HomeNewsArticle Display

F-35 maintainers at Hill AFB shaping future with BOLT

BOLT Program at Hill AFB

Senior Airman Devon Charmichael, a low-observable technician, launches an F-35A Lightning II. Launching aircraft is historically done by a crew chief, but 388th Fighter Wing maintainers participating in the Blended Operational Lightning Technicians program are learning other maintenance positions in an effort to streamline maintenance and cut down on the man hours it takes to generate sorties. (Courtesy photo)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- After several months, an innovative program in the 388th Fighter Wing is proving it has the potential to deliver combat power more efficiently and may shape how the Air Force determines future requirements to sustain F-35A Lightning II operations.

“Our Airmen are learning to really unlock the combat potential designed into the F-35 and this program is going to ‘bring the future faster’ by providing greater operational capability and supporting agile basing initiatives,” said Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander.

Blended Operational Lightning Technician program combines six maintenance-specific Air Force Specialty Codes, essentially job descriptions, into two “tracks.” Currently there are more than 30 Airmen in the BOLT program. “Blended” maintainers in the Air Vehicle track are crew chiefs, fuels and low observable technicians. Airmen in the Mission Systems track focus on avionics, weapons, and egress.

“The jet was designed with ease of maintenance in mind,” said 2nd Lt. Daniel Parkhill, BOLT program officer in charge. “If a program like this is going to work on any aircraft, it would be the F-35. We can do almost all our maintenance ‘in the shadow’ of the aircraft.”

Officials project that nearly 30 percent of F-35 sustainment cost in future years will come from unit-level manning. By combining the jobs and cross-training maintainers in more capabilities, there is not only savings in manpower, but also time.

The BOLT program could be described as an Air Force version of a start-up company. They're small, they're independent and they're looking to compete with the "big guys."

Since January, the program has seen several successes. They are providing aircraft at similar rates to a normal F-35A aircraft maintenance unit of the same size, but they are doing it with fewer man-hours.

“One of the metrics we use is measuring maintenance man-hours taken to produce one flying hour. On average, we’re using five fewer man-hours to produce one flying hour than a traditional AMU,” Parkhill said.

The goal of the program is not to pile more work on the shoulders of a handful of Airmen, Parkhill said, but to maximize the ability of those Airmen so there is less down time, and more productivity.

“Basically we’re making each hour in the day more productive,” Parkhill said. “If we have everything we need to fix a jet, BOLT Airmen are trained to do that and they don’t have to wait for another shop or specialty to come out.”

Reducing the size of the maintenance force also allows commanders more combat flexibility for quickly deploying a small number of aircraft to a remote airfield with fewer airmen.

“Normally, each aircraft will have several maintainers assigned to it when we deploy. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re going to start doing “small footprint” exercises with as few as one BOLT Airmen per aircraft,” Parkhill said.

The BOLT program has been functioning independently alongside the other aircraft maintenance units, but soon they will fully integrate with the 421st AMU and work alongside them to further test and prove the concept.

“It’s exciting for all of us to have the opportunity to be a part of this program that has the potential to really shape the future,” Parkhill said.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
The #AirForce & its mission partners successfully launched Space Test Program Satellite 5, or STPSat-5, into orbit… https://t.co/cDd9Mqlk67
The 24th #AirForce #TotalForce #Airmen are responsible for delivering full-spectrum, global cyberspace capabilities… https://t.co/8YsqClWENw
The #F35A is a fifth-generation fighter combining advanced aerodynamics, survivability in high-threat environments… https://t.co/W2nlfOWHGg
Competition builds camaraderie. @TeamMisawa #Airmen partnered with local Japanese community members to forge frien… https://t.co/2RvP9tXnN9
.@jointbasemdl takes the first step & starts construction of the two-bay hangar that will hold the new #KC46 Pegasu… https://t.co/cT0G8DlXPd
The 2018 hurricane season was an active one for @53rdWRS! @USAFReserve #HurricaneHunters flew more than 655 hours a… https://t.co/x1PKaI6fuJ
That 2:30 feeling got you down? #refuel with this video:#NKAWTG https://t.co/v527caBovi
It's time for #WIP! Take a look at what #Airmen are doing across the #USAF: https://t.co/eWobDEAVY3 https://t.co/yD9lZqAsib
RT @AusAirForce: TOUCHDOWN! Our F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jets A35-009 and A35-010 have arrived at their new home RAAF Base Williamtown. T…
RT @DeptofDefense: Meet the @USAirForce’s youngest pilot! Quinn Cogan poses in front of an #A10 fighter jet. (No, he didn’t fly it!) But he…
Let's get pumped for this new week like these two @AFSpecOpsCmd #Airmen who have a chance to compete for a spot in… https://t.co/1iVWUMiqrc
#ICYMI: U.S. #Airmen & #Soldiers worked to restore middle schools & high schools damaged during #SuperTyphoonYutu.… https://t.co/1YyYMzRNCO
#USAF SSgt Stephon Sharief, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, works to refuel an #F15 during exercise Ste… https://t.co/FVySNhxPqz
.@AF_Academy senior Mariana Murphy performs a layout step out on the balance beam during the USAFA Blue Silver Meet… https://t.co/zwmPmBbFUf
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Wilfred Defour, a #TuskegeeAirman. We send thoughts of consolation to his… https://t.co/WDDUtUfHLg
RT @DeptofDefense: A view from the cockpit! Fly along with this @48FighterWing #F15 pilot as the @USAirForce 🇺🇸 and #UK’s @RoyalAirForce 🇬🇧…
#USAF medics from the 51st Medical Group joined the Center for the Sustainment of Trauma & Readiness Skills medical… https://t.co/bDYawsDW5h
Can you see in the dark? In this #photo, training is conducted at Melrose Air Force Range, New Mexico during Emera… https://t.co/vYjameEBlA
SSgt. Pete Taijeron, 254th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer, uses a circular sa… https://t.co/GMmW7rWoVv
An #F15C takes off during @NATO's Tactical Leadership Programme 18-4 at Amendola AB, Italy, where the focus is deve… https://t.co/PNo5CdB1zC