Lancers seek a new lease on life at Tinker depot - Lebanon news - أخبار لبنان

Lancers seek a new lease on life at Tinker depot

Lancers seek a new lease on life at Tinker depot

The first B-1B Lancer to enter a crucial structural repair and maintenance process is nearly done, the Air Force said in a release Thursday, marking a key milestone in the effort to extend the life of the key bomber.

The first B-1 took flight in 1984, and today, the average B-1 is about 32 years old. For about half of its life, the last 15 years, it’s been flown hard over Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters in the War on Terror.

And those years are starting to catch up to the Lancer.

“It’s been flown past its certified service life and, as such, it’s developed numerous structural issues and we’ve been working on repairs for over the last four or five years,” Bill Barnes, director of the B-1 Systems Program Office, said in the release.

The Air Force is even considering restricting B-1 pilots from using its low-altitude terrain-following capability, or TERFLW mode, during training to lessen the strain on the air frame, reported on Sunday.

The situation has gotten so bad that just six of the Air Force’s fleet of 62 B-1s were fully mission-capable in August, now-Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Hyten said at his Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing. Hyten called them “the workhorse of the Air Force today.”

“We saw issues in the B-1 because we’re just beating the heck out of them, deploying them, deploying them,” Hyten said. “And so we had to pull back a little bit and get after fixing those issues, and the depots can do that if they have stable funding.”

The Lancer has also been grounded twice over the past two years due to problems with its ejection seats.

Sign up for the Air Force Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Air Force stories, delivered each afternoon


Enter a valid email address (please select a country) United States United Kingdom Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, The Democratic Republic of The Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D’ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory, Occupied Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan, Province of China Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

Thanks for signing up!


By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Air Force Times Daily News Roundup.

So to keep the B-1 flying another 20 years, Barnes’ office got together with the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma to stand up a repair line focused solely on the bomber’s structural issues.

“We have those repairs developed, we know what aircraft tail numbers those repairs apply to,” Barnes said.

Funding for the repair efforts got freed up once fiscal 2020 began, and the first B-1 to go through the structure line arrived at Tinker in October, the Air Force said. It’s now almost finished.

Angel Rodriguez and Terry Shadduck, sheet metal mechanics with the 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, drill a skin splice for the forward intermediate fuselage of the B-1B Lancer. (Kelly White/Air Force)

Col. Greg Lowe, commander of the 76th, said it’s impressive that the Air Force knows exactly which tail numbers have excessive fatigue or corrosion that could lead to serious mishaps down the line. That way, he said, the Air Force doesn’t have to do work on the entire fleet, and can keep the number of aircraft in the depot to a minimum.

“We want to apply the principles of the art of the possible just like we do for all of our other production lines, not only in the [76th], but across the Air Force Sustainment Center,” Lowe said.

The 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron worked with the program office logistics professionals, equipment specialists and the enterprise team to stand up phase one of the repair line, said the squadron’s director, Rodney Shepard.

This included repairing seven urgent tasks on 10 aircraft that had high flying-hour requirements and known structural issues, the release said. Each aircraft’s repairs are expected to be done in 30 days, with 5,000 man-hours of repair for each plane.

Sheet metal and aircraft technicians, working in two shifts, will handle phase one of the structural repairs, the release said.

Phase two will be even more intensive when it begins next April. B-1s will be continually streaming through, and each plane will require 14,000 man-hours of repair. This will require a 50 percent increase in workforce numbers.

Tinker has hired more than 100 new employees in the past year to prepare for this effort, Shepard said. And the work is expected to stay at Tinker for the rest of the B-1′s life.

“The B-1′s been a great plane over in the desert,” Barnes said. “We’ve flown it hard, worked it hard, and now it’s time for a little downtime to get some repairs made so we can have the aircraft ready to deploy when necessary to support the needs of the nation.”

leave a reply



error: Content is protected !!