F-35 Rapid Response Team takes repairs on the road

F-35 unit & base selection, delivery, activation
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Unread post24 Dec 2019, 10:30

F-35 Rapid Response Team takes repairs on the road
23 Dec 2019 Public Affairs Office

"When issues arise with an F-35 Lightning II, a team of highly skilled aircraft maintenance professionals stands ready to rise to the challenge and get the jet back in the fight. Whether the aircraft requires in-service repair or battle damage needs mending, the F-35 Rapid Response Team (RRT) is ready to pack up and go.

“Anything that happens outside the depot – for the Navy, Marines or Air Force – anywhere around the world, they call us and we can deploy these RRT team members at a moment’s notice. We go out to wherever that site may be and perform that repair,” said David Thorpe, F-35 branch head at Fleet Readiness Center East, where the team is headquartered.
The RRT consists of expert, cross-trained artisans who hold journey-level, expert status in at least one trade, and no lower than skilled, worker-level status in others. Having team members with multiple skill sets allows for flexibility when determining which configuration of the team to deploy, Thorpe said.

“The F-35 Rapid Response Team is like a maintenance and repair special operations force,” he explained. “The concept is that we can send fewer people and they can help each other do the work.”

The flexible configuration means the team can pick and choose which artisans to deploy to a mission, based on what the technical requirements will be. Some jobs require more expertise in certain trades than others; for example, a recent RRT mission to Edwards Air Force Base, California, called for a dedicated low observable (LO) coating technician and a painter. Those skills sets aren’t required for every mission, but were necessary in this instance because the repair required high expertise in reapplying the coating.

“Sometimes the team is not just the airframer, sheet metal mechanic and electrician. Sometimes we send the painter, or the LO technician,” Thorpe said. “We also have quality assurance specialists who are ready to go when depot-level quality needs are required to incorporate the repair and sign it off.”

Richard Lee Stiver Jr., an RRT airframes mechanic, agrees that cross-training plays a large role in the team’s success.
“You have to know the airplane,” he said. “I’m airframes, sheet metal, and LO-qualified. We have to have the drive and understanding to do the things we’re tasked to do, and we also have to be able to retain the knowledge from all the trades across the board that we need to know. That plays a huge role in our success as a team: knowing each other’s jobs, and the ability for us to work together.”

The recent mission to Edwards involved a repair in a location that presented accessibility challenges, and therefore also required expertise in low observable coating and paint restoration. The team had to remove a large panel from the aircraft in order to complete the repair – a panel that was not designed for removal under normal maintenance action, Thorpe said.

“A lot had to work in concert to get that aircraft back to a mission-capable status. We’ve got a lot of experience in taking off these big panels and putting them back down, but there are often complications involved in that,” he said of the repair, which involved an aircraft in the F-35 initial testing, operation and evaluation program with Navy Test and Evaluation Squadron 9, Det. Edwards.

“There were a lot of unknowns, because this particular skin removal hadn’t been done previously, but we were able to get the job done without many complications,” Thorpe continued. Engineers supply the team with the appropriate technical data prior to the mission, and that provides a solid jumping-off point; however, work doesn’t always go as planned, especially with first-time repairs.

“We ran into hiccups, just like with anything that’s never been done before, and we worked through them,” he said. “It was pretty difficult, but we wanted to keep our foot on the gas. Our team worked long hours and weekends to produce a quality product, safely and as quickly as possible, to support the warfighter and meet the mission – and we got really good reviews on the finished product.”

The unknowns of each mission are part of what drives the team to work harder, Stiver added. “Not knowing what you’re getting into, and being able to push through it, stand back at the end and say, ‘That was a good time,’ is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job,” he said. “This feels a lot better than going somewhere for 30 days and doing a mundane fix. We thrive on the challenge.”

The team’s performance impressed leadership at the Edwards test detachment, said Lt. David Quant, the unit’s maintenance officer. “Our squadron has worked with numerous contractor and depot-level teams and the F-35 RRT left a very positive and lasting impression. It was obvious to us that the RRT was a group of hand-selected individuals who possessed the right level of experience and motivation,” he said. “The team even went above their scope by assisting our Sailors with regression checks and the installation of panels. It was a true team effort.”

Not only did the RRT get the job done, they managed to do it within their planned time frame – an especially big win for a repair that has never before been completed. And while this aircraft was not a forward-deployed asset – like the majority of the aircraft repaired by the RRT – meeting that repair schedule on a test aircraft is important to help the Navy realize initial operational capability and system demonstration and development dates, Thorpe said.

