WR-ALC completes first of its kind center wing box repair two months ahead of time

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
An MC-130 H Combat Talon II returned to its mission Friday equipped with a new center wing box 53 days ahead of schedule.

"We sent the plane out better than what it is designed. We sent it back better than we bought it," said Joel Lechene, center wing box lead engineer with the 330th Aircraft Sustainment Group.

Not only did the aircraft receive the center wing box replacement, it also received program depot maintenance before being sent home to Hurlbert Field, where it is part of the 1st Special Operations Wing within the Air Force Special Operations Command.

The Combat Talon II was the first of its kind to receive a center wing box replacement and was able to receive the replacement well ahead of schedule due to the conversion of an AC-130H center wing box to a MC-130H center wing box.

"We got it delivered quicker by converting it, but maintenance got it installed quicker. All we did is deliver the box and maintenance did the work that got it out early," said Jeff Huggett, program manager for the center wing replacement program with the 560th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron.

By converting the center wing box, it allowed the center wing box to be replaced two years ahead of schedule, because the maintainers did not have to wait for a new center wing box to be produced.

"The close coordination between the center wing technical team and the 402nd AMXW (Aircraft Maintenance Wing) led to the early completion," Mr. Huggett said.

David Mann, 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deputy director, agreed saying it was a team effort that got the center wing box replacement completed two months ahead of schedule.

He added the efforts of all involved proved his slogan "TEAM - Together Everyone Accomplishes More."

"It's everybody being focused and understanding our obstacles and objectives and working to remove the obstacles and achieve the objectives," said David Griffin, 560th AMXS D Flight chief.

"Replacing the center wing allows the user to operate without having to do numerous inspections, which decrease aircraft availability in the Area of Responsibility," said 1st Lt. John Skyes, C-130 center wing box replacement program manager with the 560th ACSS.

The four-engine aircraft provides day, night and adverse-weather capability to airdrop and land personnel and equipment in support of special operations. The aircraft also has a helicopter refueling capability for special operations missions.

"What makes this one so special is its low-density special ops, not just a standard plane or airlift. It has a lot of special missions," Mr. Lechene said.

The Combat Talon II center wing box replacement also signaled the end of the first phase of the C-130 center wing box replacement project, which will continue to bring center wing box replacement jobs to Robins, including other aircraft such as the HC-130P and HC-130N, both of which are combat search and rescue versions of the C-130 Hercules transport.

Replacing the C-130 fleet center wing boxes will result in the revitalization of the C-130 program. The D Flight under the 560th AMXS will be the sole center wing box replacement flight, Mr. Griffin said, adding by putting in the new center wing boxes, the C-130 fleet is going to be supporting the warfighter longer.

Members of the 560th AMXS, 560th ACSS and 330th ACSG and the 402nd AMXG came together to finish this aircraft 61 days ahead of schedule and prepare the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center for future center wing box replacement projects.

This was the first center wing box replacement project at Robins since the early 1990s, but the experience of maintainers on the earlier project proved invaluable as changes and improvements were made to help the recent replacement go smoothly.

The next aircraft scheduled for a center wing box replacement is scheduled for December with six more scheduled for fiscal 2008.

"It will be a challenge, but I say bring it. We can do anything as long as we set our mind to it and our team has already proved that," Mr. Griffin said.