All posts by frcsw

Flexible Manufacturing Cell to Increase Efficiencies, Component Readiness

One of six CNC five-axis machines is pictured in the Flexible Manufacturing Cell (FMC) undergoing construction in Building 472. Augmented by a pallet system and fully operational by the end of this year, the FMC will increase manufacturing efficiencies and turn-around times of many aircraft parts and components made of aluminum, steel and titanium. (U.S. Navy photo)

A flexible manufacturing cell (FMC) under development in Building 472 is projected to save Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) approximately $2.5 million annually in set-up time within the command’s manufacturing and components programs. 

The FMC will generate additional savings by creating more efficient re-work processes, according to Gabe Draguicevich, FRCSW New Technology Division Director.

Costing almost $18 million and occupying close to 7,000 square feet of floor space, the FMC is comprised of six computer numerically controlled (CNC) five-axis machines and a pallet system which are manufactured by DMG-Mori and Fastems, respectively.

“These six machines with the pallet system replaces a total of 12 machines that had less capability, and will replace a number of our Haas machines and both DeVliegs,” Draguicevich said. “With the improvement of manufacturing techniques within the machine tool industry, five-axis machines have improved the accuracy to that of the older, more traditional jig mills.” 

“The five-axis CNCs are capable of milling, turning and grinding within one machine. They use Siemens Unigraphics NX CAM Software along with Celos Suite of software that manages the CNC machines. The Fastems pallet system software delivers the parts and fixturing to each machine for processing while tracking schedule and the time remaining for project completion. All of this technology will be managed and monitored within a Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) network called the Industrial Manufacturing System Lab,” he said.

Four of the CNCs are installed and can accommodate components up to 55-inches in diameter. With attached tooling, the CNC spindle height is approximately 30 inches. The other two machines are designed for larger components and along with the pallet system, should be operational by the end of August.

Draguicevich said that the CNCs are applicable to all type/model/series (TMS) of naval assets serviced by the command, and that they can be used on parts and components made of aluminum, steel and titanium.

“The fixturing and preprogrammed parts support F/A-18 and E-2/C-2 landing gear specifically,” he said.

“This is a game changer for FRCSW and we will be virtually eliminating process variance while improving turn-around time. There is nothing like this system installed anywhere in the DOD,” he said. “There are huge opportunities for new workload such as the E2-D and Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) landing gear. The possibilities are endless and the opportunity to advance as a command is certain.”

The FMC concept was created by combining multiple Capital Investment Programs (CIP) in June 2020. FRCSW’s CIP invests in new technologies and equipment to improve production efficiencies.

In the meantime, 12 artisans including machinists, model makers, maintenance technicians and industrial engineers will be trained to run the FMC, which is slated for full operation by December.

FRCSW MRO Industrial Engineering Lands Big Savings for LM2500 Program

Pictured, left, is the 3-D printed prototype grommet made in-house out of nylon by FRCSW’s MRO Industrial Engineering program. It is installed on the LM2500 engine forward compressor stator case during a fit check next to an existing grommet. (U.S. Navy photo)

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) Industrial Engineering Program used a 3-D printer to make life a bit easier for the artisans who work on the LM2500 engine in the metal spray shop, and captured a savings of more than $1.25 million in the process.

The engineers printed replicas of the silicone rubber grommets used to mask the vane holes of the LM2500 forward compressor stator case during grit blast and plasma metal spray as part of the engine’s overhaul. Each engine has one forward compressor stator which is the split case that holds the High Pressure Compressor, one of the main rotating assemblies in the engine.

In total, 328 grommets are used on the forward compressor stator case during the overhaul procedure. They range in size from about one and one-half inches to two inches in diameter, and all are approximately one-half inches in height.

“The previous grommets were in use for more than 15 years, well beyond their projected service life. Many were cracked and degraded from years of heat cycling and installation and removal,” said Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Industrial Engineer and 3-D Printing Subject Matter Expert Andrew Hnat.

The old grommets needed to be covered by stainless steel washers to protect them from the abrasion of the grit blast and the heat of the metal spray.

Hnat said that the grommets were rapidly prototyped out of Nylon (a common 3-D printing material) using an Ultimaker 3-D printer in the MRO engineering lab in Building 472.

Rapid prototyping enables a quick production of prototype parts with the ability to make rapid design changes based on fit checks, artisan input or other factors.

He said the initial grommet replication will be followed by another with an altered shape to provide enhanced metal spray protection that will not require the use of stainless steel washers, and will be molded from a blend of flexible silicone to fit through the vane holes of the forward compressor stator case.

