June 2006 
Volume 05, Issue 2  
Main Feature

'Boeing is our first call'

How F/A-18 support team helps the Navy

'Boeing is our first call'The F/A-18E/F Integrated Readiness Support Teaming (FIRST) is a logistics program that integrates support elements, such as integrated information systems and supply chain management, to cost-effectively improve fleet support and aircraft readiness for military customers. Under FIRST, Boeing's responsibilities include providing on-site support at U.S. Navy aircraft bases in California and Virginia and managing equipment manufacturers' repairs. The program is projected to provide approximately $1 billion in cost savings over the more than 30-year life cycle of the Super Hornet.

Capt. C. J. Jaynes is F/A-18 deputy program manager–Fleet Support for Naval Air Systems Command. Based in Patuxent River, Md., Jaynes shared with Boeing Frontiers why Boeing's F/A-18 support is important to fulfilling her fleet's missions.

Q: Is Boeing's F/A-18 support essential to performing your missions?

A: Without a doubt, we rely on the Hornet Support Centers in the fleet to be the main technical support agency for sailors and aircrew. The in-service support provided from St. Louis is critical to sustaining the fleet as more and more aircraft are fielded. From the inception of the F/A-18E/F support structure, the Navy has invested in Boeing to be the main support for our fleet.

Q: Is Boeing's performance-based support a more effective way to manage your readiness?

A: I believe so. Through the contract, we are able to share ownership for the readiness requirements with Boeing and work as a team to meet ready-for-tasking goals. Both the Navy and Boeing are tracking to the same metrics and have the same vision for defining success.

Q: How does access to Boeing's technical support, training and upgrades improve your business?

A: The improvement is felt by the fleet sites and the fleet support team at Naval Air Depot North Island in San Diego. Technical support and training happens in real time, which makes the team's jobs much easier and makes everything more efficient. The improvement directly contributes to saving time, which translates into saving resources.

Q: Do you find the on-the-job training elevates the skills and abilities of military personnel responsible for F/A-18 operation?

A: Absolutely. There is so much to be gained by picking up the phone and having the technical expert in your hangar within hours or sometimes minutes. You can read a tech manual all you want, but there are times when hands-on training by the expert provides more value added. I personally witnessed the skill level of my intermediate-level technicians rise after having on-the-job training with Hornet Support Center personnel.

Q: When you face challenges, when do you call on Boeing?

A: Boeing is our first call, and we start out aggressively attacking the problem as a team. There is a true sense of teaming with Boeing. I know they are sincere in their efforts to help the fleet. No matter who from Boeing I have worked with over the last seven years, there has always been a sense of concern and interest in doing what was best for the fleet.

—Katherine Sopranos

Aiming for 'cost-wise readiness'

Terry Kunkel, IDS Support Systems F/A-18 Integrated Logistics director, discussed with Boeing Frontiers the support and services Boeing provides its U.S. Navy customer for aircraft readiness. A key program involved in F/A-18 support is the F/A-18E/F Integrated Readiness Support Teaming (FIRST).

Q: How do we support the U.S. Navy customer?

A: The warfighters—military personnel—are the ultimate customer. The people on the flight line benefit through our optimized supply chain that includes materials, support equipment, technical data and training. This allows the warfighters to concentrate on what they do best. Customers expect Boeing to provide the necessary support that will enable Navy warfighters to meet their ready-for-tasking requirements and satisfy aircraft availability in a cost-wise manner. It is cost-wise readiness—not readiness at any cost.

Q: What do Boeing's support responsibilities include?

A: We are responsible for aircraft readiness of the F/A-18E/F under a long-term, five-year performance-based contract. Our effectiveness is tied directly to the Navy's ability to field their aircraft when needed. The F/A-18E/F contract combines material management and integrated logistics support elements. Material management integrates our ability to forecast, acquire, repair and deliver components to the fleet to meet requirements. The integrated logistics support element provides non-material support, such as support equipment engineering, in-service engineering support, technical data, site-activation support, reliability improvement analysis and overall logistics planning and management. Our detailed, metrics-based analysis of customer needs ensures that FIRST provides the Navy with cost savings over traditional support methods.

Q: How does Boeing's support at public service depots benefit the customer?

A: Boeing contracts with public service depots under Commercial Service Agreements. They work for us to perform repairs, and we become a supplier for them—providing forecasting, material and technical data support. Our experience shows that significant cycle time reductions can be achieved when we provide this support for our depot partners. Reductions in cycle time result in faster return of components to the fleet and reductions in logistics footprint and costs for F/A-18E/F and EA-18G programs.

Q: Tell us about the Hornet Support Centers.

A: We have two Hornet Support Centers where Boeing, industry partners and Navy personnel are located to provide on-site support. There are two main sites: The Naval Air Station in Oceana, Va., for East Coast-based Super Hornets; and one at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., for West Coast Super Hornets. The center's personnel frequently deploy with various E/F squadrons. We also have people on-board every aircraft carrier that leaves port for destinations around the world. They bridge the technical gap and provide the technical reach-back to the support centers and St. Louis for more effective on-board technical support. We have an established network to contract what's necessary to quickly satisfy customer's local field requirements.

—Katherine Sopranos

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