AUGUST 5, 2022 – Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall visited Tinker Air Force Base July 28 for an update on the base’s support to the F-35 Lightning engine program.
Kendall received an update on F135 engine maintenance and modernization prior to receiving a firsthand look at the F135 engine repair line, housed within the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex — the Defense Department’s largest maintenance, repair and overhaul activity supporting a diverse aircraft, engine and software workload for the Air Force, Navy and partner nations.
The OC-ALC is part of a public-private partnership with Pratt and Whitney, which establishes the framework for providing maintenance on the F135 engine.
His tour of the F135 engine repair line highlighted the repair process and showcased numerous process improvements implemented by the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group to reduce production times from 244 days in 2021 to a current average of 105 days.
The OC-ALC leadership team is also focused on finding innovative ways to cut overall costs of sustainment for the F-35’s engines.
“The efforts by the men and women of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex to repair F135 engine modules faster and more efficiently is beginning to address the gap between where F-35 sustainment currently is and where it needs to be,” Kendall said. “These professionals and their innovative approaches will help us meet the demands of our nation’s security.”
The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex acted quickly to increase its capacity to accommodate an unexpected volume of F135 engines and complexity of repairs, both of which exceeded what the depot had been activated to support at that time. With the aid of Art of the Possible, a constraints-based management system, constraints were quickly identified and mitigated, resulting in dramatically improved support for the warfighter.
“Through the use of Art of the Possible, we identified workload bottlenecks that slowed F135 production and set out to find innovative solutions to eliminate them,” said Col. Timothy Beck, 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group commander. “Changes were made to almost every facet of the processes in order increase production capacity and reduce flow time.
We made significant improvements to the inspection process, technician training, engineering response times, technical data, tooling and even the design of the shop floor — and we’re not done improving the process.”
The process improvement efforts enabled OC-ALC to grow its F135 workforce from 79 just over a year ago to 103 today, and with more hiring rounds to come as the unit doubles its production capacity over the next few years.
Kendall also made time to recognize and coin several outstanding Airmen doing great things at Tinker AFB, before departing to continue his trip which included additional stops at Nellis AFB and Creech AFB.
By Gina Anderson
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs