MCAS Cherry Point

Transformation, Modernization Underway for F-35

May 18, 2020

 

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
COMMUNICATION STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS _____________________________________________________________________________________
ADVISORY No.: 20200514-001

MCAS Cherry Point: Transformation, modernization underway for F-35

MARINE CORPS STATION CHERRY POINT, NC (May 14, 2020)–Major military construction (MILCON) is underway to transform and modernize Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point into a key base for the future of Marine Aviation and its next-generation fighter aircraft.

More than one billion dollars of MILCON is planned through 2027 to make way for six F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) squadrons. The MCAS Cherry Point F-35 Program will require the complete recapitalization of antiquated aviation operations and support facilities to accept the squadrons over an eight-year period. The modernization program will entail projects to construct new aviation facilities, renovate outmoded facilities, overhaul installation infrastructure, upgrade utilities, improve roadways and enhance airfield security.

“The improvements planned along the flight line will endure for decades and provide the infrastructure and facilities necessary to support Marine Aviation,” said Facilities Asset Manager Don Elliott.

Planning, design and contract negotiation and awards for the program have been underway since 2009. The overall plan includes details such as:

  • Design and construction of three state-of-the-art, two-module aircraft maintenance hangars. Each hangar can support two squadrons. New construction of an air traffic control tower, range support facility, airfield operations building, F-35 simulator facility and aviation maintenance support facilities;
  • Demolition of a number of obsolete airfield and station facilities;
  • Construction and renovation of supporting facilities that will support maintenance personnel and functions; and
  • In depth enhancement of training capabilities;

Elliott stated, there have been three major projects awarded to date including improvements to flight line security, utility and infrastructure improvements along Sixth Avenue and the first two-module F-35 hangar. The projects will be closely followed by the construction of the new airfield operations facility, or air traffic control tower, and the F-35 Simulator Facility this summer.

The facilities asset manager added, there have been other smaller projects underway to help make room for those major projects, which include the planned relocation of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Communication Strategy and Operations, 2nd MAW Air Combat Intelligence, Marine Air Logistics Squadron 14 Individual Material Readiness List (specialized equipment storage facility) and Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 Supply. The relocation of the Central Issue Facility and subsequent demolition of warehouse 144 was also in support of the planned new facilities.

Three of the oldest flight line hangars (Buildings 130, 1700 and 1701) that once served as aviation operations and support facilities were demolished during the first and second quarter of fiscal year 2020, and has left a gaping, noticeable change to the flight line landscape.

According to the ROICC, the demolition project is complete and the cleared area is the future site for the new F-35 hangars.

“It is the first visible evidence a period of transformation is underway,” said MCAS Cherry Point Commanding Officer Col. Mikel Huber.

“The view along Sixth Avenue is wide open,” said MCAS Cherry Point Resident Officer In Charge of Construction (RIOCC) Lt. Cmdr. Dave Dreyer. “The $5.3 million demolition project has cleared the site for construction of the first of the F-35 hangars.”

The first hangar project, has been awarded and is currently in the design phase and construction is scheduled to start in the fall — a $105 million project.

“We’re planning for construction of the hangars and affiliated paraloft facility, which will bring a flurry of additional construction vehicle traffic,” said Dreyer.

Utilities upgrades and road construction

Next is an extensive construction project to upgrade a substantial amount of infrastructure and reconstruct one of the installation’s well-traveled streets. The contract has been awarded and construction is underway to upgrade the utilities along Sixth Avenue and to widen a portion of C Street.

The project will go in phases to lessen the potential impact on the community, said Huber, which begins with the extension of Fifth Avenue as a detour route once Sixth Avenue closes. The ROICC said work is already underway to clear the wooded area at the point where the extension will connect the two streets.

When Sixth Avenue closes, current parking options along the way will be inaccessible. The first of three parking lots in the plan will be added to support tenants of various buildings along Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

C Street will be widened from its intersection of Second Avenue to Sixth Avenue. The street’s widening is aimed at mitigating the effects of the changed traffic pattern and the anticipated increase in traffic volume along the route. According to the ROICC, a turning lane will be added to facilitate optimal traffic flow.

“The reality is there will be a period of inconvenience the air station will endure in order to achieve this significant step forward in capability,” said Huber. “We are hopeful that the phased approach to accomplishing the utility project will lessen the impact to the community.”

Transformation and modernization of MCAS Cherry Point is projected through 2027. Installation leaders and managers will provide periodic updates and applicable information as things progress. Find more information HERE.

