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
RT @AirNatlGuard: Training and repetition is key to being #AlwaysReady Exercises like #SouthernStrike2020 allow our Airmen to work with tot…
Over 100 aircraft are flying over the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Federated States of Micr… https://t.co/XwsxbIXET9
RT @PACAF: Gen. CQ Brown Jr. met w/ allies & partners from across the Indo-Pacific & beyond @SGAirshow to showcase U.S. commitment & discus…
Good luck to all the drivers in today's #Daytona500, but we may be a bit biased on who we want to win it all.… https://t.co/PDLqBdl39X
Thanks for a great game @LAKings and @Avalanche. #ICYMI the @NHL Stadium series made a stop at the @AF_academy las… https://t.co/VyNsvpQM6o
RT @Creech_AFB: Singapore Airshow has been flying by (🥁-tss) meeting with international friends & partners! Repub. of Singapore Air Force…
Our own TSgt Nalani Quintello, vocalist with @USAFBand Max Impact, will perform the National Anthem prior to the 62… https://t.co/Asf5dTlXU8
RT @SecAFOfficial: Valuable hands-on experience @RAFMildenhall! Grateful to meet innovative #Airmen executing complex missions around the w…
RT @USAFCENT: COMBAT SEARCH AND RECOVERY | Recently USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters refueled over the Arabian Gulf from a U.S. Air Force…
RT @AETCommand: It takes a ton of people to ensure our aircraft get in the air so we can train @usairforce pilots to fly, fight & win! Che…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Humbled each day to serve in the same @usairforce Brig Gen Charles McGee paved the way for. He is a genuine #American
The @AFThunderbirds will be flying over ✈️ the #DAYTONA500 🏎️ this Sunday. https://t.co/iTN0qtu0e0
RT @USAFReserve: Beating Bad Weather: Command announces indoor alternative to physical fitness assessment - https://t.co/cP93Ijrbtw #Reserv
A U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider taxis on a flightline as a French Air Force C-130 lands at Alpena Combat Readin… https://t.co/hNTIhvJYvD
Don't miss the @NHL, @LAKings vs @Avalanche playing at the @AF_Academy this Saturday at 6 P.M. MST. Good luck to bo… https://t.co/KF9WqHlqaS
Happy Valentine's Day! https://t.co/ITdKRQ8Pm8
The first senior enlisted advisor for the U.S. Space Force has been named. Roger A. Towberman, welcome to the team! https://t.co/R8Fr98q4Jn
RT @AFGlobalStrike: Feb. has been a busy month for AFGSC, with a Bomber Task Force mission to the Indo-Pacific Theater & last week's unarme…
RT @AF_Academy: ❄️ Check out this timelapse of the @NHL transforming Falcon Stadium from football to an outdoor ice arena primed for Saturd…