Sunday, August 19, 2012

F-35 Supportability: Now THIS is Promising

From Second Line of Defense:
“We (USMC) decided that the Air Force model for maintenance training was the right way to do business,” said USMC Capt. John Park, 372nd TRS commander. “The Marine Corps, when we go to a platform, we stay there for our whole careers…so this is new to us. Having Marines move to the F-35 from the F-18 Hornet or AV-8B Harrier is unheard of, so it’s a big change in our training process.”
This will go a long way towards reducing F-35 sustainment costs if the maintainers of all the services can develop an ‘F-35’ modus operandi versus everyone all going their own way. I don’t think it is particularly important which service model influences the joint approach the most, as long as it is as common as possible. Of course we would obviously expect the ‘afloat’ part of the fleet to involve the most variation in approach from the program norm. There will be tremendous direct (“Hey! I see a better way!”) and cultural (“This is how we do it now!”) pressure to make the F-35 conform to existing maintenance paradigms.  But there are certain things about the F-35 (such as the nearly complete reliance on composite structures, and no scheduled depot-level repair operation) that make it so very different from the planes it is replacing, there is a very good chance a cultural change can be achieved.
Keep Maintenance Simple and Keep Them Flying. Source: LM Code One Magazine Archives 
My favorite part of the SLD article is the voice of the expert maintainer:
“My dad calls me probably every day and asks about the F-35,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeff Kakaley, F-35 crew chief instructor. “I tell him I’m proud to work on it and he’s proud to have a son who works on the F-35 too.”
“Being around this aircraft on a daily basis, both here and at Pax River (NAS), has been awesome,” said Johnson. “There’s nothing I’d rather do.”
 Students discuss a training problem during F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter training as Staff Sgt. Jeff Kakaley, right, observes during training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jul. 19, 2012. The 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 19 at Eglin, part of the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, trains both Air Force and Marines on F-35 maintenance. Kakaley is an F-35 crew chief instructor(U.S. Air Force photo/Dan Hawkins)
We’ll have to wait and see if the usual F-35 critics follow their pattern and falsely disparage SSgt Kakaley as just positioning himself for his next job as an ‘evil’ contractor.  

BTW, the above photo is cropped from the original in an AF,mil article titled : " F-35 maintenance training spawns USMC's first air FTD".  It appears to be the source of the SLD article.

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