With budgets shrinking and the Department of Defense forced to do more with less, every penny counts when it comes to purchasing new equipment. Personnel at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Rapid Development Integration Facility understand that demand and are here to help.
The RDIF began operations in 2010 when the Air Force needed a way to develop projects and do things faster and cheaper while keeping all the data under government control.
Since then, the RDIF has received and completed more than 240 projects on equipment like the HH-60M Black Hawk Helicopter, F-22 Raptor, B-2 Spirit Bomber, B-1 Lancer Bomber, all variations of the C130J, various Federal Aviation Administration aircraft, and the Guardian Angel Air Recovery vehicle, to name a few.
RDIF personnel have successfully returned more than $150 million to customers, who could then use that money on additional projects. In addition, the RDIF has been able to help its customers save more than 70 percent on their projected budgets.
RDIF personnel accomplish this by helping find creative answers to problems by designing prototypes, working with the customer to fine-tune them, testing them, and estimating the cost, said Alan Brookshire, RDIF director. They are even able to help with the manufacturing of some products, he said.
“When we started in 2010, our first project was a new nitrogen purge kit, which is responsible for keeping the corrosion off components inside infrared sensor balls on aircraft,” Brookshire said. “It was costing the Air Force more than $6,000 to make [the kits], and we would have to wait between 30 days to six months to receive them.”
Brookshire said his office was able to research this component, then build and deliver it to the customer in 30 days for only $398 each.
“We knew once we saw those savings, we were on to something and this was worth exploring more,” Brookshire said.
For the RDIF team, it’s about more than just
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“While saving our customers money is great, we also want to educate them so they are better equipped to make educated decisions when buying things for the government in the future,” said Maj. Nathan Abel, RDIF deputy director. “We encourage our customers to visit our shop and play a part in the entire process so that they have a better understanding of what the products are, and what goes into making them. This allows them to be better informed for future contracts.”
Brookshire echoed Abel’s sentiments and pointed out a recent project in which RDIF personnel worked with maintenance teams of the C-5 Galaxy aircraft.
“The team approached us because their current lift stand did not work effectively,” Brookshire said. “So we began making modifications based on their initial feedback. Since then, we’ve had them out four times, and each time they tell us what works and doesn’t work so that we can get it just right.”
At the end of the day, the customer is the one with the need, and we just want to help them find a solution to that need, Brookshire said.
While saving money and educating their customers is important, both Abel and Brookshire said that they love the fact that they are also able to support the warfighter through RDIF’s work.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to come to work and have a hand in making things that our customers will use to support the warfighter down range,” Abel said. “As long as we are able to continue to support the warfighter by educating our customers; providing solid products; saving them time and money, which allows them to do more with less; then we are on the right track.”