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Idea earns employee $10,000, saves millions

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- A telephone call that rudely interrupted Joseph Heinig's hour-and-a-half rest recently ended up with him getting a $10,000 check for a good idea.

The telephone call came from Lt. Gen. Dick Reynolds, Aeronautical Systems Center commander here, asking Heinig to be at a recent F-22 systems program office meeting.

Heinig, the SPO's radar integrated product team leader, heeded the invitation and received a huge $10,000 check for a cost-saving technique submitted through the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program. The IDEA program rewards people for ideas or programs that result in the government saving money or reducing costs.

His idea was a new technique to test and calibrate the F-22 Raptor's advanced APG-77 radar system that eliminates the need to perform APG-77 radar calibration testing in expensive, specialized test chambers. Officials said the technique saves two to three weeks of set-up time per radar tested and officials estimate the Air Force saving $7 to $10 million in life cycle cost to the F-22 program.

Heinig said he developed the plan about three years ago. He submitted the proposal to the IDEA program about a year-and-a-half ago, and he did not hear anything about it until he got the check at the call.

"I was elated," said Heinig. "I was able to pay off a lot of bills with the money."

Heinig said he enjoyed keeping the huge check on a mantle at his house when relatives visited recently. But he said the intent was not to win money; it was to document the concept he had come up with.

That does not mean he will be giving up the financial reward, though. (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

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