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News | Oct. 20, 2020

F/A-18 Fleet Support Team Oversees Hornet Readiness Issues

By Jim Markle

Ten years ago, a night training mission from the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) took a terrifying turn as an in-flight refueling mishap occurred between a KC-135 Stratotanker and an F/A-18 Super Hornet off the coast of Southern California.

Even though the In-Flight Refueling (IFR) probe was pulled from the airplane and lodged in the leading edge of the Hornets right-hand vertical stabilizer, the pilot still managed to land safely at Naval Air Station North Island where Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) evaluators accessed the damage and made a repair estimate.

One of the most challenging repairs to the Hornet was the replacement of the former located inside of the cavity where the IFR probe is stowed.

Because the former was not readily available, the command turned to the Fleet Support Team (FST) to make a model for the manufacturing of a new one.

The F/A-18 FST serves as the Navys in-service support provider for engineering and logistical solutions to all F/A-18 activities. The team has been active for more than 20 years and is comprised of approximately 500 engineers, logisticians, chemists and scientists.

Their role is to handle all organizational and depot-level issues with the airframe, and to develop and plan repairs and modifications as in-service repairs or as part of scheduled depot maintenance events.

While the primary body of the FST operates from FRCSW, FRC Southeast handles issues affecting the aircrafts engines and electro-optical infrared components and Naval Sea Systems Command works on some of the airborne electronic attack components.

FST personnel respond to requests ranging from damage engineering dispositions to technical publication deficiency reports. Because their work is global and cannot always be completed onsite, team members often travel overseas or to the fleet.

In the event of an aerial mishap, the FST typically assists the Navy Safety Center, the investigating authority.

The teams expertise targets the technical issues of mishaps. If a mechanical issue were the suspected reason, for example, the FST would dissect the wreckage to determine the cause.

In addition, the aircrafts recorded data is reviewed for anything unusual including caution codes, maintenance or peculiar movements of flight control surfaces.

Growth of the FST program accelerated in the late 1990s as the number of fleet aircraft nearly doubled with the addition of the F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet and G Growler variants.

To increase efficiency and balance resources, the FST joined in an undertaking about four years to determine the need and life-extension requirements of the Navys legacy Hornet fleet. Assessed events included depot-level modifications, repairs, and inspections. 

By striking some aircraft for spare parts and combining or eliminating some planned events, the move gained a projected depot savings of $300 million and $400 million through 2022.

The majority of remaining legacy Hornets are assigned to the Marine Corps.

The F/A-18 FST currently operates within an $80 million annual budget.

Nov. 21, 2023

FRCSW at Fleet Week San Diego

On November 8 2023, Fleet Week in San Diego unfolded as a grand spectacle of innovation and technology, transforming the Port Pavilion Building into a vibrant hub of the future.

Nov. 10, 2023

Honor Flight San Diego’s Tribute to American Veterans

Veterans Day not only offers a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of service members, but also serves as a poignant reminder of the price of liberty and the importance of acknowledging those who have borne its cost. This day reinforces the timeless truth: freedom is never free, and gratitude towards its guardians is eternally owed. Building on this spirit of reverence, organizations like Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) work tirelessly to show tangible appreciation to these heroes.

Sept. 5, 2023

FRCSW STEM in Action

When Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) STEM ambassadors visit local communities, their goal is to utilize the STEM outreach program to inspire and create valuable opportunities to learn for both students and educators. The program also tries to empower both the students and FRCSW employees by fostering meaningful connections between Naval STEM efforts and the upcoming generation.

July 20, 2023

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

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May 15, 2023

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

April 27, 2023

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

April 18, 2023

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

April 6, 2023

FRCSW Ally Support Strengthens Royal Australian Air Force

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) successfully completed a first of its kind reconfiguration of a U.S. Navy EA-6B Growler for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

March 31, 2023

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest - Eliminating Waste and Improving Efficiency

For over 100 years, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has provided the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps with the highest quality products and services in the most efficient manner possible. One of the state of the art management systems that makes this possible is the “Lean” process which focuses its attention on eliminating waste and error. FRCSW began the command’s most recent “Lean” process by integrating pre-expendable bins (PEB). Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Legg, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Industrial Supply Officer, in collaboration with the other PEB managers, played a pivotal role in the improvement of PEB inventory.

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).