An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Aug. 13, 2020

Flexible Manufacturing Cell Slated for Landing Gear Shop

By Jim Markle

VIRIN: 200813-N-XZ252-0075

Landing gear to the F/A-18 Hornet and E-2/C-2 aircraft will be re-worked and returned to the airframes much faster and at a lower cost thanks to an initiative by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) and the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation (DLA) to establish a Flexible Manufacturing Cell (FMC).

The FMC is an automated system comprised of six, 5-axis machines and a palletizing system that will be installed in the existing landing gear shop in Building 472.

5-axis machines are computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment that use multi-axis tooling to rotate around one or more axis to manufacture metallic parts and components.

The pallet system will move the landing gear through the repair process, automatically performing required set ups, and manage the parts inventory.

An all-in-one device, the FMC is programmable for milling, turning, and inside diameter (ID) and outside diameter (OD) grinding. FMC use almost eliminates human interaction with components, reducing the potential of error.

Re-manufacturing of the F/A-18 main landing gear trunnion (the pivoting point where landing gear move for landing and stow for flight), for example, requires 11 different machining applications totaling more than 80 hours of setup and operational time. The versatility of the FMC significantly reduces that to only six hours, saving more than $17,000 in labor costs per trunnion.

The manufacturing of other landing gear components will realize similar costs reductions.

To maintain continuity with existing CNC systems, the FMC features a compatible standard, central control system eliminating user-training requirements and eliminates the need to develop new software interface programs.

The move will save more than $1.3 million annually in related manpower and programming costs.  

Furthermore, the system is equipped with a timer to perform automatic warmup and shutdown procedures.

Machines currently need a warming period requiring a machinist to devote two hours daily in early overtime. With the FMC timer, the warming period overseen by personnel is eliminated, saving approximately $219,000 annually.

The FMC palletizing system will be fully enclosed with a sliding door roof, able to accommodate the placement and removal of large parts. Assembly of the palletizing system will follow the installation of the primary FMC components.

For tool changing, a standardized HSK-A spindle tool holder will replace the current CAT 40/50 holders. The HSK-A is not only more versatile but able to fit machines without the need to change pull studs, saving more than $102,000 annually in manhours devoted to that task.

Another $103,500 per year will be gained by use of the 3D quickset tool kit. The tool kit eliminates the weekly accuracy alignments necessary for 4/5 axis machines, reducing setup time for machining.

Because of its ability to share data with other computing and manufacturing systems and technologies like cloud and cognitive computing, the FMC will help with planning and managing schedules and costs.

The system will also feature two manufacturing options: ultrasonic machining and a blown powder/laser ablation for additive manufacturing.

Ultrasonic machining will enable the FMC to machine thin coatings to hard alloys that require separate grinding.

The blown powder/laser ablation for additive manufacturing allows the re-building of surfaces damaged by corrosion, reducing the number of scrapped components.  

In addition to F/A-18 and E-2/C-2, the FMC will be adaptable to service F-35 landing gear, as well. Furthermore, it may be used in the machining other components made of steel, aluminum and titanium.

Costing about $17 million, the FMC is designed and manufactured in Germany by DMG-Mori, USA. Installation is scheduled for March 2022.

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

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

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).