Working together with the F-35 Joint Program Office, FRCE received approval to accept the stripped down airframe for use in maintenance training and engineering testing, which will allow for the development of improved tooling, maintenance procedures and sustainment practices. The relocation process began March 1, when workers at MCAS Beaufort prepped the airframe and used a crane to load it onto the barge, which took four days to reach MCAS Cherry Point via the Intracoastal Waterway. At the MCAS Cherry Point docks, transportation specialists unloaded the airframe from the barge and used a self-propelled transport dolly to transport the airframe to FRCE during the night. Officials scheduled the unusual delivery method to Cherry Point and late-night transfer to FRCE to make the lowest possible impact along the transportation route.
“As a depot maintenance trainer, the airframe will allow new employees an opportunity to test their skills on the proper maintenance and repair processes used on F-35 before being required to do it on a fleet aircraft. Our sustainment engineering efforts include the ability to prototype modifications and repairs, test new and improve existing support equipment, test new processes and materials, and support other efforts to investigate opportunities for sustainment cost and maintainability improvements. The decision to move the airframe with a barge was largely due to the expected impacts of traffic along the route from Beaufort to Cherry Point. I can tell you that it gained a lot of attention as it made its way through the Intracoastal Waterway. It will only make us better prepared to support fleet readiness.” said Matt Crisp, FRCE site lead for the F-35 Joint Program Office.
Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot generates combat air power for America’s Marines and naval forces while serving as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers. Since 1943, Fleet Readiness Center East aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, has played an important part in national defense. FRCE workforce has earned a reputation of excellence in providing world-class maintenance, engineering and logistics support for Navy and Marine Corps aviation, as well as other armed services, federal agencies and foreign governments.