“The second iteration greatly reduces the installation, removal, and processing times revolving around this part of the process,” he said.

Artisans will save at least one hour in preparation as they won’t need to install washers and bolts over each grommet. Furthermore, since they will no longer be used, additional time is saved from sending the stainless steel hardware to the nitric acid tank for stripping following each metal spray.

“This is an improvement of over 51 percent when compared to the time it took using the old grommets,” Hnat noted.

The new grommet design also includes molded-in part numbers and orientation markers to increase removal, installation and storing efficiencies, he added.

Sending the initial 3-D model to a 3rd party manufacturer instead of the current one gained substantial savings in purchasing costs.

Cost for one replacement set of grommets from the current manufacturer, operating through an outsourced logistics provider, is $1,285,000. Conversely, cost for three replacement sets of grommets (vice one) through a 3rd party manufacturer using the 3-D printed models is less than $10,000.

“Being the only vendor available for the current grommet designs most likely allowed that manufacturer to charge a high premium to make these parts,” Hnat noted.

The 3rd party manufacturer is Aimtek Inc., located in Auburn, Mass.

“Their area of expertise is molding specialized silicone masking tools for overhauling turbine engine components that need to be metal spray processed. They also have a special proprietary blend of silicone material that was developed specifically to withstand the harsh environment of grit blasting and plasma metal spray. The spray easily flakes off of the masking tools by simply twisting the flexible mask after it is removed from the part, negating any need for chemical stripping of the masking tools,” he said.

The silicone grommets are designed to last for 10 applications, and three sets were ordered so artisans could metal spray multiple stators at a time.

FRCSW processes eight to 12 LM2500 forward compressor stator cases annually.

The LM2500 engine is used by the Navy to power Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

End of an Era at frcsw Site Yuma as the AV-8B Harrier Sundowns

Over the past 16 years, the dedicated artisans and support personnel of Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Site Yuma have provided outstanding support to the AV-8B warfighter community at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

Designed in the late 1960s, the unique short-takeoff, vertical landing attack aircraft is being replaced with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Marine variant as the Naval Aviation Enterprise updates its assets to improve readiness.  As a versatile platform for both military and humanitarian operations, the AV-8B was used extensively in the last few decades and required routine and special depot maintenance provided by FRCSW Site Yuma.    

FRCSW Site Yuma has been a small but mighty team comprised of approximately 20 employees, both federal and contractors, since standup in 2005.  Established to perform Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) -2/-3 events vice sending aircraft to Fleet Readiness Center East in Cherry Point, NC, the team quickly proved its worth to Marine Corps aviation by completing quality work in a timely manner.  Many current members of the team, including Site Lead Rick Marinez, have been there since its inception, which has added stability and continuity of depot operations throughout the years.        

Performance highlights for the AV-8B team includes completion of 98 PMI events with concurrent modifications as well as thousands of hours of in-service repairs (ISR) on every Marine Corps platform in the current inventory.  Using their expertise and ability to work in adverse conditions such as the extreme heat, artisans performed ISRs both on and off site including remote locations in the desert without normal base support.  At least twice a year, the FRCSW Site Yuma team rose to the occasion to support Weapons Training Instruction and Desert Talon exercises which bring as many as 100 aircraft to the station at one time. 

Over the years, Site facilities were improved to increase production and address logistical challenges, including a 15,000 square-foot maintenance facility in 2008, and a 3,000 square-foot administrative facility in 2017, to replace antiquated Mobile Facility vans that housed support personnel.  At the peak, the FRCSW Site Yuma was averaging 5 Harrier PMI events a year with a high of 10 in their busiest year of 2008. 

FRCSW Site Yuma was recently recognized by PMA-257 Program Manager, Colonel William “Opie” Rothermel, for its “responsiveness, diligence, and devotion to ensuring aircraft were fixed RIGHT, not just right now.”  CAPT Leehe, FRCSW Commanding Officer, echoes those sentiments and acknowledges the dedication of this highly skilled team throughout their years of service to the AV-8B community. They are truly a unique team of exclusive artisans found nowhere else in the NAE” 

Proud of their long history supporting the AV-8B and other Marine aviation platforms, the team will complete their last two PMI events at Yuma in June 2021.  Though difficult to close the doors at Yuma, the majority of team members have chosen to continue their FRCSW careers with the Vertical Lift Program at Camp Pendleton and North Island.  We wish good luck to our Yuma teammates who are retiring or moving on to other jobs and welcome those who will soon be reporting to Camp Pendleton and North Island.  Thank you for a job well done!

