By Mitch Shaw, Hilltop Times correspondent
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) — The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $67.8 million contract to help finish a year’s worth of maintenance and repair work for the F-22 Raptor at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The contract calls for Lockheed to conduct preparation work, like procuring materials and services, for any F-22 aircraft heading into Air Force depots for maintenance and repair work. The Defense Department announced the contract Dec. 29, 2014, and explained that the work will take place at a Lockheed Martin contractor site in Palmdale, California, as well as the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill AFB, and is set to be finished by Dec. 31, 2015.
Hill’s Ogden ALC will perform all depot-level maintenance on the F-22, after the Air Force decided to consolidate the maintenance work being done there and at the Lockheed Palmdale facility. In September 2014, the F-22 Program Office, the Ogden ALC, and Lockheed Martin corporation implemented a 21-month incremental transition plan which will eventually relocate all of the F-22 maintenance work to Hill AFB.
An Air Force analysis determined that consolidating the work at Hill would result in a minimum cost savings of $300 million over the program’s life cycle. A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office indicated Palmdale has higher labor rates than the Ogden ALC and has charged more labor hours than the Ogden facility when performing the same modifications to the jet.
The report says that continuing maintenance issues with the F-22 have caused the jet to fail to meet its “availability requirement,” or the time the jet is available for military use. The last of 187 operational F-22s was built in 2011. The jet is expected to have a 30-year lifespan, but upgrades could lengthen its air time.
The Ogden ALC typically provides depot maintenance on about 12 F-22s every year, but the additional workload will increase that number to about 24 in 2015.