Fleet Readiness Heart Southeast (FRCSE) inducted its first F135 Energy Module (PM) Aug. 24, one of many 5 main modules that make up the propulsion system on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
After being designated as a Division of Protection second depot supply of restore (DSOR) for the F135 engine, FRCSE rapidly started planning for the arrival of its first PM and future sustainment as a second DSOR.
“The F-35 shall be round for a very long time, and incomes this workload creates a singular alternative for the depot to firmly assert its place inside the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE),” mentioned FRCSE’s Commanding Officer Capt. Al Palmer. “The intent for this engine work is to start inside FRCSE’s Crinkley Engine Facility after which broaden as different assist amenities are created. Seeing an effort of this enormity come to fruition takes a devoted group of pros. Amongst many different invaluable partnerships, the specialists at Pratt & Whitney (P&W) and the Joint Program Workplace (JPO) had been very important to each receiving the work and studying the talents wanted to keep up it.”
To assist this new engine and its modules, artisans should endure intensive coaching. With assist from Heavy Upkeep Heart (HMC) Tinker Air Power Base (AFB) and West Palm Seashore P&W, some coaching has already been performed. Nonetheless, a further three-phase P&W coaching and upkeep qualification and certification course of, which can improve and streamline the method for FRC Southeast personnel, has additionally kicked off onsite on the command.
The coaching encompasses classroom and on-the-job (OTJ) expertise as artisans be taught and familiarize themselves with the PM and its related mini modules (MMs) – the high-pressure compressor, high-pressure turbine, low-pressure turbine and diffuser combustor.
“Many alternative competencies shall be concerned with F135 coaching,” mentioned Carl Cuppy, FRCSE’s Enterprise Improvement Workplace Engine Lead. “Mechanics, inspectors and high quality assurance personnel will all take part within the coaching. Throughout this time, teams will develop the muscle reminiscence essential to overhaul the F135 energy module efficiently. Every group will carry out a number of iterations of disassembly and meeting with the assist of Pratt & Whitney coaching specialists.”
Whereas the method shall be rigorous and prolonged, it’s an important a part of gaining the mandatory proficiencies. Thankfully, all personnel present process the coaching are seasoned specialists with plane engine expertise – having labored on platforms just like the F414 and F404, the muscle behind the F/A-18 Tremendous Hornet and Hornet respectively, the TF34 which powers the Air Power’s A-10 Warthog, and the J52, which was used within the EA-6B Prowler.
The primary two coaching phases will give attention to classroom and sensible abilities. The primary was roughly two weeks lengthy and taught artisans P&W’s digital administration system for the engine.
Throughout OJT, or the second part, artisans will start working with the PM, its MMs and every subcomponent. P&W trainers will work side-by-side with FRC Southeast personnel.
“The Energy Module is its personal specialty, and every mini module is its personal specialty,” mentioned Chadwick Boyd, FRCSE industrial engineer and F135 functionality institution group member. “Artisans will concentrate on a mini module and solely be examined on their specialty. Nonetheless, there shall be alternatives to cross-train.”
OJT shall be damaged into every MM’s subcomponents, with completion of every of the 4 areas contingent on the quantity and complexity of its subcomponents. Completion dates for every MM coaching are anticipated between February and April 2024, and the PM coaching will conclude by June 2024.
As soon as the classroom and sensible OJT phases are full, qualification and certification would be the closing step. This includes a collective abilities evaluation, wherein P&W evaluators will decide whether or not the command can obtain Preliminary Depot Functionality (IDC). As a part of the evaluation, artisans shall be required to fully disassemble and reassemble the ability module with out steering or help. Incomes the IDC will reveal that FRCSE can carry out all upkeep actions on this particular part of the F135.
“The primary energy module shall be disassembled into mini modules, or sub-assemblies, used for coaching on these particular parts,” Cuppy mentioned. “The second energy module shall be used for the disassembly and meeting coaching for the PM. Each PMs shall be assembled into manufacturing items and finally put in in F-35 plane inside the worldwide enterprise.”
The second F135 PM was delivered to FRCSE on Aug. 28.
IDC evaluation for MMs are scheduled between September and October 2024, and between March and April 2025 for PMs.
FRCSE has optimized house in its Crinkley Engine Facility complicated to make room for the F135 product line, however that’s removed from all that the group is doing to assist this large-scale effort. After certification, F135 artisans will conduct the MM and PM work in designated areas inside the facility referred to as “cells.” The long-term plan is to have 9 PM cells and 22 mini module cells.
As this system ramps up within the coming years, the command will construct new amenities by way of army building (MILCON) tasks to assist the elevated workload.
“FRCSE is within the design evaluate course of for a state-of-the-art 250,000-square-foot MILCON facility constructed particularly to deal with the F135 upkeep outlets and assist personnel,” Cuppy mentioned. “Additional, we anticipate our native (engine) check cell mission to be commissioned by this time, which can enable FRCSE to develop into a one-stop-shop for F135 upkeep, restore and total.”
Cuppy mentioned the command anticipates engine manufacturing to ramp up by 2034 to the utmost manufacturing requirement – equal to about 600 MMs and 120 PMs yearly, correlating to about 600,000 man-hours.
“We are going to begin common inductions in 2024, and we anticipate to have each part of the F135 Navy and Air Power variants by 2029,” Cuppy mentioned. “Throughout that point, we are going to start coaching for the fan, augmenter and nozzle modules.”
About Fleet Readiness Heart Southeast
Fleet Readiness Heart Southeast (FRCSE) is Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia’s largest upkeep, restore, overhaul and technical companies supplier, using roughly 5,000 civilian, army and contract employees. With annual income exceeding $1 billion, the group serves as an integral a part of the better U.S. Navy, Naval Air Techniques Command, and Commander, Fleet Readiness Facilities by sustaining the fight airpower for America’s army.