New F/A-18 Flight Control Sensors Test Stand to Save Time, Costs

Electronic mechanic Henry Pickens operates the new Feel Trim Actuator test stand in Building 378. Exclusive to FRCSW, the stand will enable an improved analysis of four F/A-18 legacy and Super Hornet flight control stick position sensors, and reduce the turn-around-time (TAT) to ready-for-issue (RFI) units by an estimated 40 percent or more. (U.S. Navy photo)

A new test stand purchased by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) in late March will enable a faster and improved analysis of four F/A-18 legacy and Super Hornet flight control stick position sensors.

Located in the actuator shop in Building 378, the Feel Trim Actuator test stand will reduce the turn-around-time (TAT) to ready-for-issue (RFI) units by an estimated 40 percent or more, according to electronic mechanic Henry Pickens.

“The time and cost savings will be immediate as well as long term for the organization, to our fleet customers and in support to our warfighters,” Pickens said.

The test stand will be used in testing the airframe’s Lateral Stick Position Sensor and the Longitudinal Feel/Trim Actuator.

“The Feel Trim Actuator Test Stand is dubbed from the nomenclature of the ‘Longitudinal Feel/Trim Actuator’ position sensor. The terms ‘Feel/Trim’ apply to the position sensors in that when a lateral or longitudinal input is applied to the sensor, the internal spring assemblies provide artificial feel forces to the pilot. The Linear Variable Differential Transducer (LVDT) senses the lateral or longitudinal position inputs, translates them to electrical signals and relays them to the flight control electronic system,” Pickens said.

Testing procedures will include Neutral Position and End Play, or rod end and assembly verification, Breakout (compression and tension hysteresis testing), LVDT testing and Load vs. Stroke (displacement/hysteresis) testing.

In electrical engineering usage, hysteresis occurs “…with magnetic materials so that, if a varying magnetizing signal is applied, the resulting magnetism that is created follows the applied signal, but with a delay,” according to Collins Dictionary.

Manufactured by Eaton Aerospace and costing about $568,000, the primary benefit of the new stand is the conversion to a digital environment, Pickens said.

“This test stand has been assigned Serial No. 0001, its construction is unique and is currently the only model that exists in any FRC or anywhere in the country,” he noted. “Also, we remain the only FRC work center for capability of test and repair of the F/A-18 Super Hornet Lateral Stick Position Sensor for the Navy.”

“The computer driven test procedures, which border full automation, utilize proprietary software that enables the operator to interface more closely with the test system. The more advanced test procedures will provide a new and improved ability to command and monitor tests, review and visualize data, and diagnose problems,” he said. “Another significant benefit is that it will expand shop workload capability by inducting two new Family Identification Codes or components, as well as re-establishing capability of a third — the legacy Longitudinal Feel Trim Actuator.”

He added that the legacy test fixture will remain as a backup system and for its capability to test throttle load and rudder sensors.

The Eaton test stand will be operated by three electronic mechanics and one electrical equipment repairer.

The unit is comprised of three major components: a high voltage supply cabinet that provides the system’s power and contains a system servo drive; a control cabinet that houses software modules and the system PC; and a linear test fixture which houses the slide table and actuator connections to enable interface between the test stand and unit under test (UTT).

“The UUT is mounted using the fixed end bearing while various loads are applied to the rod end bearing from the linear slide table. Other sub-assembly components include the computer keyboard, mouse and 24-inch display,” Pickens said.

Calibration and certifications for the test stand were completed in April, but full use of the unit will not be available until Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) publication references and updated Local Engineering Specifications (LES) are submitted and finalized, Pickens said. These are the final steps prior to use in shop production.

He added that annual production numbers for the three sensors, excluding the Super Hornet lateral, are not available because of the new capability.

However, the potential production is impressive: “The E/F model lateral position sensor has averaged 15 to 25 units per quarter. With the capability of the new test stand, those numbers could be in the arena of four times that,” he said.

FRCSW Dedicates AOC Robert “Rob” Thacker Building

AOC Samantha Thacker is joined by Sailors from FRCSW’s 700 Division April 13 as she prepares to cut the ceremonial ribbon honoring her late husband during the renaming of Building 35 to the AOC Robert “Rob” Thacker Building. AOC Rob Thacker was instrumental in the renovation of the building which now bears his name, and served as the FRCSW ARO Division Chief and the 700 Division Aircraft Armament Division Leading Chief Petty Officer (DLCPO). (U.S. Navy photo)

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) 700 Division Sailors gathered April 13 to recognize one of their own in ceremonies renaming Building 35 to the Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer (AOC) Robert “Rob” Thacker Building.

