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A QueSST for speed and parts: 309th AMARG’s role in quiet supersonic technology development

  • Published
  • By Alex R. Lloyd
  • Ogden Air Logistics Complex

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Recall when traveling faster than the speed of sound was possible aboard the supersonic airliner called the Concorde, flying 3,459 miles from New York to London in around three hours.

Those days might not be gone forever if NASA, Lockheed Martin and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, have anything to say about it.

What has changed in the past few years is the possibility to lessen or even eliminate the sonic boom that comes with flying supersonic, and NASA and Lockheed Martin are building an experimental aircraft known as the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) test aircraft to prove it.

“The X-59 is designed so that, as it flies faster than sound, any sonic booms that reach the ground are so quiet they can barely be heard, if at all. That’s what’s new here,” said Craig Nickol, NASA’s X-59 project manager.

To keep from designing all new components for a one-of-a kind aircraft and to reduce costs as well as time to build it, NASA is reusing parts from military aircraft in long-term storage at the 309th AMARG, often referred to as the “The Boneyard.”

Geographically separated, but part of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the 309th AMARG's true mission is greater than its often referred to nickname. In reality it's "America’s Air Power Reservoir.”

This reservoir is home for more than 3,000 aircraft from both Department of Defense organizations and other U. S. government agencies stored for both long and short terms.

AMARG’s 577th Commodities and Reclamation Squadron’s mission is to reclaim parts from aircraft in storage for use. In total, the unit has sourced and shipped 9,723 parts valued at more than $683 million dollars from Oct. 1, 2018 to March 31, 2020.

Aircraft that come to the Ogden ALC for depot maintenance at Hill AFB also receive some of these parts as do aircraft performing critical missions around the world.

For the X-59 effort, repurposed parts provided by AMARG include landing gear from two Air Force F-16C, Block 25, Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft and cockpit canopies from two NASA T-38 Talon aircraft.

AMARG shipped the entire fuselage from both T-38 aircraft and the two F-16 aircraft by ground.

In order to prepare the aircraft for shipping, AMARG removed six engines, wings and flight control surfaces, constructed shipping decks and crates for all the components, removed and itemized all explosives from the aircraft, prepared aircraft records and finally, loaded them on semi-trucks.

“For 74 years, from post-World War II to present, the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group has preserved the best of America’s military aerospace assets for repurposing,” said Col. Jennifer Barnard, 309th AMARG commander. “This current NASA project is a unique example of reutilizing valuable air power assets in the development of future aerospace technologies.”

To learn more about the QueSST project and watch a short video of its ongoing construction, visit