Remote controlled tugs are being used to move F-15 Eagles around the flight line and through hangars at Robins Air Force Base. F-15 aircraft maintenance workers with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC) have 10 TowFLEXX 5.4 (TF-5), low profile aircraft tugs to move the aircraft around hangars where traditional tugs can’t maneuver. The TF-5 operator uses a remote control belly pack to control the tug while attaching, moving and releasing any aircraft with 360 degrees of walking around capability. No one has to sit under the aircraft while positioning or moving the aircraft. Also, there are no harmful exhaust fumes or loud engine noises while maneuvering an aircraft through a hangar
Carl Motter Jr., 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group (AMXG) TowFLEXX program manager said,“AMXG researched new technology that could turn an F-15 aircraft in a 65-foot circle inside the high bay area of Building 125. The conventional tug-and-tow bar configuration would not clear tight constraints inside of this building for turning and positioning aircraft. With the TF-5, there is greater mobility and less repositioning involved to place an aircraft in a work stand, and it can handle any aircraft up to 120,000 pounds. The TF- 5 does not require fuel. It is powered by four 12-volt direct current, 200 AMP/hour batteries. It meets the new regulations for all green procurement for the Department of Defense and the WR-ALC.”
In addition, there are cost savings while using the TF-5. Labor cost is reduced by $240 an hour per aircraft that needs to be positioned into the next workstation. Its use increases production with reduced labor effort. The WR-ALC ,the traditional tug will still be used. The TF-5 will be used to move F-15s and other aircraft under 120,000 pounds. For long distances, a conventional tug-and-tow bar will be used. The personnel in the F-15 flights will have an opportunity to learn how to properly use and to set up the TF-5 on an F-15 before using them. The 402nd AMXG worked with the Robins Air Force Base training group to develop courses for members in the F-15 squadrons. Any mechanic that goes through the WR-ALC training course and acquires a certificate of completion after passing the course will be capable of operating the TF-5.
The TF-5’s small size and capabilities allows the tug to be an easy item to deploy. The TF-5 can be loaded into any cargo plane and transported anywhere in the world where tugs and tow bars have not been shipped,” he said. “This will allow the advance-deployment personnel to move aircraft like the A-10 (Thunderbolt II), F-16 (Fighting Falcon), F-22 (Raptor), F-35 (Lightning II) aircraft into shelters for safety and protection with the ability to use the space more efficiently. The possibilities are endless for all the aircraft this equipment can be used on at Robins AFB and throughout the military. As workload demands increase and with the need to utilize existing hangar space, new technology will be required to maintain this country’s assets around the world.