The final F-16 that was damaged in a  2018 windstorm in Kuwait has finally made its way back to Duluth and its home at the 148th Fighter Wing.

The planes were deployed in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE to Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base when a severe windstorm blew threw in May and collapsed several industrial-strength steel-framed sunshades from 91-MPH straight-lined winds.

Seven F-16 fighter aircraft assigned to the 148th Fighter Wing were damaged in the storm, five of them sustaining catastrophic damage. "The fabric ripping off the structures sounded like thunder," said 148th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander, Maj. Will Carr Carr.

The 148th says that "The winds caused the worst battle damage an Air Force or Air National Guard unit had received since 1991." The planes had to carefully have their mutations removed and the destroyed structures were carefully removed from the damaged planes.

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Chief Master Sgt. Ryan Gigliotti, Equipment Maintenance Flight Chief says "We quickly prioritized our efforts to get our fully mission capable jets ready, fix the least damaged jets first, then disassemble and ship the non-repairable jets."

Three planes were eventually shipped to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona where their work was completed by sheet metal technicians, aircraft electricians, avionics technicians, and airframe engineers.

On December 30th, the third and final F16, aircraft 339, returned from AMARG to the 148th in Duluth where it was greeted by a handful of maintenance personnel. The plane still needs hundreds of maintenance hours before it is once again declared mission ready.

You can read much more about the incredible journey these planes went on, and the hard work from the 148th and others here.

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