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Air Force Secretary announces Tinker home for B-21 Raider maintenance

During her visit Nov. 16, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced that Tinker Air Force Base has been chosen as the future site for depot maintenance and sustainment of the B-21 Raider, the next generation long-range strike bomber. Wilson is shown at the podium during the announcement.

During her visit Nov. 16, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced that Tinker Air Force Base has been chosen as the future site for depot maintenance and sustainment of the B-21 Raider, the next generation long-range strike bomber. Wilson is shown at the podium during the announcement.

Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander, gives Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, an overview of the KC-46A program and its maintenance campus under construction in the background during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. This is Wilson’s first visit to Tinker since becoming secretary.

Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander, gives Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, an overview of the KC-46A program and its maintenance campus under construction in the background during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. This is Wilson’s first visit to Tinker since becoming secretary.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson listens as Marty Williams, Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab flight chief, shows her several parts that engineers in the lab have made using 3-D printing processes. 3-D printing is saving the Air Force large sums for critical parts that are no longer produced at reasonable costs to the taxpayers.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson listens as Marty Williams, Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab flight chief, shows her several parts that engineers in the lab have made using 3-D printing processes. 3-D printing is saving the Air Force large sums for critical parts that are no longer produced at reasonable costs to the taxpayers.

Nathan Pitcovich, Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab engineer, demonstrates a Romer Arm, which scans parts, to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. Wilson toured centers for innovation like the REACT lab and met with personnel responsible for sustaining the Air Force’s fleet of tanker, bomber and transport aircraft.

Nathan Pitcovich, Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab engineer, demonstrates a Romer Arm, which scans parts, to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. Wilson toured centers for innovation like the REACT lab and met with personnel responsible for sustaining the Air Force’s fleet of tanker, bomber and transport aircraft.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, center, was able to thank members of the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group F108 engine line after learning about their Art of the Possible production success. Wilson is surrounded by senior leadership here as well as workers critical to meeting on-time delivery goals to the customer.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, center, was able to thank members of the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group F108 engine line after learning about their Art of the Possible production success. Wilson is surrounded by senior leadership here as well as workers critical to meeting on-time delivery goals to the customer.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson asks Blake Johnson, 546th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron, questions about the F108 gated process during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. The F108 engine line production has achieved Art of the Possible success.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson asks Blake Johnson, 546th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron, questions about the F108 gated process during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. The F108 engine line production has achieved Art of the Possible success.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson took the opportunity to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to members of the 552nd Air Control Wing during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. Wilson is shown here serving ham-slices to an Airman 1st Class of the 552nd ACW.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson took the opportunity to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to members of the 552nd Air Control Wing during her visit to Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. Wilson is shown here serving ham-slices to an Airman 1st Class of the 552nd ACW.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson thanked members of the 552nd Air Control Wing and their families for their service during their Thanksgiving Reception Nov. 16. Wilson toured several locations around Tinker during her visit, including the KC-135 programmed depot maintenance line, the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Technical Center, the 76th Software Maintenance Group and the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab. She was also given an overview of the KC-46A complex, the B-1 Integrated Battle Station modification and was able to help serve lunch for the 552nd ACW.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson thanked members of the 552nd Air Control Wing and their families for their service during their Thanksgiving Reception Nov. 16. Wilson toured several locations around Tinker during her visit, including the KC-135 programmed depot maintenance line, the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Technical Center, the 76th Software Maintenance Group and the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab. She was also given an overview of the KC-46A complex, the B-1 Integrated Battle Station modification and was able to help serve lunch for the 552nd ACW.

Craig Rayner, 564th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deputy director, shows Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, a structural part of the KC-135 Stratotanker during the secretary’s visit here Nov. 16th. Wilson was shown how the KC-135 programmed depot maintenance line's sustainment operations are extending the aircrafts’ service life and capability enhancement using Art of the Possible ideals.

