567th AMXS completes B-1 IBS mod goal

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  • By Kimberly Woodruff
  • Staff Writer
Last month, the 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron accomplished a huge goal.

In an effort to make the B-1 bomber more effective, the squadron was tasked with installing the Integrated Battle Station modification on the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Fifteen aircraft, a quarter of the fleet, had to be complete by the end of 2015 to achieve Initial Operational Capability and they did it. The 15th and final aircraft, tail number 85-074, was delivered to the customer on Dec. 15.

Rodney Shepard, Weapon Systems Support Center flight chief, said the modification, which updates a 1986 weapons system, is intended to preserve the service life of the aircraft through the year 2040.

According to Maj. Derick Wolf, IBS program manager, the modification is a combination of three upgrades: Fully Integrated Data Link, the Vertical Situation Display Upgrade and the Central Integrated Test System upgrade.

"B-1 aircrews call this a game changer," said Major Wolf. "The modification improves situational awareness, and battlefield communication, reduces crew workload, and supports evolving network centric warfare. It also provides time critical targeting and precision engagement capabilities that make the B-1 very relevant for today's fight and future conflicts.

"The modification even allows the B-1 to perform non-traditional missions that it normally hasn't done. So what the 567th accomplished with delivering 15 in this time frame, making the improvements that they did, is truly remarkable."

Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex Commander Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson said the
B-1 IBS provides great capability to the Air Force Global Strike Command.

"We are proud to have a hand in delivering this capability," the general said. "What we have been able to do here, deliver 15 IBS modified jets to the warfighter in 2015, was a stretch goal for the team. But we proved that by working together, solving problems together and focusing on a common goal, we can achieve what many may have said was not possible."

The 567th AMXS reduced Integrated Battle Station average flow days by 85 days using Continuous Process Improvement, according to Mr. Shepard.

"Throughout FY-13/14, the average turnaround was 300-plus average flow days, and when everyone came together, that number was knocked down to 252 average flow days in FY-16," said Dwight Tackett, B-1 IBS program manager.

Mr. Tackett added the first plane was produced in 416 days and the final plane was completed in 198 days which was also the first IBS aircraft to produce to the original requirement, and represents a 218 day reduction from the first aircraft produced in 2014.

"The entire program from start to finish is approximately $980 million," Mr. Tackett said.

John "JP" Wood, 567th AMXS production flight chief, said transformation efforts to eliminate waste by reducing the flow days to meet the needs of the warfighter could only be done by working as a team.

"We won't forget the folks who did it," said Mr. Wood. "We wouldn't have completed the aircraft were it not for the mechanics."

Col. Kenyon Bell, 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander, said this is a tremendous enterprise win. 

"The 567th AMXS worked hand-in-hand with the B-1 System Program Office, 10th Flight Test Squadron and the supply chain to consistently improve performance," he said. "It has been impressive to watch how the team came together over the past six months to deliver safe and reliable aircraft to enable combat airpower."

Col. Timothy Dickinson, B-1 and B-52 system program manager, said he's impressed by 567th AMXS production improvements that were central to meeting Air Force Global Strike Command's need for the modified aircraft by the end of 2015.

"We're delivering a game-changing capability to rapidly engage moving targets on the battlefield, much needed in our current fight against ISIL," the colonel said.

"We did this with a disciplined approach, a clear understanding of the critical path of tasks that needed to be accomplished, and a methodical battle rhythm that focused on removing constraints and solving problems in the way of success," General Johnson said. "It is a testament to the hard work our folks in the program offices, the supply chain and our ALC team do every day and I could not be more proud of them."