 

 

Governor Roy Cooper Urges Support for MCAS Cherry Point and FRC East

April 06, 2020

 
Photo of NC Gov Roy Cooper

In a March 31 letter to the Secretary of the Navy, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Governor Cooper urged the continued efforts to transform Cherry Point into a 21st century airstation. Specifically, the Governor urged action and cooperation:

“I know you appreciate how important it is to me that North Carolina does all it can to support and grow the
military. Therefore, I ask that you work with me to:

  • Seek Congressional authorization and appropriation of funding for critical infrastructure upgrades and
    new construction at FRC East. I will work closely with the North Carolina Congressional delegation to prioritize
    the construction of projects that support both the Department of Defense’s priorities and the State’s
    economy.
  • Reaffirm the Navy’s commitment to use FRC East as primary source of depot work for F-35 JSF lift fans,
    components, and other related work. The people of our state are fortunate to have over seven hundred
    thousand dedicated and talented service members, veterans and their families call North Carolina home. As
    Governor, I am committed to maintaining the state’s status as the most military-friendly state in the Nation. I
    welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how the Navy, Marine Corps and the state can work
    together for the betterment of our installations, service members, their families, and veterans.”

Find a copy of Governor Cooper’s letter HERE.

 

 

 

COVID-19 Update from ACT Board President

March 27, 2020

 

We want you to know that ACT and its professional team continue to press hard for Cherry Point. The Air Station and FRC East have been the subject of several conference calls and discussions with Congressional staff and local leaders over the last ten days.

1. The latest federal COVID relief bill, what the media and politicians are calling the CARES Act, should be signed by the President later today. It is a huge 880 page, $2.2 TRILLION package with something for most everyone. For our purposes right now, we are focusing on how it impacts the Defense Department and military contractors.

a. Representative Mac Thornberry, former Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), current senior Republican on the HASC, and friend to ACT said about the CARES Act: “This stimulus package includes provisions important to our men and women in uniform and their families. It pro-vides re-sources vital to the Military’s efforts to assist in pandemic response around the country, from deploying hospital ships to the search for a vaccine. It also provides resources needed to care for those in the military community who are infected with COVID-19. We need to give our military the resources it needs to get on with their important work.”

2. MCAS Cherry Point Slocum and Main gates remain open. However, additional ID checks are being conducted along with strict enforcement of military and retired access only to the commissary; most gathering spots are closed. All visits to base should be limited to an essential purpose. The message from the USMC is to protect our Marines from COVID-19 so they can train and do their duty.

3. FRC East remains fully operational. Those who can telework are doing so, but most employees are on the job in the FRC East buildings. Supporting the warfighter remains their top priority and so far COVID has not stopped their mission.

Please continue to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to any guidance issued by federal, state and local authorities as they are implemented for the health and safety of our community.

Sincerely,

Will Lewis
ACT Board President

 

FRC East Hosts First US Trials for New Cold Spray Tech

January 22, 2020

 

From Carteret County News-Times
Staff Report, January 22, 2020

Photo of cold spray technology demonstration at FRC East Cherry Point, NC

Jessica Templeton, left, a Naval Air Systems Command materials engineer at Fleet Readiness Center East aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and David Stricklin of Compass Systems inspect the finished product following the first U.S. trials of a new cold spray technology application, held in late 2019 at FRC East. (Heather Wilburn photo)

CHERRY POINT —  Fleet Readiness Center East recently hosted the first U.S. trials for a new cold spray technology application and saw promising results, program officials said. If approved, the technology would help reduce turnaround times and decrease costs for repairs that were previously not possible using existing, approved cold spray systems.

Naval Air Systems Command materials engineers with the Advanced Technology Team at FRC East, along with representatives of VRC Metals Systems, completed the first U.S. field demonstration of an on-aircraft structural repair using a mobile, autonomous cold spray metallization system at FRC East in late 2019. According to a release from the maintenance and repair depot, over the course of the two-day trials, the team completed an on-aircraft repair to the windowsill of a V-22 Osprey and also conducted an off-aircraft repair to a surplus H-1 skid tube.

“The system operated better than predicted,” said Frederick Lancaster, lead for the Cold Spray Metallization Integrated Product Team at Naval Air Systems Command. “(It) worked as planned at five sites, in five different climates, at five different times of the year. Once it was programmed, the system worked without human intervention, on aircraft, and worked faster and more precisely than a human.”

The cold spray process bonds metal to metal in a relatively low-heat environment in order to deposit a coating onto a surface, or substrate. Solid metal powders are accelerated through a heated gas and directed toward a metallic substrate; the moving particles impact the surface and embed in the substrate, forming a strong bond.

The repairs completed during the pilot were consistent with those made using a stationary cold spray system, Mr. Lancaster said. Once approved, the new, mobile system will support the on-site repair of aircraft materials and increased mission readiness through rapid turnaround.

“With this program, we’re looking to bring structural repair capabilities closer to the aircraft, so you don’t have to take an aircraft apart to repair it,” said Jessica Templeton, a NAVAIR materials engineer at FRC East. “The end goal is to take the most cost-effective way of making these repairs, and make them available at the lowest level possible.”

The team has targeted parts like aircraft skins – the outer surface covering much of the wings and fuselage – windowsills and areas on the tail as ideal candidates for repair without removal from the aircraft. Being able to repair parts to standard without major disassembly can lead to cost savings that are “pretty tremendous,” Ms. Templeton said. The autonomous aspect of the unit means the work is done by a robotic arm which, after programming, requires minimal input from the workforce.

