In six months, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Propulsion Directorate has come into its own. Emphasizing the motto, “Life Cycle Thrust,” the directorate prides itself on a new way of doing business.
Introduced by Air Force Materiel Command in the summer of 2012, the propulsion directorate is comprised of three divisions that previously reported to separate chains of command. While the directorate is headquartered here at Tinker, the two primary and product-centered divisions – Propulsion Sustainment and Propulsion Acquisition – are located here and at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, respectively.
“The United States Air Force is the envy of the world because of the safety and reliability that it has achieved in jet engines,” said Col. Mark Beierle, acting propulsion director. “One of the reasons this organization was stood up is to continue that focus, but also to reduce the cost of propulsion – the cost of readiness and affordability.”
The directorate’s vision is to “be the propulsion center of excellence for the U.S. Air Force and international partners. Officials said they intend to do it by “developing, acquiring, testing, fielding, sustaining and modernizing leading-edge propulsion systems through life cycle management.”
With approximately 400 personnel, the Propulsion Sustainment Division manages the logistics, program management, modernization, engineering, operational safety and suitability for many of the Air Force’s fielded engines.
Paul Waugh, Propulsion Sustainment Division chief, said the division manages 23 engines, including engines for aircraft overhauled at Tinker, plus fighters and transports.
“Our job is to make sure the engines are safe, make sure the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group here at Tinker has the right technical data and to work with the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing and the Defense Logistics Agency to make sure they have the right parts here at the depot or in the field,” Waugh said.
Waugh said his team strives to continually hit two goals – ensuring the war fighter has the right number of serviceable installed or spare engines so they can fly their missions and avoid mishaps.
“We have to make sure to track the safety of parts as they or the engines get old so we don’t have engines failing in flight and destroying airplanes and killing people,” Waugh said. “Our major purpose in life is making sure we have safe engines and that we have enough of them.”
With that said, it’s not an easy job. Waugh said several of the components may take two to three years to produce, so it is important to stay ahead of the game. Yet, the Propulsion Sustainment Division have their work cut out for them and it helps that they are in tune with the work and achievements being done with the Propulsion Acquisition Division.
Division Chief Teresa Marshall at Wright-Patterson AFB, agreed and she said it is her division’s role to take science and technology to developing, testing, producing and acquiring engines for aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and C-17 Globemaster.
“By coming together under a single boss, we ensure seamless life cycle management for propulsion. Ensuring a seamless transition in conjunction, with our Tinker division, ensures cradle-to-grave propulsion excellence for our Air Force,” she said. “We have always had a strong relationship with the sustainment community within Tinker, but now as we do planning/depot activation, we leverage our sister Propulsion Sustainment Division to interface in those areas.”
With 135 personnel in her division, Marshall said an average day deals with monitoring the production status of engines, looking into the safety issues and the overall development and acquisition of engines.
Waugh said there are many benefits to a single chain of command including standardization of processes and terminology, and a single point of contact for our customers, the war fighter.
Beierle agreed, adding the directorate team works well together in delivering “Life Cycle Thrust.”