News Release, NAVAIR Public Affairs Office
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.–An additional three to four F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets will be mission capable (MC) by the end of the fiscal year after Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC) intensified its attention to six high-level components this summer.
That effort was part of the Naval Sustainment System (NSS), an approach that implements industry best practices and addresses all elements of aviation maintenance—people, parts, and processes—to improve the health and lethality of naval aviation’s inventory. Its initial focus is on the Super Hornets, with plans to scale the initiative across all other types/model/series aircraft.
NSS efforts are making a difference, according to Capt. Darren Jones, COMFRC Production Group Director. The total inventory of Super Hornet repairable components has increased by 15 percent since January. Among these are the generator converter unit (GCU), multi-purpose color display replacement (MPCDR), combined interrogator-transponder (APX-11), missile rail launcher (LAU-127) and heads up display (HUD). However, this increase in throughput brings a greater demand for their associated subcomponents.
I-level maintenance facilities at FRC Mid-Atlantic and FRC West are the first points of repair for many of these components. Driven by a lack of inventory of associated subcomponents, many parts are inducted as expeditious repairs (EXREPs).
“An EXREP occurs when there is demand for the part by a squadron and the local supply system does not have one readily available on the shelf,” Jones said.
This is not uncommon, he explained, as constraints in one part of the repair process and supply chain often emerge after another constraint is ameliorated. “It just means we have to pivot our attention and apply process improvements to the emergent constraint,” he added.
Future efforts will continue to focus on retail supply stock, taking into account already identified constraints—supply, equipment, facilities and manning—to the point where the Naval Aviation Enterprise can sustain an 80 percent MC rate.
“We must continue those actions that will eliminate EXREPs and support a repair cycle to refill allowances at Aviation Supply Detachments (ASD). This effort is not singular to COMFRC but will require a cross-functional effort in conjunction with Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support, the Defense Logistics Agency, type commanders and the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) to reduce turnaround time on repairs, increase capacity at the repair sites and improve end-to-end processes,” said Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski.
Improving the effectiveness of the local supply system will require actions such as financing and filling the local ASD shelves with the physical component allowances to prime the repair system; a sufficient supply of sub-components and piece parts to support the velocity of repair; and continuing to pursue operational improvements at the I-levels, according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG) industry experts.
BCG has been involved in NSS efforts from the beginning and is an enabler of FRC reform.
The immediate effort underway will leverage lessons learned and identify new opportunities to reduce EXREPs. The comprehensive effort, to include an improved supply system, modernized equipment and facilities and necessary manning, will focus on areas with constraints to eliminate EXREPs and replenish allowances.
“We continue to push hard and look at all facets of sustainment to meet and achieve our goals. The collaborative effort among all NSS stakeholders is a true display of teamwork,” Zarkowski said.