From August 2016 to December 2019 AOC Thacker served as the FRCSW ARO Division Chief and the 700 Division Aircraft Armament Division Leading Chief Petty Officer (DLCPO). 

In January 2020, he reported to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and passed due to complications of COVID-19 last April at Naval Hospital Guam.

“After learning COVID-19 took the life of this fellow Ordie, and still waiting for the building to be complete, we came up with the idea that it would be great to name this building after Rob,” said AOC Joshua Casey, FRCSW Detachment (DET) North Island 700 Aircraft Armament Division Administration LCPO.

“For years he dedicated so many hours with so many people to get this building renovated, so it was only right. He left a legacy here at FRCSW, and had left a huge impact on Sailors’ lives not only at this command, but throughout the entire fleet.”

Building renovation was complete in November 2020.

The then-Building 35 served as the point for decontamination of equipment from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) after the aircraft carrier’s humanitarian mission during Operation Tomadaci in response to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan and severely damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Today, the AOC Rob Thacker Building is home to 36 Sailors who provide maintenance on aircraft gun, armament and support systems, and armament weapons support equipment in support of 24 tenant commands and three aircraft carriers assigned to Naval Air Station North Island. 

“I knew Rob and met him when I checked into FRCSW DET NI June 2018. However, I was stationed at Navy Munitions Command CONUS West Division (NMC CWD) DET NI Station weapons with AOC Samantha Thacker (his spouse) from 2012 to 2014 where our kids were introduced as well at North Island Child Development Center,” Casey said.

“Rob had a passion for taking care of his family and Sailors. He would go to war for them if they were ‘in the right’ and would educate them by passing on some of his wisdom through counseling if they were ‘in the wrong.’”

During his remarks, FRCSW Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Leehe reflected upon the influence AOC Thacker had on those who knew him.

“A great Chief, a person who loved the Navy and loved his Sailors even more, and I think that shows through how everyone has turned out here today,” Capt. Leehe said. “Take his example and let that be what guides you in your professional and personal development because he obviously was a man of impact who made a difference in other people’s lives and everyone should aspire to that.”

In addition to his wife Samantha, AOC Thacker is survived by his son and daughter, five and nine years old, respectively.

Charles Robert Thacker, Jr., was 41 and a native of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Editor’s Note: FRCSW personnel may view a video of the AOC Rob Thacker Building dedication at the following link: \\nawesdnifs101v.nadsuswe.nads.navy.mil\BULK_CS007$\NAVAIR_NADEP_SDNI_N65888_16AF\SDNI\FRC\F7.0\F7.5\Video

FRCSW Paint Shop Adds Finishing Touch to Fleet Aircraft

An MV-22 Osprey is prepared for painting at the FRCSW paint complex. Because most of the Osprey is made of a combination of carbon/epoxy composite with aluminum or fiberglass, sanding of the airframe is done by hand and creates a “leopard” pattern appearance. (Courtesy photo)

Of the various maintenance schedules, repairs and preparations that aircraft undergo at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), one procedure is common to all: painting.

Painting the aircraft is often among the final steps before returning the asset to its squadron, and at FRCSW, that work is done in Building 466.

“The paint shop is unique in that we are also known as Aircraft Services. We provide service to all of the aircraft platforms processed through the FRC. Our main function is to arrest corrosion on the aircraft that we blast and paint,” said Thomas Sapien, Aircraft Services Paint Production Manager.

Staffed by 48 federal artisans and 21 contractor personnel, the command’s paint complex also includes a shop in Building 472 for servicing smaller aircraft components.

Shop trades include paint leaders, painters, painter workers and painter helpers. Certification is required in the use of plastic media blast (PMB) for paint removal, completion of paint school and a Low Observable Paint coatings course. Corrosion, fall protection and respirator user training is also required.

Except for the MV-22 Osprey, (which is made of a carbon/epoxy composite requiring hand-stripping using orbital sander) aircraft are inducted to the paint hangar to undergo PMB stripping, priming and painting.

Artisans inspect the aircraft, and afterward, portions including antennas, probes, and windscreen are masked for sanding.

“We are the only shop that puts hands-on and visually inspects 100 percent of the aircraft surface when they are inducted into paint or blast,” Sapien said. “We often discover hidden damage when removing the paint as cracks and other defects are exposed.”

