NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — With the Air Force’s growing F-35 program, it is essential to supply the shops that support the airframe with the resources necessary to perform at their highest potential.
The Airmen of the 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron F-35 Aircraft Parts Store at Nellis AFB will be moving to a new location and assisting with Air Force’s technical training school house curriculum in order to provide the ability to accomplish their mission more efficiently.
The F-35 parts store is a key function that has only one singular mission: to support the F-35 program.
“We support the F-35 program with whatever parts they may need whether that be aircraft parts, hazardous materials, support equipment spares, we also support the F-35 flight simulator shop and assist with managing their spares,” said Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Larson, 99th LRS F-35 Aircraft Parts Store NCO in-charge.
With the old part store already having over 6,500 line items and growing, the move to a new facility was long overdue, according to Senior Airman Adam M. Johnson, 99th LRS F-35 Aircraft Parts Store journeyman.
“The new facility has a lot more space, which we really need,” said Larson. “We will also have a loading dock with a dock leveler, which is needed because we receive a lot of rolling stock for support equipment that we are unable to receive at our interim facility so we have to go to the main LRS building to use their docks to load and off load any rolling stock deliveries. We will also be able to have our vault in our own building, which we currently do not have. Also, in 2017 with the update to our operating system we will also be taking all the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine parts into our inventory and building, and the space is much needed.”
The amenities that the new facility provide will allow the Airmen of the F-35 parts shop to accomplish their missions, and with the growth of the F-35 program, the 99th LRS had to follow suit.
“The F-35 program is growing and the Department of Defense is focusing on the development of this airframe as well as the F-35,” said Senior Airman Ricardo S. Muñoz 99th LRS F-35 Aircraft Parts Store journeyman. “Therefore, our fleet is bound to increase in size requiring a bigger warehouse to be able to properly stock the necessary aircraft parts to accomplish our mission.”
In accomplishing their mission, the F-35 parts store works in close conjunction with Lockheed Martin to ensure that the system and process run as smooth as possible, according to Johnson.
“We work very closely with Lockheed Martin,” said Larson. “We have our own Lockheed Martin Field Service Representative, Donald Hansen, who works in our office and is our direct link and helps us with anything that we need from Lockheed Martin whether that be help with a part or talking to an Item Analyst. Our main F-35 warehouse is managed by Lockheed Martin out at Fort Worth, Texas.”
The pairing of the parts store and Lockheed Martin runs deeper than only an in-house service representative, with the process of receiving and distributing orders also being interwoven between the two.
“Lockheed uses Autonomic Logistics Information System, ALIS for short, to order and receive parts. There are different modules within ALIS, we use Supply Chain Management (SCM) Distribution,” said Staff Sgt. Wendell Belford, 99th LRS F-35 Aircraft Parts Store supervisor. “Aircraft Maintenance Unit process orders in their module Computerized Maintenance Management System and it will talk to SCM. If the part is in stock, we will pull it from the assigned location. If the part is not in stock, a back order goes into the system. Then Lockheed item mangers see it and send the item to our parts store for processing. Once processing is complete it releases to the aircraft maintenance unit.”
ALIS itself is a unique Lockheed Martin system, and plays an integral part in the ordering and receiving of parts.
“All the parts are ordered and received through ALIS, which is a stand-alone system that Lockheed Martin uses across the entire F-35 program,” said Larson. “There are different modules in ALIS, maintenance has their own module that they use to order the parts through, as we have a different module in ALIS that we use to manage the supply chain transactions through.”
This system is a pivotal component of the operation since there isn’t a part of the F-35 that the shop doesn’t supply.
“We supply it all, from the equipment used for testing to the on-switch,” said Belford. “If it’s a part of the jet nine times out of 10 the part will come from or through this new warehouse before being installed.”
The new warehouse isn’t the only new aspect of the career field that the 99th LRS is looking to improve on, next on the list is incorporating new aspects to the school houses curriculum.
“I have been working with the Joint Program Office doing an overall ALIS training evaluation in conjunction with maintenance, with our team’s focus being on Supply Chain Management,” said Larson. “The old syllabus was very broad and offered a great overview of ALIS as a whole, but didn’t exactly help teach you what you would be doing for your daily job in an F-35 warehouse. We are trying to tailor the course more to what would actually happen on a daily basis, different types of scenarios or errors that are common to come across, so that as young Airmen, Marines or Sailors come out of this course, they are more prepared in what to expect in working in a F-35 warehouse as it is very different than what we are used to seeing because of using ALIS.”
Adding this to the syllabus will serve new Airmen arriving in the F-35 shop well considering the differences between their shop and a regular LRS location.
“Our job is a bit different than the regular LRS and Maintenance Group mission in the sense that we use a unique supply system dedicated solely to F-35,” said Johnson. “This makes the transparency of our mission unique because the rest of base supply cannot see in the supply system what we do on a day to day basis. The F-35 is the newest jet and therefore the supply process for this jet is still relatively new. We are basically the first Air Force supply personnel working with this new system and have to deal with the problems that come with it being relatively new.”
All of these changes being made to not only the location of the F-35 Aircraft Parts Store, but also what is taught to Airmen at the school house, will make it that much easier for Nellis AFB to accomplish their pivotal mission.