DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. — Tucson’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, commonly referred to as AMARG, recently completed a project to withdraw 23 F/A-18C “Hornet” jet fighters from war-reserve storage and deliver them to the U.S. Marine Corps for the return to flying service.
The 309th AMARG is part of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex and Air Force Sustainment Center within Air Force Materiel Command.
Using continuous process improvement, termed “Art of the Possible,” the AMARG team dramatically reduced the time to deliver each aircraft, completing the project for the Marine Corps one year ahead of schedule.
In order to address Marine Corps aircraft readiness constraints, the U.S. Navy developed a requirement for withdrawing the Hornets from AMARG, America’s National-Level Air Power Reservoir.
AMARG accomplishes requirements of this kind regularly on behalf of the Department of Defense, several U.S. government organizations (including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Forest Service among others) as well as U.S. allies worldwide.
Employing a multi-skilled, six-member team of aviation mechanics, AMARG personnel began dismantling the F/A-18Cs by removing engines and wings, retracting the landing gear, and ultimately placing the aircraft on shipping fixtures.
The Navy/Marine Corps requirement called for nine aircraft to be delivered in 2016; another seven in 2017; and the final seven in 2018.
Showcasing AMARG’s resolve to reduce customer costs and increase throughput while maintaining high quality, the aircraft withdrawal team, working within the “Art of the Possible” framework, reduced the number of production hours spent on each aircraft by half.
“With an acceleration of the Hornet production line and a schedule to deliver only seven aircraft in 2017, we had the momentum and opportunity to introduce additional jets originally scheduled for completion in 2018,” said Timothy Gray, AMARG’s acting director at the time of completion. “Doing that required additional Navy funding for this year.”
AMARG presented the opportunity for early project completion during a visit by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The Navy took advantage of the opportunity, provided the required funding, and “we pressed forward with an accelerated schedule,” said Gray.
By combining Hornet requirements spanning 2017 and 2018 into a single year, the AMARG team doubled their efforts on behalf of Marine Corps warfighters and finished dismantling and preparing the remaining 14 aircraft for shipment by late July, a year ahead of schedule.
John Meske, AMARG’s medium aircraft fly away section flight chief, praised the team effort by the 578th Storage and Disposal Squadron, the 577th Commodities and Reclamation Squadron, 309th Support Squadron and the 576th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Squadron.
A total of 16 Hornets were shipped to the maintenance facility at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Fla., where Boeing, under a U.S. Marine Corps contract, is installing the F/A-18C-plus upgrade.
Another seven air frames are staged and on standby for transport to the Florida-based modernization facility.