HomeNewsArticle Display

Wheels up: Hill shop improves F-35 tire change process

Tech. Sgt. James Speicher, right, an air reserve technician with the 419th Maintenance Squadron, rolls an F-35 Lightning II wheel into a tire changing machine May 20, 2016, while Senior Airman Joseph Sprowls, of the 388th Maintenance Squadron, looks on in the wheel and tire shop at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The machine depicted is a legacy tool which has been adapted via a fabricated bead breaker to be used in changing F-35 tires. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

Tech. Sgt. James Speicher, right, an air reserve technician with the 419th Maintenance Squadron, rolls an F-35 Lightning II wheel into a tire changing machine May 20, 2016, while Senior Airman Joseph Sprowls, of the 388th Maintenance Squadron, looks on in the wheel and tire shop at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The machine depicted is a legacy tool which has been adapted via a fabricated bead breaker to be used in changing F-35 tires. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

Tech. Sgt. James Speicher, an air reserve technician with the 419th Maintenance Squadron, and Senior Airman Joseph Sprowls, of the 388th Maintenance Squadron, load F-35 Lightning II wheels into a parts washer May 20, 2016, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

Tech. Sgt. James Speicher, an air reserve technician with the 419th Maintenance Squadron, and Senior Airman Joseph Sprowls, of the 388th Maintenance Squadron, load F-35 Lightning II wheels into a parts washer May 20, 2016, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- For years, the wheel shop at Hill Air Force Base has disassembled, inspected, repaired, built, and delivered reliable tires and wheels for F-16 Fighting Falcons. That reliability and 24-hour turnaround service will remain intact as the base's operational mission transitions to the F-35A Lightning II.

Three active-duty Airmen and an air reserve technician work in the 388th Maintenance Squadron's wheel and tire shop, providing wheels for aircraft.

"We have been building tires for the F-16 for decades, which means that the tools and processes used to accomplish this task are proven," said Tech. Sgt. Astolfo Mercado Cruz, the shop's NCO in charge. "For the F-35, things are getting started, so we have to use our hands-on knowledge and experience to ensure the process is streamlined and efficient."

The F-35 tire change process has become more efficient thanks to an innovation devised by the shop's Airmen.

In conjunction with the first F-35s arriving to Hill AFB last year, the wheel shop received a new tire changing machine -- a hydraulic tool used to separate tires from rims -- for exclusive use with the F-35. Although the new tool is adequate, the shop's Airmen immediately recognized inefficiencies.

Four workers are required to lift an F-35 wheel onto the new machine, while only one worker is needed to roll a wheel into the shop's legacy tire changing machine and another to operate the tool. Additionally, the new machine employs a hand-operated pump as opposed to the automatic pump used on the legacy machine.

Drawing on years of experience changing F-16 tires, the shop's Airmen felt they could make the process of changing F-35 tires better if the legacy tire changing machine could be used. After studying the legacy machine, it was determined the tool would work with F-35 wheels if its bead breaker -- a compressing component which actually pushes on the tire, separating it from its rim via hydraulic pressure -- could be adapted for use.

After coming up with a solution, they provided their design modification proposal to the 388th MXS's metals technology shop. There, Airmen fabricated a ring-shaped compressing component and the braces necessary for adapting it to the legacy tire changing machine.

"Using the legacy machine means that we can load the F-35 tires by rolling them on instead of lifting them on as we have to do on the newer, manual machine," Mercado Cruz said. "This saves a lot of time because only two personnel are involved, not four. By using the automated process, it takes half the time, which allows us to provide assets to the warfighter a lot quicker."

Aircraft engineers recently verified the modified bead breaker for use on the legacy tire changing machine and joint technical data is being updated so that the setup can be used on all F-35 variants, benefiting not only Hill’s F-35s but those throughout the Defense Department as well as international partners.

This success will continue, according to Mercado Cruz, who noted that other tool modifications are in the works.

"The innovations keep on coming," he said. "As more F-35s arrive, we'll continue looking for ways to do things better."

Engage

Twitter
RT @NASA: Docking confirmed! @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug officially docked to the @Space_Station at 10:16am ET: https://t.co/hCM4UvbwjR
Twitter
RT @NASA_TDRS: Dragon has docked! Crewed Dragon, with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on board, are connected to @Space_Station, with @NASA’s…
Twitter
Rise and shine! A KC-46 Pegasus at Altus AFB as the 97th Air Mobility Wing prepares to conduct a severe weather e… https://t.co/QBT5nuXMqx
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: An amazing story of resilience & grit sure to inspire you! Airman Shannon Busch triumphed over incredible odds to graduate…
Twitter
.@HQAirUniversity's Holm Center Chaplain's thoughts on distance. #ReadyAF #COVID19 #Resilient https://t.co/svDFNqIqNX
Twitter
U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristoffer Wiese, 480th Fighter Squadron pilot, holds his F-16 Fighting Falcon in position whi… https://t.co/Yb1RX4fUKn
Twitter
RT @1stAF: .@1stAF's #AFRCC assisted with the #rescue of an injured person from an ATV accident. #RescueAirmen from the #58thRQS and #66thR
Twitter
Multinational, multiservice joint integration training of Agile Combat Employment concepts between the USAF,… https://t.co/Jdi2BKcwlQ
Twitter
We’re back. 🇺🇸 #AimHigh https://t.co/FUVpIOM06K
Twitter
RT @NASAKennedy: After a successful launch at 3:22 p.m. ET, @SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug onboard is…
Twitter
RT @AF_SBIR_STTR: During a @T_W_Enterprise event, Salvo Technologies demonstrated how their technology could benefit the warfighter by deve…
Twitter
RT @NASA: LIVE NOW: #LaunchAmerica, Take 2. 🎬 Watch as @NASA_Astronauts fly to the @Space_Station from U.S. soil for the first time in nine…
Twitter
#SafetyFirst! @22ARW shows how to perform motorcycle safety. #ReadyAF https://t.co/VEEmq4CkVm
Twitter
Taking care of our Airmen! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/6SrkNxXoUv
Twitter
RT @CitizenAirman: The June 2020 issue of Citizen Airman Magazine is online now! - https://t.co/wScm3DZIFq #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient
Twitter
Uniform changes scheduled to become mandatory for the Operational Camouflage Pattern and Two-Piece Flight Duty Unif… https://t.co/oYJ1VYY4KQ
Twitter
RT @1stAF: .@1stAF's aligned @CivilAirPatrol #MichiganWing transport #COVID19 test kits. #CAP, is the official #auxiliary of the @usairforc
Twitter
.@Whiteman_AFB maintenance group, the backbone of the B-2 Spirit, gets the mission done - no matter the time, or th… https://t.co/lUZqaz7XoE
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,229,016
Follow Us