America’s “Airpower Reservoir” celebrates 75 years

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Giovanni Sims
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group celebrated 75 years of support for the warfighter on April 1, 2021.

Through every key military scene on the stage of American history following World War II up to present day, American airpower has played a leading role. During its 75 years, the 309th AMARG directly enabled the nation’s ability to rapidly respond.

Although the name has changed over the years, the organization has continued achieving its primary mission elements: aircraft storage and preservation, reclaiming and returning vital parts, regenerating valuable aircraft to flying service, providing limited depot maintenance and modification; and with the value of parts depleted, aircraft disposal. 

“Many people do not realize that the AMARG is a key force multiplier for the Department of Defense,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jennifer Barnard, 309th AMARG commander. “Often simultaneously, the AMARG is enabling the nation to fight terrorism, conduct humanitarian relief, fight forest fires, conduct drug interdiction and defend the nation.”

In recent years, this key-force multiplier has supported the Coast Guard with updated C-27J Spartan aircraft for search and rescue, the Forest Service with C-23 Sherpas to aid in fighting wildfires, an allied nation with disaster relief capability in the form of KC-130T Hercules, and the Air Force’s Global Strike Command with the regeneration of two B-52 Stratofortress aircraft.

“I can’t thank this work force enough,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. C. McCauley von Hoffman, Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander. “The dedication in continuing to do the mission, regenerating aircraft, reclaiming parts and storing what we might need for later is an incredible role that we play. The work we do will continue for at least another 75 years.”

The AMARG’s 800-member workforce has since adopted the Air Force Sustainment Command’s Art of the Possible philosophy – a method of operations management and process improvement – in order to support the many different types of endeavors to extend the service life of active aircraft.

“In 2020, Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research requested a B-1B Lancer aircraft for a special project to study the effects of flight operations on aircraft structures,” Barnard said.  “The disassembled aircraft shipped overland to Kansas where a WSU team scanned every individual structural part down to the nuts and bolts and reassembled the virtual aircraft parts to create a “digital twin,” providing the Air Force with unprecedented information on this bomber.”

Across the airpower reservoir’s desert speed line, agile and skilled maintainers are performing system inspections, expedited repairs, upgrades and modifications on active duty F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

“Our unscheduled depot-level maintenance production line just completed extensive repairs on several F-16s damaged during a deployment,” Barnard said.  “They arrived in shipping crates; however, the AMARG team was able to complete those repairs and reassembly, perform all of the operational checks and return all of them to their unit flight ready.”   

Whether returning C-47 Skytrain cargo planes to service for the Berlin Airlift, delivering B-29 Superfortress bombers and critical spares to the warfighters in Korea, or putting B-47 Stratojet bombers on alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 309th AMARG has been a “warrior’s wingman” by rapidly projecting American airpower around the globe.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, American air planners turned to this national-level airpower reservoir for the essential spares and aircraft needed to attain the stable battle rhythm necessary to achieve the mission. The demand continues in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

For the past 45 years, the AMARG has supported American air warriors with a series of full-scale aerial targets.  Beginning in the 1970s, with obsolete but plentiful fighter planes, the AMARG has withdrawn F-102 Deltas Daggers, F-100 Super Sabres, F-106 Delta Darts, and F-4 Phantom IIs from storage and returned to flight. Almost 1,080 aircraft have returned, and whose maneuverability and speed, permit American Airmen to train in order to hone their skills in air-to-air combat. 

This program has continued at the 309th AMARG with the F-16 Fighting Falcon in full production, being regenerated into the QF-16 FSAT and under a new public-private partnership between the U.S. Air Force and Boeing. The first QF-16 FSAT to be fully converted at the 309th AMARG was delivered directly to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida in 2020. 

As the DoD continues to adjust to national security threats and fiscal realities, the 309th AMARG will remain key in allowing the U.S. to rapidly adjust to the global environment and provide world-class aircraft maintenance and logistics support for our nation and foreign allies — truly a national-level air power reservoir.