 “Once the aircraft is sanded, the rough edges from the PMB process are smoothed out and the sanding phase is sold to Quality Assurance (QA). Then the aircraft is stream cleaned, deoxidized to etch the metal and alodined to prevent corrosion. Then it is masked for priming and painting and passed to QA for approval,” he said.

After the aircraft is primed and seam pot, it returns to QA for the painting approval. Artisans apply the aircraft’s major markings and stencils by hand. The masking is removed, and a foreign object debris (FOD) inspection is held. The aircraft is touched-up, as needed, lubed, and moved to QA.

The paint shop uses both chromated and non-chromated primers, and polyurethane top coats including a Type 4 polyurethane.

“We started using non-chromated primer around 2018. The manufacturer is Deft PPG Aerospace. It is not a matter of cost savings, but of the non-chromated primers being friendlier to the environment and less of a hazard to the employees. Non-chrome primers are actually more expensive than their chromated counterparts,” Sapien said.

FRCSW applies chromated primers to F/A-18 Hornet fighters, and H-60 Sea Hawk and H-53 Super Stallion helicopters. The MV-22 and E2-D/C-2 airframes receive non-chromated primers, while the MV-22 and H-53 airframes are finished with Type 4 polyurethane top coats. Low-Observable coatings are applied to F/A-18s.

“Type 4 paint is an advanced performance coating. It is supposed to be longer lasting and resistant to weathering and UV rays,” Sapien said.

Painting turn-around times (TAT) average about 10 days for the F/A-18, seven days for the H-60, and the E2-D/C-2 and MV-22 TAT is around 15 days.

Sapien said that the most difficult aircraft to paint is the E2-D.

“Once the aircraft is ready for topcoat, four painters must consecutively apply an even gloss coat to the entire airframe. After painting, the aircraft needs major markings in several different gloss colors. The stencils are applied using three different colors, and there are approximately 1,000 stencils,” he said.

“When an FRC aircraft is delivered back to its home squadron, one of the first things looked at is the paint job. The appearance of a newly painted aircraft leaves a good first impression on our customers, and their satisfaction with the paint job helps their confidence in the FRC’s workmanship,” Sapien said.

“Painting and blasting are a unique set of skills that not everyone can master. We are very fortunate to have this skilled, artistic group of artisans,” he added.

Last year, FRCSW painted 130 aircraft and PMB 75.

FRCSW’s Curtiss A-1 Triad Offers a Glimpse of Naval Aviation History

The ¾ -scale A-1 Triad model built by 19 FRCSW artisans during the Centennial of Naval Aviation is pictured in Curtiss Park at the corner of Saufley and Wright Roads on NASNI. (U.S. Navy photo)

One of the more unusual and historic sites visitors to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) may notice is the ¾-scale replica of the Curtiss A-1 Triad, the Navy’s first aircraft that was purchased in 1911 from aircraft manufacturer Glenn L. Curtiss.

Located at the corner of Saufley and Wright Roads, the A-1 Triad model is the centerpiece of FRCSW’s Curtiss Park, appropriately named after the aircraft’s developer.

The initials, “A-1,” were derived from the Navy’s labeling of the aircraft as simply “Aeroplane One,” since it was the first one purchased. The term “Triad” referred to the amphibian design.

The A-1 Triad replica weighs approximately 600 pounds and is about 20 feet in length, and was built by 19 FRCSW artisans as part of Naval Air Station North Island’s (NASNI) Centennial of Naval Aviation celebration.

To build the A-1, artisans visited the San Diego Air and Space Museum which houses a full scale A-1 Triad. They photographed the airplane and reverse engineered the aircraft from the photos to create a design.

The model’s ribs are aluminum, and the original canvass on the aircraft is perforated aluminum. The aircraft’s propeller is made of mahogany and the spindles are oak. The wood is treated to protect it from the elements.

On July 6, 2011, the model was hoisted by crane and attached to its stand. A ribbon-cutting ceremony 16 days later officially christened the park.

