Maj. Gen. Gregory Ferguson, the Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, along with an MC-130H Talon II aircraft and its crew, recently visited the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group to recognize and pay tribute to the group’s contribution to the AFSOC mission.
The command’s MC-130H and AC-130 Gunship platforms are currently undergoing programmed depot maintenance at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, and a specialized team here is playing a key role in the MC-130H and AC-130 sustainment program by refurbishing outer wing sets.
With a backdrop of C-130 wings undergoing maintenance, Ferguson began his remarks by thanking a group of sheet metal, fuels, non-destruction repair workers, planners, schedulers and engineers for their service both in and out of uniform.
“All of what you’re doing here is pretty remarkable,” said the general after having a chance to see some of AMARG’s production lines demonstrating the “Art of Possible” methodology.
“Much of what I’ve seen in your F-16 Regeneration, A-10 Modification, and C-130 Depot Repair lines reminded me of the way we used to chart our paths as mechanical engineers running an engineering company when most of our days were spent looking at critical paths and major milestones for completing production of the equipment we built,” he said.
While highlighting some of the Air Force’s extraordinary capabilities, Ferguson emphasized that the Air Force is the smallest and the fleet is the oldest it has ever been in history.
“To overcome this challenge, we must leverage every aspect of our enterprise’s capabilities to meet our mission demands,” he said. “For the past 70 years the Air Force has broken barriers, and we’ve been a member of the finest warfighting force the world has ever known. Truly, we ensure freedom from attack. We have the ability to attack at the time and place of our choosing and operate freely either in peace time or war time.
“Today’s battlefield American Airmen have built a real-time global intelligence and command and control network that can find, fix and finish the smallest of targets, to include those that would choose to do harm to us and our nation,” he said. “So today at any given time the Air Force Special Operations Command has operators that are doing daily counter terrorism missions.”
The general explained that air and space superiority are not the American birthright and we must continue to fight for those and win every day. This does not come without challenges as was the case with the Special Operations Combat Talon II aircraft.
“The C-130 system program office has accomplished yeoman’s work to deliver to us the customer at AFSOC C-130s ahead of schedule,” he said. “Due to the surge and flying [schedule] over the last 15 years, the need to replace the outer-wings during that PDM cycle has surfaced. And certainly without you guys, what they are doing in that PDM line could not be possible.”
Since the Talon IIs are limited in number, minimizing downtime for maintenance is critical. AFSOC’s requirement drove them to challenge the Art of the Possible for the Air Force Sustainment Center to not only perform wing swaps, but to simultaneously accelerate C-130s through PDM at its Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in 100 days.
The Special Operations Forces/Personnel Recovery and Rotary System Program Office at Robins AFB worked through the Ogden Air Logistics Complex Business Office to identify the top obstacle to reducing flow-days as the outer-wing overhaul. Fortunately, the 309th AMARG, which falls under OO-ALC, had capacity and capability for outer-wing repairs and the ability to deliver overland to meet the WR-ALC C-130 Speed-Line needs of the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
“You all were challenged to rapidly stand up this C-130 Speedline and put it into effect so that we were able to accelerate that PDM cycle. You’ve done it in truly championship style. It’s been phenomenal, it’s inspiring to know you have met schedule 100 percent,” he said.
Refurbishment efforts have returned 103 days of aircraft availability per aircraft to the command.
“In turn, it’s enabled us to provide uninterrupted combatant commander support across multiple theaters while enabling the acceleration of PDMs and aircraft upgrades to continue ahead of schedule,” he said.
Ferguson described the utilities of AFSOC platforms. The MC-130H Combat Talon II has a mission for delivering operators where they need to be, to keep them supplied with what they require and at times, access denied areas. They also have the capability for low-terrain penetration beyond the average and get the goods delivered and extracted when needed.
He explained that these aircraft also refuel rotary wing platforms and must perform in all-weather conditions. For many years, the 130H Combat Talon II has been the platform of choice when extracting folks in harm’s way.
“You all talked a lot today about your customer and how you are aggressively working to deliver the product to me and other warfighters,” the general said. “Well at AFSOC we like to say we have this product, we call it lethality. We’ve got a customer and that customer is those who would choose to do harm to our nation, the enemy. “Because of you we don’t have any problem with delivering our product to any customer anywhere at any time across the globe.”
“As the Air Force leverages each of our capabilities, experience and skills know that what you all are doing here is so critical and what each of you represent is a real Air Force treasure.”
After taxiing into AMARG and shutting down its engines, the MC-130H and crew opened its doors to employees for a tour of the platform.
“We were hoping that the visiting Combat Talon II was sporting the new wings we had worked on, but as it turns out, the wings it flew in on will be our eighth set,” said David Lang, C-130 Outer Wing Production lead for the team performing the wing refurbishments.
According to Lang, they have 10 wing sets scheduled and are currently working sets five and six.
Appreciating the opportunity to partner with Robins AFB in support of the AFSOC’s warfighter, Lang was impressed that the work his team is performing is achieving such visibility by the customer.
“It was great hearing from General Ferguson and listening to the visiting aircrew’s mission. Very cool recognition for all of us that work here,” said Lang.