Supply meets demand

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

No matter how skilled a unit of aircraft maintainers is, or how great the aircraft they’re responsible for is: wear and tear is inevitable, and at some point, parts need updating and replacing.

Aircraft parts don’t just grow on trees, and with 20 C-130J Super Hercules to take care of, the supply chain for parts is an important part of the day-to-day of the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

Col. Reggie Trujillo, 403rd Mission Support Group commander, invited members of the 436th Supply Chain Operations Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., for a site visit Aug. 24-26.

“The intent of the visit is to increase our partnership and mutual understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities, to ensure we’re all working together seamlessly to provide the best supply support to the 403rd Maintenance Group, the end customer,” said Trujillo. “We wanted to give the opportunity for maintenance leadership to discuss their challenges with getting the right parts on time as well as give the SCOS team the chance to share their challenges and processes with the maintainers and the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron’s supply team.”

2nd Lt. Kyra Traino, Master Sgt. Megan Hayden, Staff Sgt. Maya Hurley and Airman 1st Class Tobias Frank, all of the C-130 Weapons System Management Flight within the 436th SCOS, made the trip, where they visited the various maintenance squadrons and shops and briefed relevant entities on their processes.

“We oversee all of the C-130s in the Air Force enterprise,” said Traino, flight commander for the C-130 WSMF. “In total that amounts to 454 aircraft in 59 different locations. Basically anytime an aircraft needs a MICAP (Mission Impaired Capability Awaiting Parts) part that they don’t have within their own warehouse, it comes to us, and we’re in charge of checking with the depot, the Defense Logistics Agency, and other vendors to get the part for that maintenance unit.”

In a typical year, the flight of 32 Active Duty, Air National Guard, and civilian personnel, see to over 15,000 mission impaired capability awaiting parts requests. For a team of their size to fulfill that demand, Hayden said the flight operates on a 24/7, 365 days a year schedule.

“There are three types of MICAPs,” said Frank, a MICAP team technician. “The category we deal with the most is referred to as 1A, and it’s for parts that, without it, the aircraft is non-mission capable. Then there are JA parts, which are partially mission capable, and 1M parts that pertain to the engine.”

In addition to the MICAPs team, Traino said the flight also has a sustainment shop that deals more with lower priority parts and maintaining those inventories.

The group was able to get the full C-130J experience with an incentive flight with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.

“Getting to go on a flight was incredible,” said Hurley. “Of course, actually riding in the aircraft was a great experience, but where we work, we don’t actually ever see the parts or the aircraft, so it was amazing getting to see the parts function, understanding just how important they are, and seeing the big picture of our job.”

On the 403rd side, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Kettner, 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent, and Master Sgt. Raven Crockett, 403rd LRS non-commissioned officer in charge of the decentralized materiel support shop, said the visit was very productive.

“The DMS is the liaison between maintenance and the MICAP team at Scott,” said Crockett. “Having them here in person to explain their processes and explain different aspects of logistics to maintenance leadership and contractors was so helpful. We really appreciated their visit.”

Kettner said that from a maintenance perspective the visit was extremely helpful.

“The biggest outcome of the visit, was that we were able to sit down with everyone who has a hand in purchasing parts at one time,” said Kettner. “It allowed us to understand their processes better, cleared up some misunderstandings on subjects like split purchases, and it helped put everybody from supply to contracting to maintenance on the same page.”

Overall, the team feels the site visit was successful from all sides, and that it helped strengthen the relationship, communication, and understanding between all the moving parts involved in making sure the aircraft are taken care of.

 “We’re just so grateful to have had the opportunity to come down here,” said Traino. “With the incentive flight and everything, it’s been really enjoyable and also really informative.”