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Last F101 engine completes maintenance

B-1B aircraft takes off overhead with afterburners

A B-1B Lancer takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to conduct combat operations April 8, 2015. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, recently completed programmed depot maintenance on its final F101 jet engine, which powers the B-1B. The implementation of the Service Life Extension Program will allow future engine maintenance to be conducted at the base level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson)

Man working on jet engine

Dave Garza, a jet engine mechanic with the 546th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron, attaches an engine bleed air diffuser on the last F101 jet engine to be maintained at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 28, 2021. Thanks to the inception of the Service Life Extension Program, or SLEP, in August 2016, the F101, which powers the B-1 Bomber, will now undergo overhaul at base level facilities. (Photo taken prior to mask mandate) (U.S. Air Force photo by Ron Mullan)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

It’s the end of an era.

Nearly 50 years after it began maintaining the F101 engine, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex recently completed programmed depot maintenance on the final engine and returned it to the fleet.

Originally, the F101 was first assigned to what was then known as the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area on August 18, 1972.

The engine that powers the B-1B Bomber has gone through several variations over the years with the last variation begun in 2010.

“Under the current variation,” said Glen Marcatos, 546th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron director, “we produced 586 engines in that time.”

In August of 2016, a new maintenance program known as the Service Life Extension Program, or SLEP, came on the scene and has had an impact on F101 Engine maintenance.

“The SLEP upgrade increases engine reliability and will enable maintainers at the base level to complete all the maintenance required on the engine,” Marcatos said, “thus eliminating the need for overhauls at the depot.”

For some of the maintainers, like Dave Garza, who worked on the F101 engine for 20 years, working on the last engine had special meaning for him.

“Just knowing you’re going to be working on an engine that’s probably going to do a mission that keeps pilots alive, you gotta do the best you can…quality work, quality parts to keep pilots alive,” said Garza, who works in the 546th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron.

With the F101 engine maintenance being transitioned to base level field units, Marcatos said the reduction in workload will be in the near term, but the 546th PMXS will use remaining labor resources to increase production on the TF33 and F108 engine lines.