F-117 Sustainment

Initially, the F-117 received Logistics sustainment from a covert detachment of the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Command, located at the then Norton AFB in San Bernardino, CA. As the fleet grew, sustainment responsibility migrated to the Sacramento Air Logistics Command (ALC), Mc Clellan AFB, in July 1985. From that time until October 1998, Sacramento ALC was responsible for government management of the F-117 program and support of the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB, NM. 

Then, beginning in July 1995, a whole new chapter in the business of sustainment for the F-117 began. As a cost reduction candidate. General Viccellio, then commander of Air Force Material Command (AFMC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, proposed Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for the F-117 weapon system. Because McClellan AFB had been identified on the Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) list, the Air Force F-117 System Program Office (SPO) would have been required to relocate in any case. The timing was opportune for using the F-117 as a “Pilot Project” for CLS.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (LM Aero) proposed a potential Operations and Maintenance (O&M) cost savings by transfer of certain functions performed by the SPO to LM Aero. In this way, any functional duplication at both sites would be eliminated and overall manning at the SPO would drastically reduce over a three year period.  Most reductions would occur in the first year after contract start. The proposal assumed the SPO would retain “core” functions inherent as government responsibilities in managing the program. Activities to remain at the SPO were identified as: program direction, requirements determination, contract management, budgeting/financial execution, product/service acceptance, and security. The expansion of LM Aero’s role was to include sustainment, integration and modification, systems engineering, subcontractor management, system/subsystem integration, materiel management and warehousing, spares and repairs, direct field support to the 49th Fighter Wing, and Air Force reporting requirements support. The bottom line of the TSPR concept was to provide support to the 49th Fighter Wing, at a level equal to or better than that provided by ALC, with an overall cost savings to the Air Force. 

Air Force Acquisition leaders were very impressed with the TSPR proposal and in 1997 presented an Air Force “Lightning Bolt Award” for outstanding contribution in support of Acquisition Reform and Secretary of the Air Force (SAF) Acquisition (AQ) initiatives. On 24 Sep 97 the decision was made by SAF/Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ms. Darlene Druyun to accept the proposal and initiate the TSPR contract with implementation on 1
October 1998. 

The simplified, long term TSPR contract objective was to provide increased flexibility and incentives to meet operational performance needs, and reduce the total costs of ownership. Contractor performance under TSPR is incentivized through a cost plus arrangement with award fee and incentive fee provisions, based on 12 month rolling averages of performance metrics. Additional costs and saving are “shared” 50/50 between the Air Force and LM Aero. The contract is based on an eight-year strategy with LM Aero committed to a 10% savings, dependent on stabilized funding, over the contract life. 

LM Aero’s performance under TSPR is measured by the following seven objective metrics most commonly used by the SPO and/or Air Combat Command customers (warfighter/stakeholders) to measure logistics combat readiness and support effectiveness:

  • Not Mission Capable for Supply (NMCS) rate in percent

  • Mission Impact (MICAP) Parts Delivery in hours

  • Readiness Spares Package (RSP) kit fill rate in percent

  • Configuration Upgrade & Modification Line (CU) schedule compliance in number of days late

  • Depot Aircraft Quality in number of discrepancies (major/minor)

  • Deficiency Report responsiveness in number of reports delinquent

  • Weapon System Trainer (WST) in percent time available

In the 32 months since TSPR contract go-ahead, overall performance and customer satisfaction has been superb. LM Aero moving average metric performance has maintained a score of 100% and award fees have consistently ranged from 98% to 100% in each fee period. Additionally, TSPR has accrued over $19M in cost savings to date, shared 50/50 with the Air Force, plus the up front savings of $162M. In the first two years of TSPR, sustainment costs have reduced 12% over traditional support. Sustainment enhancements include Digital Technical Publications, Lean manufacturing and repair processes, significantly shorter spares ordering spans and reduced Engineering response times, enabling an increase in aircraft availability by 5%.

Combat Performance

The F-117 was a major contributor to the successes of both Operations Desert Storm and Allied Force. The inherent survivability and combat capabilities of the F-117 played a key role in the destruction of high value targets such as nuclear/biological/chemical weapons facilities, hardened aircraft shelters, command and control centers, and surface to air missile installations. The 49th Fighter Wing has amassed impressive combat statistics in both campaigns. The F-117 only comprised 2-3% of coalition forces, but accounted for 30-35% of first night targets and hit rates of 75% in Desert Storm to over 90% in Allied Force. Mission Capability rates exceeding 82% in both combat employments.

We Fly To The Sunset

After 25 Years of legendary service, the F-117 Nighthawk, the Air Force's first stealth fighter, is retiring. The technology that made it a unique strategic weapon system; really reshaped how the Air Force looked at strategic warfare. The Nighthawk was the first of its kind, a fact anyone who has spent time around the aircraft is quick to point out
The jet performed magnificently, exceeding all requirements originally identified. This was exemplified during the Summer of 2006, when the 49th Fighter Wing passed the 250,000-flight hour mark. Quite a feat for such a small fleet - four successful campaigns under our belts and only one aircraft was ever shot down.
We officially started saying goodbye and a "job well done", last October 2006 to commemorate 25 years of Nighthawk history at the Silver Stealth ceremony at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. We celebrated our 25 year "milestone" at the F-117 Stealth Fighter Reunion Celebration in Las Vegas, June 2007. 
With pride we look at the dreams, design, construction, flight, maintenance and support of an aircraft that showed all of our vision, defiance, passion, heroism and sacrifice.
As we say goodbye to the tail numbers one-by-one, as we witness a inactivation ceremony, and participate in the transition of our lives, we are reminded that during our 25 Years of the Nighthawk, that we truly own the night !