Teamwork and ongoing process improvement efforts at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group resulted in an early shipment of the first of seven refurbished outer wing sets for the MC-130H Combat Talon IIs operated by Air Force Special Operations Command.
The MC-130H, a specialized, low density/high-demand platform, is currently undergoing accelerated programmed depot maintenance (PDM) at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. And, since the aircraft is limited in number, minimizing downtime for maintenance is critical.
“Cognizant of the aircraft’s availability situation, and the quick turn required, the Air Logistics Complex at Robins is performing a total of 12 wing swaps alongside the H-model’s PDM,” said Chuck Foley, the MC-130H program manager lead at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.
According to Foley, the Special Operations Forces/Personnel Recovery and Rotary System Program Office at Robins was aware of 309 AMARG’s capabilities, and knew that the Group had successfully produced a number of overflow C-130 PDMs for the depot in the past, so they offered AMARG the opportunity to refurbish seven of what would eventually be swappable C-130 outer wing sets to support the MC-130H PDM line.
Six of the seven wing sets scheduled for refurbishment at AMARG were selected from C-130E trainers with low flying hours assigned to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, with a single set reclaimed from storage here.
“ALC personnel from the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron will upgrade the refurbished outer wing sets and modify them according to Special Operations Forces and MC-130H specifications, making AMARG’s outer wing refurbishments and their timely production a key factor in the MC-130H sustainment program,” Foley said.
“There’s always a learning curve expected with a first, but in this case, due to an acceleration of the PDM line, we had to cut out the curve,” Foley said regarding the first C-130E outer wing set to undergo inspection and repair here.
“Despite that, AMARG got the first set done and delivered 2 weeks in advance of our projected delivery date to Robins — with zero defects!” said Foley. “We appreciate that this was no easy task!”
David Lang, assigned to the 577th Commodities and Reclamation Squadron and proficient sheet metalist, leads AMARG’s specialized team of sheet metal, fuels and nondestruction wing inspection and repair workers.
With a strong adherence to the core values of the Air Force and application of the Air Force Sustainment Center’s “AFSC Way” business model, Lang’s team accepted the challenge and implemented a gated production process with each set of wings moving through four gates — from inspection to fuel line plumbing, nondestruction inspection to shipment in approximately 111 calendar days.
“The first outer wing set was inducted in August with what would soon be a no-kidding delivery date to Robins by Nov 30,” said Lang. “We invested 3,800 hours of work on the first set and there was no time for an ‘ease into it’ factor. Our day was nonstop, but our entire team had a can-do spirit and gave AMARG that extra effort to get the job done right and on time.”
Also written into the C-130’s statement of work between agencies are two “quick-look” inspections to be performed by Robins’ aeronautical engineers. One inspection is performed at the time the wing set is inducted, and the other, an acceptance inspection prior to leaving AMARG.
“These important quick-look inspections are performed on-site here at AMARG and allow the engineers from Robins to identify and address any specific outer wing work before the work begins and before a completed set is shipped to Robins,” said Foley.
In a simultaneous reclamation project, workers from the 577th Commodities and Reclamation Squadron were removing an outer wing set from a stored MC-130H aircraft. The reclaimed Talon II wing set would accompany the refurbished set to Robins, providing the depot with immediate transferable MC-130H wing parts.
“By accelerating the removal and shipment of the reclaimed Talon II wing in tandem with the refurbed wings, AMARG saved us a month of wait time for Talon II wing parts and gave the depot a head start,” said Foley.
“AMARG is a key player in the Robins AFSOC PDM acceleration,” Foley said.
The combined shipment of two outer wing sets (one refurbished C-130E set and one reclaimed MC-130H set) departed AMARG in a well-executed overland truck withdrawal on Nov. 23 and arrived at Robins AFB, Ga. as planned, on Monday morning, Nov. 30.
“I just can’t put into words how important Lang and his team have been to this program, they are superstars and did an outstanding job! If Lang hadn’t had the right, refreshing attitude, none of this would have worked,” explained Foley.
Speaking on behalf of the Special Operations Forces/Personnel Recovery and Rotary System Program Office, “we’re extremely impressed with the exemplary quality of these wings,” Foley said with an agreeing head nod from Joe Barlow, also a program manager at Robins.
“From the work loaders and planners to the shippers, and all of the key players under the watch of Shirley Mercier, the 577th Commodities and Reclamation Squadron director, they know the importance of our promise to the warfighter and that it’s one we never break,” Foley continued.
Committed to continuing support to meet Special Operations Forces’ wartime demands, Lang’s team has already inducted their second set of wings and though their learning curve on the first set was abbreviated, they realize that with each successive set they’ll build an even more impressive knowledge base.
“These aircraft have performed incredibly well in a variety of missions around the world, said Lang, “it’s our privilege to step into an assignment like this, share our experience and excel while keeping the active fleet flying.”