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Tinker ramps up repair of fighter’s F119 engines

Aircraft mechanics Ira McFadden, left, of the 548th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron, and Mike Blackmore of the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group torque the diffuser on an F119 jet engine. The diffuser is where the jet fuel is atomized, or reduced to a fine spray.(U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Ray)

Aircraft mechanics Ira McFadden, left, of the 548th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron, and Mike Blackmore of the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group torque the diffuser on an F119 jet engine. The diffuser is where the jet fuel is atomized, or reduced to a fine spray.(U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Ray)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group is amplifying its F119 jet engine repair capabilities.

"We are ramping up repairs of the F119 modules, and more parts will be routed to the component repair cells," F119 Program Manager Brian Thompson said recently.
The F119 propels the F-22 Raptor; the fighter is powered by dual F119 turbofan jet engines. The F-22 entered service in the Air Force eight years ago.

The Raptor's engines are scheduled for programmed depot maintenance upon reaching 4,325 total accumulated cycles, Mr. Thompson said. (A cycle spans the period from when the throttle is shifted from down to full military power and back down again.) Raptor engines have begun reaching the TAC threshold, he said.

The first F119 engine sent to Tinker was completed last December, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex received two of the engines this year and expects two more before the year is out, Mr. Thompson said.

PDM takes 13 to 14 months to complete, he said. This includes total teardown of the modules and their various components.

The F119 has five modules -- fan, gearbox, core, low-pressure turbine, and nozzle -- that are disassembled and repaired here. The modules, in turn, have 405 components, Mr. Thompson said. "We route these to our backshops or elsewhere for repairs." Some of the component repair work is proprietary and, consequently, is performed by the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, or by some particular contractor.

F119 workload at the OC-ALC is projected to double in the years ahead, Mr. Thompson said: eight engines in FY2014, 16 in FY2015, and 32 in FY2016.

"We have 23 mechanics working on these engines" in the heavy maintenance center, and by FY2017 the 76th PMXG will have 75 to 80 mechanics working on F119 engines, Mr. Thompson said. "And that's just the front shops" disassembling the modules, he added; it does not include scores of mechanics who will be needed in the backshops to repair the various components removed from the modules.

In a related matter, 76th PMXG mechanics have been performing some Raptor airframe repairs for the past year.

F-22 Airframe Mounted Nozzle Sidewall repair capabilities on liners and structures were transferred from the supplier, Pratt & Whitney, to the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, over a 30-month transition period that concluded in August 2012. This has brought an estimated 37,000 hours of repair work annually to Tinker mechanics.