Ogden ALC introduces community leaders to progress in F-22 Raptor maintenance

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Seventeen community leaders affiliated with the Utah Defense Alliance and the Top of Utah Military Affairs Committee received a close-up look Feb. 13 at progress in F-22 Raptor maintenance here.

The four-part event was an effort to familiarize community leaders with the Ogden Air Logistics Complex mission and ongoing efforts. The visit included a mission brief, AFSC Way brief and F-22 “wall walk,” and culminated with an overview of the recent F-22 rapid improvement event (RIE) focused on reducing F-22 depot flow days by 30 percent. 

“The TOUMAC and UDA leaders actively support the collective missions of Team Hill, and therefore, it’s important for those leaders to have a deep level of awareness of the ongoing efforts across the base,” said Brig. Gen. Carl Buhler, Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander. “Constantly working toward increased efficiencies, cost-effective readiness, and increased speed and velocity are central themes inside the Air Force Sustainment Center, using a standard known as the AFSC Way. Therefore, it’s also important to showcase how the AFSC Way is helping us become more efficient and more cost-effective, all while producing aircraft, commodities, software and other products with increased speed and velocity.”

The production wall walk gave the community leaders a detailed explanation of the 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s F-22 production line, briefed by Lt. Col. Rodney Stevens, F-22 Program Office; Audrey Wolff, Lockheed Martin; Tom Hales, Squadron Director; Col. Stanley Springer, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander; and Brig. Gen. Carl Buhler, Ogden ALC commander.

For the F-22 portion of the event, the F-22 wall walk and RIE gave attendees a deeper understanding of how the process worked and the benefits, as well as the way-ahead.

In October 2014, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, the F-22 System Program Office, Lockheed Martin Aerospace and others teamed up to reset their F-22 depot processes and set an important goal: reduce every F-22’s time in the depot by 30 percent in just two fiscal years. 

On the surface, the move may not have seemed necessary. After all, in 2014 the F-22 depot team produced an unprecedented chain of defect-free, on-time jets and won the Robert T. Mason Award — the top DOD award for depot maintenance excellence. Customers were happy and life was good — so why the change? 

“Generating increased speed and high velocity through continuous improvement means molding processes to reach seemingly unreachable goals — or ‘living in the red’ — and sets the order of the day,” Springer said. “While this journey remains difficult, increasing the availability of the nation’s premier combat aircraft for combat air forces now and into the future, is worth it.” 

Stevens, materiel leader for F-22 Product Support, echoed those sentiments. “The mission of the F-22 System Program Office is to find ways to continuously improve how we modernize and sustain the Raptor’s unrivaled combat advantage. This partnered venture, although complex, will be a game changer in how we modify and maintain the F-22.”

The extended F-22 team took on this challenge and embarked on a current-state review with more than 50 participants from the Ogden Air Logistics Complex (574th AMXS, 309th AMXG, 309th Maintenance Support Group and 309th Commodities Maintenance Group), LM Aero, Boeing Aerospace, F-22 SPO, 448th Supply Chain Management Wing, Defense Logistics Agency and AFSC. 

The team found numerous opportunities for improvement, which set the agenda for a full-spectrum rapid improvement event. As the event concluded three weeks later, the team listed 62 opportunities for improvement, 17 of them with potentially positive effects on the network’s critical path. Additionally, an on-the-floor workforce team pitched in and contributed more than 200 suggestions to improve the flow.

“This not only gave us an opportunity to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to return the aircraft back to the warfighter, but also strengthened the partnership between LM and the Air Force,” said Gerald Murray, Director of Enterprise Sustainment at Hill AFB.

Once the working team finished, the executive leadership team from the principal partners — Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, AFSC commander; Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander; and Orlando Carvahlo, Lockheed Martin executive vice president — were briefed on the final results and approved the way-ahead.

From an OO-ALC, F-22 SPO and Lockheed Martin perspective, the F-22 team has seen initial gains and embraced the approach. With support from all leadership levels, the F-22 depot team is energized to meet the “Road to 30 Percent Depot Flow Day Reduction” goal to ensure our nation’s warfighters have the aircraft availability to meet our nation’s taskings.

From a community perspective … when asked what she took away from the event, Vickie McCall, a member of the Utah Defense Alliance, stated, “What we have known can no longer be the norm. Maintenance isn’t just about fixing airplanes; it’s about delivering a technologically superior aircraft to the warfighter before needed — not when the flow charts say it is ready to go. It takes courage to initiate change and leadership to recognize innovation. Bottom line, we are all part of the fly, fight and win team.”

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