Vacant building presents opportunity for innovation at 173rd Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

A recently vacated building is poised to become a valuable resource for the 173rd Fighter Wing and even the Air Force at large. Senior Master Sgt. Nate Morehouse explains that the extra space will allow three different shops to repair aircraft parts needed for the local fleet, as well as the entire F-15C fleet and even other U.S. Air Force airframes. 

The new space will house the electrical and environmental shop, the hydraulics shop, the maintenance group MICAP section (mission capabilities), and a new Air Force Repair Enhancement Program shop space.

Morehouse says this new building will truly expand the maintenance group’s capabilities.  For example, the hydraulics shop has had the training required to become a Centralized Repair Facility, but until now they did not have enough space to repair parts. A CRF designation means that the base can perform many depot-level repairs on parts that would otherwise be sent to depot or discarded.

“We can repair here locally a part that would normally be a throw-away; we repair it and it goes back in to the supply system serviceable, the government doesn’t have to cut a new contract so the unit gains the money for that part,” said Morehouse.

The 173rd Fighter Wing uses the skills and knowledge of its Airmen to fix many parts critical to keeping the F-15C fleet airworthy, and now this extra real estate is opening the door to expand that work to units like the Electrical and Engineering shop.

“For years they haven’t had the space to do really any back-shop work even though they have the capability,” said Morehouse. “So this will open up a lot of new doors for them.”

Morehouse goes on to say that the capability to fix parts locally benefits the entire fleet of F-15C aircraft. When depot maintenance put out a message that they needed help fixing parts for jet fuel starters due to a long backlog, Kingsley Airmen volunteered to help.

“We wanted to help so we got the training and the equipment,” said Morehouse. “Between us, Seymour-Johnson, and Mountain Home we cleared up that backlog in six months. So now those parts come in regularly and we keep jets in the air not just here but around the Air Force.”

The money saved from this repair goes into a system called Air Force Repair Enhancement Program which returns that money to the local unit.  The AFREP funding stream at Kingsley Field has reached 3-million-dollars this year, bringing with it needed upgrades and equipment.

In one example, the maintenance group was able to use the funds to quickly purchase cold weather gear for the maintainers who work outside regardless of snow, rain, or freezing temperatures. The AFREP funds mean they receive it immediately rather than waiting for the supply system to furnish it, which can take a significant amount of time.

The buildings location adjacent to the main hangar and directly on the flightline makes it ideal for maintenance operations, and its more than 7,000 square-feet of floor space also alleviates crowding in other buildings, especially the main hangar. The move-in is planned for the next several weeks with a renovation for the building interior planned in two years.