“Turnaround time is important, too. Once you start routing these parts through the shops, that adds a lot of lead time to your repairs,” she said. “With this technology, we would be able to repair existing parts to standards of airworthiness, rather than waiting for new parts.”

While the pilot testing was not conducted on an operable aircraft, and the repairs made are not yet approved procedures, the trials do give program leadership an idea of the system’s potential future capabilities for on-aircraft repair, Ms. Templeton said.

“It’s definitely where we want to go with the cold spray, and where we see the technology needing to go,” she said. “We’re trying to take this cold spray one step farther and go toward structural repairs.”

The demonstrations took place as an initial evaluation of the program, which is a joint effort between NAVAIR and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Foreign Comparative Testing Program. By using the FCT and technology already developed and qualified by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation, NAVAIR was able to shepherd the program to an advanced phase three transition status in less than three years for under $1 million.

That represents a cost avoidance estimated at $6 million over eight years of development, had the project started with the traditional Small Business Innovation Research program, Mr. Lancaster said.

This testing represents the first in a series of demonstrations and assessments that will allow authorities to determine the airworthiness of these repairs, Ms. Templeton said. The next steps will include fatigue testing, to gauge the strength of the materials and the bond; finite element analysis, which predicts how a product reacts to real-world force and physical effects; and other evaluations that must be conducted.

 

F35 Rapid Response Team Mechanics Prepared to Deploy

January 08, 2020

 
Photo of FRC East F-35 repair team

By Heather Wilburn, FRC East

CHERRY POINT — When issues arise with an F-35 Lightning II, a team of highly skilled aircraft maintenance professionals stands ready to rise to the challenge and get the jet back in the fight.

Whether the aircraft requires in-service repair or battle damage needs mending, the F-35 Rapid Response Team is ready to pack up and go, according to a recent release from Fleet Readiness Center East.

“Anything that happens outside the depot – for the Navy, Marines or Air Force – anywhere around the world, they call us and we can deploy these RRT team members at a moment’s notice. We go out to wherever that site may be and perform that repair,” said David Thorpe, F-35 branch head at FRC-East, where the team is headquartered.

The RRT consists of expert, cross-trained artisans who hold journey-level, expert status in at least one trade, and no lower than skilled, worker-level status in others. Having team members with multiple skill sets allows for flexibility when determining which configuration of the team to deploy, Mr. Thorpe said.

“The F-35 Rapid Response Team is like a maintenance and repair special operations force,” he explained. “The concept is that we can send fewer people and they can help each other do the work.”

The flexible configuration means the team can pick and choose which artisans to deploy to a mission, based on what the technical requirements will be. Some jobs require more expertise in certain trades than others. For example, a recent RRT mission to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., called for a dedicated low observable coating technician and a painter. Those skills sets aren’t required for every mission but were necessary in this instance because the repair required high expertise in reapplying the coating.

“Sometimes the team is not just the airframer, sheet metal mechanic and electrician. Sometimes we send the painter, or the LO technician,” Mr. Thorpe said. “We also have quality assurance specialists who are ready to go when depot-level quality needs are required to incorporate the repair and sign it off.”

Richard Lee Stiver Jr., an RRT airframes mechanic, agrees cross-training plays a large role in the team’s success.

“You have to know the airplane,” he said. “I’m airframes, sheet metal, and LO-qualified. We have to have the drive and understanding to do the things we’re tasked to do, and we also have to be able to retain the knowledge from all the trades across the board that we need to know. That plays a huge role in our success as a team: knowing each other’s jobs, and the ability for us to work together.”

The recent mission to Edwards involved a repair in a location that presented accessibility challenges and therefore also required expertise in low observable coating and paint restoration. The team had to remove a large panel from the aircraft in order to complete the repair – a panel that was not designed for removal under normal maintenance action, Mr. Thorpe said.

“A lot had to work in concert to get that aircraft back to a mission-capable status. We’ve got a lot of experience in taking off these big panels and putting them back down, but there are often complications involved in that,” he said of the repair, which involved an aircraft in the F-35 initial testing, operation and evaluation program with Navy Test and Evaluation Squadron 9, Det. Edwards.

“There were a lot of unknowns, because this particular skin removal hadn’t been done previously, but we were able to get the job done without many complications,” Mr. Thorpe continued. Engineers supply the team with the appropriate technical data prior to the mission, and that provides a solid jumping-off point; however, work doesn’t always go as planned, especially with first-time repairs.

“We ran into hiccups, just like with anything that’s never been done before, and we worked through them,” he said. “It was pretty difficult, but we wanted to keep our foot on the gas. Our team worked long hours and weekends to produce a quality product, safely and as quickly as possible, to support the warfighter and meet the mission – and we got really good reviews on the finished product.”

The unknowns of each mission are part of what drives the team to work harder, Mr. Stiver added.

“Not knowing what you’re getting into, and being able to push through it, stand back at the end and say, ‘That was a good time,’ is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job,” he said. “This feels a lot better than going somewhere for 30 days and doing a mundane fix. We thrive on the challenge.”

Source: CarolinaCoastOnline.com