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Airmen innovation saves Marines thousands

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

Airmen from the 33rd Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight saved the Marines thousands of dollars by manufacturing an aircraft part for the F-35B Lightning II Sept. 17-21, 2018, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma has been searching to manufacture the actuator lever or “crow’s foot” for the F-35B for over two years. After manufacture authorization, the contracted company estimated upwards to a year for the quantity completion. However, the 33 MXS metals technology shop was tasked with replicating the part and determining a better way forward.

“We have talented Airmen and the necessary resources to get the job done,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael McClellan, 33 MXS Aircraft Metals Technology section chief. “What would’ve taken a year, we did in five days.”

Not only was the turnaround time significantly less, the total cost of the project was cut by more than half. This will allow the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing to better allocate that money towards other important mission necessities.

The Marines needed 10 actuator levers that the contracted company estimated $5,000 per lever, totaling roughly around $50,000 for all 10 parts. The metals technology team assembled 10 levers and three spares for under $2,000.

“Our metals technology shop is known for developing and manufacturing cutting edge items such as this,” said 1st Lt. Natalee Winton, 33 MXS Fabrication Flight commander. “We jumped at the opportunity to manufacture this item, saving the Marines significant time and money while also delivering a quality product.”

The purpose of this tool is to test functionality of a component within the STOVL system of the F-35B, providing a safe and reliable aircraft.

“By sharing practices and capabilities, we raise the quality of life for maintainers in the military as a whole,” said Winton. “Together, we become more effective at delivering lethal combat airpower.”

The crow’s foot project has been a success and the tool is expected to have a life expectancy of more than a decade.

“This project has been a collective effort from the entire shop,” said McClellan. “Our Airmen love a challenge and projects like this solidify why this section is crucial to the F-35 enterprise.”