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By DCMA AIMO St. Augustine
Editor's note: Nov. 18 marked the 40th anniversary of the F/A-18's first flight. Read more at www.dcma.mil/News/Article-View/Article/1690019/fa-18-hornet-targets-40-years-of-flight/.
Defense Contract Management Agency Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations St. Augustine celebrated the 900th F/A-18 delivery from Boeing Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sept. 26.
The F/A-18A-D Hornet and the F/A-18E-F Super Hornet have been used by the Navy for decades, with the aircraft flying extensive hours around the globe. Over the years, the depots have been challenged with providing solutions on aircraft issues that are complex and sometimes unexpected. AIMO St. Augustine has worked extensively with the Boeing Cecil Field depot for the aircraft to maintain mission readiness for the Navy.
AIMO St. Augustine provides support for a variety of F/A-18 aircraft. The 900 deliveries include F/A-18 A-D models, F/A-18 E-G models, F/A-18 C+ Models and F/A-18 Blue Angel aircraft. The A-D models, C+ models and Blue Angels are inducted for overhaul, maintenance and repair to extend the service life of these aircraft, perform high flight hour inspections and install system upgrades. The E-G models are inducted primarily for modifications, wing replacements, treatment for corrosion and required inspections.
According to Kevin Moore, a quality assurance specialist, finding solutions to the unexpected and complex jet issues provides a significant challenge for everyone involved.
“As a DCMA QAS, my job is to ensure that the supplier provides the warfighter with the safest, most effective weapons delivery platform possible,” said Moore. “At Boeing Cecil Field, the program support team works collectively to ensure the quality and integrity of these aircraft, and we are proud to be a part of this historic moment.”
Depot-level maintenance comes with other challenges, too, said Navy Cmdr. Steve Krum, AIMO St. Augustine's commander. Since the jets are sent from Navy squadrons and will be returned to them, the programs are funded differently than new production acquisition contracts. Krum credit's contracting professionals, like Jeffrey Roberson, an administrative contracting officer, for their expertise in working with squadrons to address funding issues, write modifications and manage spreadsheets for documentation and to keep the depot maintenance funded.
“We have a talented workforce," said Krum. "In addition, our current Navy pilot and flight officer have over 3,800 F/A-18 hours combined, are both previous squadron department heads with maintenance officer experience, and bring current knowledge of the challenges being faced by the fleet. By working with Boeing, we’re able to provide aircrews with a reliable aircraft that has an excellent safety record to fly."
According to Moore, the F/A-18 Fleet is “rebounding from a deficit in mission capable aircraft.”
“Just a few years ago, a large majority of the fleet was in need of depot-level maintenance,” said Moore. “Depots are now closing that gap. Not only does this provide the fleet with more mission-ready assets, it also provides our pilots with much needed training platforms. This ensures the Navy will continue to have the best aircraft and the best aviators on the planet.”
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