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Consolidating F-22 work at Hill AFB brings savings, commander says

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Hill Air Force Base's ability to hustle F-22 maintenance work away from one of the world's largest defense contractors is proving to be quite a boon for the Air Force.

Maj. Gen. H. Brent Baker, commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill, told a group of military retirees last week that all of the maintenance workload for the F-22 Raptor now takes place at Hill Air Force Base, a move that is producing big savings for the Air Force.

"We can do the maintenance for about $537 million cheaper (over the lifetime of the F-22 fleet) than what was happening before," Baker said. "That's why we got the work."

Prior to change, maintenance for the F-22 was split between the Ogden ALC and the contractor-run Lockheed Martin facility in Palmdale, Calif.

Officially, Hill was awarded the contract to perform all of the F-22 depot maintenance work last summer, but the Air Force is in the midst of a 31-month incremental transition plan to complete the consolidation activities.

The Ogden ALC typically provided depot maintenance on about 12 F-22s every year, but the additional workload will increase that number to about 24 by 2015.

Over the lifetime of the F-22, the move will eventually bring approximately 200 jobs to Hill.

The last of 187 operational F-22s was built in 2011. The jet is expected to have a 30-year lifespan, but upgrades could further it's time in the air.

The base already has almost 300 jobs on base associated with the F-22.

Baker said that having all the F-22 maintenance done under one roof not only saves money, it allows for quicker maintenance, which in turn, keeps the vital front-line fighter ready to fly.

Baker said the F-22 workload isn't the only thing keeping maintainers busy at the base.

In addition to the F-22, Hill now conducts maintenance for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the MQ-1 and MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles and the C-130. The base also recently began a program in which F-16s are retrofitted on base, then sold to Indonesia.

Baker said the work going on at the air logistics complex further solidifies the base as the nation's pre-eminent fighter depot.

"These are the kinds of things they look at in relation to BRAC," Baker said.

New workloads appear to be more important then ever at Hill, especially when considering the current defense spending trends.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's proposed five-year Pentagon budget calls for the retirement of the A-10 attack aircraft, which Hill has relied on for years to help broaden its maintenance workload.

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