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Repair Airmen save Air Force money, time - even for units outside 388th FW

  • Published
  • By Micah Garbarino
  • 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- A three-person shop in the 388th Logistics Support Squadron is saving big bucks for the Air Force.

The Airmen in the 388th Maintenance Group’s Air Force Repair Enhancement Program shop have repaired more than 370 items over the past year, saving more than $1 million along with $150K in "repair credits."

“We have parts that may come in broken from supply and if we can fix them, then the maintenance group gets credited those dollars,” said Sgt. Justin Platt, AFREP manager. “Anything that breaks out on the flight line or in the shops, they can bring it over and we troubleshoot to see if we can fix it. If we can, then the group doesn’t need to buy a replacement or pay an outside contractor for the repair.”

From circuit boards to hydraulic pumps, and battery chargers to tow bars – they have seen, and fixed, all kinds of aircraft equipment and tools.

While other Air Force AFREP shops focus on aircraft parts, since the F-35 program is so new and the parts and supply chain for aircraft parts is globally managed, the 388th’s AFREP shop focuses mostly on maintenance equipment. As the only AFREP shop on Hill AFB, they also help other base agencies solve problems.

Recently, they helped design and fabricate a new alarm shutoff switch for missile silo launch controls at the request of the Minuteman III Systems Directorate.

“We had to come up with a fix for alarm reset switches on the weapons system control console that are prone to breaking,” said Travis Carlisle, an electrical engineer. “Our supply chain folks reached out to the 388th AFREP crew and they were able to design and 3-D print new switches for us. That eliminated a ton of potential overhead cost if we went out to a contractor, from big dollars, down to pennies.” 

They also helped the Ogden Air Logistics Complex’s F-22 maintainers come up with a fix for computer connection boxes that kept breaking.

“We can’t hardly do anything without these adapter boxes that connect our computers to the jet, and we were at a point where nearly 75 percent of ours were not working and out of warranty,” said Trey Honeycutt an avionics specialist with Lockheed Martin here. “We asked for their help and they were able to identify the high-failure parts and connections. They’ve been a great help in fixing those for us. They’ve even got some other F-22 units coming to them now.”

 As the age of weapons systems increases, so does difficulty of finding parts or supply for the associated equipment. It is what makes the AFREP shop vital in keeping old equipment running, but also makes their job a bit harder.

“Supply for some of these older things is the biggest issue,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher O’Donnell. “And if you can find it you’ll be waiting for weeks, so if we can fix something, we’re not only saving money but keeping their mission going.”

The success they've found is rewarding, and staying out of the blazing heat or bitter cold of Hill’s flight line is a bonus, but often their favorite part of the job is the variety of work and the ability to troubleshoot and problem-solve all different kinds of equipment.

“Even though the program is not very well known, I have always wanted to work in an AFREP shop and it has been a great experience,” said Tech Sgt. James Dover. “The variety of items we get for repair gives us an opportunity to learn new skills and hone the skills that we have learned throughout our careers,”

“If I could stay here forever, I would,” Platt said.