October 11, 2012 (by Capt. Ashley Conner) - The 302nd Fighter Squadron flagship F-22, Aircraft 05-4102, is now back in Alaska after getting a tune up at the depot facilities at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The 302nd FS flagship F-22A block 30 no. 05-4102 returns to Alaska after getting a tune up at the depot facilities at Hill AFB on October 3rd, 2012. [USAF photo by TSgt. Dana Rosso]
The 302nd FS
flagship and a second F-22 (no. 05-4103), both of which are assigned to the 3rd Wing, underwent modifications as a part of the Structural Retrofit Plan at the Ogden Air Logistics Center.
"Most of this maintenance is in the form of time compliance technical orders which are essentially maintenance actions that must be complied with within an allotted timeframe," said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Hennig, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, production superintendent. "Our aircraft are scheduled for depot maintenance depending on fleet health needs. There is a fleet-wide depot schedule which outlines each airframe and its scheduled depot induction date. Depot schedules aircraft in a manner that allows the entire F-22 fleet to have required modifications performed within the prescribed time-frame."
The F-22s go through maintenance at the depot facilities instead of at home station because it allows for extended downtime of the aircraft and maintenance to be performed without taking away from the daily flying mission requirements and over tasking home station maintenance personnel. When depot performs the F-22 TCTOs, it allows active duty and Reserve Airmen from the 3rd and 477th maintenance squadrons to focus on meeting the home station flying schedule without over committing manpower or incurring extreme amounts of aircraft downtime.
"We keep pretty close tabs on our aircraft and pride ourselves on knowing the ins and outs of each airframe," said Hennig. "Any time an aircraft is off-station or down for an extended period of time there are uncertainties. Fortunately, we have a good working relationship with the F-22 depot, and we receive a quality product from them when the aircraft return."
Both of the aircraft received the increment 3.1 upgrade as a part of their scheduled depot. Increment 3.1 consists of software and hardware upgrades, a part of the F-22 modernization plan, allowing pilots to map the ground using the radar before dropping munitions. Previously they had to rely on outside sources to locate targets and provide coordinates before dropping a weapon.
"The jets coming out of depot receive the latest hardware and software upgrades enabling full air-to-ground functionality. Increment 3.1 gives the F-22 the ability to precisely locate, engage and target emerging ground threats," said Lt. Col. David Piffarerio, 302nd FS commander. "The depot delivers first class products on time and on schedule."