Savings of time, money result from B1-B receiver live test

Staff Sgt. Karl Muench Jr., of the 7th Component Maintenance Squadron, Dyess AFB,Texas, performs frequency adjustments to a B-1 Band 4-8 receiver mounted on a Radar and Electronic Warfare test station.  The Band 4-8 Receiver recently underwent a B1-B Repair Network Integration proof of concept live test. The test demonstrated whether the repair network could re-optimize and balance capacities to meet a workload requirement of 15 serviceable assets within a 90- day period. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ MSgt Kenneth Bamberger)

Staff Sgt. Karl Muench Jr., of the 7th Component Maintenance Squadron, Dyess AFB,Texas, performs frequency adjustments to a B-1 Band 4-8 receiver mounted on a Radar and Electronic Warfare test station. The Band 4-8 Receiver recently underwent a B1-B Repair Network Integration proof of concept live test. The test demonstrated whether the repair network could re-optimize and balance capacities to meet a workload requirement of 15 serviceable assets within a 90-day period. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ MSgt Kenneth Bamberger)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- A collaboration of ideas and support from numerous organizations recently led to a positive Requisition Objective fill rate for the Band 4-8 receiver on the B-1B Lancer's electronic warfare system.

"The 4-8 receivers are one of three electronic line replacement units within the defense avionics system on the B-1 that renders the defensive system completely inoperative if something fails to work," said Master Sgt. Richard C. Diamond, command B-1 Electronic Warfare Systems manager. "We have always been in a negative posture, below 50 percent RO."

In the past, due to uneven repair across the nodes and difficulties in keeping sub-components in stock, the RO fill rate - the number of mission capable aircraft waiting for a part - has been between 15 and 25 percent.

Sergeant Diamond said that in the past, if a 4-8 receiver was needed, electronic warfare technicians took the part from an aircraft that was in cannibalization status or one that was down for major repair. In essence, they used other aircraft as a supply point.

With the Repair Network Integration, RNI, Initiative which transforms current logistics repair processes into Air Force-wide processes that provide support to the warfighter and by applying the development core management processes to the 4-8 receivers' repair process its RO fill rate increased more than 100 percent within the first 60 days of the testing.

"So, as a result, it saves basically double the work. I don't have to remove it off of another airplane," said Sergeant Diamond. "You're saving about four hours in extra work and there's a quicker turn around for the warfighter."

In addition to the time constraints and work overload for repairing the 4-8 receivers, aircraft maintainers were up against repair reproduction contracts currently in place. The contracts did not allow for flexibility to meet changing demands.

During the 90-day testing period, contract vendors collaborated with repair network managers to reach an agreement on more flexibility with sharing Air Force requirements on a regular basis.

"Something I've always told my Airmen as we're out on the line maintaining the jets is that their sole purpose as an EW technician is to increase the survivability of the aircraft and ensure that those four crew members come home in one piece. You do that by keeping the EW system as close to 100 percent as possible," said Sergeant Diamond.

With the positive successes from the RNI live test, Sergeant Diamond said he sees great progression for the future.

"I see that if we do press forward with the RNI concept there is only goodness for everybody. I think eventually approximately 33 different LRU's that we have will be healthy, and that maintainer will have the part whenever he needs it to return the aircraft to fully mission capable," said Sergeant Diamond.

Repair network managers are proceeding with efforts to work together and adjust contracts in order to obtain increased sustained production and to meet demand without affecting production for other B-1 repair nodes.

Organizations involved during the RNI testing were Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command Depot Operations Division, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; 28th Maintenance Group, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; 7th Maintenance Group, Dyess AFB, Texas; 116th Maintenance Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, Warner Robins AFB, Ga.; ITT Electronic Systems; 427th Aircraft Sustainment Group, Tinker AFB, Okla.; Headquarters Air Combat Command, B-1 Weapons System Team, Langley AFB, Va.; 735th Global Logistics Supply Center, Langley AFB, Va.; and, the 408th Supply Chain Management Squadron, Warner Robins AFB, Ga.