For posterity, Lockheed creates F-22 ‘how-to’ manual



In 12 months, the 187th and last Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor will roll out of the historic final assembly plant — named ‘B-1′ — in Marietta, Georgia. It will be delivered to the US Air Force in February or March, allowing enough time for check-out flights, fixing bugs, coatings and paint. And, for the Raptor, that should do it. Neither the Bush nor Obama administrations supported buying more, a solid if rare display of bipartisan consensus.

But Lockheed’s Marietta workforce hasn’t quite given up. Jeff Babione, currently F-22 deputy program manager, still seems amazed the program will end in early 2012.

“When I started 20 years ago on the first Raptor Inever thought I’d be here for the last one,” he says.

Lockheed’s workforce is taking special care to preserve the knowledge it takes to build the F-22. The US Air Force earlier this year agreed to store the F-22′s special tooling, rejecting an option to destroy the equipment. About 30,000 items will be stored in Conex shipping containers stored in northeast California at the Sierra army depot, which offered to keep the tooling virtually for free, Babione says.  

THE USAF justified the decision to store the F-22′s tooling to keep the option open for conducting a major service life extension program, as well as making extensive repairs on battle-damaged aircraft.

Of course, the same equipment can be used to restart the production line. Lockheed is very familiar with the practice. In Marietta alone, Lockheed has resurrected production lines for the C-5, C-130 and P-3 fleet. Heeding the lessons of experience, Lockheed is taking an extra step to smooth the restoration of F-22 tooling. Says Babione:


“We’re puttingtogether smartbooks, and it’s an illustrated manual — both text and video thatexplains how the [F-22] tools were used. So they went through and built the part– whatever part it was — and documeneted how to do that. Our lessons from this whenwe did P-3 and C-130 is you’ve got a guy out there who’s been using this toolfor 20 years. And he’s got that tape mark over the hole that the tool engineersput in there, but he needed to be back a sixteenth of an inch. So that tribalknowledge is built into that tool. We go put a tool in storage, we pull it backout, we strip it, we paint it, all that knowledge is gone. To avoid any ofthat – and not that anyone would use a tool incorrectly, but to make sure wedon’t have to remember how to use that tool — we’re doing a very rigorous job ofsome 80-plus of these smartbooks that explain how to use the tools. Everyone of those programs experienced a significant start-upproblem because they didn’t have adequate records of how to use the tools.We’re going to avoid that. We’re going to have a how-to manual for each of thetools.”

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12 Responses to For posterity, Lockheed creates F-22 ‘how-to’ manual

  1. Dave 3 November, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    A smart move by the USAF and Lockheed Martin… though given the latest F-35 delays and cost overruns Gates might have been smart to keep the F-22 production line going for another 60 jets. Three years worth of Raptor production would hopefully have given the F-35 enough time to get its act together. Also, if I were COMACC I would try to scrap the money together to fit Increment 3.2 into the Block 30 jets given there is now a technical solution available to do so.

  2. dude 4 November, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    This is very encouraging to know.

    Hope that the Pentagon would deploy the Raptor more or less like a strategic, rather than tactical, asset and one day when/if the strategic landscape changes, we will be able to rebuild the fleet without excessive headache.

  3. Amicus Curiae 4 November, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    “But Lockheed’s Marietta workforce hasn’t quite given up…” Maybe, but they sure are depressed, angry and resolved that this is the permanent end of the production of the world’s greatest air to air killer. Furthermore, some are also concerned that there are not enough jets in inventory for it to be cost effective to make any significant upgrades.No upgrades will mean that sustainment will also be difficult to justify. Funding is tight, don’t you know? Spares will not be procured and jets will be cannibalized to keep the rest flying. Consequently, the F-22, as superior as it is now, will be out of the inventory entirely in 15 years. So, let’s not kid ourselves.

