AV-8B Harrier

AV-8 Harrier Fighter Jet Reaches Maintenance Milestone

August 16, 2019

By Heather Wilburn, Fleet Readiness Center Public Affairs
August 15, 2019

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (NNS) — Fleet Readiness Center East marked a maintenance milestone August 15 when a tug pulled a completely assembled AV-8B Harrier to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203. The departure marked the completion of the last U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B inducted at FRCE for Planned Maintenance Interval 1, which was the 121st AV-8B PMI-1 since the depot inducted its first in June 2003.

Moving forward, FRCE will perform PMI-D service on the platform. This means the aircraft will arrive to the depot already disassembled – with the wing and engine removed – and will leave the same way. For PMI-1 activities, the aircraft fly in and out of the depot.

The change comes as the Navy begins phasing out the AV-8 aircraft program, said Ike Rettenmair, the AV-8 and In-Service Repair branch head at FRCE. An Italian Navy AV-8B scheduled to fly out in mid-October will be the final PMI-1 Harrier to leave the depot.

“This is the new way forward. We won’t have any PMI-1 aircraft, but we’ll still get special rework AV-8s, crash-damaged AV-8s for example, or we’ll send our artisans out for squadron work via in-service repair,” Rettenmair said. “We’ll see opportunities like that come up on occasion, and we’ll be the support facility for those instances, in addition to the PMI-D work.”

“It’s the end of an era,” said Bob Henke, an aircraft task manager working with the AV-8 Harrier program at FRCE. “The shift is based on the eventual drawdown on the AV-8 platform, and the transition to the F-35. The AV-8 is still a valuable asset, but this is how the cycle works: retire an existing platform and start a new one.”

FRCE currently serves as the only depot providing PMI-1 service to AV-8B aircraft. Following the delivery of the Italian AV-8B, both FRCE and FRC Southwest will provide solely PMI-D service, with some special exceptions. Once FRCSW concludes its AV-8 service in 2021, FRCE will be the single remaining facility conducting depot-level service to the platform.

The depot is scheduled to continue PMI-D for the AV-8B through 2026. Rettenmair said the workload forecasts have FRCE maintaining the existing pace of AV-8 inductions, receiving the current number of aircraft per year through 2021. While the number of inductions remains the same, the total workload is reduced; a PMI-D requires a little less than half the man hours needed to complete a PMI-1.

As the AV-8 program gears down, some members of the workforce will stay on the line to continue providing support for the remaining AV-8B aircraft flown by the Marines and allied nations. Other aircraft maintenance professionals have been reassigned to work in areas requiring additional manpower, including the F-35, V-22 and H-53 aircraft lines, and various aircraft component shops.

The portable skills developed by the workforce make them a real asset to the depot, because they can support whichever programs the fleet needs them to, Rettenmair said. Although the reassigned aircraft maintenance professionals are retaining their jobs at FRCE, leaving the AV-8 line can be bittersweet because they feel a strong sense of loyalty to the program.

“We have a great group of folks here that have been with the (AV-8) program for a while, and they love what they do,” he explained. “The AV-8 program is a tight-knit program, and we take a lot of pride in what we do. We understand the big picture – you have to move on to bigger and better things, eventually.

“We’ve still got a little way to go here, and I’m grateful that I’ve been part of this,” Rettenmair continued. “Sitting at home and watching an AV-8 fly over, it gives you a great sense of pride.”

FRCE is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,200 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $720 million. The depot generates combat air power for America’s Marines and Naval forces while serving as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

Source: www.navy.mil


Marine aviation plan outlines future of Cherry Point

February 04, 2016


by Drew C. Wilson, Havelock News

Cherry Point will continue playing a vital role in the service of the nation in the coming years, according to the recently released 2016 Marine Aviation Plan.

An expanding role of unmanned aerial systems and the possibility of an additional training squadron are highlighted in the plan, which outlays the aviation goals of the Corps for the next decade. >>READ MORE


Year in Review: Goodbyes and Welcomes at Cherry Point

December 28, 2015

MCAS Cherry Point conducts final H-46 flight. Pedro. Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow.

by Drew C. Wilson, Halifax Media

Cherry Point – and indeed the entire region – said goodbye to a friend in 2015.

Sept. 25 marked the final flight for Pedro, the HH-46E search and rescue helicopters flown by Marine Transport Squadron 1.

Yet, 2015 wasn’t an entire year of farewells, as Cherry Point also welcomed a new commanding general.

Here are some of the military highlights of 2015. >>READ MORE


The Economic Impact of MCAS Cherry Point

September 03, 2015

F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow.

The most recent economic study of the North Carolina Department of Commerce ranks Craven County third in the state for military contracts. Each year, military contracts bring Craven County $194.9 million; $2.04 billion for the region.

F-35B Joint Strike Fighter

The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter has recently achieved initial operational capability, meaning it is ready for world-wide deployment. As the F-35B aircraft transition to air stations across the country, Cherry Point is at a crossroads. Billions of dollars are at stake as the EA-6B Prowlers and AV-8B Harriers start to phase out and an undetermined number of F-35B’s arrive over the next several years.

FRC East

FRC East is making a solid case to keep the F-35 lift fan facility in Cherry Point instead of moving it to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Keeping the lift fan here would ensure hundreds of jobs and maintain a sound economy for our area.

With so much on the line, it is critical to show our support of MCAS Cherry Point. Our local economy depends on it for the well-being of our friends and family. >>READ MORE


First International F-35B arrives aboard Fightertown

February 03, 2015

First international F-35B arrives aboard fightertown. Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow.

BEAUFORT, S.C. – Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 welcomed the first United Kingdom F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Feb. 3.

The jet was flown by British Royal Air Force pilot Hugh Nichols, the UK senior national representative from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

“It’s big for the Air Station, the town, and the pilot training center,” said Joseph T. Bachmann, the commanding officer of VMFAT-501.

The jet is one of only three British F-35B aircraft and is assigned to VMFAT-501.

The international cooperation of VMFAT-501 and the RAF has a huge impact on the Air Station and the Marine Corps as a whole.

“This is another example of the Marine Corps and the UK working hand in hand to achieve great things with the F-35,” said Bachmann.

The F-35B will replace the Marine Corps’ aging legacy tactical fleet. In addition to replacing the F/A-18A-D Hornet, the F-35B will replace the AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler, essentially necking down to one common tactical fixed-wing aircraft and providing the dominant, multi-role, fifth-generation capabilities needed across the full spectrum of combat operations to deter potential adversaries and enable future naval aviation power projection.

According to Lockheed Martin, the Lightning II will also be the backbone of Britain’s future carrier operations.

This is the last F-35B delivered from Eglin, turning a page in the next chapter for the program.

“The international cooperation is going to be huge for the next few years,” said Nichols. “The fact that we are working with VMFAT-501 is already a big deal and we are setting the scene for the next few years.”

Lieutenant Commander Beth Kitchen, the UK senior engineering officer at VMFAT-501, ensures that the aircraft is maintained and the UK is able to develop its own engineering maintenance and air competency in order to independently operate the aircraft.

The F-35 is the UKs future maritime strike ground attack fighter aircraft.

“The fact that we can operate from VMFAT-501 for the next couple years means we will be ahead of the game when it comes to developing our own capabilities back on UK soil come 2018,” said Kitchen.

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/153665/first-international-f-35b-arrives-aboard-fightertown#.VNTJGbB4qoB#ixzz3QyQnJm51