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New RQ-4 engine depot opens on Tinker AFB

Phil Burkholder, president of Defense North America, Rolls-Royce, speaks on behalf of his company during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new F137 engine maintenance line in Bldg. 3221. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

Phil Burkholder, the president of Defense North America, Rolls-Royce, speaks on behalf of his company during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new F137 engine maintenance line on Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Nov. 15, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC) recently stood up the overhaul and repair capability for a new workload in the F-137 engine.

This new workload is a partnership with Rolls-Royce, and the first venture of this kind with this engine manufacturer.

“The name is important,” said Wade Wolfe, the OC-ALC vice director, at the recent opening of the F-137 engine line. “It defines who we are for everyone to know and remember, and it associates the qualities we wish to exemplify as we navigate the ever-complex, ever-changing business world.”

Rolls-Royce is a Tier I-level supplier and was recently named an Air Force Superior Supplier for the third year in a row.

The F-137 (AE 3007H) engine is an 8,000-pound class high-bypass, two-spool turbofan engine. It powers the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned aerial surveillance platform. Based on a commercial Rolls-Royce design, the F-137 has a proven track record, providing world-class reliability and performance for this vital mission.

The mission is not new, Wolfe noted, further comparing the advancement in technology to its state during World War I, where Allies relied on binoculars and hot-air balloons to acquire aerial shots. Today, we rely on the Global Hawk for those aerial shots. The aircraft performs high-altitude; real-time; high-resolution; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) collection. The F-137 engine allows for more than 30 hours of flight time at an altitude above 60,000 feet. It’s an engine with powerful long-range capabilities that’s dependable, keeping the drones operable and reliable 24/7. While the technology has advanced, the mission has remained.

Roughly 14,500 square feet of the OC-ALC will be home to the first Defense Department area to perform maintenance repair work on the F-137 engine. The demand for professional maintainers, programmers and schedulers has increased in order to meet the superior maintenance standard of this engine. As the workload transitions to Tinker Air Force Base, key personnel are being trained to maintain already established performance and reliability.

Phil Burkholder, the president of Defense North America, Rolls-Royce, called the new maintenance accomplishment “a win-win-win – a win for the Air Force, a win for Rolls-Royce, and a win for the state of Oklahoma.”

“Our first private-public partnership is in Oklahoma,” Burkholder said. A global company, Rolls-Royce has chosen the OC-ALC to provide the best support possible for the engine, regardless of the global choices Rolls-Royce has previously established in their overhaul and maintenance portfolio.

“Rolls-Royce is proud to be a part of this program. We are performing engine management, services and logistics to support the Air Force and the OC-ALC,” Burkholder said. “We strive constantly to provide quality, efficiency and cost-effective solutions for the customer. Our focus is to be your preferred provider, and I’m really pleased with the enduring, benefitting partnership we’ve found here.”

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