  4. EchoTango 4 November, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    I must admit to mixed feelings on hearing this latest “development”. While I don’t want to reopen the F22 vs. F35 discussion, the main argument that the F22 is too expensive seems to lose credibility as the actual costs for the production F35 rises on a daily basis. Is the F35 a more capable platform ? Yes and no. IMHO from an airframe/engine perspective the F22 is clearly superior. The mere existence of vectored thrust gives this aircraft truly remarkable agility sets it apart from any US aircraft. That said, from an electronic warfare view, the F35 has higher sensor integration and more powerful on-board computers with makes it more survivable in the bits n bytes battle.

    One can only hope that smarter minds than mine have looked at all the public and nonpublic data to come with this decision.

  5. dude 4 November, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Howdy, EchoTango.

    Try to see “cost” in terms of purchasing power – ie “what can we purchase with the sum to maximize the impact in the current or future conflict” – rather than simply in comparison to the next most inexpensive thing.

  6. dude 4 November, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    IF the next world war were inevitable, then purchasing more F22 or investing in F35 might make sense.

    If intel suggests that we are most likely to see low-intensity, asymmetric warfare for years to come, between existing fleet of B2 and F22, give the anemic state of most [American] domestic programs and our growing national debt, i would say: spare the taxpayers the $450 billion plus burden that F35 represents.

    $450 billion: TRANSLATE it to, say, COIN assets, ground assets, human capital (“soft power”), R&D, etc.

    Back to the topic: preserving the tools and “tribal” know-how of F22 assembly is one step in the right direction, IMHO.

  7. jetcal1 4 November, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    I hope they will pack the appropriate media players in there. In twenty years the data might as well as be on 5 1/4 floppies.

  8. Dennis D. McDonald 10 November, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Jetcal1:

    They should store at least one paper copy of each manual along with the optical and digital storage media.

    Dennis McDonald
    Alexandria, Virginia
    http://www.ddmcd.com

  9. altor 22 December, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2010-01.html

    “Fights between the F-22A and the PAK-FA will be close, high, fast and lethal. The F-22A may get ‘first look’ with the APG-77, the Advanced Infra Red Search and Track (AIRST) sensor having been deleted to save money, but the PAK-FA may get ‘first look’ using its advanced infrared sensor.[...]The outcome will be difficult to predict as it will depend a lot on the combat skills of the pilots and the capabilities of the missiles for end-game kills. There is no guarantee that the F-22 will prevail every time.”

    “the PAK-FA leaves the United States with only one viable option if it intends to remain viable in the global air power game — build enough F-22 Raptors to replace most of the US legacy fighter fleet, and terminate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as soon as possible, as the F-35 will no longer be a usable combat aircraft for roles other than Counter Insurgency (COIN), though more cost effective and more appropriate solutions already exist for this role.”

    “the only viable strategic survival strategy now remaining for the United States is to terminate the Joint Strike Fighter program immediately, redirect freed funding to further develop the F-22 Raptor, and employ variants of the F-22 aircraft as the primary fighter aircraft for all United States and Allied TACAIR needs.

    If the United States does not fundamentally change its planning for the future of tactical air power, the advantage held for decades will be soon lost and American air power will become an artefact of history.

  10. stoka 20 March, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    The US is making a colossal error of judgement in closing the F22 production line. In future there will be a hot war where air superiority will be handed to the Chinese. The US should not only be continuing to produce the F22, but should be developing a long range version of it, exporting it to close allies like Australia and Japan, and should be updating and modifying it.

    The US has the highest ratio of imprisoned citizens in the world. Half the resources of the country seem to go into incarcerating non criminals. This is very bad karma. It is hypocritical to talk about human rights and conduct such a policy, where many relatively harmless people are suffering in prison for misdemeanors like marijuana possession et al.

    I’m a peaceful vegetarian, however I’m also a pragmatist. The US is the best of an admittedly bad bunch, and should remain the predominant power for a long time. In order to do this it must retain the technological and military edge. The point of that sword is the F22, the ultimate technological marvel of the age.

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