Craig Rayner, 564th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deputy director, shows Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, a structural part of the KC-135 Stratotanker during the secretary’s visit here Nov. 16th. Wilson was shown how the KC-135 programmed depot maintenance line's sustainment operations are extending the aircrafts’ service life and capability enhancement using Art of the Possible ideals.

Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander; Kevin Stamey, Air Force Sustainment Center executive director; Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, AFSC commander; Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson; Maj. Gen. Cedric George, director of Logistics, deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection and Brig. Gen. Christopher Hill, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander pose for a photo with the Air Force Materiel Command emblem located at Hollywood and Vine in Bldg. 3001. Wilson visited Tinker Nov. 16 and toured several facilities and organizations. She announced at the end of her tour that Tinker Air Force Base has been selected as the base that will support the maintenance and sustainment operations for the B-21 Raider, the next generation long-range bomber sometime in the mid-2020s.
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Col. Kenyon Bell, 72nd Air Base Wing commander; Kevin Stamey, Air Force Sustainment Center executive director; Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, AFSC commander; Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson; Maj. Gen. Cedric George, director of Logistics, deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection and Brig. Gen. Christopher Hill, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander pose for a photo with the Air Force Materiel Command emblem located at Hollywood and Vine in Bldg. 3001. Wilson visited Tinker Nov. 16 and toured several facilities and organizations. She announced at the end of her tour that Tinker Air Force Base has been selected as the base that will support the maintenance and sustainment operations for the B-21 Raider, the next generation long-range bomber sometime in the mid-2020s.

Rodney Shepard, 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deputy director, provides an overview on the B-1 Integrated Battle Station modification operations to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson during her tour of Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. Jason Mann, an engineer with the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab, bottom left, and Jerry Osborne, 567th AMXS, also provided information on the modifications during her time at the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Technical Center.
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Rodney Shepard, 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deputy director, provides an overview on the B-1 Integrated Battle Station modification operations to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson during her tour of Tinker Air Force Base Nov. 16. Jason Mann, an engineer with the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab, bottom left, and Jerry Osborne, 567th AMXS, also provided information on the modifications during her time at the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Technical Center.

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Tinker Air Force Base has been selected as the maintenance hub for the B-21 Raider — a new Air Force bomber expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced the decision Nov. 16 in a media opportunity at the base. She said Tinker AFB was selected because of its experience and expertise in large aircraft maintenance and the quality of its workforce.


“We made that decision because Tinker Air Force Base has the people and the experience and has shown its ability to be able to provide sustainment to some of our most important aircraft," Wilson said. "I saw that here today.”


She said she does not know how many jobs sustainment of the fleet will create at Tinker AFB, but projected it would be comparable to the maintenance of the KC-46 aircraft the base is taking on — about 1,300.


The announcement followed Wilson’s tour of Tinker AFB, including the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Technical Center, where she was briefed about modifications to the B-1 and challenges faced with the aging aircraft.


When the tour reached Bldg. 9001, she was briefed about the Air Force Sustainment Center Software Enterprise, including how the software workload is coordinated between the three geographically separated air logistics complexes.


While in Bldg. 9001, Wilson was shown the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling lab, where the techniques and product of reverse engineering and additive manufacturing were demonstrated.


Wilson also visited the 552nd Air Control Wing, where Airmen shared Thanksgiving food with their families. She served food, ate lunch and spoke with 552nd ACW Airmen and their families one-on-one.


“I wanted to thank all of you for what you and your families do for this country," Wilson said to the wing. "I hope that over the holidays, you’ll take some time just to step back and say thank you.” 


During the tour, Wilson was also briefed about the KC-135 programed depot maintenance line and recent measures taken to cut the down time of the aircraft.

This shortened time is important for supporting the warfighter and keeping the fleet ready, she said.


“That’s why it matters," Wilson said. "It’s support for the warfighter and for the readiness of the force. They’re saving time, they’re saving money and they’re leading the way. It’s been an absolutely wonderful day here at Tinker Air Force Base."