F-22 Raptor gets major upgrades

Maj. Philip “Stonewall” Johnson, 514th Flight Test Squadron F-22 test pilot, departs Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Nov. 24, 2020, on a functional check flight in the last F-22 Raptor to complete the F-22 Structural Repair Program. The 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron processed 247 F-22s through the program by performing structural modifications to increase total flying hour serviceability on each aircraft by 8,000 hours. (Air Force photograph by Alex R. Lloyd)

The 5th-generation F-22 Raptor has been one of the world’s most dominant fighter aircraft since entering service and has defined what air dominance means to the U.S. Air Force.

To ensure that it remains relevant for years to come, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex’s 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in Utah, through collaborative efforts of the F-22 System Program Office along with partners Lockheed Martin and Boeing, recently completed the last aircraft to go through the F-22 Structural Repair Program that has been generating aircraft for the last 14 years.

“This is a great milestone for the program,” said Misty Stone, 574th AMXS director. “Since Hill Air Force Base gained the F-22 workload in 2006, the 574th AMXS team of 400 employees has remained focused and dedicated on expanding the combat capabilities of the F-22 weapon system,”

The program was responsible for increasing mission capabilities by performing structural modifications to increase total flying hour serviceability on each aircraft by 8,000 hours.

Logan Mikkelsen (cockpit) and Richard Paddock, maintainers with the 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, communicate with each other as they work on the last F-22 Raptor to complete the F-22 Structural Repair Program Nov. 18, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Air Force photograph by Alex R. Lloyd)

The maintenance team processed 247 F-22 Raptors through six unique maintenance machines for structural repair, modification, coatings restoration and aircraft damage repair while completing more than 8,645 Time Compliance Technical Orders totaling over 3,880,000 hours; approximately 1,550,000 hours were dedicated to coating restoration, with the remaining 2,328,000 hours focused on mitigating corrosion, aircraft modifications, modernization and repair.

With the program completed, the 574th AMXS will shift from a workload that was a structural based requirement to a 10-year reversion workload, which is a new sustainment modification that was first prototyped in 2019.

This new modification will refurbish the low observable coatings on the engine inlets, and provide an inspection and overhaul of the aircraft’s flight controls.

Over the past several years, the aircraft maintenance squadron has also supported the warfighter by overhauling five aircraft that had been damaged through the unscheduled depot level maintenance program totaling 50,900 hours.

A 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron low observable technician, gap fills the inside of the engine nacelle of an F-22 Raptor at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Nov. 24, 2020. (Air Force photograph by Alex R. Lloyd)

“We have already ramped up our new reversion workload producing nine aircraft totaling nearly 200,000 hours to date. In conjunction with this workload, we are currently posturing ourselves to accomplish avionics upgrades that will greatly improve the already amazing capabilities of the F-22,” said Paul Woolever, 574th Production/Flight Test section chief. “The success of the 574th AMXS ability to produce modifications, repairs, and upgrades to the Raptor is a direct result of the amazing team of skilled mechanics, dedicated supervisors, and the expert knowledge of the planning and scheduling department that we have.”

The growth from 40 percent to 75 percent for the low observable coating reversion workload highlights the performance excellence of the 574th employees. Their shared commitment to superior results, specialized coatings expertise, open communication, strong sense of accountability and trust among our members have made this increased workload possible,” said David Strunk, 574th AMXS low observable production chief.

“Our high performance work team has been enhanced through our collaboration with Air Force Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin low observable engineering team, and aircraft maintenance group process engineers,” he said. “Their specialized expertise, complementary skills and innovation equipped us with new tooling and processes making it possible for us to thrive despite facility and manpower constraints. Collectively, the 574th employees and mission partners have exhibited incredible creativity, flexibility and commitment to supporting the warfighter.”

Stone added, “Finishing the final aircraft is a great way to start fiscal year 2021. It allows the team to be ready to focus on new challenges and firsts with the reversion requirement.”

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