,” is sealed to test the raw strength of the engine in a safe environment. The facility is lined with various sound-suppressing panels to help lower noise pollution to the installation and neighboring community.

After powering down the engine, 20th CMS test cell Airmen perform additional inspections to check for any damages or leaks. The entire process, which is performed on more than 60 engines annually, can take up to six hours.

“At the ETF, we exemplify the standard when it comes to providing reliable engines to ensure aircraft and pilot safety,” said Master Sgt. Joel Steele, 20th CMS ETF section chief. “Without the ETF function, it would be impossible to provide engine reliability for our F-16 pilot warfighters here at Shaw and in deployed locations.”