HILL AIR FORCE BASE — After an eight-year process, the Air Force’s effort to transfer its F-22 program to Hill Air Force Base is now complete.
Earlier this week, two F-22 program management positions were transferred to Hill from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, wrapping up a process that began clear back in 2012 with a call by Congress to shift the program to a location best suited to handle work on the fifth-generation fighter jet. In May 2013 the Air Force began consolidating depot maintenance of the F-22 at Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, part of the effort to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in the jet’s maintenance and modification processes.
A report from the Government Office of Accountability indicated that manager turnover, aircraft corrosion issues and high labor rates were among several factors that contributed to the Air Force’s decision to move all of its F-22 maintenance work to Hill, which had previously been split between the base and a contractor-run Lockheed Martin facility in Palmdale, California. The report also said Palmdale had higher labor rates than the Ogden ALC and charged more labor hours than the Ogden facility when performing the same modifications.
The move created nearly 200 new jobs in Utah over the time of the transition. The last of 187 operational F-22s was built in 2011 and the jet is expected to have a 30-year lifespan, but upgrades could lengthen its air time. Hill has some 300 jobs on base associated with the F-22.
Hill’s Ogden ALC also performs repair, overhaul and modification on planes like the F-35, F-16, A-10, C-130 and T-38 aircraft. The complex also performs work on the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile system and other items like rocket motors, air munitions and guided bombs, software, electronics and other aerospace components. The outfit has more than 8,000 employees.
Rodney Stevens, the Air Force’s director of staff for the Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate, said while the official completion of the program transfer didn’t bring much new work to Hill that hasn’t already been implemented previously as part of the transition, the Air Force will continue to evaluate the operation and could ultimately decide to bring in more personnel.
The program transfer has no impact on the Air Force’s four F-22 combat fighter wings, which are located in Virginia, Alaska, Hawaii and Florida.