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Kadena takes 'pride' in revamping F-15 fleet

by 1st Lt. Gerardo Gonzalez
18th Wing Public Affairs

10/21/2005 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Some of the F-15 Eagle fleet’s oldest jets are getting a second chance at life here, thanks to a $5.2 million upgrade program.

During the next year, Kadena Eagles will receive a microscopic inspection called "Pride Dock" by Department of Defense contractors and Airmen from the 18th Maintenance Group.

The first fighter to undergo the approximately 10-day overhaul -- extending the life of the aircraft -- rolled out of the “Pride Dock” Oct. 12.

As part of Pride Dock, contractors thoroughly inspect and replace peripheral items on an aircraft’s key systems, like flight controls, radar, tactical electronic warfare, electro-environmental and weapons.

“We are re-establishing the baseline with the operational systems of a 27-year-old plane that has 7,000 (flying) hours -- and (extending its life) another 10 to 15 years,” said group commander Col. John Miller. “This is a (Air Force) fleet-wide application that we’re working.”

Pride Dock technicians fix many of the discrepancies -- such as old wiring and bent connectors -- that consume maintenance time and take the focus from delving deeper into the core systems themselves, said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Henderson, group Pride Dock project officer.

Like an aging car, peripheral items in a jet degrade with time. Troubleshooting problems takes time.

“In a perfect world, the maintainers would spend less time chasing down these anomalies and more time working on the operational system, in the same amount of time,” said Colonel Miller.

Establishing the Pride Dock operation has been a monumental undertaking, Chief Henderson said. They brought in Defense Support Services contract technicians who methodically planned every step of the project, tested the concept, analyzed data and implemented lessons learned to improve the process.

“We created a detailed program plan to establish Pride Dock operations because there was no on-going similar program to bench mark” he said.

It all begins with examining 180 days worth of discrepancy information for each aircraft.

Contractors and active-duty project officers review data to determine an aircraft's trend. Then, a pilot test flies the aircraft prior to taking it to the Pride Dock.

Next, technicians meet with the pilot to gather more data. For the next 10 days, contractors and assigned crew chiefs examine every inch of the applicable systems and replace worn parts.

“This will afford us the operational checkout that we need to make sure that we’re giving our aircrews a combat ‘code 1’ capable aircraft,” said Colonel Miller.

Results are already positive. The first F-15C, tail number 469, flew successfully after the overhaul. The fighter had not been flying for some time.

“The aircraft flew well out of the gate from Pride Dock,” said Maj. Robert Haug, 44th FS director of operations. “Now that it’s back on the flying schedule I expect it to be a top-performing aircraft.

Pride Dock also provides valuable feedback to maintainers.

Chief Henderson said that feedback can be shared internally to use for other scheduled inspections. It can also be passed on to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, the F-15 System Program Office and the entire Air Force F-15 fleet.

“This has the interest of the entire logistics chain of command all the way to Air Staff,” Colonel Miller said.

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