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Vacant building presents opportunity for innovation at 173rd Fighter Wing

Firehouse

Items stand ready for unpacking as several maintenance shops converge on the recently vacated fire house in order to expand their capabilities, June 16, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The available space will present an opportunity to fix needed parts for the F-15C fleet and even promises to help fix F-16 and A-10 parts as well. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Weapons Shop

A group of end caps for the on-board ammunition storage for an F-15C Eagle sits waiting for new bearings to arrive so they can be made serviceable and returned to aircraft both at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon and elsewhere, June 27, 2019. These parts have grown so scarce that without fixing them the fleet would conceivably be forced to go without or go to the great expense of striking a contract to have the parts re-created. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Weapons Shop

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Carte, 173rd Fighter Wing weapons shop, inspects a part from the rotary cannon the F-15C uses for strafing, June 27, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. These feed mechanism parts are growing rare and are very difficult to source through the supply system, making his expertise in repairing them a valuable skill for the entire fleet of F-15C aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Weapons Shop

The former Kingsley Field fire department sits on prime flightline real estate and is slated to house a number of maintenance shops who will increase their ability to repair parts in a backshop environment, something they cannot do currently, June 16, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. These shops will help repair parts for the local 173rd Fighter Wing F-15C fleet, the wider F-15C fleet and will also begin to repair parts for other airframes. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

AFREP Innovation

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Carte, 173rd Fighter Wing weapons shop, disassembles a part from the feed mechanism for the F-15C rotary cannon as he works to refurbish it and put it back into service in an aircraft, June 27, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. These parts have grown so scarce that without his ability to fix them the fleet would conceivably be forced to go without or go to the great expense of striking a contract to have the parts re-created. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

AFREP Innovation

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Carte, with the 173rd Fighter Wing weapons shop, holds an F-15 rotary cannon hydraulic motor that is so rare in the supply system the cost of the part has grown to nearly $50-thousand dollars, June 27, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. These parts are growing rare and are very difficult or even impossible to source through the supply system, making his expertise in fixing them a valuable skill for the entire fleet of F-15 aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

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.