Kadena mechanics' work saves millions of dollars on F-15 engine overhauls
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Mechanics with the 18th Maintenance Group here recently completed a six-year overhaul of F-15 jet engines, saving the Air Force about $100 million.
The engine upgrade also boosted the F-15 fighter fleet’s performance, according to Kadena’s 18th Wing Public Affairs Office.
“The difference in the engine upgrade is like comparing the engine of a 1957 Chevy to the engine of a car made today,” said Senior Master Sgt. Wayne Fillingim, a propulsion flight superintendent with the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron.
The work involved converting F-15 engines from a hydro-mechanical powered engine called the Dash 100 to an electronically enhanced engine known as the Dash 220E.
“With the old engines the mechanic would constantly have to make tweaks to optimize engine performance based on his experience and knowledge,” he said.
With the engine upgrades, tweaking has gone high-tech. Jet mechanics now are able to hook the engines up to a diagnostic machine that “tells” them almost instantly what’s wrong.
“It takes a lot of the guesswork out of engine maintenance,” Fillingim said.
Prior to the Kadena program, which began in 1998, engines needing upgrades were sent to a maintenance depot. “It was estimated that we would save the Air Force about $600,000 per engine by doing the work ourselves,” Fillingim said.
“We saved money in shipping costs, reusing some of the parts from the Dash 100 on the Dash 220E engines and by upgrading parts of the engine locally instead of exchanging them for new ones at the depot,” he said.
The upgrade program also gave the field-level jet engine mechanics a chance to hone their skills, said Chief Master Sgt. Rick Harris, the squadron’s propulsion flight chief. And it saved on the turnaround time between the pilots reporting problems and returning the jets to use.
“The engine still requires maintenance but the workload is now a lot more predictable,” Harris said, according to the news release.
Master Sgt. Jeff Teasdale, a jet engine intermediate maintenance element chief, said the program “showed the Air Force that field level units could perform depot-level maintenance.”
“This opened the door to decrease the backlog at the depot and basically give the field-level mechanics a more well-rounded experience,” he said. “It feels good to go through what we went through and to be able to say we were the first.”