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Retired F-15 aircraft play role in Air Force readiness

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Each year many F-15 aircraft come to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, to go through a Planned/Scheduled Depot Level Maintenance process to receive upgrades and repairs to sustain them for the rigors of flight. But what if the aircraft can no longer be repaired?

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center F-15 Program Office at Warner Robins finds a new purpose for aircraft that can’t be sustained for the mission.

Nate Kiser, AFLCMC Fighters & Advanced Aircraft Directorate F-15 Program Office Logistics supervisor, said that while these aircraft were at Robins for their P/SDLM, structural cracks were discovered during routine inspections.

“The Air Force decided to retire the aircraft instead of performing the extensive repair actions required to return them to service,” said Kiser. “Even as retired aircraft, they still play a huge role in overall U.S. Air Force readiness.”

Roy Rudd Jr., 561st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Weapon System Support Center Flight chief, said the aircraft retirement journey began in 2019.

“The 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group commander directed a preservation team be established, and all potential divesture aircraft would be worked only by this team, taking the pressure off of daily P/SDLM activities.”

A team of volunteers was established from the 561st AMXS.

“The aircraft had their P/SDLM maintenance completed and maintained should Air Combat Command Program office decide to fully repair/complete P/SDLM and return to service,” he said. “The decision was made to divest versus save the aircraft.

“At that time, the 561st AMXS began working with program office and others to fully divest the aircraft,” he continued.

Kiser said the F-15C aircraft were some of the oldest aircraft in the inventory and were retired due to structural fatigue.

“The WR-ALC depot mechanics discovered the fatigue in critical structure of the aircraft.” “Those inspections sparked reoccurring inspections within the overhaul process to ensure they produce safe aircraft to the warfighters we all support.”

The journey for these retired aircraft has not ended.

“One aircraft was loaned to the National Museum of the USAF at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, for display at Cordele Veteran Park,” said Kiser. “Five aircraft will continue to serve as test range assets in Florida, one aircraft went to the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group Expeditionary Depot Maintenance team as an Aircraft Battle Damage Repair trainer, and two aircraft will be converted to continue service as Organic System Integrated Laboratory assets to develop and test aircraft software.”

Kiser said it was a true team effort.

“Many organizations from across base were involved to successfully pull this off from my office within the AFLCMC F-15 Program Office and units across the WR/ALC, to the Defense Logistics Agency, supply chain partners, bioenvironmental, and airfield management, as well as our active duty, and Air National Guard partners. Ultimately, the F-15 Program Office led the effort with a lot of teamwork from the entire F-15 enterprise.”

Kiser said it was a rewarding experience to collaborate with the different specialists from across Team Robins and the Air Force.

“The retirements validate the great work the WR-ALC and the depot mechanics do every day,” he said. “They inspect, repair, and overhaul jets so the aircraft can continue to fly safely.”