JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --– F-5 Tiger II fighters will soon prowl the hangars at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast. Projected to receive its first Northrop-Grumman-produced aircraft in September, the Navy aviation repair, maintenance and overhaul facility will take over the plane’s in-depth maintenance.
“The continued service of these aircraft to the fleet is critical,” FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Trent DeMoss said. “Not only does this workload ensure jobs stay here in Jacksonville, it also ensures our pilots get the best possible training.”
The F-5 is used as an “adversary” aircraft by the U.S. military to train its pilots. Flown by several countries around the globe, its maneuverability makes it a formidable opponent in air-to-air combat. Using the F-5 saves the services increased wear and maintenance costs on their fleet of operational aircraft, like the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.
The current crop of F-5 “N” and “F” variant aircraft are flown by Navy and Marine Corps pilots with Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 13, Marine Fighter Training Squadron (VMFT) 401 and Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111.
FRCSE is planning on inducting seven to 11 aircraft per year for what is known as Phased Depot Maintenance, or PDM.
“During PDM, we receive the aircraft and disassemble it for inspection,” Business Management Specialist John Stafford said. “Certain parts, we know ahead of time, will have to be replaced due to the plane’s flight hours.”
Other issues found during the inspection, like corrosion and metal fatigue, are also repaired.
“Then we do the ground checks, high-power engine turns, then Flight Test checks and deliver the aircraft,” Stafford said.
The health of the Navy and Marine Corps’ adversary fleet is a top concern for leadership.
In his priorities list for 2019, Commander, Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller specifically cited the need for more readily available adversary aircraft.
“Without significant sustainment initiatives and structural upgrades for the F-16 and F-5 fleet, Navy aviation will be forced to use additional Fleet F/A-18s and F-35s to make up for this loss of capacity,” Miller said.
DeMoss said he’s confident his team can handle the job.
“Being selected to perform the depot work on the F-5 here in Jacksonville is a testament to the reputation and quality of work provided by FRCSE,” DeMoss said. “Our entire team, from artisan to supervisor, from logistician to engineer, from analyst to financial director, and all the other supporting personnel it takes to make this organization successful should be extremely proud that again Navy leadership has selected us for such an important program.
“As we tackle this challenge, it will take all our combined efforts, because as we say – ‘Together Every Action and Asset Matters.’ “