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Racing engines: 3rd Wing first to meet standards

By Sheila deVera | JBER Public Affairs | Sept. 17, 2020

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —

The 3rd Maintenance Squadron recently finished a Time Compliance Technical Order to replace all low-pressure turbine blades on all F-22 Raptors in the JBER fleet, and they are the first base to do so.‚Äč

The purpose of the TCTO is to recognize and replace all the LPT blades with a newer blade design. The 3rd MXS was responsible for executing the LPT replacement. In 12 months, all 120 engines have new blades installed.

"There is a TCTO out to re-blade all the LPT in the fleet," said Senior Master Sgt. Jaime Flores, 3rd Maintenance Squadron Propulsion flight chief.

Flores explained the LPT as a turbine connected to the jet engines' fan module. After the combustion state in a jet engine, the hot gases pass through the turbine and help drive the fan. Exhaust gases leaving the turbine provide the thrust that propels the aircraft forward.

Fifty-seven personnel – active duty, civilian and contractors – worked on replacing the blades. They started in August 2019 and finished in August 2020.

Once they have the parts and engine ready, the crew inspect the engine and disassemble it to access the LPT blades.

"Most of the teardowns require us to remove the LPT from the engine," Flores said. "Once we have removed the old blades and replaced them with the new blades, we rebuild the engine and send it to the test cell for operational checks."

After it passes the test cell, the engine will be inspected one last time and have a quality assurance check before it is placed on the spare engine line.

“In a normal year, the flight would produce around 40 engines,” Flores said. “This past year, we did three times that. Our workflow stayed busy, and we went non-stop until this TCTO was complete. Through meticulous management and scheduling, the effort had zero mission impact. We worked very closely with the Aircraft Maintenance Unit production team, and we made sure they always had an engine ready to swap out. There were never any missed sorties to not having an engine available.”

"This is a huge deal for mission readiness," said Col. Matthew Bradley, 3rd Operations Group commander. "Reliability of engines is a critical factor for deploying the fleet of F-22s into a high-end fight. The last thing you want when pressing in to defeat the enemy is an engine malfunction."

Increased reliability due to this maintenance action makes the F-22 that much more lethal.