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Posted: 2/23/2006 5:56:37 PM EDT
Air Force Materiel Command News Service for February 23, 2006
Maintainers ready for Raptor

AFMCNS50 - February 23, 2006
By G. A. Volb

Ogden Air Logistics Center Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFMCNS) -- The F-22 Raptor's unequaled
capabilities bring some unique challenges to Air Force maintainers here.

Not the least of which is gearing up a support machine to handle the
maintenance workload when the first Raptors arrive for modifications in
April. Approximately 18 of the 21st century fighter aircraft will see
depot maintenance at Hill throughout the first year.

"The first aircraft," according to Mike Dooner, 309th Aircraft
Maintenance Group F-22 production chief, "will have the lighting system
for night air-to-air refueling system upgraded...along with a few other
minor factory modifications."

The challenge for maintainers is keeping up with the "latest weapon
system technology," he said. "But our technicians and support personnel
have spent most of their careers working with new technology, so it
won't be a new challenge." But preparing for the workload is an
adventure in itself.

Depot activation for a new weapon system always presents challenges, but
even more so for the F-22 given its high-end technology and sensitive
profile. "We're partnering with the aircraft's original equipment
manufacturers (Lockheed Martin and Boeing) to ensure we have the supply
support we need,"said Don Hallford, F-22 program manager. Maintainers
have to work supply line issues -- making sure needed parts are on hand
among other things, building a work area specifically for the F-22, and
developing training requirements for mechanics.

"Most maintainers will tell you that being on the ground floor of a new
weapon system is unique," said Mr. Dooner. "A lot of hard work goes into
getting it off the ground, but in the end, you have the opportunity to
implement new ideas and ways of doing business. We have the chance to
start anew, eliminating waste from our processes and procedures up
front.

"And while the F-22 presents challenges when it comes to stealth
technology, we've been working B-2 bomber maintenance for a while --
about seven years -- so we have experience in that field as well," he
emphasized. The maintainers continue, however, to take a proactive
approach by sending personnel to field training detachments for hands-on
schooling.

By virtue of the F-22 design, it's hoped maintainers will find their
work a little more "user-friendly". According to officials, the Raptor
will have better reliability and maintainability than any fighter
aircraft in Air Force history.

An F-22 squadron also requires less than half the airlift of an F-15
squadron to deploy. Plus, the aircraft's increased reliability and
maintainability pays off in less manpower to fix it and the ability to
operate more efficiently.

"People are excited to start working on it," said Mr. Dooner. "We have
heard about this aircraft for years now and the maintenance and support
teams are eager to dive in and get their hands dirty."

Mr. Dooner said experienced technicians and support personnel from all
over the base will help implement the workload associated with the F-22
coming in April. Initially, maintainers are looking at between 30-35
flow days to turn around each aircraft.
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