f-35 | North Carolina

New F-35 Modification Facility Brings Strategic Capability to Fleet Readiness Center East

August 22, 2019

 
Laser Shock Peening Facility at FRC East.

By Heather Wilburn, Fleet Readiness Center Public Affairs

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (NNS) — A recently-completed facility will bring a new strategic capability to Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) and the F-35B Lightning aircraft line next year. When the new F-35 laser shock peening facility is fully operational in 2020, FRCE will be one of two sites in the world that will use laser technology to strengthen F-35 structural components.

Construction of the $6 million facility wrapped in July, and the contractor providing the laser shock peening service will take occupancy in early spring, said Donald Jeter, portfolio manager of the F-35 aircraft line at FRCE. Under that timeline, the first F-35 aircraft inducted for laser shock peening would arrive in June to undergo the validation and verification process, and then the depot will begin work on the remainder of the F-35 fleet that requires the laser shock peening modification.

“This facility is a big get for Fleet Readiness Center East,” Jeter said. “It’s very exciting. Being able to perform this laser shock peening process adds a huge strategic capability to our depot. With it, we’ll be able to provide a critical support element to the F-35B program and act as a force multiplier for the fleet and the warfighter.”

The 16,000-square-foot facility comprises two bays, where the actual laser shock peening process will take place, and a connected area that will house the laser generator. The state-of-the-art laser shock peening process will allow FRCE to conduct heavy structure modifications that will strengthen areas of the F-35’s airframe without disassembling the entire aircraft, said Matthew Crisp, the F-35 Joint Program Office site lead at FRCE.

The process strengthens designs without adding additional metal or weight, which increases the aircraft’s life and reduces maintenance costs. It has been used on the F-22 Raptor and in manufacturing aircraft components including engine blades, Crisp said, but has never been employed for the F-35. Now, FRCE will use the technology to help Marine Corps aircraft reach their full life limit.

Aircraft maintenance professionals at FRCE will conduct prep work and some structural modification on the F-35s inducted into the depot, then turn them over to the contractor running the laser shock peening operations. The contractor will complete the process to strengthen the bulkheads and airframes, and FRCE will put the jets back together, perform all the flight test functions and get them back out to the fleet, Jeter said. The end result is aircraft that have been reinforced without adding additional weight, which would reduce the fighter’s capabilities by limiting its fuel or weapons carrying capacity.

Shot peening is not a new process, Crisp said, but laser shock peening is unique in that it produces a uniform result across the surface being treated. In laser shock peening, the surface of the media is first coated with an ablative layer and covered with a water tamping layer. A high-energy laser beam is fired at the metal, which creates an area of plasma on the metal’s surface. The impact creates a shock wave, which travels through the metal, and compressive residual stresses remain. This compression helps improve the metal’s damage tolerance, fatigue life and strength.

“(Shot peening) has been done for decades,” he explained. “It’s where you take a solid media, like glass beads or some kind of metal, and you hit the surface of an item – kind of like sandblasting. You just randomly throw it at the surface, and it creates all these surface dimples. What you get is a very inconsistent surface profile, because it’s not controlled.”

With laser shock peening, the process is very controlled, Crisp said.

“They create a laser beam that’s actually square, and the intensity is consistent across the entire laser beam – it’s the exact same at the very edge of the beam as it is in the middle,” he said. “They come up with a grid pattern and stack the squares up right beside each other, so the entire surface of the part is completely uniform. You don’t have the weak spots in between these areas that would then induce cracking later.”

Jeter said he expects laser shock peening to be a main focus of the F-35 line for the next four to five years. Once the first two aircraft have undergone the validation and verification process, it will be a sprint to the finish to complete modifications on the remainder of the F-35B fleet that requires this treatment.

“After that val/ver event, the aircraft will basically be nose-to-tail,” Crisp added. “We’ll completely fill every aircraft stall that’s here, and for the next five years, when one leaves another will come in. That’s critical, because this process has to be done on every single airplane that requires it.”

The workload does not include every F-35 ever produced, although it does include B and C models, and also encompasses F-35 aircraft owned by partner nations. FRCE will focus solely on the B variant, while Ogden Air Force Base in Utah will work on the F-35C models and take any F-35B overflow.

After the first round of laser shock peening modifications, what comes after that is still to be determined, Crisp said.

“I’m sure there will be some follow-on work,” he said. “And beyond the F-35 program, this is a little bit exciting, because this really is cutting-edge technology and we have it here at FRCE. I think maybe within the engineering community here, as people find out more about it, they may open additional discussions about how we could implement this on other aircraft lines. We might find a future capability we want to look at.”

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.dividshub.net)

 

Colonel Todd Ferry Departs MCAS Cherry Point

August 01, 2019

 
Ceremony bids farewell to Col Todd Ferry as CO of MCAS Cherry Point and welcomes Col Mike Huber.

From the Sun Journal — An approaching change in leadership at the air station in Havelock will bid farewell to a beloved community leader of three years and welcome a 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Operations Marine whose career began here 23 years ago.

Col. Todd W. Ferry will give over the helm of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to Col. Mikel R. Huber during a change of command ceremony Friday, August 2nd at 10 a.m. Ferry has served as the air station’s commanding officer since July 28, 2016. He demonstrated a standard of executive leadership that enhanced Cherry Point’s reputation as the primary hub of East Coast Marine Corps aviation, leading the transition for basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  >>read more

 

 

F-35B Conducts First-Time Flyover Above White House

June 12, 2019

 
F-35 makes White House Flyover. Marine Corps, Allies for Cherry Point

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2019 – A rare F-35 flyover occurred today above the White House South Lawn in Washington, D.C. today. The first-ever F-35 White House flyover was flown by a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B, from VMFAT-501, based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. The flyover commemorates Polish President Andrzej Duda’s visit to the White House today.  >>read more

 

F-35 Enterprise Delivers 400th F-35 and Fleet Surpasses 200,000 Flight Hours

June 06, 2019

 
F-35 achieves 200,000 flight hours. Allies for Cherry Point FRC East.

FORT WORTH, Texas, June 3, 2019 – The F-35 fleet has achieved 200,000 flight hours across global operations, a significant milestone demonstrating the program’s progress and growing maturity. Within the same week, the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) also delivered the 400th production F-35. >>read more

 

 

 

Nieto Assumes Command of FRC East

June 03, 2019

 
Navy Captain Mark Nieto assumes command of FRC East, Allies for Cherry Point.

CHERRY POINT — For the first time ever Friday afternoon, an officer in the U.S. Navy took command of Fleet Readiness Center East aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

Navy Capt. Mark E. Nieto assumed the role of commanding officer during a change of command ceremony in hangar No. 3 aboard the air station. Capt. Nieto, who has been executive officer of FRC East for the past two years, took over the top spot from Col. Clarence Harper III, who retired Friday after 27 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. << read more