Nine B-1s Lancers have successfully completed depot maintenance at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla., since implementation of a new program in October 2010 to get the bombers back to their units faster. It’s called high-velocity maintenance, or HVM. Combining pre-programmed routine and close communication between management and maintainers, the center completed the last aircraft in 166 days—down from a pre-HVM average of 207 days. “One of the primary goals of HVM is to ensure the units flying the B-1 are provided the maximum number of aircraft at home station to fly the required training sorties or combat sorties,” said Steve Walker, B-1 HVM team chief. The next Lancer is scheduled for 175 days in the depot, but the depot technicians have set an internal goal of finishing the work in 143. (Tinker report by Jim Trammell) (For more on B-1 HVM, read More Factory Than Flight Line from Air Force Magazine’s December issue.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.