Aircraft conversion provides growth opportunity Published Feb. 6, 2011 By Col. Russ A. Walz 114th Fighter Wing SIOUX FALLS, SD -- Summer can be a busy time for all of us, but this year was certainly busier than most. The conversion to Block 40 F-16s had an aggressive timeline to accept 22 newer Fighters while preparing our existing fleet for retirement or unit transfers. Most of the aircraft required engine changes and extensive maintenance before delivering to Operations to start their mission qualification training in the new weapon system. A new weapon system not only creates hard work and many challenges, it also creates a level of excitement. It provides us with opportunities to learn and grow, to enhance and perfect, but most of all feel proud about what we've accomplished in such a short time and what we will accomplish in the future. This happens by Maintenance Group professionals who take pride in delivering the best F-16 possible, Operations Group maximizing every training opportunity and sortie, and Mission Support Group ensuring mission-focused efficiencies throughout the base. I expect it will take a year or two before we are completely where we want to be. It will continue to require hard work. The time will go quickly, but we must be ready for any operational tasking. We are still at war; many of our Airmen still supporting other units or ECS taskings, and soon we will have our new fleet of Vipers ready to contribute. Your pride and professionalism will make it happen.