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News | Aug. 1, 2022

FRCSW First Depot to Tackle Super Hornet Service Life Modification

By Jim Markle

When the artisans, engineers and support staff of Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) inducted their final F/A-18 legacy (A-D model) Hornet fighter to undergo the Center Barrel Replacement (CBR) procedure last March, they probably thought they could take a break.

Not so.

Once again the command is at the maintenance forefront of the F/A-18 airframe, this time taking the lead as the only FRC currently assigned to perform the Service Life Modification (SLM) to the Super Hornet E and F variants.

Like the legacy CBR procedure created by FRCSW in 1991, the Super Hornet SLM will be conducted when an aircraft reaches 6,000 flight-hours, extending the service life of the airplane to 15,000 flight-hours.

Super Hornet variants have been active in naval service since 1999.

The SLM aircraft FRCSW inducted on June 29 has approximately 6,200 flight-hours logged, and is assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA106 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.

FRCSW F/A-18 Legacy & E/F Program Manager Ehren Terbeek said that the Super Hornet SLM will require less time to complete than the legacy CBR/high-flight-hour modifications because the Super Hornet procedure will not involve the replacing of major structural components.
So, the SLM should be complete in several hundred hours vice several thousand as needed for the legacy Hornets.

“The SLM will involve over 20 direct artisans as well as a team of MRO and Fleet Support Team (FST) engineers and other support groups. They have been tasked with a 17-month turn-around time (TAT) but will work in earnest to complete the project earlier than that,” Terbeek said. “The SLM will be comprised of a series of inspections that can drive repairs, as well as incorporate technical directives and standard dispositions that have been created for the event.”

“The most difficult aspect in performing the modification is the unknown of opening up a 6,000 flight-hour aircraft, the known requirements are understood by the team but it is the unpredictability of items outside of the scope of work that are always the most worrisome,” Terbeek said.

The F/A-18 & EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) and Boeing established the initial procedures for the SLM, and two years ago, Boeing delivered the first Super Hornet to complete the modification to the Navy.

Otherwise, the Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler airframe typically undergoes one Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) every six years.

“The SLM does offer the opportunity to credit an E/F aircraft with a new fixed induction date (FID) for PMI if certain requirements are met during the modification,” Terbeek noted.

Terbeek added that eventually Block III upgrades, or avionic type modifications, will be added to the existing SLM workload. The upgrades include an advanced cockpit system with a touch screen display, enhanced networking and a reduced radar signature.

The SLM budgeted cost per aircraft is currently $5.5 million.

FRCSW will induct its second SLM Super Hornet during the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2023.

“The entire team has worked in earnest in preparation for the induction of this aircraft with just a 30 day notice. FST, MRO-E, PSLs and production have worked long hours to ensure that the work scope and packages were prepared so that FRCSW is successful in returning the asset back to the warfighter and in hopes that we can continue to contribute to SLM in the future,” Terbeek said.

Sept. 26, 2022

FRCSW Navy’s Sole Maintainer of Rotodome Radar

A primary tool of the Hawkeye’s defensive posture is the rotodome radar system, maintained by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).

Sept. 19, 2022

FRCSW Paraloft Shop Oversees Flight Line Gear

The shop is manned by four Aircrew Survival Equipmentman (PR) sailors who track, update, inspect and test a variety of the aircrew’s equipment including life preservers, water bottles, radios, and medical kits.

Sept. 12, 2022

FRCSW Comptroller Department’s Plan Improves Fiscal Health

To better achieve NWCF goals and overcome ongoing financial issues stemming from various external factors, FRCSW created this “Get-Well Plan” in 2019.

Aug. 30, 2022

Vital Aircraft Parts Restored at FRCSW Metal Processing Shops

Once inducted, components are stripped to their metallic structures through blasting and cleaning methods and inspected for indications of corrosion or unusual wear. About half undergo a non-destructive inspection (NDI) to determine the cause of defects found during visual inspections.

Aug. 19, 2022

Navy Primary Standards Laboratory Operates From FRCSW

Assigned to Buildings 469 and 379, the lab is the Navy’s highest level for metrology calibration (the science of measurements) and provides technical assistance and training to shore metrology and calibration program personnel.

Aug. 12, 2022

FRCSW Generators Shop Serves Multiple Naval Airframes

Among the generators serviced are those of the F/A-18, P-3 Orion, V-22 Osprey, H-53 helicopter and the AV-8B Harrier.

Aug. 8, 2022

FRCSW Fleet Support Team: Naval Aviation’s Problem Solvers

Comprised of approximately 500 engineers, logisticians, chemists and scientists, the FST has served as the Navy’s in-service support provider for engineering and logistical solutions for more than 20 years.

Aug. 1, 2022

FRCSW First Depot to Tackle Super Hornet Service Life Modification

Once again the command is at the maintenance forefront of the F/A-18 airframe, this time taking the lead as the only FRC currently assigned to perform the Service Life Modification (SLM) to the Super Hornet E and F variants.

July 25, 2022

FRCSW Supports Marine Corps CH-53E Helos

The command’s CH-53 program operates in Building 333 where fiberglass and component work is completed, and Building 378 where the remaining airframe work is done.

July 6, 2022

FRCSW Repairs Damaged CMV-22 Osprey

The right-hand inner composite skin of the $75 million aircraft sustained a six-foot by three-foot crack with other, but minor, composite damage.