by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
9/18/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The
final C-17 Globemaster III modified with a missile threat detection and
countermeasures system at Robins departed Sept. 11, 2015.
This latest endeavor closes out another successful chapter in the
business of aircraft maintenance and modification at the Warner Robins
Air Logistics Complex.
For the last three years, 76 C-17s have arrived at the WR-ALC modified
with a large aircraft infrared countermeasures system, or LAIRCM.
The program was the result of two squadrons -- the 559th and 562nd
Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons -- collaborating to form a relationship
that has not only reduced cost and improved quality on the line, but
also resulted in a 93 percent on-time delivery rate to its customers
during that time period.
"The success of the C-17 LAIRCM modification line was due to the
positive, can-do mindset of the artisans in both the 559th AMXS and
562nd AMXS that partnered together to implement the processes outlined
in the Air Force Sustainment Center's 'Art of the Possible'," said
Michael A. Doubleday, 562 AMXS director.
Though this program has ended, another will take its place this fall, ushering in another era for LAIRCM work to continue here.
Teams will tackle a new project when the 559 AMXS assists the 560 AMXS with installing LAIRCM on C-130Js from the Navy.
"We look forward to partnering with the 559th as we take on this new
workload for Robins," said Jim Russell, 560 AMXS director. "There's no
doubt our team of professional technicians will be as successful on the
Navy LAIRCM as the 560th has been on the Air Force LAIRCM."
The first C-130J is scheduled to arrive in mid-November, with the 560
AMXS to induct nine Navy aircraft in fiscal year 2016. The squadron will
perform pre-dock and induction, as well as functional test flights on
the aircraft, while the 559 AMXS will perform modification work.
According to Russell, the first two inducted C-130Js will be validated
and verified on the Navy process prior to moving on to a standard
production process on the remaining seven aircraft.
Dave Nakayama, 559 AMXS director, added that the team will again bring
its expertise to the table when Navy LAIRCM modifications begin in a few
"That's a huge advantage -- an advantage to Warner Robins and the
customer, because we want to give the customer the best possible product
at or below cost," he said.
Final LAIRCM, even a sizable cargo aircraft like a C-17, needs to be
able to protect itself from enemy missile threats while downrange.
Enter LAIRCM, a missile warning system capable of detecting an infrared,
heat-seeking missile launch -- deciding if it's a threat to life and
mission onboard -- and activating a countermeasure system to track and
defeat that incoming missile.
At Robins when a C-17 arrived, it would be inducted by the 562 AMXS,
with a combined LAIRCM team taking over. Mechanics would then prep the
newly arrived aircraft for 19 days of operations.
Structural modifications included drilling holes into the C-17s' skin so
LAIRCM's lasers and sensors can be installed at precise locations
throughout the aircraft.
"We've vastly improved our quality of what we produce for the customer,"
said Larry Hamilton, 559 AMXS C-17 transition team lead. "The mechanics
have improved their processes over the years, and they continue to do
By presenting what needed to be done to mechanics in the beginning,
hours were reduced from 6,900 hours three years ago, to the final
aircraft's 4,900-hour work package during its one month stay here.
That aircraft returned last week to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Once the C-17 Workload Transition Team was selected in September 2012, work began several weeks later.
Jimmy Kelly, 559 AMXS Production Flight chief, explained that while the
workload has presented the team with a set of unique challenges and
opportunities, the greatest impact of the team arrangement was the
special relationship established between both squadrons. There is mutual
support between the two squadrons that wouldn't have existed if not for
this collaboration of the last few years.
"At the end of the day it's transparent to our customers which mechanics
are modifying their aircraft," said Kelly. "What matters is that the
WR-ALC is successfully working as a team to produce quality, on-time,
LAIRCM-modified C-17s back to the warfighters."
There's much more behind the scenes than just showing up. C-5 mechanics
working C-17 lines must be able to read and apply engineering drawings,
according to Kelly, while having an extra level of scrutiny for their
work; and once the team delivered a C-17, prior to waiting on the next
aircraft, they would return to assist C-5 mechanics with maintenance.
Mechanics working C-5s and C-17s must maintain proficiency on both
aircraft, resulting in a "well-trained and disciplined workforce."
"We're proud of the LAIRCM team for many accomplishments, but we're most
proud of their ability to slash almost 2,000 production hours and 10
flow days from the LAIRCM mod line to save costs," added Kelly, enabling
Robins to stay competitive and continue LAIRCM work through fiscal
On the team's successful LAIRCM journey, it now looks to the future with new expectations and possibilities.
"The workload has meant retaining jobs," said Hamilton. "This is about
growing Robins Air Force Base. This is about putting your name out there
to customers that we're willing and able to take on your workload. We
want to do it successfully, on cost and on schedule. We're really
striving for that. I think this team has been more than successful at