As the Lockheed Martin F-35 enters service in ever-growing numbers across the world, air chiefs are recognizing that the aircraft’s sustainment costs need to fall and availability needs to increase.
While the cost of individual aircraft is declining, U.S. government watchdogs continue to question the aircraft’s flying rates and inability to meet reliability and maintenance targets.
But in the UK, BAE Systems believes it may be able to solve at least part of that cost challenge. BAE plays a key role in support of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft through the Typhoon Total Availability eNterprise (TyTAN), an umbrella contract that combines numerous support packages into a single program. BAE says it has lowered Typhoon operating costs by around 38%, and the savings resulting from TyTAN are helping to pay for additional fleet modernization.
“We manage the fleet, not just the aircraft,” says Steve Worsnip, vice president for sustainment in BAE’s UK-based “U.S. Programs” unit, which is separate from its U.S.-based BAE Systems Inc. In a previous role, Worsnip was a driving force behind TyTAN.
“We think about the management, making sure there is harmony between the aircraft, fatigue life, operational sorties, the training of the pilots and ground crew to optimize the fleet,” he says. “Now, we want to take that into our contribution to the F-35 program.”
The RAF has long been more receptive to increased industry involvement in support and services to its frontline fleets than other air forces, with senior officers calling for a so-called whole-force approach. But even here the process has been gradual. (end of excerpt)
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