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Tinker AFB reviews busy 2012 for bomber maintenance programs

Published: Wed January 23rd, 2013 via: US Air Force


TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- Tinker's bomber maintenance programs continue to compile an impressive list of achievements. Chiefs of the B-1, B-2 and B-52 Divisions here were given an opportunity to brag about the accomplishments of their personnel during the "town hall" meeting Maj. Gen. Dwyer Dennis held Jan. 10.

"This is a dynamic fighter-bomber directorate," said General Dennis, the Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Bombers, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB. He is responsible for cost, schedule, performance, and life-cycle management of the Air Force's fighters and bombers portfolio.

The achievements accomplished by the three bomber programs "can't be done without you," the general told military and civilian personnel from the B-1, B-2 and B-52 Systeam Program Offices who gathered in the base theater for the meeting.

· The B-1 fleet recorded, "the highest annual availability rate we've achieved in years," said Col. Michael B. Senseney, AFLCMC Fighters and Bombers Directorate, B-1 Division System Program Manager. In addition, he said, the B-1 amassed the most flying hours in fleet history -- 29,481 -- and record combat hours, too.

The B-1 SPO launched two modification programs last year, the colonel recalled. One was the Integrated Battle Station, a modification that will modernize three of the aircraft's capabilities. The modification will feature installation of the fully-integrated data link, a vertical situation display upgrade, and improvement of the central integrated test system.
The other modification started last year was the Inertial Navigation System-Replacement, which "brings the navigation capabilities of the B-1 into the 21st century," said Rick Cantwell, B-1 Logistics Lead.

A Full Scale Fatigue Test is being conducted, Colonel Senseney related. The test is intended to intentionally develop fatigue in parts of the airframe, specifically the wings and fuselage, "to understand the true limit of those major structures and thereby better focus resources for future sustainment," Mr. Cantwell said. An aircraft previously retired to the "Boneyard" at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona is being utilized for the fatigue test.
The B-1 SPO also is participating in a concerted effort to reduce programmed depot maintenance flow days from 210 to an average of 120 to 130, the colonel said.

Every five years each B-1 in the Air Force fleet is sent to the Tinker PDM line (the former 76 MXW) to undergo a series of tasks designed by engineers to keep the B-1 aloft, Mr. Cantwell explained.

In years past this programmed maintenance consumed 200 to 240 flow days. In 2011 the B-1 Program Office and the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group implemented a process known as high-velocity maintenance. "This cut down the flow days, resulting in the aircraft getting back to home station sooner and in greater aircraft availability to the warfighter," Mr. Cantwell noted.

· Sustainment efforts "contributed significantly" to the second-highest B-2 annual mission-capable rate achieved by the B-2 System Program Office, said Lt. Col. Larry Powers, chief of the B-2 bomber branch at Tinker.

Also, the B-2 Proactive Sustainment Team, "which uses supply/trend data to identify future logistics programs," was recognized by the B-2 SPO as the small team of the year, the colonel related. The team was submitted as a candidate for this year's Defense Department Supply Chain Operational Excellence Award

· The B-52, the 50-year-old granddaddy of the Air Force fleet, will undergo a "huge mod" this summer, said Col. John A. Fisher, B-52 System Program Manager. The combat network communication technology (CONECT) modification is key to the future of the venerable bomber.

"In a nutshell, this technology brings a digital communications backbone to the B-52," he explained. Kit Proof for the modification is scheduled to start this summer in PDM at Tinker, the colonel said. CONECT completed developmental testing last fall and will start operational testing this month, he added.

Also last year the B-52 General Officer Steering Group directed the B-52 enterprise to conduct a rapid improvement event focusing on corrosion, "which can threaten the fleet's viability," the colonel noted.

The RIE team included representatives of the B-52 SPO, the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group, HQ Air Force Global Strike Command, the 2nd Bomb Wing, 5th Bomb Wing, 307th Bomb Wing, and the Air Force Research Lab.

The team, led by the SPO, evaluated current corrosion control plans, technical data and corrosion control facilities at Barksdale AFB, La.; Minot AFB, N.D.; and Guam. "They documented gaps in processes and hardware and recommended areas for improvements" to the B-52 corrosion control process, Colonel Fisher said.
The team also reviewed other aircraft's corrosion prevention processes and associated practices "to glean best practices to bring to the B-52," the colonel said. "It was a good enterprise success."

Tinker's SPO also got an aircraft requiring significant structural repair "back into inventory" last year, the colonel recalled.

A B-52 experienced a cracked aft terminal fitting (a structural problem where the wing connects to the fuselage) while deployed to Guam. "Getting the aircraft back to the States and repaired took about 18 months -- which means it was out of the warfighter's hands for a year and a half," the colonel said.

"We worked with the warfighter and with Boeing Wichita to complete the project," which required "a very intensive engineering effort." The work was completed in the last quarter, the colonel said.

Finally, Colonel Fisher said the B-52 was the first fleet in the Air Force to receive a legacy Military Type Certification which documents the airworthiness baseline. The MTC is key to support the independent airworthiness assessment of future modifications.
This certification is based on acceptance of legacy airworthiness processes/documentation that define the limitations, restrictions, authorized configuration and approved operational and maintenance technical orders, the commander said.

"We were the first through this process and helped pave the way for future platforms that will need this type of certification."


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