Curtiss Park is also the first of its kind on NASNI to use a subterranean irrigation system, or a “smart landscaping” concept. The irrigation system saves approximately 136,000 gallons of water yearly.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Leehe presents Andrew Crump with a plaque from Commander, Naval Air Forces March 31 in recognition of his contributions to the readiness of MH-60S helicopters assigned to Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Wing Pacific during FY 2020. Crump, a planner and estimator who also served as an in-service repair representative, led a team that identified and repaired MH-60S airframe cracks and out-of-limit floorboards. He was responsible for managing planner and estimator repairs for 452 job requests, valued at $2.5 million. Despite impacts to manning and support availability during the COVID-19 pandemic, Crump helped sustain mission readiness enabling the flight line to meet the Type Commander’s 75% Mission Capable readiness goals across the HSC Community. (U.S. Navy photo)

FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton Maintains Marine Corps AH-1Z Cobra

An AH-1Z Cobra prepares to land at FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Navy photo)

Last year the Marine Corps bid farewell to the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter as it completed conversion to the technologically superior AH-1Z Cobra.

The Zulu Cobra (also called the Viper) features upgraded weapons and avionics systems, and is a composite four-blade, twin-engine aircraft. Manufactured by Bell Helicopter, it is primarily used for ground support and special operations.

As it did with the Super Cobra, the Marine Corps looks to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Site Camp Pendleton to ensure the readiness of its Zulu Cobras through the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP).

The IMP keeps the aircraft mission-ready by targeting the integrity of the airframe by using two assessment events — Planned Maintenance Interval-One (PMI-1) and PMI-2.

PMI-1, held approximately every 50-calendar days, is a disassembly, evaluation and repair process of the aircraft completed within the procedure’s specifications.

Squadrons remove the aircraft’s blades prior to PMI-1, and the site’s artisans remove the aircraft’s intermediate and tail gear boxes, panels, engine and transmission for evaluation.

The aircraft’s fuel cells are removed and all oil, fuel and hydraulic fluid hoses changed. Artisans also remove the stub wings to inspect the connecting points, the bushings and the stub wing lugs for signs of corrosion.

Furthermore, the aircraft’s entire tail boom is evaluated with emphasis on specific parts identified by the IMP specification.

Damages or areas of concern outside of the IMP scope are reported to the squadron and are typically repaired as an in-service repair (ISR).

The PMI-2 cycle is held about every 80-calendar days and involves evaluations similar to PMI-1, but the aircraft are also stripped via particle media blast (PMB) and painted.

The Site Camp Pendleton staff and have a paint and PMB facility built in 2013 that enables a faster turn-around time of aircraft to the squadrons.

FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton inducted its first Zulu Cobra for an IMP event in March 2016. FRCSW Site Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, also performs the IMP on the AH-1Z Cobras.

In addition to the Zulu Cobra, Site Camp Pendleton also services the UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter.

Last fiscal year, FRCSW returned 13 H-1 helicopters to the fleet.

Women’s History Month Employee Spotlight: Susan Guth

To help commemorate Women’s History Month in March, we’re featuring stories of employees throughout the command. This week, we’re spotlighting Susan Guth, a public affairs specialist based out of Fleet Readiness Center Southwest.

Susan Guth stays curious.

It was this curiosity that led her to become a communications adviser for the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) diversity action teams. “How can we better communicate with FRCSW employees?” she asked.

Ms. Guth used her experience as a public affairs specialist to suggest alternative ideas to in-person meetings and events, collaborate with the Women’s Initiative Network site lead to brand and create eye-catching emails and documents, create a custom newsletter for the Lunar New Year and help the Hispanic Engagement Action Team host a socially distant Vuelta — a uniquely Southern Californian vehicle parade celebrating heritage and art that traveled through FRCSW’s section of Naval Air Station North Island.

She has also presented communication resources, guides and recommendations at the monthly diversity team meetings to inspire them to “celebrate their heritage in a safe and socially distant way,” she explained.

Ms. Guth’s curiosity extends to her learning and communicating about other people, cultures and communities, both inside and outside of work.

Last year, she wrote an article about how four young women came to work at FRCSW and what inspired them to become engineers. “We created a unique article featuring their personal passions and histories that is still spoken about to me,” she said.

“Ask everyone you meet about their role, how they support their teams and the organization at large. You could learn something new, hear helpful advice or expand your network,” she said. “And always be willing to connect people who are enthusiastic and motivated to help others. That’s how I’ve met so many wonderful people in my short time at FRCSW.”

A Washington, D.C.-native, Ms. Guth grew up in a diverse community and loved learning about her friends’ cultural traditions, foods and interests.

“All employees should join diversity teams,” she said. “Diversity is how we learn from one another, how we grow and become better people.”

In her spare time, Ms. Guth enjoys traveling and learning about local food and art. She also creates her own art, sings in a church choir and goes horseback riding. “You get a different view of nature from the back of a horse!” she joked.