Without the expertise and hard work of the RRT, the repairs to the aircraft would have taken much longer, Quant added.
“I am confident in the ability of our Sailors; however, this repair evolution did require a very high level of structural repair experience that we did not possess,” he explained. “This job would have taken at least three weeks longer without the assistance and experience from the RRT.”

“Our team goes out and they know it’s not a vacation – there’s a job to be done, and it needs to get done rapidly so we can get that asset back up,” Thorpe explained. “Getting that aircraft back in the air and meeting that flight schedule is important.” “You have to be willing to do everything that comes along with the job, including long hours and weekends, but that’s also part of the enjoyment of the job,” Stiver added. “You’re actually working for the warfighter, and putting them back in the air. That means something to us.”

The RRT has been eager to take on new challenges since its inception in 2017 and, given the proper resources, there’s almost nothing they can’t do, Thorpe said. “These guys crave the challenge and they’re ready and willing for more,” he explained. “With solid engineering instructions, parts availability, and whatever support equipment or tooling we might need – if we throw this team at it, they can do it.”"

191219-N-AC707-1001.jpg


Photo: "The F-35 Rapid Response Team, a highly skilled team of cross-trained aircraft maintenance professionals headquartered at Fleet Readiness Center East, stands ready to deploy at a moment’s notice in support of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter. (Photo by Heather Wilburn, Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs)" https://www.navair.navy.mil/sites/g/fil ... 7-1001.jpg


Source: https://www.navair.navy.mil/news/F-35-R ... 32019-1330
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Unread post24 Dec 2019, 10:35

Group above reminds me of...
ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man (Official Music Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wRHBLwpASw



A4 Skyhawks of the RNZAF https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp5ezLsLZbA



ZZ Top - La Grange (Official Audio) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG6b8gjMEkw

Last edited by spazsinbad on 24 Dec 2019, 10:52, edited 3 times in total.
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Unread post24 Dec 2019, 10:46

Bought that album but never saw that video version, thanks !
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Unread post27 Apr 2021, 17:44

F-35 RRT meets maintenance needs in dual deployments
26 Apr 2021 NavAirSysCom

"MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Aircraft maintenance professionals with Fleet Readiness Center East’s F-35 Rapid Response Team play a critical role in keeping the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II fleet healthy.

In support of this goal, FRCE’s F-35 Rapid Response Team (RRT) recently conducted simultaneous deployments to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, and aboard the USS Makin Island, underway in the Arabian Sea. RRT maintainers inspected and repaired 12 F-35B aircraft, all in under 40 days – including travel, precautionary restriction of movement and workdays.

“The F-35 Rapid Response Team is a strategic asset within our Navy-Marine Corps team, and I couldn’t be more proud of the drive and dedication these individuals display with every mission,” said FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. Mark E. Nieto. “They’re ready to pack up and ship out to anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice and, when they arrive, they get to work and stay on task until the job is done. The RRT plays a vital role in aviation readiness, and you won’t find a finer crew of maintainers anywhere in the armed forces.”

The RRT consists of expert artisans cross-trained in multiple maintenance trades to ensure efficiency and flexibility. Having team members with multiple skill sets allows for a flexible configuration, which means the team can pick and choose which artisans to deploy to a mission based on what the technical requirements will be.

The RRT arrives on-site with skill sets and tools that aren’t normally required for repairs at the squadron level or on a ship, said Maj. Randy Brazile, F-35B Detachment maintenance officer for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the Makin Island.

“The FRCE RRT was called to the USS Makin Island to execute repairs to the 15th MEU’s F-35s, with specialized tools that are not resident in a fleet F-35 squadron,” Brazile said. “They are very experienced artisans and possess qualifications that are not frequently required by operational squadrons. This combination of qualifications, tooling, and the ability to rapidly deploy worldwide provides a valuable resource to the fleet forces when specialized repairs are required.”

The team arrived quickly and showed up ready to perform and share their knowledge with the Marines aboard the Makin Island, Brazile added.

“The RRT deployed in under 48 hours and arrived on ship eager to work,” he said. “The team worked very closely with the Marines of VMM-164 (Rein.) and RRT took every opportunity to teach and instruct the younger Marines.”

Having these repairs conducted on site, rather than having to send the aircraft to intermediate- or depot-level facilities for modifications helps reduce downtime for the aircraft, and get them back in the air as quickly as possible.

