HomeNewsArticle Display

5th MXG sets B-52 maintenance records

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Maintaining the Air Force’s premier long-range strike bomber can be a challenge for the 5th Maintenance Group it has been a record-breaking success story.

Since October 2004, the group has set records with its maintenance of the B-52H Stratofortress. The unit has averaged an 87 percent mission capable rate —11 percent higher than the Air Combat Command’s standard of 76 percent. 

“Sustained performance first half fiscal year 06 is so high no other unit can even touch us,” said Col. Gary Lane, 5th Maintenance Group commander. “Each month we are blowing away the previous months rates, we are leading the bomber fleet.” 

A mission capable rate tells command and the Air Force how many aircraft are available at any one time to meet national objectives. The rates combine not only maintenance, but also availability of parts for the jet. 

“The MC rate is figured by the time (in minutes) the aircraft is not able to fly and separated into maintenance or supply,” said Capt. Chris Boring, 5th Maintenance Operations Squadron maintenance operations officer. “Every minute counts, simply put more mission capable aircraft equal more bombs on target —and more U.S. lives protected on the ground. ” 

According to Colonel Lane, a healthy fleet begins with long-range planning based on a solid maintenance strategy and concepts. In the 5th MXG, this is communicated through four pillars — training, technical data compliance, safety compliance and a professional attitude. 

“These guys and gals (maintainers) are second to no one,” the colonel continued. “When I have to literally throw them off the flightline in sub-zero degree temperatures because they want to keep their jets mission capable…amazing.” 

The maintenance of the aircraft is done in two different areas, heavy maintenance which includes phase inspection and corrosion control, and flightline production.
Production includes the day-to-day upkeep of the jet ensuring the aircraft can meet mission requirements. 

“Production organizes and prioritizes the maintenance needed on the aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Olavs Vildavs, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant aircraft section chief. “The crew chiefs conduct daily inspections and report any discrepancies to production who will then schedule the needed maintenance.”
Phase inspection and corrosion control are the cornerstones for the long-term maintenance of the aircraft. 

Phase inspection is an in-depth inspection process to ensure the B-52 is structurally sound. It’s conducted on each aircraft every 300 flying hours.
“Phase is preventive maintenance,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Kumerow, 5th Maintenance Squadron phase inspection dock chief. “It’s done to ensure these almost 50-year-old jets keep flying.” 

The maintainers in corrosion control are looking for metal that has deteriorated over time. The checks are done on the B-52 every 300 flying hours. 

“It’s very similar to a vehicle rusting,” said Master Sgt. Chris Kurz, 5th MXS structural maintenance NCO in charge. “Any type of corrosion will degrade the structural integrity of aircraft which if ignored could lead to a serious incident.” 

The maintainers develop a strict schedule of when maintenance and inspections are required, but this can be put off track if the parts are not available. In the past six months, the availability of parts has been on track allowing the maintenance to stay on or ahead of schedule according to Captain Boring. 

“The availability of parts ranks number two behind the expertise of our maintainers in keeping the fleet healthy,” said the captain. “We have a really good relationship with the Airmen in the 5th LRS (Logistics Readiness Squadron). They are very aggressive in finding the needed parts and a big part of our successful MC rate.” 

At certain intervals, the B-52 is sent to depot at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., for a major overhaul of the aircraft. The aircraft spend about six months there and the teams look at the internal structural integrity, all aircraft systems, check the functionality and add any modifications to the aircraft before returning it to operational duty. 

“Our wing jet is coming out of phase inspection this week. This jet is almost in the same pristine condition as it was when it came off the line in 1960,” said Colonel Lane. “The quality of Airmen, NCOs, Chiefs and officers in this maintenance organization are the best I’ve seen in 34 years of my career.” 

(Editor’s Note: Read the next three editions of the Northern Star to learn more about the maintenance of the B-52 in the three-part series “Maintaining the Fleet”.)
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Contact Us

To reach the Minot Air Force Base Main Directory, call: Commercial (701) 723-7979 or DSN: 453-7979.   

To request Public Affairs support, please fill out an Air Force Form 833 and email to the Minot AFB Public Affairs workflow mailbox

Unfortunately, we are not accepting marquee requests since our marquee board is down for an undetermined amount of time. Thank you for understanding.