“The ability of the RRT to execute repairs on ship allowed the 15th MEU and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group to continue operations while the aircraft repairs were ongoing,” Brazile explained. “The 15th MEU F-35s continued flying combat sorties in support of the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility simultaneously to the RRT repairs. Overall, this was an excellent demonstration of the Naval Aviation Enterprise reacting to unexpected maintenance requirements while maintaining operational capability for the combatant commander.”

Reducing aircraft-on-ground time is especially important for forward-deployed units like VMM-164 (Rein.) and units scheduled for deployment, including Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 at MCAS Yuma.

Ike Rettenmair, F-35 branch head at FRCE, said the RRT provides a strategic capability in supporting F-35B readiness throughout the Marine Corps; however, the team doesn’t work alone. The F-35 Fleet Support Team provides critical support to the RRT. This team includes engineering, logistics and program management across both government and contractor agencies and is a key player in the success of the deployments. While much of the support team’s work is done in the background, these elements coordinated seamlessly with the RRT to ensure delivery of technical instructions, tooling and consumable supplies were staged and ready for use once the team arrived on site.

“While the team was deployed, many government and contractor support groups were constantly working behind the scenes to be certain the forward-deployed teams were successful,” Rettenmair said. “The FST led daily phone conferences were held to keep all parties up to speed and informed of the needs of the team. From the moment we got the notice of need, it was all hands on deck for our F-35 modification team, the F-35 FST, the F-35 Joint Program Office, FRCE support equipment engineering and logistics, logistics management and Naval Aviation Logistics Command.

“We deployed to two separate locations within 10 days of each other,” he continued. “Once we received notice of the need, the support team had less than 48 hours to work through the logistics of getting our artisans and the tooling to the USS Makin Island, including everything from COVID testing and orders to securing a military flight and gathering tools and consumables. It was truly a team effort.”

The RRT maintainers’ skill and passion for service, supported by the FST’s logistics and engineering capabilities, set the team apart in terms of what they can accomplish in challenging environments, Rettenmair said.

“I had full confidence in what these artisans could do when given the opportunity to show not only the warfighter in need, but also the world what makes FRCE unique,” he said. “They performed very well under sometimes-less-than-ideal conditions, and proved again what a critical capability the RRT provides.

“While most of the team was comprised of regular RRT-designated members, there were a few on each team who don’t normally work RRT missions but are trained and seasoned professionals, and were willing to volunteer in support of our warfighters,” Rettenmair added. “The majority of these artisan are military veterans, which gives them even more pride in what they do – they have been on the other side, and understand the need for support firsthand. And while the deployments were a team effort, these artisans deserve most of the credit for the events’ success.”

Matthew Crisp, F-35 Joint Program Office site lead at FRCE, said experience from previous missions has given the RRT a firm foundation to build upon, and that know-how paid dividends with these deployments.

“This isn’t the first time the RRT has been deployed for unscheduled F-35 repairs and it most certainly will not be the last,” he explained. “We are fortunate to have had opportunities in the past for the RRT to come to the support of the fleet on less time sensitive and critical repairs which were good to ‘sharpen our pencils’ before this event.

“This evolution certainly flexed the RRT and Fleet Support Team’s speed and agility to a new level and clearly showed the value that the team has,” Crisp continued. “This success has set the bar higher than ever for the RRT and support team and the collective team will continue to fill this much needed role across the F-35 program for years.”

Every event provides a learning opportunity, Rettenmair noted, that will help improve the team’s performance in the future.

“There are lessons learned and we will gather notes, brainstorm and make the next effort even better for all parties involved,” he said. “It all leads to FRCE and the RRT being better able, and always willing, to support the U.S. warfighter at any time, anywhere in the world.”

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The facility is the lead site for depot-level maintenance on the F-35B (short takeoff-vertical landing) and F-35C (carrier) variants and generates combat air power for America’s Marines and naval forces while serving as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers."

Photo: "Brent Ward, left, and Zachary Sheffield, both F-35B Lightning II mechanics with the F-35 Rapid Response Team, Fleet Readiness Center East attach a harness to remove a tail from an aircraft aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) March 18. The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the central region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick Crosley)" https://www.navair.navy.mil/sites/g/fil ... 1002_0.jpg (0.8Mb)


Source: https://www.navair.navy.mil/news/F-35-R ... 62021-0922
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